Breastfeeding. It’s hard.

Before I even begin this post on breastfeeding I want to make something VERY clear. This post is, by no means, meant to shame anyone who does not breastfeed their babies. Remember, that’s the whole point of this blog. This is a 100% shame free, guilt free zone. This is simply about my own personal breastfeeding journey thus far, and the tips and tricks that have gotten me to this point. Babies with full bellies are the best kind.

Formula does not make you a bad mom.

With that being said, there are some definite benefits to breastfeeding your baby. Benefits for you, benefits for baby, benefits for your family budget, and benefits for dad….the list goes on.

Some fun facts about breastfeeding:

  • A nursing baby’s saliva communicates with a mother’s immune system to help manufacture specific antibodies that aid in recovery from illness. AKA immune system magic.
  • Breastfeeding can save between $1,200 and $1,500 in formula related expenses in the first 12 months of life. MY goal is to breastfeed long enough to earn a boob job….
  • Breastfeeding releases a certain hormone that helps the uterus shrink back to its proper size.
  • Breastmilk contains substances that promote sleep and calmness in babies. Yes please. I’ll take ANYTHING that promotes sleep for my babies. I don’t care if it is unicorn blood, just make the babies sleep.

Before I had a baby I knew I wanted to breastfeed. It seemed like the “natural” thing to do. And while it is definitely natural, and what our bodies were made to do, it did not come quite so naturally to me.

I remember that first moment they handed baby Hixon to me (after that HELL of a birth experience…) I had watched several YouTube videos where the baby just crawls right over to the boob and latches on.

Uuuummm not what happened. I realized so quickly that I had NO IDEA what in the hell I was supposed to do. Do I just smush his face to my nipple? Does he even know how to open his mouth? Will I just start squirting milk out?  Of course my midwife had told me to read “The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding” but I had been too busy growing a human and reading about how to get said baby OUT of me. Luckily I had my midwife to really instruct me on what to do and help us get started. I’m not sure how any woman gets started on this whole mom train without a midwife. :: Props to y’all! ::

Then my midwife went home and we were at the hospital alone. Well sort of alone. There were nurses there of course and they offered a little help, but I still felt totally lost. (This is NOT meant to bash any nurses. Just the one that was there that first night.) When I would call for help because Hixon would latch and unlatch and continue to SCREAM, I felt something must be wrong. He had a good case of jaundice so I felt so much pressure to get him to eat and poop so that we didn’t need light therapy. The nurse that was there with us that night did not offer a whole lot of help, just kept saying that his latch looked “ok” and she didn’t know why he was still crying. Cool, thanks lady. Finally around 2AM (after having been in labor and pushed a baby out for over 12 hours total that day) the nurse offered some donor milk and I was desperate for a nap. Hixon took the bottle like a champ, and I cried myself to sleep.

I felt like I was already failing my child just a few hours into his life. How could I be so terrible at something that was supposed to be “natural” to all moms?

Can we just touch on that for a minute? Here I was, less than 24 hours into being a mom and the mom guilt had already hit me full force. Why do we do that to ourselves? We are WAY too hard on ourselves and each other.

Back to breastfeeding. The next nurse that came on shift was TOTALLY different and immediately started offering solutions. Finally we found what worked.

We needed a nipple shield. I didn’t know why at the time, but Hixon almost immediately started eating and it worked like a charm. (Turns out Hixon had a major tongue and lip tie. I’ll write a whole post on that at some point. Long story short. Get a professional to check your baby for this. Don’t wait. Catch it early and it’ll make your life soooo much easier.)

I tell this story to shed some light on the whole “breastfeeding is so natural” myth. It is natural in the sense that your body was made to feed a baby. But y’all. It’s hard. Really hard. It can make even the strongest of women cry all the tears.

Breastfeeding is the hardest thing I have ever done. Harder than giving birth. When you’re in labor you know that at some point it will be over. They will get that baby out. With breastfeeding, sometimes it seems like it will never end. It seems like it will never get any easier. Let’s say your goal is to breastfeed for the first year. If you’re already miserable the first two weeks, 12 months seems like FOREVER.

Things I was NOT ready for when it comes to breastfeeding:

  1. No matter how good your baby’s latch, nursing that little vacuum will hurt at first. Even with baby number two, it hurt sooooo much for the first few weeks. Your nipples will feel like they are going to fall off. At some point you might look down and wonder how such a cute, tiny little mouth can cause so much pain. Never fear friends, those nips will get stronger. Industrial strength nipples. I promise. I always tell new moms the pain goes away. First, it will get to where it only hurts for the first few seconds after baby latches, instead of hurting the whole time. Then it will go away completely (until they get teeth. But, never fear, you can work through that as well if you want to) If it doesn’t stop hurting, seek help. Professional help.
  2. Nursing can seem so time consuming in the beginning. Remember you and baby are both trying to figure this whole thing out. It will feel like nursing the baby is ALL YOU DO and that’s most likely true. Baby’s bellies are teeny tiny and breast milk is super easy for them to digest (hence why it’s so good for them…) so they are hungry often. If they are crying, offer them the boob. 9 times out of 10 it’s what they need. Just keep telling yourself this is a phase. I mean I have never seen a kid go to Kindergarten still needing to nurse every hour.
  3. At some point you will be SO SO SO SO relieved that you don’t have to “make a bottle.” I know it seems crazy. But there are moments where I am glad I can literally take my boob out and feed my kid. Toting snacks around for my toddler seriously seems like such a burden. Once you get comfortable nursing in public, freedom.
  4. There will most definitely be a moment where you look at your significant other and wonder what in the hell they are good for. Nursing a baby in the middle of the night while your husband snores will make you bat shit crazy. It’s annoying that he is asleep. But it’s even more annoying when he is awake, staring at you. Useless nipples, go back to sleep. Its ok, we all go through it. UNLESS your significant other happens to also be a female. Then congrats, you’re a damn genius.

All that being said, breastfeeding is something most of us CAN do with the right support. So I collected some advice from real mamas. Mamas who have fought the hard fight and survived.

  1. Milk is supply and demand. The more you nurse, the more milk your body will make. Offer that baby the nip as often as you can.
  2. ALL. THE. SNACKS. Breastfeeding burns calories. I have told my husband some days I am NEVER full. I could eat and eat and eat. As long as you are consuming good, healthy calories, KEEP EATING. You are literally eating for two now. Keep snacks by the bed. In your bag. In the living room. Just have snacks stashed everywhere.
  3. Water. Water. Water. Drink the water. Anytime I feel a dip in my supply, it is directly related to a dip in my water intake. Chug the water. And then chug some more.
  4. Find a nursing cover that works for you. Being comfortable nursing in public will be a game changer.
  5. Two-shirt method. The absolute best thing for nursing in public. Under any shirt I wear, I always have on a tank with super stretchy spaghetti straps. Regular shirt up, tank down, baby on boob. Even without a cover, once baby is latched, all your audience can see is the back of baby’s head and maybe some side boob, but that’s in now right?
  6. Do not compare your journey to anyone else’s. We are all different. All our babies are different. It’s called being human and it’s ok.
  7. Feeding your baby is important, but so is your mental health. Try all the things, but don’t kill yourself in the process. Always remember you can’t pour from an empty cup.
  8. Start with small goals. Telling yourself you still have 12 months to go will be so defeating. I would give myself the shortest goals. Example: “If I can just make it through the night, we will rethink our plan of action in the morning.” Just take it one day at a time.
  9. Expect to just have your boobs out at all times for several weeks. Tank tops that stretch are your friend. Don’t even attempt a real bra.
  10. Don’t be afraid of your pump. Pumping = date night. And pump on a regular schedule while you’re at work. (Remember, supply and demand.)

My all-time favorite pieces of advice:

  1. Surround yourself with support. You’ll need it. If you’re constantly hearing reasons to quit, you’ll quit. You will need some cheerleaders.
  2. Give yourself grace and don’t feel bad if you don’t love it all the time. There will be some real moments where you hate it. You’re normal. Call those cheerleaders in these moments.
  3. If breastfeeding is something that is important to you, do whatever you need to do to make it work. Seek help. Friends who have done it, lactation consultants, pinterest, google…there are so many tricks you might not have tried yet. Never quit on a bad day.
  4. When in doubt, whip it out. Your breasts are magical and deserve an award of some sort. 

You got thus mama.

Kisses,

Mama Darnell

DIY All Purpose Cleaner

Guys, I have a confession to make.

I am not the best house keeper. Like I’m pretty bad. I HATE cleaning. Hate it. I understand that it is necessary and I don’t want my kids crawling around on dirty floors. I know it’s time to clean the toilet when there is a ring on the inside. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it. You might be thinking, “Is there anyone who actually likes cleaning?” YES. There are those freaks that do it for a living. ( God bless them. I’m so happy to have them.)  And I have even heard a woman call cleaning the toilets “therapeutic.” No. Just no ya freaks. (JK. It’s your freak flag, let it fly.) So when I started trying to switch over our cleaning products to less toxic products you can imagine my despair. I mean, I already hate cleaning, now I learn that it’s also super poisonous to my health. I’m out.

The alternative products at the store seemed SO overpriced. Again, I already hate cleaning, don’t ask me to pay $452 for a bottle of counter top cleaner. Ugh. You know what option that leaves me? Making my own products.

Let’s refresh. I hate cleaning (have I mentioned that yet?) NOW I also have to spend time making my own cleaning products or else fear I’m just spraying toxic poison juice all over my counter. GREAT.

YAY.

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Luckily, I have found some :: SUPER :: easy DIY all-purpose cleaners. And y’all don’t think I’m using the words “all-purpose” lightly. I literally use one spray bottle to clean my kitchen counter tops, bathroom counter tops, kitchen table, top of my dresser, toilet seat, inside of my car….you get the idea.

So, here are my two all-time favorite DIY all-purpose cleaning recipes.

Recipe number 1

1 glass spray bottle

½ white vinegar

½ water

10-15 drops lemon oil

That’s it. I don’t really measure my vinegar or water, I just eye-ball it. Is that how you say it? “Eye-ball” it? Sounds weird. But I do use my eye-balls and decide when it’s half way full. This is the only recipe I used for years. If I feel like the vinegar smell is a little too strong I just add more lemon oil. You do need to use a glass spray bottle because lemon will break down plastic and you don’t need your cleaner eating a hole in your bottle.

Once we moved into our new house, I learned that I shouldn’t use vinegar on my marble and granite counter tops. I know, so freaking fancy in this new house! So I decided to make a cleaner that I could still use everywhere and not need a special bottle for these special counter tops. Basically, I couldn’t remember which bottle was which, so now I am back to one.

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Recipe number 2

1 glass spray bottle

Fill to the top with water

Add one tablespoon of On Guard Cleaner Concentrate

For this one I do actually measure the On Guard cleaner. If you go overboard with the cleaner, it’ll have a soapy consistency and leave a residue behind. So just one tablespoon works for 8 ounces of water.

These are seriously the two easiest DIY cleaners I have tried AND they work! They are also super cheap to make.

Vinegar is roughly $2.50 for a whole gallon at Wal-Mart, and Lemon oil is around $0.04 per drop.

The On Guard Cleaner Concentrate is $14.50 for 12 oz. So you should get maybe 24 bottles of cleaner out of your one cleaner concentrate? Maybe? Math isn’t my thing really…whatever. It’s cheap.

image1

 

So no more stressing over poison juice on your counters, over-priced natural cleaners, or complicated DIY cleaners. Easy Peasy.

Now go and clean those counters!

Find all the oils you need here: www.mydoterra.com/katiedarnell

Find the glass spray bottles here: http://amzn.to/2vtArfy or http://amzn.to/2gRpMrS

 

Kisses,

Mama Darnell

P.S. I don’t ever buy any fancy rags. I just use old wash cloths. I seriously hate washing my face with a rough wash cloth. So about once every few months I take all the rags from the bathroom and add them to the cleaning rags. I take all the old nasty cleaning rags and add them to the rags in the garage and Daddy Darnell ruins them out there.

P.S. again: I know the label on my spray bottle looks ridiculous, but this is real life with a two year old and a three month old I just don’t have time to worry about labels. Judge Me.

P.S. again again: This was my first time to attempt my own blog pictures. I know I usually say judge me, but don’t judge me this time. I’m learning. K thanks.

 

Meal Plan #5

It’s been a minute y’all. My bad.

We have been eating freezer meals, take out, and begging our parents to cook for us….

Between birthdays, toddler tantrums, holidays, and nursing babies, this mama just hasn’t found the time to sit down and make a meal plan. Or go to the bathroom alone. Or wash my hair. (Side note: Has everyone seen my new red hair?! Obsessed.) BUT feeling a little back on track, so here we go.

These meals are all super simple, and most use the Instant Pot. Obviously.

Who all got a new IP on prime day?! The deal was sooooo good. I almost got a second one. Daddy Darnell seemed to think baby monitors were more important. I mean I guess I need to see the baby while she sleeps.

Enjoy friends.

More posts coming soon. I have several lined up, I just need to find a moment to sit down and type them up. As I sit here and type this one Hixon is literally wiping his nose on his shirt, the baby is crying and Daddy Darnell just laid down for a nap. #momlife #reallife #don’tworryIwillwakehimup

Meal Plan here

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meal plan 5

 

Happy wife, happy life?

This post goes out to all the overwhelmed mamas (or non-mama folks who are overwhelmed.) Because the past week or so, I have been that overwhelmed mama.

We have been dealing with some serious toddler tantrums around here. We’re talking yelling, kicking, screaming, hitting, crying, whining, the whole shebang. It’s seriously the worst. It makes me not like my toddler. I have had to constantly remind myself that he is only two and his emotions are just a little bigger than he can handle right now. I have had 29ish years to figure out my emotions and still struggle, so I can only imagine how he feels. But in the moment, I still hate it. It usually ends in both of us sitting on the floor crying.

Add that to a newborn who needs her own one-on-one time, a husband who needs his time with me, parents and siblings who need their time with me, trying to still have friends and a social life, a clean house, well rounded meals, and continue to create a thriving business? It’s too much.

When do I make time for myself? Y’all. We MUST make time for ourselves. It’s really that simple. We have to. It is not an option.

I’m sure you have heard the term “Happy wife, happy life.” I always sort of giggled at the ridiculousness of this saying. I assumed it meant that if my husband wasn’t meeting my every demand then he would obviously be miserable. I mean, he DOES need to meet my every demand don’t get me wrong. I don’t want him to read this and get the wrong idea J  But I now read that happy wife term a little different. I think what it should say is “If mom feels crazy, everyone goes crazy.” Or “If mom is too stressed, everyone feels stressed.”

Here is what I have realized. When I start to feel like life is getting a little out of control, life actually gets a little out of control. These past few weeks our schedules have been a little more hectic. The kids have spent a good amount of time in their car seats while I run errands. Hixon has spent some serious time plopped in front of the TV while I try and get stuff done around the house. Baby Kimora has spent some serious time in the swing. But what happens? Hixon starts to act out. He is bored. He then feels he needs to get out ALL the toys. He wants to eat ALL the snacks. He has major, horrific, make-me-wanna-throat-punch-him, meltdowns. Which leads to guilt on my end. Which leads to more stress about not being the perfect mom. Which leads to more tears. Which leads to a meltdown of my own.

See how that works? It’s a vicious cycle.

clean house mem

Today I made it a point to spend some time on me. I got my own sanity back, so everyone around can have theirs back too. I dropped Hixon at school, fed the baby, and went and sat at my favorite coffee shop and read a book. I didn’t get to spend hours upon hours reading. But that 30 minutes of quiet time was GLORIOUS. The baby slept in her car seat, I sipped coffee and read. And you know what? I feel so much better. The dishes from breakfast are still in the sink, the toilets still need to be cleaned, and my floors are so gross I refuse to walk around barefoot right now. (Damn dogs and toddlers. Will my floors ever be clean?) But I actually feel like I can get those things done this afternoon. I also realize the world won’t come crumbling down if I don’t.

So new rule mamas. What makes you happy? A bath and a glass of wine after the kids are asleep? (I hate taking a bath. Sitting in dirty water freaks me out. But you do you girl.) A good book and coffee? Trash TV and a bowl of popcorn? A pedicure? A massage? A real good gym sweat sesh? Do it. Take back your sanity. Don’t find the time, MAKE the time. Let the toilets be dirty for just a few more minutes. Better yet, pay someone else to clean them. <<< Still hoping my husband is reading this J

No guilt, no judgement.

Kisses,

Mama Darnell

 

PS: the whole time I wrote this Hixon cried in his room refusing to take a nap. For the second day this week. So cheers to that…good mom

Meal Plan #4

New meal plan for ya!

I know these next few weeks will be a little crazy with the 4th of July holiday coming up, so being prepared is the best way to stay semi-healthy.

This past week I legitimately had no desire to eat the foods on the meal plan. None. I felt over tired, overwhelmed, mostly just over it. All of it. The thought of dishes at the end of the night made me want to cry.  So this week the meals are EASY. Also, this week as I made the meal plan I tried to think of exactly what I would order or crave when I am not wanting to cook.

Enjoy friends 🙂

Meal plan below

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meal plan 4

Kisses,

Mama Darnell

 

PS: Don’t forget to check out the last post all about diffusers! There are some special deals hidden in there !!!!!!

Essential oil diffusers. SOOOO many options

Let’s talk essential oil diffusers. There are about 1 billion on the market. You can buy them everywhere now. I think even Walmart carries them? But believe me friends when I say, not all diffusers are created equal. So below I highlight some of my favorites and where to get them.

Obviously I am a fan of doTERRA, but that is definitely not the only place to buy a good diffuser. Spa room, Green Air and amazon also carry some great ones.

Why diffuse? Without getting into the nitty gritty of essential oils and ALL their benefits, here are some reasons I diffuse every single day in my home

  • My whole family (and anyone else who walks into my house) gets the benefits of the oils.
  • The people and animals in my house stink. Including me. (Still testing natural deodorants to talk about at a later date…sorry about my stench in the meantime.) I have babies who still shit their pants, a husband who is ALWAYS sweating, two dogs who roll around in their own poop, and myself, who refuses to wear toxic deodorant. We stink around here. We need some SERIOUS air fresheners. When I read that typical air freshener was super extra disgustingly toxic I panicked. Were we just supposed to stink? Um no. Not okay.

doTERRA diffusers

  1. Aroma Lite:

My favorite diffuser. I love the light that it puts off at night. I love the amount of mist it puts into the air. I love this diffuser.

  • Run time: up to 8 hours
  • Lights can be turned on or off
  • Purchase directly from doTERRA from my site $119 mydoterra.com/katiedarnell
  • Purchase from your own doTERRA account $89 mydoterra.com and sign in.
  • postives:
    • Lights can be turned off
    • Perfect for a small room
    • Super strong mist
  • Negatives:
    • Not the cheapest diffuser.
    • Definitely makes noise while running.

aroma lite

  1. Petal Diffuser:

This is my favorite diffuser to run in the kids rooms at night because the light is perfect as a night light. I also really like the size of this one.

  • Run time: up to 4 hours
  • Lights can be turned on or off
  • Purchase directly from doTERRA from my site $62.66 mydoterra.com/katiedarnell
  • Purchase from your own doTERRA account $47 mydoterra.com and sign in.
  • postives:
    • Lights can be turned off
    • Perfect for a small room
    • Perfect Night light
  • Negatives:
    • Not the cheapest diffuser.
    • Shorter run time

petal

Non doTERRA diffusers

  1. Aromamist by Spa Room

Friends that have this diffuser really love it. Several teacher friends use this one in their classroom and haven’t had any complaints. I’m sure the kids love the super cool colors of the lights. It doesn’t cover a huge area square feet wise, but if you’re just looking to diffuse in a small room or office this one is perfect.

**I also found out that there is a version of this diffuser that plays music?! Through a Bluetooth button!? Shut. Up. 2017 is so cool. Just stop it with this crazy technology. This is amazing and I want to order one right now.

****I can get the AromaHarmony (musical version of Aromamist) at a discount if we buy in bulk. The magical music one retails for $80 each but only $40 each with my discount. Um hello, that’s a sick deal. You’re welcome. Let me know in the comments if you want one!

  • Run time: up to 6 hours
  • Lights can be turned on or off or set to rotate colors.
  • Covers 151-200 sq. feet
  • Purchase directly from Spa Room $50 http://www.sparoom.com/products/aromamist (currently out of stock)
  • Purchase from Amazon $33.97 http://amzn.to/2sUYqXd
  • postives:
    • Really cute design
    • Lights can be turned off
    • Perfect for a small room
  • Negatives:
    • Short run time

aromamist

  1. Spamist by Spa Room

I own this one and run it often in my kitchen/living room area. Mine is in the woodgrain design AND has a remote. It is the only diffuser I own that has a remote. I always get compliments about the look of this diffuser. It is also very affordable compared to some of the others. We leave it running at night to serve as a sort of nightlight in the kitchen. (Because some of us nursing mamas have to get up and have a snack in the middle of the night or we will for sure starve to death.)

  • Run time: up to 4 hours
  • Lights can be turned on or off or set to rotate colors.
  • Covers 151-200 sq. feet
  • Purchase directly from Spa Room $30 http://www.sparoom.com/products/spamist
  • Purchase from Amazon $21.57 http://amzn.to/2tOSifv
  • postives:
    • Cute design. Also comes in a woodgrain color.
    • Lights can be turned off. Lights also work really well as a night light.
    • Perfect for a small room
    • Super affordable
  • Negatives:
    • Short run time
    • Only one button on the actual diffuser. If I didn’t have a remote with mine, I’m not sure I would understand how to use it..

spa mist

  1. Spa Vaopr 2.0 by GreenAir

So this one looks VERY similar to the Spamist. Almost identical. However, they are definitely not exactly the same. This one runs much longer. It also cover a much larger space. I would really like to replace the one in my living room with this one.

  • Run time: up to 8 hours
  • Lights can be turned on or off or set to rotate colors
  • Covers 1000 feet
  • Purchase from My Oil Gear $42.49 (currently on sale, normally $49.99) https://www.myoilgear.com/spa-vapor-2-0/
  • Purchase from Amazon $24.95 http://amzn.to/2sVctfp GREAT PRICE!
  • postives:
    • Cute design
    • Lights can be turned off
    • Perfect for a small room
    • Great run time.
  • Negatives:
    • When you turn it on as you go to bed. And when you wake up, it’s still on. This allows you to very quickly realize that you DID NOT get your desired 8 hours of sleep…

spa vapor

  1. The Sprite by Essential Oil Gear

A friend let me borrow this one because she hadn’t even taken it out of the package yet. I was SHOCKED when I read that it could run up to 20 hours!? I love love love that feature. I  did notice that the smell of the oils wasn’t near as strong as the 20 hours went on. This one is also super small, so it would be perfect for adding to a small office. I felt like this was a great diffuser for the price. However, since I just opened it about 2 weeks ago, I can’t speak for how long it will last.

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Portable diffusers

All of the above diffusers are portable technically. However, the ones below are meant to be traveled with or are very very easy to travel with.

  1. USB Diffuser by EOS.life

My favorite car diffuser.

USB

  1. Scentpod by GreenAir

This works great in my car because it uses no water and my cup holders suck.

scent pod

  1. Aromafier by Spa Room

Just like the one above. I have used this one as well and they are just alike.

***I can get these at a bulk discount for $10 each. Please let me know if you’re interested!

aromafier

 

 

Hope this helps you decide which diffuser is best for you! I know there are so many options and it can be super confusing which one to buy. So either be like me and buy them all, or use the above info to pick one. Or one for every room.

Off to the gym. Yay for losing baby weight!

Kisses,

Mama Darnell

 

 

 

 

 

Meal plan 3

Friends! I almost forgot to post this week’s meal plan!

Blame it on the toddler.

Let’s just be real for a minute. The past few days in toddler land have been tough. All the crying. All the whining. All the new baby jealousy. All. The. Emotions.

At one point yesterday I sat in the closet and cried while Hixon cried outside the door. Ugh. Horrible. The worst.

As I sat down to get this meal plan together I wasn’t feelin it. I was so worn down. I had no desire to even cook a grilled cheese at the time.

However, I know that part of the stress of the week is from being unprepared. I knew that having a meal plan would only make next week better. Regardless of how hard the days are, we still have to eat dinner every night. And eating out every night makes us feel like shit.

So here we are. Meal plan number 3. A little uninspired, but a meal plan none the less.

We did it mamas. We made it through another week! Here’s to the weekend, Father’s day celebrations, and family time.

Enjoy 🙂

 

PS: There are some REAL good instant pot recipes here. You’re welcome.

Click here

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meal plan 3

winner meme