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While the fall weather tempts you to curl up on the couch or in front of a fireplace, the reality is that this season is busier than ever. Between after-school activities and gearing up for the holidays, families don't have a ton of time to create delicious meals—but that doesn't mean your weekly menus have to skimp.

We rounded up some of the tastiest recipes that are ideal for chillier nights. The best part? You can prep them in 20 minutes or less so you have more time to spend on what really matters.

1. Carolina barbecue chicken

When it's too chilly to cook on the grill outside, opt for this meal indoors.

Ingredients (for 2, double for family):

  • 12 oz chicken breasts
  • 1 Thai chili
  • 6 oz green beans
  • 1 oz cream cheese
  • 5 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 oz chives
  • 4 oz gemelli pasta
  • 1/2 cheddar cheese
  • 2 oz barbecue sauce
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp butter

Instructions:

  1. Wash and dry all produce. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Place chicken on a cutting board and cover with plastic wrap. Pound with a mallet, rolling pin, or heavy-bottomed pan until ½ inch thick.
  2. Heat a drizzle of oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Season chicken all over with salt and pepper. Add to pan and cook until no longer pink in center, 3-4 minutes per side. Remove pan from heat. Meanwhile, finely mince chives until you have 1 TBSP. Mince chili, removing ribs and seeds first for less heat.
  3. Once water is boiling, add 4 oz gemelli (about ⅔ of the package) to pot and cook, stirring occasionally. After about 5 minutes, add green beans to same pot and continue cooking until tender, about 4 minutes more.
  4. Once green beans are tender, remove from pot with a slotted spoon and set aside on a paper-towel-lined plate to dry. Season with salt and pepper. Drain gemelli, then return to empty pot off heat.
  5. Add cheddar, cream cheese, minced chives, 1 TBSP water, 1 TBSP butter, and a pinch of chili (to taste) to pot with gemelli. Stir until a thick and creamy sauce forms. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Add barbecue sauce, vinegar, and as much remaining chili as you like to pan with chicken. Return to stove over low heat and toss until chicken is coated in a sticky sauce. Divide between plates and serve with mac 'n' cheese and green beans on the side.

    Recipe from HelloFresh.

    2. Whole-wheat pasta with caramelized lemon, mushrooms and thyme

    Sweater weather calls for carb-loading. This one will have some yummy leftovers.

    Ingredients (serves 6):

    • 1 lemon
    • 5 tbsp olive oil
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 lb cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
    • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
    • 1 lb whole-wheat spaghetti
    • 1/4 tsp crushed red chile flakes
    • Grated parmesan, for serving

    Instructions:

    1. Using a Microplane grater, completely remove the zest from the lemon, leaving no patchy parts, and transfer the zest to a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and reserve. Trim and discard the ends from the lemon then chop into rough 1/2-inch pieces, discarding any seeds.
    2. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chopped lemon, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the lemon is caramelized in spots and the pith is tender, 6 to 8 . minutes. Transfer the lemon pieces to a bowl. Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel and return it to the heat.
    3. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in the skillet then add the mushrooms, thyme, and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are golden brown and starting to fry in the oil, about 16 to 20 minutes.
    4. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, 7 to 10 minutes, according to package instructions. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water.
    5. Add the cooked pasta and 1/2 cup reserved water, the reserved lemon zest, and the chile flakes to the skillet with the mushrooms, and cook, tossing, until everything is combined and warmed through, adding up to 4 tablespoons more pasta water to keep everything well-moistened. Season the pasta with salt and pepper and serve while hot, sprinkled with parmesan on top, if you like.

    Recipe from Tasty Ultimate: How to Cook Basically Anything.

    3. Chicken quesadillas with apple salsa 

    The apple salsa adds the perfect finishing touch.

    Ingredients (makes 2 servings):

    • 1 medium apple, cored and chopped
    • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice
    • 1 teaspoon honey
    • 1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion
    • Kosher salt
    • Unsalted butter, for the pan
    • 2 medium flour tortillas
    • 1⁄2 cup cooked and shredded chicken or turkey
    • 2 ounces (1⁄2 cup) shredded cheddar cheese
    • Handful of baby spinach

    Instructions:

    1. In a small bowl, combine the apple, lemon juice, honey, onion, and salt. Set aside.
    2. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt a little butter.
    3. Put 1 tortilla in the hot pan and sprinkle it evenly with chicken, cheese, and spinach.
    4. Put the remaining tortilla on top.
    5. Cook until the cheese just begins to melt and the bottom of the tortilla is golden, 2 to 3 minutes.
    6. Using a broad metal or plastic spatula, carefully flip the quesadilla over and cook until the cheese is completely melted and the tortilla is golden, another 2 to 3 minutes.
    7. Remove the quesadilla from the pan and allow to cool for 2 minutes.
    8. Cut into wedges and serve with the apple salsa.

    Recipe from Cooking From Scratch. *(c)2018 By PCC Community Markets. All rights reserved. Excerpted from Cooking from Scratch by permission of Sasquatch Books.

    4. Bacon-studded brussels sprouts with pecans

    These make a delicious salad on their own, or as a side to an entree.

    Ingredients (for 2, double for family):

    • 9 oz brussels sprouts
    • 3/4 cup chopped bacon
    • 2 1/2 tbsp pecans
    • 6 tbsp shallot

    Instructions:

    1. Cook bacon and pecans. Medium dice bacon into about 1/2 inch pieces. Place bacon in a dry medium sauté pan over medium heat. Cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add pecan, cook 8-10 minutes, or until pecans are toasted and bacon is crispy, stirring occasionally. Transfer bacon and pecans to a paper towel (keep bacon fat in pan).
    2. Prep brussels sprouts and shallot. Cut ends off brussels sprouts. Lay flat and cut into about 1/4-inch thick slices. Cut ends off shallot and remove peel. Halve lengthwise. Lay flat and cut lengthwise into about 1/4-inch thick strips
    3. Start brussels sprouts. Return pan with bacon fat to stovetop over medium heat. Add brussels sprouts and shallot to hot pan. Season with salt and pepper. Cook 7-10 minutes, or until veggies are crisp-tender, stirring occasionally.
    4. Finish brussels sprouts. Add about 1/2 cup water to pan with brussels sprouts. Stir. Cook 2-3 minutes, or until water or until water cooks off and veggies are tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heart. Return bacon and pecans to pan. Salt and pepper to taste. Stire to combine.

    Recipe from Green Chef.

    5. Slow cooker butternut squash soup

    The prep for this only takes 20 minutes, and then you can let the slow cooker do the rest of the work!

    Ingredients:

    • 2 1/4 lb butternut squash, copped into small chunks
    • 1 large yellow onion, diced
    • 2 granny smith apples, diced
    • 2 carrots, cut into chunks
    • 1 tbsp salt
    • 1 tsp pepper
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 1 tbsp curry powder
    • 1 tsp turmeric
    • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
    • 1 tsp ginger
    • 1 tbsp minced garlic
    • 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
    • 1/2 cup heavy cream
    • Parsley (for garnish)

    Instructions:

    1. Spray a 7- or 8-quart slow cooker with a nonstick cooking spray.
    2. Add all ingredients except heavy cream into slow cooker.
    3. Cook on low heat setting 7-8 hours or high heat setting 4-5 hours.
    4. Add to a blender and blend until smooth.
    5. Stir in heavy cream and adjust seasoning to taste.
    6. Garnish with extra heavy cream and herbs.

    Recipe from HelloFresh.

    6. Tiger mountain turkey chili

    Photography by Charity Burggraaf

    Chili in the fall? Groundbreaking... but it's just too good to pass up.

    Ingredients (about 8 servings):

    • 1 1/2 lbs ground turkey
    • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
    • 1/2 medium green bell pepper, diced
    • 1/2 medium red bell pepper, diced
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
    • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/2 tsp ground chipotle
    • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
    • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
    • 1 tsp kosher salt
    • 1 (15-oz) can crushed tomatoes, drained
    • 1 1/2 cups water
    • 1 (15-oz) can tomato sauced
    • 1 (15-oz) can kidney beans, drained
    • 1 tbsp packed light brown sugar

    Instructions:

    1. Spray a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot with cooking spray and put over medium heat.
    2. Add the turkey and cook, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking and to break up the meat into smaller pieces, about 5 minutes. Once the turkey is no longer pink, drain off and discard all the liquids.
    3. Stir in the onion, bell peppers, garlic, chili powder, black pepper, chipotle, cumin, thyme, and salt.
    4. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes, until the onions are translucent and the spices are deeply colored and fragrant.
    5. Add the tomatoes and tomato sauce, then stir in the water.
    6. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, until the vegetables have slightly softened and flavors have melded.
    7. Stir in the beans and sugar, heat through, and serve.

    Recipe from Cooking From Scratch. *(c)2018 By PCC Community Markets. All rights reserved. Excerpted from Cooking from Scratch by permission of Sasquatch Books.

    7. Maple + rosemary-glazed pork cutlets

    Apple and maple syrup... what more could we want in the fall?

    Ingredients (for 2, double for family):

    • 2 scallions
    • 1 gala apple
    • 12 oz pork cutlets
    • 1 oz maple syrup
    • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
    • 1/4 oz rosemary
    • 1/2 cup couscous
    • 5 tsp white wine vinegar
    • 1 unit chicken stock concentrate
    • 2 oz spring mix lettuce
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 2 tbsp butter
    • Salt and pepper

    Instructions:

    1. Wash and dry all produce. Trim, then thinly slice scallions, keeping greens and whites separate. Pick and finely chop enough rosemary leaves from stems to give you 1 tsp. Halve, core, and dice apple.
    2. Heat 1 TBSP olive oil in a small pot over medium-high heat. Add scallion whites and ½ tsp chopped rosemary. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pour in ¾ cup water. Bring to a boil, then immediately stir in couscous and a large pinch of salt and pepper. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand until tender, about 10 minutes.
    3. Meanwhile, pat pork dry with a paper towel. Season generously all over with salt and pepper. Melt 1 TBSP butter in a large pan over high heat. Add pork and cook until browned and cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Remove from pan and set aside on a plate.
    4. Reduce heat under pan to medium. Stir in remaining chopped rosemary, 1 TBSP vinegar (we'll use more later), maple syrup, stock concentrate, and ¼ cup water. Let simmer until thickened, about 1 minute. Stir in 1 TBSP butter, then season with salt and pepper. Return pork to pan, tossing to coat in sauce, then remove pan from heat.
    5. Whisk together mayonnaise and remaining vinegar in a medium bowl. Add lettuce and apple. Toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
    6. Fluff couscous with a fork, then divide between plates. Arrange pork on top of couscous and drizzle with any sauce in pan. Garnish with scallion greens. Serve with salad on the side.

    Recipe from HelloFresh.

    8. Pronto chicken white pizzas with baby broccoli, fresh mozzarella + tuscan herbs

    When you want to cozy up with pizza, make this flatbread.

    Ingredients (for 2, double for family):

    • 10 oz chicken cutlets
    • 8 oz broccoli florets
    • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
    • 1 tbsp Tuscan heat spice
    • 1 unit roma tomato
    • 2 unit flatbreads
    • Salt and pepper
    • 7 tsp olive olive

    Instructions:

    1. Adjust broiler rack so that it is in position closest to flame and place a baking sheet on rack. Preheat broiler to high. Rinse chicken, then pat dry with a paper towel. Season all over with salt and Tuscan heat spice.
    2. Heat a large drizzle of olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat (use a nonstick pan if you have one). Add chicken and cook until browned and no longer pink in center, about 2 minutes per side. Remove from pan and let cool slightly, then cut into bite-size pieces.
    3. Wash and dry all produce. Cut any large broccoli florets into bite-size pieces. Core, seed, and dice tomato. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in same pan over medium-high heat. Add broccoli and tomato. Cook, stirring, until just tender and wilted, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
    4. Scatter mozzarella in an even layer over flatbreads, followed by chicken, broccoli, and tomato. Carefully remove baking sheet from broiler and sprinkle with a drizzle of olive oil. Place flatbreads on sheet and sprinkle each with a drizzle of olive oil.
    5. Carefully return sheet to broiler and broil flatbreads until cheese melts and crust starts to brown, 3-4 minutes. TIP: Check flatbreads occasionally for any burning.
    6. Remove flatbreads from broiler. Sprinkle with another drizzle of olive oil and season with salt, if desired. Let flatbreads rest for 1 minute, then cut into slices and serve.

    Recipe from HelloFresh.

    9. Paleo sweet potato nachos

    Whether you're hosting people over for game day or want a healthier snack, these look incredible.

    Ingredients (for 2, double for family):

    • 1 lb ground beed
    • 2 tsp chorizo-style seasoning or taco spice blend
    • 1 large sweet potato
    • 1/2 cup chopped red and green bell peppers
    • 6 large radishes
    • 2 tbsp shredded carrots
    • 2 tbsp shredded red cabbage
    • 1 tbsp + 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
    • 1 tsp agave (or your favorite sweetener)
    • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
    • 1/4 cup dairy free sour cream
    • 1 tbsp chopped cilantro
    • 1 lime

    Instructions:

    1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Peel sweet potato, if desired. Halve lengthwise; lay flat and slice into thin half moons. Place in a large bowl. Drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons cooking oil. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat.
    2. Chef's Tip: Cut the sweet potato as thin as you like. The thinner the slice the crispier the chip.
    3. Spread sweet potato out in a single layer on a lightly oiled foil-lined baking sheet (see Chef's Tip). Roast 15-20 minutes, or until chips are lightly browned and slightly crisp, flipping halfway through. Heads Up: Two baking sheets may be needed to fit all the chips in a single layer.
    4. Meanwhile, trim ends off radishes and cut in half. Lay flat and slice into about ¼-inch thick half moons.
    5. Combine apple cider vinegar, agave and red pepper flakes in a small bowl. Mix until the agave is dissolved into the vinegar.
    6. Bring spiced apple cider vinegar and about 1 tablespoon water to a boil in a small pot. Once boiling, remove from heat. Add radishes and carrots and red cabbage. Season with salt and pepper. Stir. Cover. Let pickle at least 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    7. Meanwhile, cut ends off red onion and remove peel. Small dice into about ¼-inch pieces. Small dice red and green bell peppers into about ¼-inch pieces.
    8. Heat about 1 ½ tablespoons cooking oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add onion and bell peppers to hot pan. Season with salt and pepper. Stir. Cook 2-3 minutes, or until veggies soften, stirring occasionally.
    9. Add ground beef to pan with veggies. Stir to break up beef. Sprinkle with desired amount of chorizo-style seasoning. Stir to evenly distribute seasoning. Cook 6-8 minutes, or until beef is fully cooked, stirring occasionally. Salt and pepper to taste. Stir. Take Note: Ground beef is fully cooked when it's no longer pink.
    10. Add the dairy-free sour cream to a small bowl with cilantro and the juice of the lime. Mix until fully combined.
    11. Plate sweet potato chips. Pile chorizo-seasoned beef and veggies over top. Drizzle with creamy cilantro dressing. Serve curtido next to nachos. Enjoy!

    Recipe from Green Chef.

    10. Lentil and white bean stew

    Photography by Charity Burggraaf

    Cozy up with your favorite drink and this hearty stew.

    Ingredients (makes 6 servings):

    • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1/2 medium white onion, finely chopped
    • 3 medium carrots, peeled and finely chopped
    • 3 ribs celery, finely chopped
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
    • 1 cup French green lentils, rinsed
    • 1 tsp kosher salt, plus more as needed
    • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
    • 3 cups vegetable broth
    • 1 (15-oz) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
    • 1 bunch Lacinato kale, tough stems removed and leaves shredded
    • Splash of balsamic vinegar, plus more as needed

    Instructions:

    1. In a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat, heat the oil.
    2. Add the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.
    3. Stir in the thyme, then add the lentils, salt, pepper, and vegetable broth; bring to a boil, stirring several times to prevent the lentils from clumping.
    4. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer until the lentils are cooked, 25 to 30 minutes The lentils will keep their shape but should be tender all the way through.
    5. Add the beans, kale, and vinegar. Simmer until the beans are heated through and the kale is tender, about 8 minutes.
    6. Remove the thyme and season to taste with more salt, pepper, and perhaps another splash of vinegar.
    7. Serve hot.

    Recipe from Cooking From Scratch. *(c)2018 By PCC Community Markets. All rights reserved. Excerpted from Cooking from Scratch by permission of Sasquatch Books.

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    There are certain moments of parenthood that stay with us forever. The ones that feel a little extra special than the rest. The ones that we always remember, even as time moves forward.

    The first day of school will always be one of the most powerful of these experiences.

    I love thinking back to my own excitement going through it as a child—the smell of the changing seasons, how excited I was about the new trendy outfit I picked out. And now, I get the joy of watching my children go through the same right of passage.

    Keep the memory of this time close with these 10 pictures that you must take on the first day of school so you can remember it forever, mama:

    1. Getting on the school bus.

    Is there anything more iconic than a school bus when it comes to the first day of school? If your little one is taking the bus, snap a photo of them posed in front of the school bus, walking onto it for the first time, or waving at you through the window as they head off to new adventure.

    2. Their feet (and new shoes!)

    Getting a new pair of shoes is the quintessential task to prepare for a new school year. These are the shoes that will support them as they learn, play and thrive. Capture the sentimental power of this milestone by taking photos of their shoes. You can get a closeup of your child's feet, or even show them standing next to their previous years of first-day-of-school shoes to show just how much they've grown. If you have multiple children, don't forget to get group shoe photos as well!

    3. Posing with their backpack.

    Backpacks are a matter of pride for kids so be sure to commemorate the one your child has chosen for the year. Want to get creative? Snap a picture of the backpack leaning against the front door, and then on your child's back as they head out the door.

    4. Standing next to a tree or your front door.

    Find a place where you can consistently take a photo year after year—a tree, your front door, the school signage—and showcase how much your child is growing by documenting the change each September.

    5. Holding a 'first day of school' sign.

    Add words to your photo by having your child pose with or next to a sign. Whether it's a creative DIY masterpiece or a simple printout you find online that details their favorites from that year, the beautiful sentiment will be remembered for a lifetime.

    6. With their graduating class shirt.

    When your child starts school, get a custom-designed shirt with the year your child will graduate high school, or design one yourself with fabric paint (in an 18-year-old size). Have them wear the shirt each year so you can watch them grow into it—and themselves!

    Pro tip: Choose a simple color scheme and design that would be easy to recreate if necessary—if your child ends up skipping or repeating a year of school and their graduation date shifts, you can have a new shirt made that can be easily swapped for the original.

    7. Post with sidewalk chalk.

    Sidewalk chalk never goes out of style and has such a nostalgic quality to it. Let your child draw or write something that represents the start of school, like the date or their teacher, and then have them pose next to (or on top of) their work.

    8. In their classroom.

    From first letters learned to complicated math concepts mastered, your child's classroom is where the real magic of school happens. Take a few pictures of the space where they'll be spending their time. They will love remembering what everything looked like on the first day, from the decorations on the wall to your child's cubby, locker or desk.

    9. With their teacher.

    If classrooms are where the magic happens, teachers are the magicians. We wish we remembered every single teach we had, but the truth is that over time, memories fade. Be sure to snap a photo of your child posing with their teacher on the first day of school.

    10. With you!

    We spend so much time thinking about our children's experience on the first day of school, we forget about the people who have done so much to get them there—us! This is a really big day for you too, mama, so get in that photo! You and your child will treasure it forever.

    This article is sponsored by Rack Room Shoes. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

    Our Partners

    In America, mothers have the right to breastfeed their child in public, but what about when you're on an airplane? That's the issue one California mom, Shelby Angel, brought to light after she had a bad experience on Dutch airline KLM.

    In a Facebook post that has gone viral Shelby explained:

    "Before we even took off, I was approached by a flight attendant carrying a blanket. She told me (and I quote) "if you want to continue doing the breastfeeding, you need to cover yourself." I told her no, my daughter doesn't like to be covered up. That would upset her almost as much as not breastfeeding her at all. She then warned me that if anyone complained, it would be my issue to deal with (no one complained. On any of the flights I took with my daughter. Actually, no one has ever complained to me about breastfeeding in public. Except this flight attendant)."

    Shelby's post gained traction but soon the conversation spread to Twitter, where another woman, Heather Yemm, asked KLM to explain its breastfeeding policy.

    The airline responded, "To ensure that all our passengers of all backgrounds feel comfortable on board, we may request a mother to cover herself while breastfeeding, should other passengers be offended by this." Twitter users didn't like this response and even started asking other airlines about their breastfeeding policies.




    British Airways confirmed it welcomes breastfeeding onboard and a Delta rep tweeted that the airline's policy is to "allow a breastfeeding mother to feed her child on board in a manner she feels comfortable with."

    FEATURED VIDEO

    That sounds like a good plan to us. Southwest was also questioned by Twitter users and confirmed that "Southwest does indeed welcome nursing mothers who wish to breastfeed on the aircraft and/or within our facilities".

    This important online conversation underscores how vital it is for airlines to have supportive policies in place and train staff on those policies. Back in March, a Canadian mom made international headlines after an Air Canada call center representative told her to nurse in an airplane bathroom (a suggestion that is contrary to Air Canada's own policies).

    It's time for every airline to recognize that breastfeeding needs to be welcomed and that all staff members need to understand this. Whether a mother uses a cover or not needs to be up to her, not a flight attendant or other passengers.

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    News

    I grew up with three brothers and yes, it was loud, crazy, chaotic, but also so much fun. We had vacations where we laughed a lot, Christmas Eves full of staying up late to listen for Santa, and inside jokes that made me feel like I had my own little secret club. What I really loved about being in a big family was that it gave me a sense of community, so when I came home and the outside world had been cruel or harsh I had my people.

    People always gasped when I said I had three brothers and no sisters like they weren't sure how I survived around so many barbarians. I never felt like I was missing out. My brothers are caring people, my mom was always around, and we all got married young giving me three sisters-in-law who I call close friends.

    Now we all have our own families and we live 30 minutes from each other. We still manage to get together with all 12 of the cousins (all under 12, yes it's chaos) and laugh and make memories. My oldest brother has four kids, my second oldest has three, I have three, and my youngest brother has two and we pretty much all had them at the same time. We are also a very girl heavy bunch, only four boys total in the whole mix.

    FEATURED VIDEO

    Recently we were all on a family vacation and I was sitting around with my sisters-in-law and we were talking numbers, who was done having kids. My sister-in-law with four said she was overwhelmed, my other one said they were adopting one more and my other sister-in-law and I just said, we don't know. We both have three and four feels like a big jump.

    It's funny how everyone talks about how you know when to start having kids but no one tells you how hard it will be to decide when your family is done. I know that's not true for everyone, I have lots of friends that just knew. Others never had the luxury of deciding and then some are like me living life on the fence hoping the fertility fairy will drop an answer in your lap.

    I have to admit, I don't know if I'm done having babies. All these questions keep popping in my head.

    If I have two girls and one boy should we go for the fourth and try for a brother?

    Or if we have three girls will the level of drama be too high?

    Or if one kid really likes one of their siblings and not the other should we have more?

    Should we factor in age?

    Should they be two grades apart or three or four?

    Should we give up if it's too hard or will we regret it?

    Should we adopt if we can or have another biological?

    Should we close up shop and enjoy the kids we have?

    Will our marriage survive another newborn season?

    What is the perfect number?

    There are a thousand possible scenarios and the questions just eat away at my brain. They keep me up at night. I'm not even kidding. I have laid in bed and played out every scenario and the possible outcome.

    I do this because my childhood in all of its loud glory was the greatest gift my parents ever gave me. My brothers, our friendship, my parents' choice to fight for close-knit relationships, all of it was what gave me the foundation I needed.

    So now as a parent myself, I want to give that same gift to my own kids.

    What if there is no perfect number? What if you just choose to make family a safe, secure place, where your kids can feel valued and loved? Does it matter then if you have one, two, three, four or whatever number you have? Will the effect still be the same?

    I think so.

    The reality is though, I want what I had. I want a family where my kids feel this sense of community they might not get anywhere else and that's not a numbers game that's a culture thing.

    I have had to come to accept that I have no guarantee and that there is no perfect number. Each family comes with its own set of complications, joys and strengths. The uniqueness is actually part of the fun.

    We have two girls and a boy now and I watch my girls bond as sisters and think, oh this is what people were talking about. Sure, I wish my son had a brother but he has two amazing sisters that love on him and will even dress up like superheroes sometimes.

    We still don't know if we are "done" but we do know our family is already great and the number isn't as important as what we choose to make important.

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    Life

    My darling,

    I'm not entirely sure why I do things like this to myself, but tonight, as I rocked our night-before-turning-1-year-old daughter to sleep I closed my eyes and, for about 10 minutes, I pictured what our life will look like in 10 years.

    (You're probably reprimanding me for doing that in your head right now. 😂)

    In 10 years, our three daughters will be almost 15, almost 13, and 11—not a single-digit in sight. We'll be dealing with high school and middle school and hormones and the start of love interests and things that aren't diaper changes and baby proofing and teething.

    We won't be rocking them to sleep anymore or cutting up their food. And I'm sure we'll miss the validation of being the ones who keep their world turning because simply put—we won't be the center of their Universe anymore.

    Instead of them needing us to lay with them until they fall asleep, they will need us to remind them that it's bedtime at 9 pm, 10 pm, then again at 11 pm.

    Instead of tripping over dolls strewn about the floor, we will be tripping over lacrosse sticks and backpacks and bras.Instead of needing our help to break up fights over magnatiles, they'll need us to break up fights over who stole who's shirt.

    FEATURED VIDEO

    Instead of wiping tears from a meltdown over receiving the "wrong" dinner plate, we will be wiping tears from a heartache over a fight with a friend.

    Instead of needing us to carry them around when they say they're too tired to walk, they will need us to pick them up from after-school activities and drive them around town.

    Instead of teaching them how to tie their shoes or say "thank you," we will be teaching them how to drive and how to stay safe and be a respectful member of our community.

    It will be a whole new world.

    I will become the woman who looks at a baby and can almost feel her ovaries ache. We will hold new nieces and nephews and wish that we could relive that high of meeting our child for the first time again—just one more time. We'll say things like, "Wow, it seems like just yesterday our kids were this small…"

    This past weekend, when we were hosting our third first birthday party, we reminisced on when each of our children were born and how it seems like they are growing up so quickly. Because they are. It seems like we blinked, and now our newborn from last year is a walking, chit-chatting, climbing, busy toddler.

    I started to cry during my little torture-myself-10-years-ahead-meditation tonight. (Not totally surprising, right?) Because 10 years down the line—while I am certainly confident we will be happy and fulfilled—everything will be different. There will be new milestones to be proud of and new adventures to embark on, of course. But it won't be like it is now.

    These—right now—are the good ol' days of our future.

    The stories we will reminisce on are happening now... when we discover that our toddler knows how to climb on the kitchen table and laughs at us when she sees us see her… or when we watch our preschooler tie her shoes for the first time courtesy of the bunny ear method... or the million times our heart bursts when our middle kiddo busts out her signature move of sticking her hand down her shirt and asking for a pacifier when she's tired.

    The moments we will never forget are happening now… the sound of the high pitched sing-song voice belting out "Part of Your World" from The Little Mermaid… the giggles when we're all running around the house… the way they look when they're sleeping—so peaceful and angelic—even if they were going buck wild 10 minutes prior.

    The "remember whens" we will laugh about when our kids seem too grown up and the parenting challenges seem too serious—are happening now...

    Like when one of our children poops in the backyard playhouse (I won't name any names)... or how another one of our children "bakes" concoctions that consist of garlic powder, chili powder, vanilla, ginger, water, baking soda and salt (and yes, also how I try them because she always asks me to and because I always feel bad not supporting her baking endeavors).

    We will look back, and we won't necessarily focus on the blood, sweat and tears that we have poured into raising young children together. Sure, we will remember how hard it was—but I really think we will look back on these physically and emotionally taxing years with rose-tinted glasses.

    The feeling of utter overwhelm and constant chaos will have dimmed. The sleep struggles and multiple meltdowns will pale in comparison to the relationship drama and social media worries of the pre-teen and teenage years. We will have more time for conversation and date nights instead of often feeling like ships passing in the night.

    And so my hunch is this: We will faintly remember the hard times down the line. But, in 10 years, when we look back—we will let the good times shine.

    In 10 years, I'll be sad—in a happy way—looking back on the beginning stages of the life we've built together.

    The days when happiness was measured in how many twirls one could do before collapsing into laughter.

    The days when love was measured in sloppy, peanut butter covered kisses.

    The days when peace was measured in how calm bedtime could be and how quiet the house could get post-bedtime.

    The days when we were their everything; their Universe.

    The good 'ol days.

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    Instead of needing our help to break up fights over magnatiles, they'll need us to break up fights over who stole who's shirt.

    Instead of wiping tears from a meltdown over receiving the "wrong" dinner plate, we will be wiping tears from a heartache over a fight with a friend.

    Instead of needing us to carry them around when they say they're too tired to walk, they will need us to pick them up from after-school activities and drive them around town.

    Instead of teaching them how to tie their shoes or say "thank you," we will be teaching them how to drive and how to stay safe and be a respectful member of our community.

    It will be a whole new world.

    I will become the woman who looks at a baby and can almost feel her ovaries ache. We will hold new nieces and nephews and wish that we could relive that high of meeting our child for the first time again—just one more time. We'll say things like, "Wow, it seems like just yesterday our kids were this small…"

    This past weekend, when we were hosting our third first birthday party, we reminisced on when each of our children were born and how it seems like they are growing up so quickly. Because they are. It seems like we blinked, and now our newborn from last year is a walking, chit-chatting, climbing, busy toddler.

    I started to cry during my little torture-myself-10-years-ahead-meditation tonight. (Not totally surprising, right?) Because 10 years down the line—while I am certainly confident we will be happy and fulfilled—everything will be different. There will be new milestones to be proud of and new adventures to embark on, of course. But it won't be like it is now.

    These—right now—are the good ol' days of our future.

    The stories we will reminisce on are happening now... when we discover that our toddler knows how to climb on the kitchen table and laughs at us when she sees us see her… or when we watch our preschooler tie her shoes for the first time courtesy of the bunny ear method... or the million times our heart bursts when our middle kiddo busts out her signature move of sticking her hand down her shirt and asking for a pacifier when she's tired.

    The moments we will never forget are happening now… the sound of the high pitched sing-song voice belting out "Part of Your World" from The Little Mermaid… the giggles when we're all running around the house… the way they look when they're sleeping—so peaceful and angelic—even if they were going buck wild 10 minutes prior.

    The "remember whens" we will laugh about when our kids seem too grown up and the parenting challenges seem too serious—are happening now...

    Like when one of our children poops in the backyard playhouse (I won't name any names)... or how another one of our children "bakes" concoctions that consist of garlic powder, chili powder, vanilla, ginger, water, baking soda and salt (and yes, also how I try them because she always asks me to and because I always feel bad not supporting her baking endeavors).

    We will look back, and we won't necessarily focus on the blood, sweat and tears that we have poured into raising young children together. Sure, we will remember how hard it was—but I really think we will look back on these physically and emotionally taxing years with rose-tinted glasses.

    The feeling of utter overwhelm and constant chaos will have dimmed. The sleep struggles and multiple meltdowns will pale in comparison to the relationship drama and social media worries of the pre-teen and teenage years. We will have more time for conversation and date nights instead of often feeling like ships passing in the night.

    And so my hunch is this: We will faintly remember the hard times down the line. But, in 10 years, when we look back—we will let the good times shine.

    In 10 years, I'll be sad—in a happy way—looking back on the beginning stages of the life we've built together.

    The days when happiness was measured in how many twirls one could do before collapsing into laughter.

    The days when love was measured in sloppy, peanut butter covered kisses.

    The days when peace was measured in how calm bedtime could be and how quiet the house could get post-bedtime.

    The days when we were their everything; their Universe.

    The good 'ol days.

    Life

    There are a lot of points during labor when mothers do not have any control over what's going on with their body. The one thing they usually have, if giving birth vaginally, is their ability to push. But a recent report by Vice highlights the fact that in some hospital delivery rooms, women are being told to stop pushing, even when the urge is nearly irresistible. And in some cases, this may be happening for some very troubling reasons.

    "If a woman's cervix is fully dilated and she has the urge, she should be allowed to push, barring some unusual complication with mother or baby," Dana Gossett, chief of gynecology at the University of California, San Francisco, Medical Center, told Vice.

    Writer Kimberly Lawson gathered anecdotal evidence suggesting that in many situations, hospital nurses are telling women to stop pushing because the doctor or midwife isn't available to deliver the baby. In some cases, women even report nurses forcing a baby's crowning head back into the birth canal.

    "I've never felt a more painful experience in my life [than] being strapped down and forced to hold a baby in," says Elaina Loveland, a mother who was told to stop pushing because there were no beds available at the hospital when she arrived. "It was almost worse than the pushing. It was horrible."

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    In addition to pain, women made to resist the urge to push may experience other complications. Delayed pushing sometimes causes labor to last longer, puts women at higher risk of postpartum bleeding and infection, and puts babies at a higher risk of developing sepsis, according to a study released last year. One midwife explained in the article that holding the baby in can damage a mother's pelvic floor, which might later cause urinary incontinence.

    In one extreme case, Caroline Malatesta, a mother of four in Alabama said that when a nurse forced her baby's head back in, she caused permanent damage. After four years of chronic pain from a condition called pudendal neuralgia, she won a $16 million lawsuit against the hospital.

    Nurses aren't necessarily being cruel when they instruct mothers to stop pushing, by the way. They may be hoping to prevent other complications, such as problems with the umbilical cord or shoulder dystocia. A doctor or midwife is better trained to correct such situations, and can also help prevent perineal tearing.

    If hospital staff are instead making these decisions because of a shortage of obstetricians or hospital beds for expectant mothers, there's a systemic problem that needs to be addressed. As people have grown increasingly aware of the high rate of maternal deaths after childbirth, issues like these could point out where there's room for improvement.

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