Pandemic Panic and Mental Illness

Keeping a consistent routine is one of the basic and most useful therapies in managing bipolar disorder. Obviously COVID-19 has not made that easy. I haven’t been getting out of the house with the younger girls, we’ve been adjusting to “distance learning” for Jacen, and our custody schedule for Arielle has been all kinds of stressful. When I lost our routine, it felt like someone pulled a Jenga block from the bottom of my emotional stack: everything is pretty wobbly, I’m praying I don’t get knocked down, and I’m definitely fearful of what will  be taken from me next. 

My OCD is running high. I’m checking the stove burners and the locks on the door several times an hour.  My husband tries to make light of it by saying things like “Kate, you’re getting your steps in today” and mockingly “wait, have you checked to see if the door is locked?” It’s really embarrassing to be aware of a strange habit but not be able to stop yourself.

By far the absolute worst part of staying home has been my anxiety. I feel completely out of control- crying spells, massive panic attacks, vomiting, restlessness, irritability. All of it. All the time.

I try to remind myself that this time is actually a gift. This is more time with the kids, and at the end of my life I know that more time with them is all I’ll be wishing I had more of. There’s just a huge difference between receiving a gift and enjoying it.

I want them to remember this time as calm, safe, and loving. I want them to remember how strong mom was when the world was scary. I want them to remember fun things we did together, and things they learned at home that they wouldn’t have been taught in school. I want to enjoy this time. I fear they will remember me crying myself dry, anxiously vomiting, pacing, and worrying. I fear I won’t be remembered as the super mom that I always aspire to be, but a weak woman who fell apart in crisis. I fear the memories we make during this time will show me as overwhelmed, anxious, confused and stressed.. And all of these fears end up feeding my anxiety, making me fear even more. It’s an endless cycle. 

In both my OCD and my anxiety, I’m aware that my actions are unnecessary, but I’m unable to stop myself. I have to touch the door knob. I can’t just remind myself it’s locked and walk away. I’m aware that I appear preoccupied and unapproachable when I’m sobbing and stressing, but I just can’t stop it, no matter how much I would rather be laughing with my kids. I just want to stop. I want to change things. I want to enjoy the gift of time with my children.

This pandemic has been hard on everyone. We miss socialization. We fear for our businesses, our finances. We fear for the education of our children. We miss our family in healthcare, first responders, front liners, and essential employees whom we have not seen nearly enough of lately. We stress about getting sick, or getting someone else sick who can’t fight the virus. We fear of going without; of running out of food, soap and toilet paper. There is so much fear and sadness in the world. 

I know there has to be a way to turn this around. I’m fighting every day, trying to claw my way out of the hole I’ve dug myself into. I’m still seeing my doctors via Telehealth. I take my meds. I think of the kids. I think my next small step needs to be carving out a new routine. I do better when I know what to expect next, no surprises. No stress or guilt at the end of the day due to forgotten tasks. Organization.

I know I’m not the only one scared. I’m sure you are, too; to some degree, and in some regard. The world is a crazy place right now. I’m going to start small and get into a daily routine, because I deserve to feel better than I do right now. And so do you. No matter your reason, diagnosis or situation you can feel better. What’s your next step? Think about it. Tomorrow is a new day, and a perfect day to start turning things around.




So, This is Thirty.

The weeks before my birthday gave me so much anxiety. I mourned that the ‘exciting’ stuff of my 20’s were behind me- getting married, having kids, etc. – and I felt I had nothing good to look forward to. My self confidence has been shot since having Lucy. Postpartum body doesn’t make me feel very good, and I’m obsessing about the number on the scale. Planning to go out seemed like a labor intensive task on its own. I didn’t have anything to wear, needed a sitter for four kids, I hadn’t drank in about 18 months and didn’t know how alcohol would make me feel, and I carried a lot of guilt over leaving my 2 month old with my mom for a couple of hours. I was dreading the whole thing.

At the same time, I genuinely felt like I needed a break from the kids. Only a couple of hours, not all night. I forced myself to get excited. I put on my ‘going out’ boots, eyelashes, and the bravest smile I could muster. Twenty ten years old, ( you know, the number that comes after twenty nine..) and this was the best it was gonna get.

I actually got a little nervous when my ride came to pick me up. It was my last chance to cancel, but as I opened the front door to leave my sister ran toward me with a gift bag and a big old hug. How could I turn away from that? I opened the car door to find two of my long, lost friends. All of a sudden I felt a change in my chest. I was excited! I was happy.

For a while now I have wanted to build a friendship with a friend of my sister. This girl is awesome, hilarious, and we actually see eachother for most big events and holidays. When we invited her out it was 50/50. Does she know me well enough to come? Are we close enough to count as friends? My social anxiety gave my little spurts of heart palpitations. Seeing this girl in the car shot a lightning bolt of happiness through me, and I started to feel less guilty about leaving the kids. I genuinely felt like I needed to spend my mama-self care time on strengthening our friendship. I want more friends, specifically someone who makes me laugh as much as her. She is a breath of fresh air from my little gremlins at home. I truly feel that having more friends like her will round me out as a person, and make me feel like more than just a mother.

As expected, alcohol didn’t go over well. It just tastes so bad! How do people get it down? I literally ordered three drinks and only took a couple sips of each. I really AM getting old. No more falling down drunk for me! It was still so nice to sit down at the hookah bar, relax, and spend time with adults. My sister and brother in law bring me so much comfort, and make me feel incredibly loved. The two friends that came out kept things interesting, and I got to catch up on new gossip. I love hearing about the exciting lives of people without kids. (I’m not kidding.) They have the best stories. By 11:00 these wild and crazy kids were exhausted, so we headed home.. I think in the club world most people are just leaving their house at this time. (insert face palm) Still, I was more than happy to be heading toward my bed and some Tylenol.. And of course some baby snuggles!

I woke up that morning by turning twentyten. I mourned my younger days, and the things I’d missed out on in my 20’s by having my kids young. I harboured negativity. I was irritated with my husband for not taking time off of work to spend the day with me. I was annoyed that the kids made birthday cake pops, and left chocolate all over my stove. I dreaded going out, and wondered if my favorite boots would pinch my toes. I was overwhelmed with the thought of getting ready with all four kids running around, and then rounding them up to get in the car. I’d sum it up in three words :Anxious. Irritated. Overwhelmed.

Crawling into bed that night, things had changed for me. My husband (who had been sleeping when my brother in law dropped me off) sleepily gazed at the clock and noticed it was a few minutes past midnight. “It’s not your birthday anymore, you can relax again.” We both kind of laughed. I was pretty silly about this whole twentyten thing. I’m thirty. It’s dumb to think that the fun stuff is behind me. Sure, I won’t be a princess on my wedding day again, nor that glowing mama holding her new born baby, or even the kind of girl who can stay out past midnight. Those things are gone, yet fondly remembered. The fun things to come outweigh the past anyways! I get to watch my four babies and beautiful niece grow up. I’ll get to see my girls dressed as princesses, and give them all of my attention. In many years- and i do mean MANY years- I’ll hopefully be a glowing NANA holding my newborn grandchild. I won’t be the center of attention anymore, but that’s okay. I’ll be the one pointing the spotlight at the girls when it’s their time. I, of course, was disappointed my husband didn’t get to come out with us, but the silver lining was that I could focus on my friendships and try to put my mama/wife pot on the back burner. We spend plenty of time together anyways. The chocolate on my stove? It actually came off quite easily, and in the end my kids had made me birthday cake pops. They really do love me. The older kids helped out with the younger girls so I could get ready. It was such a relief, and I actually felt pretty for the first time in a very long while. And no, my boots did not pinch my toes, they just made me feel pretty sexy. If I had to sum it up in three words: Relieved. Comfortable. Accepting.

So, This is thirty? I can take this. I can handle this. I can own this. I am 30, and I’m going to try my best to make it my best chapter ever. Luckily I have the biggest and best team supporting me than ever before. I’ve got this.

Thirty and (just a tiny bit) Dirty,


My recipe for smoothie bowls!

IMG_6129I am absolutely in love with smoothie bowls, but definitely not in love with paying $10 at juice bars. I haven’t been able to tolerate heavy lunches anymore, so these bowls have been a real lifesaver to get in my protein, fiber and antioxidants.

There’s the traditional acai recipe that includes acai powder. It’s a great ingredient for the antioxidants but still pretty pricey. 4oz will run you about $12 on Amazon. We go through smoothie bowls way too fast to keep up with that, especially since two of my children are as addicted as I am.

Below are two recipes. The first for the acai bowl, and the second is my own recipe for an affordable smoothie bowl fit for the whole family. Let me know in the comments section if you have a favorite smoothie bowl recipe- I’m always looking for a way to twist in some variety!

Acai Bowl:
1/2 Banana, frozen
1/2 Banana
1 Handful Berries
1/2 Heaping cup Fruit, fresh
1/4 cup Granola
1/3 cup Coconut milk
1 tbsp Protein powder
1 tbsp Apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp Hemp seeds
1 pack acai powder

Blend acai powder, frozen banana,vinegar, berries, coconut milk and protein power. Top with leftover fruit, granola and seeds.

Kate’s super-saver smoothie bowl:
Frozen mixed berries
Frozen blueberries
Fresh berries and fruit
Almond milk
Peanut butter
Protein powder

Blend all frozen berries, a whole scoop of vanilla protein powder, and almond milk. Top with fresh fruit, granola, nuts and a scoop of peanut butter.

My version is lower cost, and higher protein. The exclusion of blended banana is totally a personal choice. I do enjoy them as a topping, but not as part of the smoothie. Addition of a banana will thicken up the smoothie, but also add carbohydrates.

These bowls give me a ton of energy without weighing me down, and always lift my mood! I hope you enjoy!

With healthy hearts,

Kate and the Kids.

Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today.

Letting go is hard. It’s much easier to hold grudges, be negative and complain about the woes that you’ve been dealt. It’s a cycle, and it’s so hard to break.

I’ve had my own struggle with this concept. I’d be consumed with guilt about being obese, then binge to drowned my sorrows, then feel guilty about over eating, then binge. Even now, there are days when I don’t want to get out of bed so I blame the universe for bestowing such a hard life on me. Or, how about when I do something insanely awkward and I beat myself up for days thinking “this is what you should have done,” and “what’s wrong with you?”

Starting fresh is a new routine for me, and I really see a difference. I gain more positivity each day. There isn’t anything we can do about yesterday, so move on and have a better today.

I feel strongly that this concept can be applied to just about everyone during the holiday season (if not everyday!) Are you beating yourself up about indulging in the Christmas cookies yesterday? Stop. There’s nothing you can do. Eat better today, and move on. Did you have a moment of stress, and snap at your spouse or children? Don’t be consumed by guilt. Outshine that one second of negativity by making today memorable and positive. Today is a new day, a clean slate.

It is currently 9am as I write this, and I’m dead set on making today a good day. I’ve taken time for myself to blog, organized my plans for the day, and let go of yesterday.

What are you doing for yourself today? How are you letting go of yesterday? Let me know in the comments!

With healthy hearts,

Kate and the Kids.

2 ingredient eggplant parm

For a family of 5 on one income, healthy eating can get quite expensive. My local grocery store often has a rack of clearance produce that needs to be used or frozen right away. I’m telling you, it can be a real life saver. Today I ended up with 4 large eggplants for $1! The total cost for this 16 serving dish was $3.34- eggplant and shake and bake.

Eggplant parm is always a hit in my family. If I remove the skin, my kids assume it’s a chicken nugget and eat their veggies with no issue!

Tonight I needed a quick and easy recipe to fit into our schedule- and this worked out perfectly!


2 large eggplants

1 packet of Parmesan shake and bake


Clean and slice your eggplant.

Place the eggplant slices into water.

Transfer wet slices into shake and bake bag a few at a time.

Lightly shake bag, coating the eggplant.

Arrange on cookie sheet so all pieces lay flat.

Broil on high for 2-4 minutes until golden.

Flip and repeat on other side.

Continue baking at 350 until cooked thoroughly. (About 15 minutes.)

Serve as desired with sauce and cheese.

Easy peasy!

Nutrition break down:

Servings: 16 (about 2/3 cup depending on size of eggplant.)

Calories: 59

Fat: 0

Protein: 2

Sugar: 3

Fiber: 2

I bake my eggplant to avoid the oil and fat, but this recipe works well with oil frying and air frying!

I hope you enjoy! Let me know in the comments if you try this recipe, and how you like it!

With healthy hearts,

Kate and the Kids.

Morning Mindfulness

It seems like overnight my daughter discovered how to speak, and the words flood in by the dozens every day. Every few minutes she’s asking, “and dis? What dis?”

This morning the baby monitor didn’t wake me with the typical cries and whines. Instead, I heard my sweet little Anna talking to the elephants on the wall. “Dada, Momma, Anna.. Dada, Momma, Anna.” I rounded the corner to her bedroom slowly, and she didn’t see me standing there. She continued to chant, and she ran her fingers over the vinyl elephants. “Dada, Momma, Anna.”

When the floor creaked and gave my hiding place away, Anna looked up and met my gaze with the sweetest little smile. Excited, she said, “mama!” and ran her hand over the wall, resting over the heart, “what dis?”

I felt tears sting my eyes, so proud of my little lady. This moment snuck up so unexpectedly, and would pass so quickly. I just had to make it last a little bit longer.

We stood and talked about the elephants for a few minutes before I scooped her up for hugs and kisses, ready to start our day. I couldn’t believe just moments ago I was begging the Lord for 5 more minutes of sleep. I was wondering how I would leave the security of my weighted blanket or heated mattress, and thoroughly believed nothing could be as good as that bed felt.

I’ve spent too many days hiding in bed with my depression. When the mom-guilt sinks in, I sit and wonder how many of these beautiful moments I’ve missed while I isolated myself with my own sadness. Anna doesn’t seem to notice. She’s babbling and kissing my cheek like this is the only way it’s ever been. Her reaction is the most sincere motivation to try for moments like this, to wake up and embrace the day instead of hiding from it. To get out of bed.

I’m always working on mindfulness but it’s easier said than done. Moms have it rough. We beat ourselves up over the past, and overwhelm ourselves being anxious about the future. It’s easy to end up going through the motions without being completely present. Most of the time I’m so sucked into my thoughts that I feel like a bad mother. What have I missed? What have THEY missed out on because of me? Why am I not good enough? Am I making THEIR lives good enough?

..But then a moment like this morning happens. A moment where you have no choice but to stop and take it all in. It got me out of bed. Hell, it got me in the shower, out of the house and got my errands completed. I’ve had a really great day- there might be something to this mindfulness thing.

Learn from my mistakes, and benefit from my retrospect: Slow it down today. Be mindful. Take it in. Beauty just mind find you when you’re least expecting it, so make sure your eyes are open when it comes!

With healthy hearts,

Kate and the Kids.

New Year, New Blog!

Christmas is right around the corner, and that means the new year will be here before we know it! I’ve made some changes to celebrate a new beginning- starting with our blog content. I will still share all of the fun, free events I come across but our main focus will now be family health. Personally, I find events and outings to be extremely important to the social health of a family.

As most of you know, I’ve been on a fitness journey for the last 2 years. Losing over 150 pounds, and strengthening my mom-muscles. Jacen has also been on a physical health journey, taking control of his Ehler’s- Danlos syndrome.

As a whole, our family has had a rocky road with mental health. I’m finally diagnosed and under treatment for bipolar disorder, OCD, depression, anxiety, and a previous eating disorder. There’s a ripple effect where my mental health impacts my family. We are working together on helping each other, and being a support web.

Lastly is our social health. We are always trying to get better about being active in our community. This definitely means our typical events and adventures will continue!

I hope you’ll join us on this new venture. I’m looking forward to sharing our journey, recipes, tips, tricks, events and so much more!


With healthy hearts,

Kate and the Kids18001600

Holidays on the Green at The Pinehill 12/1

The Pinehills

33 Summerhouse Dr, Plymouth, Massachusetts 02360
Join us for the 14th Annual Holidays on the Green on Saturday December 1st, 2018 from 10am to 4pm.

Here is just some of the fun you can expect at Holidays on the Green*
-Holiday Artisan Market
-Whisper your wish list to Santa Claus
-Make some furry new friends at the Annual Reindog Parade.
-And more!
*Details coming in November and subject to change.

Reindog Parade
Dress your dog up in his or her holiday best for the chance to win prizes and bragging rights for all of 2019.

Bridgewater Autumn Fest 9/29

Bridgewater State University
131 Summer Street
Bridgewater 02324

10:00 am – 4:00 pm

CALL: 508-259-1171


This FUN-tastic day includes over 100 vendors, where you can sample the wonderful products and services our BBA Members and other vendors have to offer, delicious food & treats from local eateries, music & MC by JAS Productions, music with the BRRHS Band and Middle School Band and Chorus, Four in a Row (Beatles cover band), Felix and the Jazz Cats, and John Balutis, BSU Arts for Youth, crafts and face painting, live demonstrations and performances, activities for the kids, pumpkin decorating, train rides, moon bounce from Grant’€™s Rental, Petting Zoo, the Bridgewater Fire Department smoke house, Bridgewater Police Department K-9 demo, Poppee the Clown, child ID digital photo and fingerprinting (with the Fellowship Lodge A.F. & A.M.), Joe’s Crazzy Critters, Stardust Gym. Admission is free.

Hoppy Fall Festival @ Heritage Gardens 9/22

Celebrate fall and the resurgence of small craft brewers. The event features beer tasting from local and hyper-local breweries. Staff from each brewery are on hand to answer questions about their beers and brewing processes, plus you can indulge in fare from local food trucks while you enjoy your drinks in an autumn biergarten at the largest public garden in southern New England! Visitors can also enjoy backyard games and activities, watch a home brewing demonstration, and learn the differences between beer styles in a “Beer Styles Decoded” talk lead by Cisco Brewers.

Tasting Tickets: $35 Members; $40 Non-Members. Price includes museum admission. Must be 21+ to taste beers and valid ID is required to enter the event.

Current Breweries(with more joining all the time!)
Cape Cod Beer
Devil’s Purse Brewing Co.
Cisco Brewers
Castle Island Brewing Co.
Hog Island Beer Co.
Independent Fermentations Brewing
Naukabout Beer Co.
6A Brewing Co.
Barnstable Brewing
Untold Brewing
Mayflower Brewing Co.

Tasty food from:
Wolf Pizza – Handmade pizza with local ingredients
Trolley Dogs – Specialty Hot dogs
The Local Scoop – Ice cream
The Pineapple Caper Cafe – Gourmet grilled cheese!
Cape Cod Donuts

LEGOs at the Library – Kingston public library

8/20/2018 – 10/1/2018 Weekly on Monday
5:30 pm – 7:00 pm

Come build with our large collection of LEGOs every Monday night! Build to the theme of the night, or build anything you can imagine. All creations will go on display in the Children’s Room!

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