14 Family Friendly Mac and Cheese Hacks

With five children, each one a couple years apart, we always have at least one kid going through a “mac n cheese phase”. Right now, it’s our four year old who will wake me up at seven o’clock in the morning and announce “Mom, I want mac n cheese for breakfast”.

Over the past few years we’ve learned a few tricks to turn a box or two of mac n cheese into a delicious meal that’s more than pasta and cheese. Check out these mac n cheese additions that are sure to make you feel a little better about serving this cheesy pasta dish.




Ham (Turkey or Chicken too!)








Butternut Squash







Spinach and Artichoke






From The Country Cook




From Mom’s Messy Miracles

Taco Seasoning



From The Girl Who Ate Everything



From Adventures in Cooking

I’m sure you have a few of your own mac and cheese hacks. What are your favorites?



Trigger Warnings are a Product of Empathy

Trigger Warnings are a Product of Empathy (and that's ok) by The Sometimes Chaotic

Trigger Warnings are about power. It’s about the presenter handing the power over to the audience. When you refuse to use a simple warning you are subjecting those with mental illness (anxiety, PTSD, depression, etc) to relive their trauma with no empathy for how the audience may be effected, physically and mentally. The presenter is simply refusing to let go of their power.

Would you tell someone who has an allergy just to deal with being exposed to their allergen? Would you tell someone having an asthma attack to just breathe deeper? Would you tell someone who needs eyeglasses just to look harder when their glasses are slapped off their face? That’s the equivalent of being triggered.

It’s a lack of oxygen. It’s your entire body turning against you. It’s fight or flight. Over and over and over and over.

It’s not a stab wound that can be healed. It’s not a broken leg that can be cast. It’s not something that heals with a band aid. It’s a never ending breakout. A reaction to our lives.

So, when you say “Trigger warnings are stupid”, “You kids these days are soft”, “I didn’t need Trigger Warnings”, you are not only being selfish, you are missing the point.

Older Generations did not have trigger warnings because our society does not value mental health. But this generation? We’re facing it. We’re learning more and more about how trauma effects our DNA. We’re trying to get by the best we can to live with the baggage other generations have handed off to us and we are asking for your help.

So, instead of being a complete ass about someone who needs a little more help getting through their life while living with mental illness, how about you try being compassionate and understanding of what we are dealing with. Try being a decent human being.



I am Here for You, But I am Here for Myself First

I am here for you, but I am here for myself first. The Sometimes Chaotic

I consider myself active in the mental health community. What I mean by that is I continually research not just medical developments but also radical self-care. I apply what I learn to the interactions I have with my peers and tend to have a vastly less-stigmatized perspective of mental health than most (at least in my experience). However, my motto has always been: I am here for you, but I am here for myself first.

Lately I have been struggling with the burden of others’ mental health. I appreciate the differences of the people I surround myself with, but along with these different backgrounds and life-experiences come different behaviors. They are learned, they are historical, they are accustomed. They are no one’s “fault”. Yet, even with my understanding of this, I find difficulty leveling with the need to constantly be rescued that I am witnessing among some mental health circles.

Continue reading

Not Your Typical Birth Plan

Not Your Typical Birth Plan

I have never written a birth plan. How can you even do such a thing when birth is so unpredictable!? I mean, even when I HAD a plan, things never went the way I expected them to, so I always kind of felt that moms who wrote birth plans and passed them out as they were wheeled into the L&D just felt the need to have control over every. little. thing.

But now I’m writing one.

Why a change of heart? Well, after four very different births, none of them anything like what I had envisioned, I am tired of feeling out of control when I’m wheeled into the L&D.  So, to those moms who have a binder of requests, I feel you. I feel you so much.

Continue reading

I’m Not a Cat Person

Im Not a Cat Person

I always thought I was a cat person.



I mean, I’ve had a pet cat pretty much my entire life. I can remember when I was in kindergarten a stray cat had kittens under our trailer and we took them in. We named the momma Robin because she was dark with a red belly like the bird. When my parents were going through a divorce, I became super attached to our black cat, Figaro. He was so fat his belly rubbed on the floor when he walked. He didn’t do much but he was intuitive and would always come snuggle when I wasn’t feeling well. I was giving him a bath when he had a heartattack. Then, after a nasty fight with my dad he tried to reconcile by adopting another black cat named Shaft. He quickly became “my cat” and even slept on my head at night. Continue reading

Hospital “Essentials” You Probably Don’t Need

Hospital "Essentials" You Probably Don't Need

As a mom to four monsters, with another trying to make an early appearance, I’ve had my share of experiences in the L&D. For my first, I followed pretty much every generic hospital list you find on the web. I ended up not using half of it and leaving with even more. Baby number two was a little bit better, but I was still worried about not being prepared. I don’t even remember who packed a bag for baby number three, who was supposed to be a home birth but after 36 hours of labor I ended up at a  nearby hospital. Baby number four was an emergency c-section so I was totally unprepared for her. Now with baby number five on the way I am determined to get it just right!

Continue reading

Bacardi Rum Cake Recipe

Rum Cake Recipe

My stepdad’s birthday was yesterday and my mother had a very special dinner planned for him. Of course, that included his favorite cakes, one of which is his mother’s rum cake. Since my mother knew that I enjoyed baking she gave me the duty of baking this beautiful rum cake and me and the Monsters helped bake a plain white cake as well (another of his favorite cakes).

Continue reading

Once a Month Meals: Crockpot Cranberry Chicken Price Breakdown

In my first post about OAMM (Five Tips for Beginners) I mentioned that some recipes are worth your time and others aren’t. Depending on how much you are spending on ingredients, a recipe may not be worth making for your family. In a previous post is a list of all the recipes we tried during Take One with a link to the instructions and a link to their price breakdowns, but below we will breakdown the price for one of our favorites: Crockpot Cranberry Chicken!

Now, the prices I’m listing beside each ingredient is for the DOUBLED amount so that in the end I can calculate the correct price for each serving. If I had to purchase a new ingredient, I calculated the entire price for that ingredient into the recipe breakdown because I was spending that money specifically for these burritos. So, if you have any of these ingredients on hand already then your burritos will be even cheaper!

Continue reading

Growing Plants with Recycled Materials

Growing Plants with Recycled Materials

My husband and I have become adamant on starting a garden this year. Where we live the natural soil is so full of rocks and boulders that planting directly into the ground would take months of hard prep work and thousands of dollars. So, we’ve been doing research on other ways we can start a garden and grow our own vegetables. The plan is to have enough fruits, vegetables and roots that we should spend significantly less on our grocery bill! And for a family of ten people groceries are a big chunk of our monthly budget!

Continue reading

Peaches and Creme Crescents

Peaches and Creme Crescents

Peaches are hands down my favorite fruit. They are tender and sweet and FUZZY! I wish I could have fresh peaches all year round but I can’t stand the idea of eating canned fruit. However, my husband and I recently found some new glass jarred fruits in our grocery store and I was amazed at how fresh they tasted. I just had to make something with them! So I pulled a few things from our fridge and came up with these.

Continue reading