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Working Mom Bento – (and ALLERGY FRIENDLY!)

Miles is officially in school 5 days a week, 8-3. (Can I get a HALLELUJAH!)
While I’m only working part time right now, I’ll be pregnant again soon and that’s another part time job in itself.
Packing lunches was NOT something I was ever looking forward too. Until Keli “stepped” into my life.
She brought me into the wonderful world of Bento boxes and showed me that it doesn’t take a lot of time or a lot of effort. Which Is good since I have neither of those.

I am a working single mom with a preschooler who needs to pack a lunch every day, and on top of that it has to be dairy, egg, peanut, rice, oat and soy free.  (SEE why I wasn’t excited??)

I soared through my first week ease, and had so much fun. Maybe the holiday week made it a little easier.


Allergy Friendly BentoHam rolls ups, baby dill pickles, mini ritz crackers, steamed (cold) broccoli, strawberries and 2 cookies.
I didn’t know how much food he’d eat but I figured I’d rather over pack my first box, than under pack it.
there were FIVE crackers left! I was shocked and very happy.
(I bought this corn box at a local Asian market, I did find it on Ebay also. So you can do some searching around if you MUST have it.)



Sunbutter Football sandwiches, fritos, baby carrots, pitted cherries and mini oreos.
I had a MUCH better idea for today’s lunch but he snuck out of his room and “caught me” making it. He called all the shots from that point. So EVERYTHING was his idea. Even the box with the chopsticks. When I picked him up from lunch he scolded me for not packin”g meaties” so he could use his chopsticks.
I know better for next time.



Tortilla, ham and mustard “sushi,” (with little ham flowers on top), Garden grape tomatoes, baby dill pickles, steamed broccoli, popcorn, grapes, fruit leather cut into carrots (because he thought that was funny) and 1 little tiny cookie.



Sunbutter and Strawberry Jam sandwich (with sprinkles), Pretzels under the sandwich, strawberry hearts and red cereal. This lunch is VERY sugar heavy and NOT typical. But he’s snack today was all veggies, and my mom is spending the afternoon with him so I don’t have to deal with the sugar rush.

Usually he has an early day on Friday and only needs a snack. So I plan on making Friday’s “Scrap Snack Fridays.” Because there are typically scraps left when I make his food in fun shapes. But the dogs were really into my new lunch making routine and happily gobbled them all up. And this week he has a normal full day so we scrolled through some lunch ideas together and he chose this one by himself.


This week was so much fun and he ate almost everything! He told me everyday how fun his lunch was and THAT is why I did this.

I can’t wait till next week.

2 friends…

I called Jen one night and told her the opportunity I had been praying for was just dropped in my lap.

Surrogacy kind of has a bad name in Utah. Maybe not a bad name, but it’s so foreign that people are immediately scared of something they don’t understand.

My journey was FILLED (to the brim) with love and support from my neighbors and friends. But some of my best surrogate friends have received exactly the opposite.

You see, our church (The Church of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints) (or Mormons) doesn’t have a very clear stance on surrogacy. It’s official stance is only that “Surrogacy is discouraged.”

3 little words are all we get from the men we look toward for guidance.

In the past 2 years on this journey I have come to realize that Surrogacy, in the traditional sense, in discourage. Traditional Surrogacy involves the Surrogate using her own egg, and being artificial inseminated with the biological father’s sperm.  Luckily for us, Traditional Surrogacy is also illegal in Utah.

I am a Gestational Carrier. Meaning NONE of the physical DNA comes from me. It either all comes from the parents or one source can come from a donor.

So while we use the term “surrogate,” We really aren’t!

(A true surrogate was someone like Mary. Kind of ironic that a church developed around the outcome of that surrogate journey looks down on surrogacy, right?)

I have been lamenting nonstop on ways to make Surrogacy (GC) more mainstream in Utah. To gain some love and acceptance for those facing nothing but opposition from those who don’t understand.

Isnt it human nature to be scared of something you don’t understand?

When I had the opportunity to sit down with a reporter from the Deseret News, I knew without a doubt that I wanted the chance. But because of confidentiality agreements, I knew the article couldn’t be about the baby and the family I just helped. I needed another angle.

I needed Jen.

2 best friends, 2 surrogates, Both underwent IVF on the same day, Both pregnant with boys, Both babies of the same (non-American) nationality, Delivering 2 weeks apart, Both Mormon.

I knew the story needed to be about us, and about how NORMAL we are and how NORMAL surrogacy just fit into our (Mormon) lives.

The interview was HARD. We wanted to share so much more than we were contractually allowed to share. We thought about every word out of our mouths so it sounded right. We communicated with just looks when we didn’t know how to answer a question the “right” way. All the while, I thought of every possible way that the author could twist and contort our words into something we DIDN’T mean. It was a stressful evening, for me. I worried about how much would be shared about the babies and families we helped. I worried if the article would have and overall positive attitude. (We shared a lot of our sad times and a lot of our happy times. She could have chosen just one side to show.)

When she emailed me to say her editor was requiring the country that my IP’s were from, I made up a country and hoped they would understand.

Then we she announced she needed to take our picture, we both looked down at our  3 month post partum bellies and groaned.

But weeks later, the article is published and I couldn’t be more proud.

Thank You Cathy. You delivered EXACTLY the message I wanted to share.

We are NORMAL people. We are moms. We are friends. We are just offering help where we can.


Deseret News

Two women, nine months and the gift of family

By Cathy Free , Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, July 11 2012 12:16 p.m. MDT

Ryley Eaton, left, and her friend, Jen Holt, became surrogate mothers to
Ryley Eaton, left, and her friend, Jen Holt, became surrogate mothers to “pass along the joy of becoming a family,” says Eaton. (Cathy Free)

MURRAY — The tears came late at night when the hospital room was quiet and she was alone for the first time in months.

There were tears of happiness for the couple who were finally cuddling a baby of their own, the boy she had given birth to just a few hours before. And there were also tears of sadness — not because she regretted her decision to become a surrogate mother, but because one of the most wonderful experiences of her life was over.

[Read more…]

Bacon cheeseburger with a side of cheese enchiladas…

I’m a talker.
If you come within listening distance of me, there is a good chance you will know more than you ever wanted to know about my life in a VERY short time.
BUT.. I’m also a complainer.

I learned a few years ago that if I don’t tell people what’s going on, it doesn’t give me an outlet to complain and thus, makes me deal with the situation better.

I didn’t tell ANYONE I was pregnant with Miles until almost 20 weeks. I didn’t tell anyone about my divorce for almost 4 months. And this time I haven’t told many people about my journey to reclaim my body before I start on my 2nd surrogacy journey.

Because doesn’t it always kinda suck to lose weight? And get healthier?? I know I’d WAY rather be a couch potato and eat whatever I want. (Today that would be a big huge bacon cheeseburger with a side of cheese enchiladas.)

I’m a month and a week into this journey. I HAVE TO get healthier before getting pregnant again (in 2 short months). I HAVE TO stay healthier this next pregnancy.

So it’s been 15 weeks since the day I got home from the hospital. I am officially down 28 pounds. (But down 15 in the month I have been ACTIVELY trying to get healthier.

I feel amazing. 15 pounds isn’t that much. But it’s made a huge difference to me. I put on a pair of jeans 4 digits smaller. Just returned 5 new shirts I bought so I could get a smaller size.

I have about 2 full months left before we are on to Surrogacy round 2! Nothing like losing a bunch of weight just to get pregnant again!
So now that you know.. don’t let me complain! :)

“Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us…”

I sat in Sunday school today.

Honestly, one of my least favorite places to be. The chairs are hard, it’s always cold. I’m uncomfortable physically.
I am NOT a scripture scholar. There isn’t one scripture story I can have an intelligent conversation with you on.
The teacher of the week says “Everyone knows this story, right?”
I roll my eyes… Even though I’ve made a deal with my self to stop doing that at church.

My scripture app is open on my phone as a read through our lesson of the day.
My neighbor thumbs through her book and I think about how much easier it is for me. On this phone. (plus, I can sneak in a little facebook time when things get boring.)

We stop to discuss a passage..
“Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us…”
I chuckle silently thinking about the irony of being on that brink.

I drag my finger down the screen and highlight it so I can remember it for later.
I see out of the corner of my eye that she marks the same passage in her book and starts writing next to it. I don’t know what she’s writing but I know how personal this passage is to her struggles.

That lightbulb turns on.

One day, her children will have her book of scriptures. At some point in their lives they’ll come upon that passage. Perhaps at a time they’re feeling like turning back. And they’ll see her words. Mine? They’ll be highlighted in something called an iPhone. Something that may not exsist in 30 years when my son needs to read my thoughts.

So today, I renew my vow to stop rolling my eyes in church, but also make the conscience decision to bring the physical books of scriptures with me every Sunday.

If only for the reason that my words might comfort my son in his time of need the way they comfort me now.

Just enjoy it…..

A cooler packed for a picnic was my co captain.
Miles was snoring in the back seat and I played eenie meenie minie mo with the canyons.

It’s been a rough week for the two of us
(let’s be honest, it’s been a rough month, YEAR. Spotted with highlights but still, ROUGH.)

We just needed to get away. I realized as I hoped on the freeway how lucky we ate that we have SO much to choose from here. At the prompting of a friend I reached for my phone and turned it OFF.
I can count on one hand the amount of times my phone has physically been turned off. (don’t worry, I lived to tell the tale.)
Icurved into the canyon, and maybe said a little (tiny) swear word as I noticed I was behind a dirty dump truck that already had its flashers on. I looked to the left and to the right trying desperately to find a way to pass him. When something said as clear as day, “Just enjoy it.”

So I did.
20 miles up Big Cotton Wood Canyon. Only reaching 25mph ONCE. On a hill. He offered to let me pass 5 times. I didn’t. I saw a family of deer. Rushing streams. Cute little water falls. Trees. Sky. I just enjoyed it. Until we both turned off the road in opposite directions at the same time.

I spent the next 3 hours pushing a 30 pound toddler, in a stroller, around Silver Lake TWO AND A HALF TIMES. (in inappropriate footwear.) We stopped to play, feed the squirrels and we narrowly escaped being eaten by a family of ducks.
(I’m slightly (A LOT) afraid of living poultry. Not all birds. Just the ones people routinely eat. Chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, and recently discovered Quails. See? Just poultry.)
We ate our lunch on a log by the lake. (I packed a salad for myself and no fork. That was fun.) We fed most of our pretzels to the squirrels. We ran over and under and around fallen trees. We had a blast.

I don’t think he even noticed I wasn’t on my phone. I’m sure he didn’t. (because I kept shoving it in his face for pictures. (it was on airplane mode at that time.))

But I noticed.
We didn’t fight, we didn’t argue.

We just enjoyed it.