This is a mama post. Maybe you will be able to relate, whether or not you're a mama?
I don't know, but I know that I've felt the need to be honest about my mama dirt. Because maybe you're in the trenches, too, and you love your kids, of COURSE, but some days you feel like you're going to lose ALL your marbles. (I know this isn't just a me thing.) Maybe you're living a different kind of challenge, and you wouldn't give it up for the WORLD, but like I have in the past, you feel like you're not "allowed" to talk about the tough stuff because you chose this? (Has anyone else felt this way?)
I am the mama to two beautiful children and the wife of the best guy I know. I am sleep-deprived, and maybe I should be napping right now, but I feel like a bit of writing is what I need, and I hope I'm not wrong.
I am on-call as a mom ALL the time. No hours off because I am breastfeeding (my choice) and Selah's not yet at the recommended point for bottles (although we may try today for the sake of sanity). Nolan (my son) and I are trying to process what this new life looks like; he loves his sister, but he doesn't quite love sharing my attention. I just want to be left alone for a guaranteed hour.
Last Tuesday, at just about 3 weeks postpartum, I went on my first run and crossed my fingers that my body would be okay with it because I NEEDED it. I'd told my husband earlier that day that I suck at this job. Nolan and I had "started over" probably 25 times that day, and I called my sister crying that Nolan needed a new mom. My mom was planning to stop by after work, and I hopefully asked her," how long are you planning on staying? Do I have time to go for a run?"
Nolan skipped his nap that day (as he worked hard at doing the rest of the week) and was a verified MESS, so my mother cheerfully called my father in for back-up, telling me to take my time. I came back feeling SO much better, was able to enjoy
Thank God for family (blood or not!), without which I'm not sure how I would be functioning right now.
Later in the week, I learned that when my husband asks me if I want to go for a run just when I am dragging myself down the stairs too early in the morning because I need to make coffee, I should say yes, no matter how tired I feel. Running makes me a happier, nicer person. It's a healthier drug than sugar, my default medication and it's a WAY better choice than snapping at my husband because I'm tired, frustrated, & by my rationalization, he's an adult and can handle it.
1. read Parenting with Love and Logic (I'm feeling like I could use some help as we navigate this new season of Nolan no longer being the only child.)
2. stick to my running plan.
3. save sweet treats for the evening- if I start earlier than that, I can't seem to stop!
4. go on an actual date (no kids allowed!) with my husband.
5. purchase a couple of outfits from thredUp that I feel cute in.
6. have our "new" neighbors over for dinner. (They moved in several months ago, and we just met them. Ahem.)
7. get a (very) part time job in place.
Linking up with The Tiny Twig's Goals with Grace.
I've decided to tackle a new goal (or goals) every month. At the end of each month, I'll decide if I want to carry it into the next month.
This month I went for
-Cutting out meat and dairy
-Yoga twice a week
I actually pretty much cut out meat on November 26 and then eliminated dairy, too, beginning December 20. Over time, I developed anemia (I'm normally prone to low iron levels) and started eating more plant-based iron rich foods, but it wasn't enough. I was dealing with dizzy spells and blacking out multiple times a day- during yoga, when standing up, and throughout my regular activities.
(I dealt with it during some yoga classes, but did skip one because I wanted to avoid blacking out during class again.)
I deliberated and discussed and ended up making one eensy, kind of big change. I'm sticking to cutting out meat and dairy...6 days a week. But once a week, I pick a day (usually Sunday), and I eat some quality, grass-fed, and organic beef because while I do think there is a lot of good to be said about cutting out meat, I do think I need a little quality beef to avoid anemia. I also think there are also benefits to eating a mostly plant-based diet if it means the changes are more likely to be sustained over time.
(Tim and I made hamburgers for dinner last Sunday; since then, I've experienced no dizziness or blackouts.)
Yoga is a work in progress. I missed a class due to my health issue (that I think is worked out now!). Nolan plays in the daycare downstairs while I practice, but sick kids aren't allowed. A little runny nose, ok, but the stuff that's been coming out of his nose? Not okay. (It doesn't seem to be slowing him down too much, though!)
Nolan and I need to get healthy, and then I'm going to keep plugging along.
What are you working on this month? How's it going?
My sister and her husband were in town for a week +, so life kind of stood still for a while. We spent a lot of time just being together and enjoying.
It hasn't completely started up again because my brother is still in town and my husband hasn't gone back to work yet. I certainly haven't take enough pictures again, but here are two of my favorites:
I'm not setting year-long resolutions this year. (I haven't for years.) I'm the sort of person who tries something for a while, picks up a few changes, and tends be ready to move on before a year is up. Sometimes that bothers me, but I've decided to make an attempt to make it work for me.
Every month, I'll be focusing on a new challenge (or challenges), no "lose X number of pounds" allowed!
This month, I'm cutting out meat and dairy (for a number of reasons, which I'd be happy to discuss if you're curious) and going to a yoga class twice a week.
Are you riding on the "new month! new year! set some goals!" wave?
Last Saturday was the first time I held "work hours" for this first project on my agenda.
I'm finding out that "courage" has been necessary only to get started. From there? I feel like I can't be stopped. I feel like "I can do this." I feel like I'm on a mission, and it's right, and I feel completely passionate about it.
The more research I do, the more I think I'll focus mainly on the fair trade end of things.
Because there are child slaves involved in the non fair trade end of things.
And while I think the welfare of ALL small farmers is important, I've always been motherly (maybe from birth?). Right now, I feel like a mama bear, ready to do whatever it takes to rescue "her" babies.
Whatever it takes.
I get that I can't change it all on my own
but that's not going to stop me from doing what I can.
I get that there is SO MUCH wrong with the world, and it's overwhelming, and sometimes we can feel ourselves shutting down, waving it all away, closing our eyes because it's just too much to handle.
Also? We're comfortable with the way we've been doing things.
That's part of how I want to get involved. I want to make good, slave-free choices easier, more accessible for the busy, overwhelmed consumer. I'll do the research and lay it out, share my journey, and hopefully make not supporting slavery practices more natural than supporting them. (For a real eye-opener, check out Slavery Footprint.)
I'm still working on getting the new site up (the real hold-up is the name. I mean, really, Nolan was almost born before he had a name).
In the meantime, here are some slave-free ideas for Valentine's Day this year:
Equal Exchange My Fair Valentines (If we come in contact between the time I receive these and the time I run out, you'll be getting one of these from me!)
Theo Chocolate Gift Sets
There are a lot of Body After Baby posts out there.
It's great, really. Happy, healthy mama makes for happy, healthy kids. I really enjoy reading those posts. I find them encouraging and inspiring more often than not.
But you won't find one of those posts here.
The main reason is I can't.
I can't pursue the same goals you'll find in those posts and stick to my "healthy, happy" goals.
I know because I was pursuing them. I was weighing in with a specific number in mind. A number, I might add, that is quite healthy for my body.
I knew that it might take me some time to reach that number. Months, maybe a year.
But then my thoughts kind of got taken over. If I didn't lose weight between weigh-ins, I was discouraged, despite all the good, healthy choices I'd been making.
When I was feeling particularly overwhelmed, my thoughts became, "who cares about the number? I want comfort eating NOW."
I was fitting back into some of my pre-pregnancy clothes and feeling good about it, but that number? It wasn't low enough. I was convinced that I shouldn't be able to wear those clothes at my weight. Parade dampened.
I made a decision.
Me and the scale? We're taking break. We need our space and we're not sure when we might get back together.
Now I'm working out with other goals in mind.
Strength. For me, there's a certain pride I feel in feeling strong. I have fond memories of cleaning out a storage facility with mostly guys. Those guys would ask me if I needed help with boxes that looked particularly heavy, and the thing is, I really didn't. I was lifting regularly, I was capable of participating in activities that required strength, and I was proud of that. I wouldn't mind feeling like that again.
Quality of life. I believe that spiritual, emotional, physical, and mental health are tied together. If one is improved, it is likely the others are, as well. If one suffers, the other aspects suffer. I want to squeeze every sweet drop out of life, and that means being prepared and doing what I can to have the energy and ability to take on opportunities as they come up.
Comfort in my own skin. If I pay attention to the above aspects and wear clothes that fit me well, this particular goal falls in place quite easily.
Right now, those things are more important to me than a particular number of pounds on my frame.
And since I don't have the ability to do both...
Well, I know the scale will be waiting for me should I choose to return.
Related posts that resonated with me:
A New Tool: The Zero Scale (Part of this post is a product endorsement. I have no plans or desire to purchase said product, but I appreciate the ideas and thoughts presented.)
Christmas comes in just a few short weeks, yes? I know it's not likely that all of you celebrate Christmas, but Christmas is the December holiday I'm most familiar with, so that's what I'll be focusing on today (and possibly for the next few weeks).
I have a confession.
Christmas spirit is something that's quite new to me.
I used to say my favorite holiday was Thanksgiving...and it was. I loved it for the chaos around the table (found most easily in the celebrations held at my Grandma Charline's house), so much family all in one place, food, and no other expectations.
Christmas was not a favorite. It was so...commercialized, and I hated that. I harbored bitterness against Christmas. I hated the pressure, the misplaced focus, the rushed feelings.
My bitterness began to (somewhat slowly) dissolve two or three years ago.
My in-law's decided to adopt a family to provide gifts for...and then my family got into giving and receiving gifts from World Vision...and something inside of me relaxed and maybe, just maybe, opened up a little, maybe let some of that bitterness go.
I believe that celebrating Christmas should be at least partially about fixing what's broken. I mean, it's a holiday that's at least somewhat based on Jesus being born, right? And as far as I can tell, he was born so he could grow up and fix what was broken...so shouldn't the celebration of his birth include much of the same?
While I won't claim to even know the best things to do to go about being involved in such an endeavor, I will say that not being an expert is not a good excuse. (Oh, and neither is not being able to do "everything," or not being able to save/change the world, by the way.)
I have an idea.
I'm going to try to post one idea per day from now through December 23rd for living out Christmas "spirit." I know it's likely that I'll miss some days, but I think that it aiming for all of them, I may just make most of them. That's good enough for me. I promise, even if no one reads this, writing it out is just as helpful for this ex-Scrooge as it could potentially be for anyone else.
So, hello, December 1st (which is also my "little" brother's birthday! He won't see this because he's can't have contact during these few weeks of army training, but I'm counting down the days until he comes home for his Christmas break!). Here's one way to enjoy this Christmas season...
Idea #1: Slow down!
Leave early for any sort of errand or appointment. Or just take a deep breath and resolve be patient and interested in the well-being of those you come in contact with. Discard the hurried, my-agenda-is-most-important attitude that has so many people shying away from any sort of store or parking lot during this month.
Let a car go in front of you.
Let it go if the one behind that car tries to cut you off.
If you are running a little late because you chose to treat someone with kindness, everything will still turn out okay.
What kinds of things really get you into the Christmas spirit? I'd love to do a post full of readers' ideas!
You guys, I'm getting really big. My belly's just growing out, out, out- so much so that there's almost a point. Do you see it?
I'm not upset about this in the least. In fact, I'm really enjoying being pregnant and having it be this obvious (strangers congratulate me and want to know all about my growing baby-it's a great ice breaker!)...but I think my maternity shirts are going to be too short for me soon. Does anyone know of any extra-long maternity shirts available? Or should I give it up and move on to wearing dresses exclusively?
Days are still flying by around here. You see those bins behind me? I've been working on cleaning out and organizing storage spaces and rooms in my house, and I'm almost done with my to-organize list. All that's left is the nursery.
If you can believe it, I've actually already done a few hours of work on this former catch-all room.
I'm aiming to get it all cleaned out in time for my baby shower in 2 weeks...because then I'll be filling it back up again.
After that, I'm moving on to giving the house a thorough scrub-down, making freezer meals, and-once this heat breaks- finish the work I started on our flower beds.
Finishing seems entirely do-able within a couple of months (especially if I enlist the help I've been offered!), which is what I'm aiming for because a)I'm guessing that I won't want to be running around the house as much by then and b) Tim and I are guessing Baby Boy is going to come early.
Other Baby Boy-related facts
Weight: Mine has been at a stand-still for a few weeks. When I realized that this morning, I wondered if I should be concerned (what a switch from the first few months of pregnancy!), so I broke out the fetal monitor my cousin and I are sharing. What I heard was a strong heart beat...and then came the kicks. Whew! Relief! I'm healthy, Baby's healthy, and also...
Movement: Baby Boy's been kicking, rolling, and punching up a storm lately! It's been happening more frequently and for longer periods of time. It's so strange, but so amazing at the same time. My favorite? When Tim gets to share the experience with me.
Cravings: I've become someone that HAS to have something baked and chocolate on hand at ALL times. I make the goodies myself, so I know they're full of good-for-you ingredients, but there's also sugar and chocolate, which makes me a happy woman. Some recent favorites:
Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread (I just subbed all the flour for white whole wheat flour)
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies (with peanut butter added in)
It seems all I want to write about lately is food and pregnancy.
Hey, that's ok. Those are two very exciting things.
But here's the thing. I know there will be a time when I'm no longer pregnant, when I'm feeling more tired than enchanted with being a mother, when I just don't feel like cooking an actual meal, so another egg sandwich it is.
What do I have to fall back on then?
I have been thinking about this. I've been thinking about it as my last few days of work wind down and my last set grad assignment date looms: What do I want to work toward? What do I want to be? If and when I do choose to go back to work, what do I want to do (if the choice is mine)? I've begun the process of studying to become a reading specialist- do I want to stick with that? Or choose something else?
I know my first goals are to love my husband, and then love my child(ren) in word and in action.
My second goals also have to do with people. With wanting to make life better, not worse. With wanting to learn to listen, be where I need to be, give out hugs, and make smoothies on a tired winter evening, if that's what's needed.
Then there's this part of me that keeps the idea that there is very little that can be promised to me close. People change in big and small ways. They get in accidents and sometimes they die before I think they should. I don't know when or why or where these things will happen.
I don't hate this part of me. It has me cherishing more moments, gushing with more love and throwing out more inhibitions than I might otherwise.
I'm not saying I have the whole "live in the moment" thing down. I'm saying I don't want to change my awareness that everything I have is temporary. I like it. I like who it makes me to be.
But I am saying that the same awareness spurs me on to the thought that I need something that is just me.
When life continues on its path of continual change I have:
- my teaching abilities
- faith in God (it changes, but it is always there)
- dancing (even if I lose the ability to walk, I can dance in my chair, as I have on many occasions)
So what do I want to pursue? I could become a yoga teacher, a cook, a professional writer...I could continue on the path of education I am currently on...
I just don't know how to decide.
In the meantime, I'm loving this path of learning about pregnancy, birth, motherhood, nutrition, cooking, and hospitality.
Just one month ago I posted a few goals. Since then, I have been chipping away at them (although some- like "learn to make hand-stamped jewelry"- have gone, to date, completely untouched). And now? I have an addendum. A goal for the month of February. One that I think will help me reach goals 1("take more pictures"), 2 ("eat in a way that makes my body feel good"), 3 ("try one new recipe a week"), 7 ("meet my time goal of running a half marathon in 2:15...and then pick out a marathon to train for"), and maybe even 11("pay more attention.")
I have been battling emotional/stress/comfort/call-it-what-you-want eating. Again. Still. I'm not even sure "battling" is the correct word.
Whatever it is, I'm determined not to give up.
I'm determined to learn and move forward.
It's time to kick my efforts up a little.
For the month of February, I'll be taking pictures of everything I eat and posting it.Read if you want, but I'm warning you- you'll most likely see a lot of eggs, nut butter, hummus, and Ezekiel English muffins!
I'm thinking maybe I won't post my entire Shepherd's Pie recipe. I went bananas over the final result, but my husband didn't (which meant I got to eat almost all of it, so I'm not complaining.) Tim and I tend to have very different tastes, so I've been challenging myself to come up with healthy, satisfying meals that we both enjoy. My Shepherd's Pie did not get me closer to that goal, but it did make me quite happy.
It was probably the mashed potatoes.
Not just any mashed potatoes.
In fact, there weren't any potatoes involved at all.
For the mashed "potatoes," all I did was:
- Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
- Rinse a head of cauliflower and then break it into pieces.
- Put pieces into a non-stick pan. (I actually used two cake pans.)
- Drizzle a total of 4 teaspoons of olive oil over the cauliflower, and then toss well.
- Bake for approximately 25 minutes, uncovered. Some of the cauliflower will likely turn a light brown color.
- Turn off oven, allow to cool, and go about your business.
- When cauliflower has cooled, transfer to a food processor and blend for a couple of minutes.
- Add navy beans (I used a can's worth, drained and rinsed), 2-3 additional teaspoons of oil, and salt and pepper to taste.
Healthy comfort food cravings, sated.