Things That Make Me Feel Good

I know, I know, I haven’t posted in forever. Apparently life is crazy busy when you have a five year old, a newborn, and work full time. Who would’ve guessed? (Not me apparently, since I started yet another blogging venture during maternity that I haven’t touched since I returned to work five weeks ago.) But I wanted to post today because I actually have time. Baby boy is happily chewing a finger, E. is absorbed in her morning dose of the Arthur cartoon (a personal fave of mine), and no is going to need me for at least a few minutes. I also wanted to post something so there was at least some evidence of my existence between my last post and the beginning of summer vacation (a mere three weeks away).

So, I bring you this – things that make me feel good

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New nail polish in a sweet blue!

 

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Apology for the blurry pic – I’m not a skilled one-handed tablet picture taker. A cool new watch so I can start running again (I know, not having one is a pretty lame excuse). I had to replace my old AWESOME watch that a work friend gave me when I started running last year…I accidentally sent it through the wash 😦

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A summer dress.

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Food that isn’t bad for me. I have a serious carb and Reese’s addiction that I’m trying to kick (again). Thankfully I love yogurt (with a sprinkle of cereal on top) and a bowl of fruit. It also helps that it all looks so pretty.

After being cooped up all winter and then being cooped up at work, a little pick-me-up here and there is nice. Nothing quite like a pretty dress and ambition to get a girl going.

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New Year Goals

Okay, I make resolutions every year. I make a big fuss over it. I get super excited about it, make a plan, charts, lists, and blog about it. Usually it falls pretty flat (though I will pat myself on the back with following through with my weight loss goals from last year). I am definitely one of those people who loves to plan, plan, plan, but has horrible execution, most likely because my expectations are waaaaaay to high. 

But I still keep doing it. 

I’m not entirely sure what’s wrong with me, because here I am, ready to jump in again, ready to fill my plate up with hopes and dreams, even when I have a pretty huge event looming ahead at the beginning of this upcoming year. 

I always feel like it will be different this time, but maybe, with a little bit more hindsight, it will be different. 

Here are my goals (let’s not even call them resolutions) for the upcoming year: 

Start the switch to whole/real foods (emphasis on the word “start”). I need to pick one area to start eliminating or changing what we’re eating and just do it. Once I feel confident in that area, then maybe move on to something else. We’ll see where I am a year from now. 

Eliminate one hour of screen time for E. and myself (the hubs, too, if he’ll get on board). I feel like we don’t watch a ton of T.V. in our house, but I can feel it starting to take over. I’m going to give myself a break in the first few months that the baby is here, but once summer vacation hits, I’m hoping to subtly remove some screen time for E. and myself (this means laptop/tablet time for me). 

Read one longer “chapter book” to E. I want to start looking up good books that will be more or less on her level. She’s a smart cookie and we did read Charlotte’s Web this year. I’d like to find something else she’d really enjoy, too. 

Read at least two books that are just fun for me. Minuscule goal, I know, but I have such a hard time reading for pleasure now. Hopefully the two books will turn into twenty, but considering I have a new baby on the way, I’m not holding my breath. I might have to try to reach this goal in the next few weeks!

Write more. It’s my perennial goal. Maybe this will be the year. Ordinarily I’d need a way to measure how much “more” would be, but at this point, writing anything on a regular basis besides blog posts would be more. 

Play more. I’m crappy at playing. Really. I need to spend more time with E. just having fun, unstructured time. I have found in the past that I can take a half hour, at least, out of our evenings at home and play a game, play with dolls, coloring, or reading extra books. I hope as I make more time for play, the easier it will become. 

Reintroduce exercise to my lifestyle. I’ve been really crappy about working out through this pregnancy. Granted, I move around a lot when I’m at home and at work, but I had hoped to keep up with walking and working out like I had prior to getting pregnant. I want bring it back into my life at least to the point it was before I got pregnant, if not more so. 

Maintain a cleaning schedule. I suppose if I’m going to maintain a cleaning schedule I need to create one. And I kind of had and was keeping up with it up until the onset of Thanksgiving and whatnot. I might have to throw it up on my calendar again and get it going once more. 

So, there you have it. I think it might seem like a lot, and maybe it is, but I also feel like the goals are vague enough that I can feel good about them even if minimal amounts of work actually gets done. We’ll see what happens…

I Spend Too Much Time Thinking About Food

The school year is in it’s full and totally busy swing, the holidays are fast approaching, and I’m starting to get, like, really pregnant. Totally a great time to start thinking about a massive change to our lifestyle, right?

I’ve posted several times on how I’ve been losing weight (well, up until I got pregnant in May). One of the huge factors in the weight loss process for me was looking closely at what and why I was eating. I don’t want to say I’ve completely ditched that now that I’m pregnant, because I haven’t, but I’ve tried to make the cooking and eating process less laborious. For example, I’m not measuring out exact portions and I’m letting myself have a few more sweets (because I’m pregnant, and other than the adorable baby at the end, there aren’t a ton of perks). I am still trying to make sure that what I’m eating is diverse, which is harder to do during pregnancy when all you want to eat is bread and cheese with chocolate fudge as dessert, but I’m trying. And the trying is paying off, because I’m not anywhere near the weight I was with E. at this point in my pregnancy. I had probably packed on about ten or fifteen pounds more!

But this isn’t really about weight loss, because obviously that’s not even on my radar right now and probably won’t be again  until six or so weeks after the baby is born.

I bring up the food thing though, because, regardless of whether or not I’m eating more or less, I’ve been feeling the itch to change what my family is eating for a while. I’ve always held the ability of some women to cook good, wholesome meals for their families from scratch in really high regard. It’s something I’d love to be able to do myself, though when I think about the amount of work involved, it starts to feel really daunting. What’s more, even if I knew I had the amount of time I needed to do this, I wonder about the monetary investment. If I’m going to cook from scratch, I’d like to do it with quality ingredients. Quality usually equates to more money than I’m used to spending. But in the end, I’m not really sure, because I haven’t done it yet.

So why cook from scratch? Is it because I have this bizarre need to be a true domestic goddess that must be fulfilled? Eh…maybe. I mean, I can’t deny that there is a huge part of me who wants to be that mom who not only works a full time job, but also manages to keep her house clean and feed her family nutritious, totally homemade meals. I mean, I’m not entirely sure if that mom exists (and if she does, it’s possible she’s currently institutionalized), but if she does exist and she’s sane, I’d like to be her.

But there are practical reasons, too. Like the idea of only eating things where you know exactly what the ingredients are, or, to take it a step farther (and I don’t know if I can get to this point right now), only eating things where you know exactly where the ingredients came from. The number of crazy preservatives and chemicals that are in even our most basic foods make me nuts. The process that goes into creating skim, pasteurized milk grosses me out. The kinds of foods that are fed to mass farmed chickens and other animals (cows, beef cattle, pigs, etc.) is really yucky, too, and has caused me to limit my own meat/egg intake unless I can buy something locally raised. I mean, I don’t want to get all snobby and stuff, but it’s really hard to digest (ha) all this information that’s really well known, I think, at this point and still want to eat the way we’ve been eating.

I’m at the thinking, dreaming, sort of planning stage right now, because I’m not really sure how to start. I’ve got some thoughts…but I’m still not sure how to make the move, either completely or bit by bit to eating whole/real foods. I’ve scoped out some interesting blogs and started looking at some recipes, but really, that’s about it. I wish someone would write me a plan on how to start (maybe this is something I should take up with my nutritionist?).

So, what’s my eventual dream? Like, if I follow through with everything that is continually running through my head? That my family eats, for the most part, foods that have been prepared using ingredients that I know the source of, ideally from our own yard or neighbors’ yards or a local farm. That even things like cream cheese, jams, and condiments are the products of my effort, not someone else’s. That we feel good, healthy, and happy about the food we eat and the lifestyle (because a change like this is a change to your lifestyle as well) it leads us to.

That’s not a lot to take on, right?

Hello Mother, Hello Father, Welcome to…

Camp Awesome!!

I mentioned a couple of posts ago that I was going to tell you all about our amazing family camping trip to Northern Maine. And I’m going to do that, I promise, but it will be sans pictures because I cannot find my camera and I just really need to write this stinking post before I lose details that I want to get down! Maybe once my camera is discovered I will throw the pictures in as well.

On the Friday before Memorial Day Weekend, we all piled into my teeny car, along with all our camping gear (we’re not light packers, that is for sure), and drove the millions and millions of hours (or four) that it takes to get to…Well, technically, I think the town is Rockwood, or we were near there anyway. But once you get to Rockwood, you turn on to this endless dirt road and just drive. Forever. And ever. And eveeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeer.

It seriously was an hour of dirt road. Or more. And there was more beyond what we traveled. Like, miles and miles, until you hit Canada (which we nearly did the next day). Eventually you do come up to a ranger station and they let you in. There is an official title for where we were, but I honestly can’t remember. Where we ended up camping, however, was on Canada Falls Lake, and it was amazing.

If you’re going to go camping literally in the middle of no where, with no electricity, no plumbing, no phone reception, no internet, with none of the regular trappings of civilization, and aren’t used to it (and I’m one of those people), this was the place to go. You are fully emersed in God’s unbelievable creation (being out in the middle of Maine’s woods makes you a believer in some kind of higher being), BUT there are other people around. Nice people. People who are quiet. People who you believe would likely report to the authorities if you went out for a hike and didn’t return. People who are nice, don’t bother you, and have adorable, kid-friendly dogs that fetch rocks. The good folks. While part of me was a little bummed that where we camped was full of other people camping, most of me was relieved. We could still get away into the woods and enjoy the peace and quiet, but there would be people looking out for us, too.

And even if there weren’t a ton of people near our campsite, we didn’t go alone. My father-in-law, his wonderful wife, and her grandson (so, technically, E.’s cousin, though their not biologically related) joined us. They had been camping up that way many times and knew a lot about the area, which was super helpful. They were also awesome about taking E. and letting the hubs and I get away for a bit on the kyaks they brought up (more about that later). They all really made the camping trip. We enjoy spending time with my father-in-law and his wife, and E. had a blast with little J. (they’re the same age).

So, here are some highlights:

Saturday – The hubs and his dad took E. and J. out on the kyaks. The kids loved it out there, looked for fish, and got to paddle around a little island. When they got back they weren’t for a swim! While the men and kids were out, my father-in-law’s wife and I went for a walk down a path that took us winding through the woods, into fields, and past a lot of different animal tracks. Eventually we got out pretty far and felt a bit nervous so we turned around (we were afraid we’d go around a bend and run into a bear or moose!).

Later that day we went for a long drive down the dirt roads, looking, supposedly, for the Penobscot River. We never found it, but we did get up close and personal with a young deer who decided it would be fun to follow the car. We also saw two moose, a beaver, and a couple rabbits! So cool! It was all sort of like a safari, between the bumpy roads and the rarely seen animals.

Sunday – I snuck out early, early in the morning and snagged one of the kyaks and went out to the lake by  myself (but don’t worry, hubs knew where I was). The mist was still on the lake, it was dead quiet, the earth just starting to wake up around me. If I had any doubt about how amazing the world I live in actually is, it was erased out there. I couldn’t help but feel a presence of something so far beyond me and it was so uplifting that it brought me to tears. It was a truly amazing opportunity and I’m glad I got it. My soul feels refreshed just thinking about it.

The rest of Sunday was pretty relaxing. The kids played in the lake, and we did a lot of walking and fishing. That night after supper, when it was starting to get dark, we all took a walk out of camp to a field where the hubs and his dad set off fireworks. So cool!

Monday – We picked the perfect day to go home, because it was a pretty dreary, rainy day. We stopped at Pittston Farms, a little farm about 20 minutes from where we camped, sort of a last stop before you head deeper into the woods. They had a store and a little restaurant where we had a really yummy breakfast (you can’t beat home baked bread and homemade preserves). We had stopped in Saturday as well to check out the farm, where they  had horses, cows, and goats, which the kids thought were amazing. After breakfast we hit the road and arrived home very happy, but very, very exhausted.

I’m a huge lover of camping trips. As I’ve written previously, we’re planning a trip to Grand Isle State Park in Vermont in August and I’m so pumped for that trip. I’m sure we’ll go on several more as the summer goes on, especially since it’s a cheap way to check different places out! Next year I’m pushing for a camping trip into Canada or Niagra Falls. We’ll see!

The Art of 1, 2, 3

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I mentioned in an earlier post that I was going to write about what has been working for us in the realm of parenting. These are fairly recent developments, but I was so excited to finally feel like I was doing something that was actually working, that I had to share.

Of course, I am coming pretty late to the game in a lot of this, and I’m not giving anything new, so you may read this and go, “Yeah…duh…”, but keep two things in mind: One, I write this partially for me, to remember that at one point I felt like I knew what I was doing, when, you know, E. is a rebellious 16 year old with a nose ring. Two, I also write this for commiseration. There are other parents who are sometimes floundering in a sea of parenting information, yet feel completely immobilized when it comes to handling their child’s less than savory behavior.

Also, in E.’s defense, she’s a really great, easy going kid, but as any kid does, she’s developing some…interesting…behaviors that I’d rather nip in the bud now, rather than let them stew and become worse.

Laugh it off.
I can be very uptight sometimes, especially when I’m getting tired and E. is reaching that phase of little kid exhaustion where it’s like being with an especially intoxicated person. There’s only so many times you can ask a kid to put her underwear on and be told to, “put it on your face, Mama!” *cackle, cackle*. It’s times like these where I have to give myself the mental reminder of: She thinks she’s being REALLY funny. Just go with it.

Silly behavior in little kids is not coming from a place of rudeness or from a desire to mess things up for you – they’re just trying to have fun. And while I may not always feel like getting in on the laughs, I’ve at least started to relax and realize the undies are still going to get where they’re supposed to go (not on my face).

Is it worth it?
This section could also be called pick your battles, because that’s basically what I’m doing. When I’m finding that I’m getting annoyed with E. over something and am getting ready to go into pissy mommy mode, I ask myself, “Is it worth it?” Is it worth getting upset, getting E. upset, and potentially throwing off a good day over whatever it is I’m having a problem with? Naturally, sometimes E. is behaving in a really not okay way and something has to be said or done, even if it’s going to get those involved upset. But other times I have to wonder if it’s really the behavior or if it’s me. Once I give myself some perspective, it’s easier to decide whether or not I want to get into it with E., and I find we’re battling less, enjoying each other more, and some of those behaviors I wasn’t so keen on before, they recede or go away completely.

Eliminate the negative by accentuating the positive.

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We’re trying this new “thing” amongst all the other approaches we’re taking with E. Above is a picture of two rather unassuming jars both with some of those glass stones you see filling vases with flower arrangements. Those are E.’s “stones” and she is currently trying to fill the smaller of the two jars in order to earn a reward (in this case, she wants to bake a treat with me).

E. earns stones by showing good behavior and being helpful without being prompted. For example, E. really struggles with transitions. When she does successfully transition from one thing to the next, I reward her with a stone. Or, today, E. volunteered to pick up her toys off the stairs without my asking, so I gave her a stone to put in the small jar. I don’t give her a stone every single time she does something good or that she’s supposed to do (though we do use a lot of positive language); we mainly focus on the areas that she struggles with the most (so, transitioning well, staying calm when she’s frustrated or mad, picking up her toys without being asked or prompted a lot).

Time and choices work wonders.
I don’t know what it is about counting that gets little tushes to move, but when I start saying, “One…two…” she’s moving! On the occasion when I get to three and E. hasn’t stopped doing what I’ve asked her to stop or hasn’t come to me when I’ve asked, then I will get up and move her. Sometimes to a time out spot, sometimes to where I asked her to go, but most of the time, one, two, three gets her going.

I think giving her a few moments to think and decide for herself if she’s going to do what I asked helps. It gives her some sense of control over her actions, which is something I think all parents of 3-year-olds can agree is important to them. And, in this vein, I do try to give her control over what’s happening as much as possible. A choice means she is more likely to at least do one thing that I need her to do and she will feel good about doing it, rather than put upon. I’ve also had to realize that I can’t expect what I ask her to do to be done immediately or exactly the way I want it. Giving a little extra time is just fine.

Mommy time outs are more effective than kiddo time outs.
At our house, time outs for E. can frequently end with a red faced and tear stained little girl pouting on a flight of stairs (this is where we send E. for time outs). Sometimes they are effective and give her a chance to cool off (I don’t usually set a time for E. to sit on the stairs, but instead say that she can come back and talk to me after she is calm and has taken some deep breaths), but most of the time it makes little difference in her behavior. In reality, when I send E. for a time out, I’m the one who really needs it.

Sometimes you’ve just had enough. Their behavior is bad and yours isn’t so hot either and sometimes it’s better to just step away. If the hubs is home, I might go out for a walk. If not, I make sure E. is in a safe place and I step into my bedroom or even the bathroom, and just chill for a little bit. If I can, I’ll try to read a few pages from a book, or, at the very least, take a few deep breaths. It helps a lot to be able to go back into a troubled situation with a clear mind, making me more receptive to E.’s needs.

Okay, so I’ve written this all out, and I’m feeling pretty good, because this is, on a whole, what I do with E. and it’s been working well for us. But, please know, that there are also times when you can find me nose to nose with my little girl, hashing it out, choices, mommy time outs, and stones be damned. But, on the whole, what we should look for as parents is progress, not perfection, because we’ll never be perfect parents (or, at least, I never will be). And being able to utilize what I’ve written about above? That, my friends, is progress.

Fantasy Mom

There’s a woman who lives in my head and she comes out every time I settle in to do housework or sometimes when I cook. She’s a bit thinner, well coifed and dressed, organized, and always keeps her house clean. She’s wealthy, but chooses to do the housework, cooking, and childcare herself, because that’s what a good mother does. She doesn’t work outside the home. Her meals are gourmet. She always keeps her husband happy.

She’s completely and utterly unattainable.

She can’t possibly be real.

But I seem to believe that if can at least pretend to be her while I’m up to my elbows in dishwater, then maybe a small bit of the fantasy can be true.