Mommy Monday

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Something I’ve been working on lately is trying to not freak out about every little mess the kids create. I know what you’re thinking, “But Jessica, you seem so easy going…” Oh yeah, I’ve got patience for daaaaayyyyssss….(#sarcasm)

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I think I’ve come to grips with the fact that the living room and my kid’s rooms will never be sparkling clean for more than ten minutes at a time and that my car will perpetually have goldfish cracker dust and chocolate milk splatters everywhere. But when it comes to dirt/mud/grass/anything that should stay outside coming inside, well…that’s a whole different story.

The other day Huff the Tot wanted to play outside. Even though it had been a little rainy the day before, I figured it would do us all some good to get outside. I grabbed Huff the Babe’s bouncy seat and we all went outside for some sunshine. While HtB played happily in his seat, HtT was running around, looking for butterflies. I decided to get some steps in and just walked around the yard. It got quiet and I looked over to see HtT digging in the mud and using it to “paint” on the fence. Her pink pants were now a lovely shade of brown up to her calves and her hands were caked in mud.

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I was about to say, “Stop! Get out of the mud! You’re making a mess!” but I stopped myself. She wasn’t hurting anyone, she wasn’t in any danger, and I reminded myself clothes can be washed. Instead of scolding, I walked over to her and said, “Hey sis, whatcha doing?” She looked at me and, for a moment, I think she thought she was going to get in trouble. When she saw I wasn’t freaking out, she smiled wide and said, “I’m painting, Momma! Look! Its us!”

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My heart was so full! A moment later, my resolve was tested again. Huff the Tot eventually grew tired of the dirt and started swinging on her new swingset. Suddenly she jumped off and shouted, “I HAVE TO GO PEE PEE!” and ran to the back door.

CRAP! I thought. She’s going to get mud everywhere and I’m going to have to clean her off and ack! I gotta get the baby! 

Being the control freak I am, I ran and grabbed her up before she could go inside.

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I had her kick off her flip-flops and let her go to the bathroom. “I’ll be there in a second!” I called to her. “I need to get Bubby inside!”

A million scenarios ran through my mind and they all came to the same ending: there was going to be dirt and mud everywhere. I knew there would be a teeny little footprint path all the way to the bathroom as well as handprints on the walls. (Try to keep a threenager from touching the walls with dirty hands. See how THAT goes for ya…)

After I got HtB inside and settled, I went to the bathroom to help HtT. This is what I saw:

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I very easily could’ve freaked out. My head immediately went to: “She’s going to be soaking wet! She shouldn’t be sitting on the counter, what if she fell?! Great, now I’m going to have to clean the sink for the second time today…” But, I took a breath.

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Again, she wasn’t in any immediate danger. She was doing something helpful. She took it upon herself to clean herself up–my kid was exhibiting initiative and independence, how could I possibly be mad about that?!

I didn’t get on to her. I grabbed my phone, snapped a pic and said, “You’re doing a great job cleaning up!” My daughter beamed at me and said, “Thanks, Mommy! I’m a good helper, huh?”

It did my heart good to see my kid so excited. Would she have been so willing to be helpful had I gotten on to her outside and put the kabosh on playing in the mud instead of letting her just be a kid? Thankfully, I won’t know.

Now I’m not saying I’m perfect because lawd I know I’m still a control freak and like things done a certain way. And I may not ever be 100% okay with mud, dirt, and gunk. But, for now, I will revel in my tiny victory and use it as motivation for next time.

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Mommy Monday

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It’s that time of year again. A time when we all gather around, eat delicious meals, dress up in clothes, and internally scream at everyone around us. Wait, what? Nobody else does that? Just me? Cool.

In all seriousness, I really do love the holidays! Though now that I’m an adult with two kids, I have to admit that it’s not as magical as it used to be.

Last night we had Huffman Thanksgiving at the in-laws. Or, as my children thought it was called, “Let’s Have Meltdowns Simultaneously Making Mommy Lose Her Mind While We’re Wearing Fancy Clothes Day”.

On the ride home, Huff the Hubs said, “Now that we’re parents, Thanksgiving and Christmas just don’t seem as much fun.”

I agreed. Then, as if right on cue, Huff the Tot piped up, “Wow, Mommy, look at those lights!” (A house was decorated for Christmas) “It’s so beautiful!”

Being the emotional basket case that I am, I felt tears well up in my eyes because though I had had a very tiring evening, she could still see the world through her innocent kid eyes.

Which leads me to the subject of today’s post: How to Get Through The Holidays Without Losing Your Ish.

 

One of the things I like to do is make a list of things that are stressing me out and figure out how I can cope with each stressor. I thought of the main stresses most of us (and by “us” I mean women) have this time of year and some solutions to get you through!

 

Being expected to cook everything and clean up.

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Luckily, I’m not expected to do any major cooking. I’m an okay cook, but my family loves their traditional Thanksgiving foods and they like it how it’s always been made (i.e., mostly by my Grammy and mom) and we’re not a group that is in love with change so I won’t rock the boat. Anyway, I digress… BUT, if you are the one who is up at 5:00 a.m. basting, chopping, and sautéing, listen to what I’m about to say: DO NOT CLEAN UP AFTER ANYONE. Seriously. You have done enough. I don’t care if its tradition for the men-folk to watch football while the women clean. That’s outdated and misogynistic and it needs to end. Just like people are assigned what to bring to a family function, (e.g., Suzy brings stuffing, Bill brings cranberry sauce) there should be assigned dish washers and trash can emptiers. If you’re the one hosting and opening your home, DO NOT CLEAN. This is basically why people have children—free labor. Put those that didn’t cook (or are too young to cook) in charge of clearing plates and scrubbing casserole dishes. Better yet—use paper products and the clean-up is faster! Delegate—and do it early—so you’re not treated like a house elf!

 

The family member that wants to talk politics.

This year, all political talk needs to be banned from family functions. I’m serious. When you (or whomever) makes the call telling other family members what time the Turkey Day festivities are going down, add in a little disclaimer that there is a moratorium on political talk this Thursday. If that one uncle of yours just can’t seem to stop from flapping his gums about the Electoral College, just crank up the Adele:

 

 

Listening to your kid (see: toddler) whine about not wanting any of the Thanksgiving food.

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This was Huff the Tot last night. She didn’t want anything to do with the turkey, green beans, mashed potatoes, or stuffing. And you know what? I can already tell you I will not be in the mood to pick that battle later this week at my grandparents’ house. So I WILL be preparing. I’m taking a Lunchable and half of a PBJ. Because it will not matter if my child doesn’t eat giblet gravy, but I AM going to make sure she eats something (and this momma ain’t cooking an extra meal!).

 

The fear of getting shanked at Walmart on Black Friday.

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I used to LOVE Black Friday, back before it became (as I like to call it) “Gray Thursday”. My family and I would make t-shirts, have call signs, and then meet up at Waffle House for a victory breakfast, swapping war stories about our deals. Now that the stores are open on Thanksgiving, it kind of takes the fun out of it. But, fear not! About 99% of the deals that are in store you can find online! The last two years I have bought the majority of my Black Friday swag online and didn’t necessarily have to get out! Word of advice though, do NOT get on the Walmart or Target website RIGHT at midnight. Everyone does that and the websites are suuuuuper slow. You’ll end up staying up until 6:00 a.m. Thanksgiving morning because of it. Trust me.

 

Social anxiety.

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I’ve been very open about my struggle with depression and anxiety. It sucks. And sometimes it can really get in the way of letting a person enjoy special occasions. Something that has always helped me in the past was having a place I could escape to collect myself. At my Grammy’s house, there are four bedrooms and an enclosed staircase. Sometimes when it gets too loud or I’m feeling a panic attack some on, I slip to one of the back rooms or staircase and take a few minutes to breathe and regain my composure. (My essential oils anxiety blend has also been a real helped!)

 

The holidays should be fun, enjoyable, and filled with fun memories. But that doesn’t mean they also aren’t stressful and make you want to curl up in a ball with a bottle of Cupcake! Do you have any tips for surviving the holidays? Share in the comments below!

Try It Tuesday

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Today I was going to try some kind of tasty treat but I’ve been stress-eating like crazy because of this ridiculous election season so I figured I’d try something that would actually make me feel better instead of filling me with self-loathing and calories. That’s why I thought I’d try this out today:

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According to the Headspace website, their mission is:

At Headspace we believe there is nothing more important than looking after the health of the mind, so we’ve made it our mission to get people everywhere to look after this precious resource by sitting to meditate for a few minutes a day, everyday. 

 

I’m not one for meditating–a part of me kind of associates it with New Age hokum–but I thought I would try it out. I mean, I’m a momma of two kids–I could use some peace and a way to reverse “Mommy Brain“.

The app it pretty user friendly and instructs you to find a quiet place that you can guarantee you’ll be left alone for about 10-20 minutes. I chose to do my 10-minute guided meditation during nap time.

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Honestly…I couldn’t really get into it. I found the narrator’s voice a tad annoying and I couldn’t really focus. I found it much easier to just listen to classical music and focus on my breathing for about 5-10 minutes. THAT actually helped!

I’m not discounting Headspace; it may be really helpful for others. It just wasn’t my cup of tea. I did think it was interesting, though, that they had meditations for kids!

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For parents looking for non-medicinal/traditional ways to help their kiddos be able to focus, I think it might be a useful tool!

Have you ever tried Headspace (or a similar app)? What did you think? Share in the comments below!

Mommy Monday

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I need to vent.

I feel like, when a woman gets pregnant, people come out of the woodwork to tell you what you should be doing.

Mommy Monday Frustrated Gif TIm Gunn

Don’t drink caffeine*. 

You’re not supposed to eat lunch meat**. 

Are you sure you should be working out?*** 

It really butters my biscuits when people come up to me and tell me what they think I ought to be doing. But it infuriates me to no end when I see the media adding to this culture of fear.

Mommy Monday Y'all Are Stressing Me Out

Where is this coming from? I’ll tell you.

Tonight on NBC Nightly News (with Lester Holt, because B.W. got the sack) they led with a story that had the headline: Pregnant Women Who Take Anti-Depressants More Likely to Have a Child With Autism (or something to that effect).

Now, I have a degree in journalism and one of the things we learned was how to write a news story. One of the things I will never forget is Dr. Clark hammering into our skulls that the most important info comes first.

However, during this story, all I heard for more than the first half was: “Anti-depressants will absolutely make your child have autism. Stop taking them!”

It wasn’t until the story was almost over that a medical expert came on and said, “Mothers don’t need to worry. The study shows that it [a mother taking anti-depressants while pregnant] only increases the chances of having a child with autism by half of a percent.”

Half of a percent. That’s it.

But I guarantee you that many women only heard, “Anti-depressants will cause your child to have autism no matter what.”

Mommy Monday Today Sucks

I would hope Dr. Clark would tell the writers at NBC News that the information relayed by the medical professional would be in the lead of the story. I believe THAT is the most important information. Not scaring women who probably need those anti-depressants into going off their medication before speaking with their doctors. After all, to quote Frozen, “People make bad choices when they’re mad or scared or stressed…” 

 

I guess I’m getting so worked up about this because I firmly believe that many people need those anti-depressants and its a bigger risk to encourage someone to go off of them rather than stay on a medication that they KNOW works****. And it also irritates me when the media adds to this culture of fear. Don’t they know that pregnant women are already freaking out about EVERYTHING?! This is why I have adopted the mentality of, “I’ll go by what my doctor tells me and the rest of you can bite me.” Its a great mindset to have.

Mommy Monday Two Snaps

So that’s my rant for the day.

 

 

 

 

*My doctor told me to limit my caffeine to either two cups of regular coffee or two sodas a day. I’m sensitive to caffeine, so that’s really all I need. For you it may be different. But talk to your doctor first before doing anything crazy.

 

** I was told by my nurse to have the folks at Subway (or any other sandwich place) to heat up my sandwich. If I make it at home, I don’t need to worry about it. She said (and I quote), “When you go out for a sandwich, have them heat it up. Just because I’m not sure if those teenagers behind the counter are making sure the meats are kept at an acceptable cooling level. When you buy it from the store, you keep it in your fridge, so you’re fine.” Different doctors may have differing opinions, so talk to yours.

 

***I worked out about 3-5 times a week pre-pregnancy. Its totally okay for me to continue to workout. If I get tired or start to cramp, I should stop and rest. And I absolutely need to drink as much water as I can. It may be different for you. Talk with your doc.

 

****I’ve been on Zoloft since having Huff the Tot. I suffered from anxiety and depression for years pre-baby and the natural ebb and flow of hormones made post-partum depression tough for me. I’ve been on Zoloft ever since and my doctor said that it is perfectly safe for me to continue (especially since I tried to go off of it prior to getting pregnant and it was AWFUL). Your situation may be different than mine, so talk to your doctor before switching or stopping medications.

 

 

 

(See what all of those had in common? TALK. TO. YOUR. DOCTOR.)

Try It Tuesday

Since the break-in, I’ve been on edge. Like, crazy on edge.

The other night, Huff the Hubs moved his pillow and, thinking it was a man coming into our bedroom to murder us, I screamed at the top of my lungs. To which HtH said: “Baby, I think you’re a little tense.”

(Gee, ya think?!)

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I’ve been looking to find ways to help myself with the tension and the constant fear that someone is going to bust into my house. I’ve been exercising, reading my Bible, talking to my counselor, but I felt like I needed more help. Like, medicinal help. But, I didn’t really like the thought of popping pills. I was talking to my mom about it who spoke to a family friend with similar anxiety issues. She said she had started using essential oils to calm her whenever she felt jumpy or anxious. So I thought, “I’ll give it a try!”

I bought three different kinds:

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I went to the natural grocery store and picked these up. I got eucalyptus because its used in many stress relief products as well as a blend of various oils to be used when one is feeling anxious, and another to help me stay focused and sharp (I have a severe case of Mommy Brain). I first tried rubbing the oils on my hands, but I noticed that the scents just weren’t the same when applied to my skin. (I.e., they smelled one way in the bottle and another on my hands. I think its because of my scented hand soap.) Then, I went to Wal-Mart and found this:

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This diffuser was only $4! I was so happy I found it because it works SO well! It diffuses the scent throughout the whole house! (Much to HtH and my sister’s disapproval.) After I bought this, I was HOOKED on these oils! I really feel like they’ve been helping. I even took a bubble bath the other night and put a few drops of eucalyptus in the bath water; it. was. HEAVENLY.

 

Have you ever used essential oils? What do you use them for? What do you think about them?

Baaaaahhh!

Yesterday was rough.

I had this whole picture of what my first Mother’s Day would be: breakfast in bed, fresh picked flowers, a parade in my honor. You know, nothing over the top.

Instead, I was back-handed by my own immune system with pharyngitis two days before. And it seemed like anything that could go wrong yesterday, went wrong.

Needless to say, this was me:

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I was so worked up that while we were eating at Red Lobster, my anxiety went into overdrive. I got light-headed, dizzy, and thought I would faint.

Today, while driving back from the doctor, Huff the Hubs and I were talking about yesterday and how I felt like I was going to pass out at the restaurant. His response?

“I know, I was worried. You’re like those fainting goats.”

I stared at him for a second. Then, the image of the animals popped in my head and I cracked up.

If you haven’t seen the fainting goats, here’s what HtH was talking about:

So, anxiety-suffering friends I have a challenge for you. Next time you feel overwhelmed and like you may pass out from the anxiety, just picture these goats. (I’m going to!) and I all but guarantee you’ll be laughing and feeling calmer very soon!

New Year’s Resolutions

Last year, I regaled you all with my resolutions goals for 2013. I think I kept many of them (except the whole “stress less” one…its kind of tough to do that when you’re preggo or when you’ve got a newborn in the house). But I do think I did pretty well (even though there are still books on my classics list I have yet to get to).

This past year was a big year for me (and Huff the Hubs). I got promoted, became a mother, traveled to London, and FINALLY got my book 100% finished.

My sister that teaches fourth grade and I were talking about New Year’s Resolutions. She said she doesn’t really make resolutions, but she is going to talk to her students about it when they return to school. She showed me an awesome project she’s going to do with them:

I may color mine.

I may color mine.

For each number, there’s a direction:

For the 2: Name the two best things that happened in 2013.

For the 0: Name something you want to STOP doing in the New Year.

For the 1: Your one wish for 2014.

For the 4: Four goals for 2014.

Two best things that happened in 2013:

1. Hermione.

It was literally one year ago today that I found out I was pregnant. I was shocked, obviously. Mostly because I didn’t think it would happen so fast. It was a whirlwind; scary at times, but its been so worth it.

Don't I make cute babies?

Don’t I make cute babies?

2. Getting out of debt.

Huff the Hubs and I had been aggressively working toward getting out of debt from the moment we got married. We both had student loans we needed to pay off and were very serious about taking the shackles off. And we did! Our reward? London, baby!

Hands down, best Abbey ever.

Hands down, best Abbey ever.

Something you want to stop doing in the New Year:

Worrying.

I feel ya, Dr. Cooper.

I feel ya, Dr. Cooper.

I’m a worrier from way back. And, if at some point I’m not worried about something, I worry because I’m basically waiting “for the other shoe to drop”. I hate living like that. I’m ready for some peace of mind, yo. I have been to counselling and I’ve read some good books (like this one!) and its really helped me A LOT. But I still wake up in the morning terrified of the potential bad the day could hold. I want to wake up in the morning feeling excited about the possibilities, not terrified. So that’s the goal: STOP. FREAKING. WORRYING.

Your one wish for 2014:

Health.

Well said.

Well said.

I don’t just mean physical health. I mean mental health (i.e., the stop worrying thing), emotional health (keeping my mood up), spiritual health (spend time with God each day and not because I feel like I have to), relational health (making sure my marriage, familial relationships, and friendships are nurtured) and environmental health (be more mindful of how my choices affect the planet, its people, and animals).

Four goals for 2014:

 1. Lose the baby weight.

Either way, I'd be happy.

Either way, I’d be happy.

Before I got pregnant, I was working toward maintaining my weight and maybe even dropping a few pounds as my clothes weren’t fitting me as well as they had been (holidays and all), but then I found out I was with child and weight loss went on the backburner (as it should have). Now that Hermione is 4 months old, I’m healed and recovered from childbirth and my milk supply is established, I’m ready to work on losing those last 9 pounds of pregnancy that are sticking around. And, to be honest, I’m not too concerned with the number on the scale. I’m more focused on how I feel and how my clothes are fitting me.

I know a lot of people will say: “You had a baby, be proud of that!” And I am. But I also don’t feel like myself with the extra weight. The holidays with its endless mountains of sweets and the stress on our schedule has made me push my health to the wayside. I want to get refocused on my health. Plus, my clothes are still tight and I’m too cheap to buy new ones—ha!

2. Stop the “fat talk”.

Thanks, Abey.

Thanks, Abey.

Sometimes, without even thinking, the words: “Gah, I’m so fat!” will come pouring out of my mouth. Or, “I can’t wear this, I look fat!” will pop into my head as I look at my reflection after picking something out at a store that looked cute on the rack, but hideous on me. I know it may seem hypocritical to say I want to stop the fat talk in the same blog post describing my desire to lose weight, so let me make myself clear.

I want to stop the negative talk.

I don’t want Hermione to talk to herself the way I talk to myself. I want her to be healthy, to enjoy being active, to eat good foods, and feel confident in who she is. How can she do that if she doesn’t have the proper role model? I want to be an example of being healthy and fit while still loving who I am and being proud of my body.

3. Put down the devices.

Put down the phone!

Put down the phone!

Every night before I fall asleep, I do the same thing: pick up my phone and look at Pinterest or Facebook (or both) for about 45 minutes. Huff the Hubs will say something to me and I’ll grunt in agreement or say, “That’s cool” even though I’m not paying attention.

When I go places with people, a lot of our time is spent with them or me (or both!) on our phones, looking at pointless stuff. I want to get into a habit of putting the phone down, looking people in the eye, and actually listening to what they’re saying (gee, what a novel concept!). I don’t want to be a slave to my phone (HtH already calls my phone “my kidney” because I can’t function if I don’t have it).

4. Finish my 30 by 30 list.

Really, a lot of my goals are on my 30 by 30 list. I am determined to finish that list by the time I’m 30. I know some stuff may be difficult (like going to Italy with my sister) but you better believe I will work my hardest to get those things knocked off that list! I’ve already signed up for the OKC Memorial Marathon!

Sack up, Jess!

Sack up, Jess!

 

Do you have any resolutions? Goals? Reflections on the past year?

I hope you have a safe and happy New Year! (And please drink responsibly!)