Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Pack It Up

My first Christmas after I moved away from home my parents bought me a luggage set. That was about the beginning of suitcase season as I call it, the stretch of the year where it seemed almost pointless to haul the suitcases back down to the basement to store them when we'd just be getting them out again next month.

My mother with each kid likes to "warn" me that we're going to find it harder to "run as much" as she says and will have to cut back. In some aspects it has gotten harder, but it hasn't slowed us down. Granted we're not taking off to Riveria Maya or cruising to the Bahamas, flying to Kansas City three times a year, taking off to California to rent a car for two weeks, or being nomads for two months and literally living out of our car and suitcases as we traveled between places. But in many ways I feel like we take off more than we did before. Just with shorter and closer trips. (I'm holding off on my western US National Parks Tour vacation for when the kids are teenagers but can't wait!)

It has gotten harder in some ways. I use to be able to throw our suitcases together the day before, fit everything we needed in my little Mazda, and make few stops along the way. The drives were quieter and cheaper and the time to get there was less. Now it takes me days to pack, I realized we're going to have to take the truck for sure for two of our three summer trips in order to have room to haul everything, and the stops. If one doesn't have to pee right now the other does. The drives use to be peaceful. Now as much as I still love the drives and sharing the experience with the kids the broken record of "are we there yet?" can wear on your nerves. As well as the fighting or when they're not fighting and decide instead to drive you crazy in that tiny confined space with a surge of hyped up loud energy. Oh and let's not forget how the cost has changed. Kids are hungry constantly. Especially when they're bored so whether it's buying snacks for the car ride or almost doubling your cost every time you stop for a meal it's definitely not what it used to be. Speaking of cost. Flying is almost out of the question now so rather than getting somewhere for vacation or to KC in a few hours it now takes a full day or two of driving. So yes in some ways my mother was right. It has gotten harder to travel whether it's a short weekend trip or a two week trip.

However, we've continued to take the trips whether it's an overnight trip a few hours away to spend times with friends, a weekend away for camping or the beach, or a 1-2 week trip to visit family or take a family vacation. Believe me it's work to make it happen, and I truly understand why those that aren't travel junkies like myself would rather spend their time off at home. Between budgeting it all in and the packing it stresses me out sometimes. Oh, the packing. I've developed a love/hate relationship with suitcases.

But at the same time I love to see the excitement on my kids' faces when we haul those suitcases out. My girls will fight in the car sometimes and can sound like that awful broken record, but these girls are good travelers. They really are. They've known it since they were babies. It doesn't matter if we're packing up to go camping, go to the beach, go to Grandma's, go to a friend's, or go on vacation they will happily spend hours upon hours in that car to get there.

So, yes, Mom, it got harder. You were right. But I will continue to do it and love it. Even the dreaded packing part. It is totally worth it! Worth it to give my kids those experiences and opportunity to build those relationships with the family and friends farther away.

Suitcase season for us usually starts around April; however, with a baby we had to put it off for a month but it starts this weekend. And it's a busy next 13 months. Here's what we have lined up: this May for Memorial weekend we're going to Erie, PA, June is our vacation to Hilton Head Island/Savannah, GA, Aug is our trip to KC, Oct we're planning a couple's weekend away to Pittsburgh for the Steelers/Chiefs game and sending the kids to grandma's to warm them up for March's longer stretch without us, over Thanksgiving we either want to go check out the holiday spirit in NYC or the Finger Lakes and stay with the kids in this indoor waterpark, Dec will be Erie, PA for Christmas this year, and next March for our 10 year anniversary and a friend's wedding we're hoping to leave the kids behind for four nights to go to Punta Cana, we'll celebrate Lincoln's first birthday in KC in April, next May we'll either be back up to PA or maybe meet a bunch of friends in VA for the winefest again, and next June is our New Hampshire trip to the highest peak on the East Coast. As of right now we're not planning on camping this summer so that leaves us at home in July, Sept, Jan and Feb. However, the girls love camping and fishing so if we can find the right match price and time wise for cabin camping maybe we can fit that in July, and we also usually make a trip to Fredericksburg, VA at least once a year so that will probably end up a weekend away one month somewhere.

So it's crazy, it's stress we create, it's expensive especially as a family of five, but I love it and wouldn't have it any other way!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Weighing In

I've never cared much about my weight. I've never thought of myself as a skinny person but never really saw myself as someone unhealthy or overweight either. It's not just weight though; my husband gives me a hard time because I don't tend to care about normal girly things. Besides weight I've never been one to care about getting my nails or hair done or wearing brand name clothes; I'm just never been an overly conscience body image person. I've seen the mental toll it can have on people that are so it's one of those things where I'm glad I'm the way I am because the body image issue is a huge social concern for girls and women today. However, as I approach 35 in the Fall I do have some weight loss and health goals I'd like to reach, but realize just like with everything else I am very much a do it my own way on my own terms kind of person. I'm not looking for huge, drastic change here. I just want to get back to some good habits and change a few bad habits.

Looking back I would say I eat healthy foods but I also splurge on foods I shouldn't way more than I should. I've always been active. Now since I've had kids I'll admit I'm way more sporadic with it than I was eight years ago before I had kids. Then unfortunately when my thyroid disorder, depression, and crazed stressed period of my life hit abour three ago now I ended up 35lbs outside that healthy BMI I had always maintained prior to that point. It was more than I gained pregnant with both girls, and I had no baby to deliver to get rid of the weight. So as much as I say I don't care much about weight that was a bit of a hard hit. So I ate more chocolate. Just kidding. Kind of.

Do I want to get back to that acceptable BMI range I was comfortablely in eight years ago? Yes so maybe for the first time I do care about my weight. I enjoy exercising and have found it to be just as beneficial for my mental health as my physical health. It didn't matter if I was walking, running, in a gym, or doing a workout video. I've done them all. There are things  I like about each and things I hate.  I like workout videos and their convenience. I also love how it's more of a whole body workout.  However,  I LOVE getting outdoors and exercising outdoors has greater mental health benefits for me than videos. So before I got pregnant this last time I was doing both. I like the combination of both, and I know the die hard Beachbody people will disagree but I don't follow any program to a T (in other words some days I get my exercise inside, some days outside)  I've never been a big rule follower and have always insisted on doing things my own way.  I want flexibility and my only commitment is to be doing something active again on a consistent basis, which I can do because I've done it many times in my life.

I was an athlete in high school, and in my high school at that time if you wanted to compete on varsity you not only had practice with conditioning every day but you were signed up every year for weight lifting and in the summers you attended camps, lifting, and played on competitive club type teams so I got my daily exercise in.  In college my exercise was intramural teams and walking/jogging with my two closest college girls. The first two years out of college it was walking/jogging with Bettis when we lived in apartments. When we bought the house after that I joined Gold s Gym for three years. Then I had my first baby while still finishing grad school and coaching so this is where I started to lose consistency. I couldn't keep up my commitment to the gym anymore so I went back to just walking. I did that on and off for three years in which I added the second baby. Post baby #2  I was only about 5-10 lbs more than I was before babies. Not skinny but right on the edge of a healthy BMI. That was 2012. From the Fall of 2012 to the Summer of 2014 is when I quit exercising altogether for the longest stretch ever. A month or two would pass in the dead of winter or the busy of the summer where I wouldn't exercise much if any at all prior to this almost two year hiatus which I guess did include a short stint with Planet Fitness in there for a bit and probably some inconsistent walks on the dirt road behind our house. Somewhere between the Fall of 2012 and Summer of 2014 though the domino effect of me losing and refinding myself happened. We moved but in that process I threw out our scale (wouldn't do that again) but besides that between facing extreme burnout and frustration with my job, facing our biggest financial strain which included some paycheck to paycheck living and late payments which in turn lead to marital tension, along with my thyroid disorder occurring I was in a constant bitchy depressed state and by the time I stumbled my way out in 2014 rather than being 5-10 lbs from that pre baby weight I was 35 lbs from there! I'm pretty sure I kept Reeses Peanut Butter Cup in business during that time. And the Milky Way company. So for the first time I did kind of care what the scale said as much as stubborn old me hates to admit.

Once I got my head back on straight I was ready to start taking control back. I changed jobs which still two years later has been a huge positive change for my mentality. Besides switching tenants and having to play catch up on that mortgage in the Fall of 2014 I tackled our finances differently including splitting our accounts and putting more financial responsibility on my husband which has been a huge plus in our marriage and three years later after paycheck to paycheck when we first moved we're probably the most comfortable we've been (there's still some credit card debt that'd be nice to cut down but we're getting there). Last but not least I decided it was time I bring exercise back into my life. I took to jogging/walking the two mile dirt road behind my house and discovered the convenience of at home workout videos with Beachbody's Insanity. That was 22 months ago.

In those 22 months I have been pregnant three times for a total of 13 months. I was a slacker with the second and this third pregnancy because I didn't keep up my exercise routine so of those 22 months I was only consistently exercising  for ten months. At one point I had lost around 15 lbs of that 35; however at nine months pregnant I was 45 lbs away from that pre baby healthy BMI goal of eight years ago. Here I am almost six weeks post partum and after a month and a half of eating better with cutting out the sugars (that's my big diet plan change goal) and back to walking 1-2 miles since one week post partum I am down 28 lbs from that 45 at nine months pregnant course I delivered a baby so that was quite a bit of it but I am not only back to the weight loss headway I had made prior to getting pregnant but loss a couple more pounds to put me 17 lbs away from my original goal of losing 35 to get back to that BMI weight range of pre baby eight years ago.

I hope to return to my busy working mom of now three life in a couple of months with the goal of just maintaining. Which I've always been able to maintain before with 3-4 workouts a week. I'm not a hard core health and exercise nut, but I have seen and know the mental and physical benefits of having regular exercise in my life. I do believe in the benefits of having exercise as part of our lifestyle habits. However I also know the reality of my life. With my commute I am gone ten hours a day with a wake up time of 530 just to get out the door by six. We have no family for extra help or babysitters for the kids and my husband works in educational leadership which leaves me as parent 1 most evenings with what's getting ready to be two school age kids in sports and activities. However I'm a pretty capable person when I set my mind to something so I know my biggest obstacle in committing to staying consistent with exercise after these four months is me. I like to think in the last almost two years I've gotten much better at mentally checking in with myself before things get as out of control as they did over three years ago.

Getting on track with consistent exercise is where I feel the most confident in my ability to follow through though. Eating or dieting, which I hate that word,  is something I've never put much care or thought into. However not only for the purpose of getting back in the normal BMI range both my husband and I would like to get better at putting better foods in our bodies. Honestly our kids, particularly my oldest who I call the family health nut already at 7, have always eaten better than us. Even though we all eat veggies at dinner, they eat fruit on a daily basis too. Even though we're awful about drinking soda they only drink milk and water with juice occasionally. My oldest won't even touch soda when we have it as a treat at the movies. My youngest unfortunately, already has a sugar addiction.  Luckily we all like cereals low on sugar. To start thinking about this I first thought where do our current eating habits fall on the side of good and bad. Cutting back on sugar is my big change goal I want to work on food wise.

My breakfast during the work week for years has been fiber or protein bars or yogurt. I don't drink coffee so will either have orange juice or some of the water from the two bottles a day I bring to work. My lunches tend to be those smartone or lean cuisine frozen meals not because again I was ever dieting but because they're easy and don't taste too bad but this is something I could look at changing (suggestions?). Again for lunch water is my drink of choice. My weakest point of the day is my afternoon snack. I leave work at three starving and with an hour until I get home this is the habit I need to change. I stop way too often for a soda and candy bar, ice cream, or breadsticks and soda. I recently discovered two things though that has helped in the last six weeks of changing this habit. One I discovered a new better protein bar that's a chocolate peanut butter (would need to do fiber bars or yogurt for breakfast then). Second if I can make it home we've discovered making our own smoothies with fruit, veggies, what they call superfood seeds, yogurt, almond milk or coconut water, and with a few ounces of aloe vera juice which also has great health benefits. Not only does this replace my poor snacking habits but those smoothies put healthy benefits into my daily diet that I've been lacking before. Those fruits my girls were getting that I wasn't I will now have on a daily basis and below is a breakdown of the benefits of the ingredients we put in ours. Our dinners have a history of good choices and poor choices. Poor choices happen when we eat out too many nights in a row. We rarely eat fast food but almost always drink soda when eating out and love our fattening appetizers. Our other poor habit at home is frozen process foods which for us is usually a bunch of appetizers and for the girls corn dogs and pizza rolls. When we're cooking though our meals tend to consist of our meat, veggies (at least once a week favorites are broccoli and asparagus), and some type of starch with potatoes or noodles or we do rice a lot too. We eat lots of fish and chicken already, but we do like our beef and pork too. I'm not a huge fan of pork besides bacon on weekend mornings so I could go without, but I do like my red meat and don't plan on eliminating our occasional hamburger or steak. We also like our pasta and wings. I know those can have their negative health benefits but my bigger changes I want to focus on are eliminating my sugar in take with the poor soda and snacking choices and incorporate some beneficial healthy things we've been missing in our diets. During the week I only eat about four times a day. Sometimes we have after dinner snacks. This is where I would sometimes get in my fruit with raspberries or strawberries and lately while pregnant yogurt. But sometimes again this is when I'd go for something sweet so thinking I better have more of my favorite berries and yogurt on hand or this would be a good time for one of those dessert smoothies we found. Our weekends tend to include two meals with a late homecooked breakfast and then dinner. The worse part of this is probably the bacon or sausage and white toast in the morning. Snacking can be the same struggles on the weekends as it is during the week so the goal would be to turn to those smoothies, protein bars, and berries. 

I have many friends it seems like that are on board the get healthy train, and even though I've learned many things from following their journeys one of the things they say that gives me hope with being consistent with changing my eating habits is they stress making good eating choices 80% of the time. So as I told Nate as much as I want to eliminate my love for soda, candy, ice cream, cake and cookies giving in to it occasionally is not the end all be all. If we're out somewhere for a party or wherever it's not the end of the world or my goals if I treat myself. If the girls still want to make our Glenn girl chocolate chip cookies it's not the end of my commitment to eat better. As I've learned from them just get back on track the next day; it's not that big of deal. Which is good because I can't think of chanign my eating habits as a diet or I'll never stick with it. Planning ahead is the other beneficial thing I've learned from them. I'm not the type that will plan or bring alternative food somewhere that is serving something else; it can't feel like a diet where I'm punishing myself or I won't do it. Those moments will just have to be part of my 20%. But I do see the benefit in thinking about or planning what I will eat in the day or upcoming days even if it's just mentally in my head. It's when I don't think there's anything else to eat that I turn to poor snack choices or we end up choosing something crappy for dinner. The third thing I've learned from them that I like is their "Never miss a Monday" motto. This is so true. I remember this from all my times of consistency and lack of consistency in the past. If I got in a workout on Monday I was so much more likely to get in my sought after 3-4 for the week; if I missed and it was Wed before I knew it I usually gave it up for the whole week with the plan to get back on track the next Monday. If I don't get one in Monday I should force myself to get up by 5 on Tuesday before work as a consequence to make sure I don't screw myself up for the whole week.

This is my check in/accountability for myself. I'll check back in with myself here sometime over the summer and definitely in Aug to see where I got on my goals before switching gears with returning to work.

If interested here are the health benefits of the additional ingredients we put in our smoothies on top of the fruit, yogurt, and either almond milk or coconut water we use to blend it.

Flax seed: 1 tablespoon
 #1 source of  lignans, a phytonutrient associated with prolonged survival in cancer patients but also an  excellent source of omega 3 s, fiber, and vitamins and minerals. such as iron, zinc, calcium, protein, potassium, magnesium, folate, soluble fiber and even boron.

Improves digestion, gives you clear skin, lowers cholesterol, reduces sugar cravings, balances hormones, and fights cancer and promotes weight loss

Chai seeds: 1 tablespoon

Rich in omega 3s, fiber, protein, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals

Improves cholesterol and blood pressure, digestive health, skin and aging, boost energy and metabolism, dental health, bone health, and helps fight breast and cervical cancer and diabetes, and helps with building muscle and weight loss

Aloe Vera juice: 4 ounces or less a day (going over can actually cause negative side effects) 

Improves digestion, regulates blood sugar, detoxifies the body, strengthens immune system, regulates blood pressure, retards the growth of cancerous tumors, increases metabolism to help with weight loss.

Kale the king of healthy greens, among the most nutrient dense foods on the planet loaded in antioxidants, great source of vitamins and minerals

Improves cholesterol which lowers heart disease risk, can be a cancer fighting substance, helps with weight loss,

We also have added cocoa powder and/or PB2 when we've wanted that chocolate sweet boost or dessert treat.

*All nutritional facts from  http://nutritionfacts.org and https://authoritynutrition.com

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Bittresweetness of the Last Child

Some days it felt like I would never get to experience this: the last of the firsts. And now here we are. Experiencing our last of the firsts with our last child. Now that I'm here living it, it really is bittersweet.

I will not miss the sleepless nights but I will miss those evenings rocking sweet babes in that rocking chair even at the times in the middle of the night while everyone else slept.

I've never been a huge infant fan due to the constant dependency but as I've watched the older ones grow I know there will be times I long for my babes to need me just a little bit more as they seek their independence.

I will not miss the burning of milk coming in or cracked nipples, but there's something sad about ending that breastfeeding experience for the final time to know I'll never experience that first mother/child bond again.

I already can't wait for the days when the house doesn't echo with the tension of a screaming infant but whereas now it's my comforting touch or voice that quiets those screams too soon those screams will be replaced with attitude and the "I hate you" or "you're ruining my life" cries and my touch or voice will be the last thing they want to hear in that moment.

As exhausting as it is to drag everything out of the house for a baby for a family trip even to something as simple as dinner, I know one day we'll hand the keys over to our last babe to drive us all to dinner.

As sad as I am to experience the joy of  those first year milestone one last time, I also know there's nothing more rewarding than watching each child grow in their personality  towards the adult they're all too soon going to be .

Some days are exhausting in these early days of the firsts of the last, but as I see that smile for the first time I know it will be the last time of experiencing such awe at something as simple as your baby smiling up at you. As much I may think I can't wait for the last  to be independent and self sufficient, I dread the day I'm not needed as mommy as much as he begins to conquer the world around him on his own and I watch and guide on the side. So the last of these first moments  are bittersweet. I'm a little sad that this phase of our life is coming to an end, but also so excited to see what lies ahead in the years to come as each of our children go from the sweet babes we know them as now to the adults they'll become.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Hard Days

Five weeks into life with a newborn/infant for the third and I'm pretty sure (even more sure than before) the final time I'm kind of wondering if I'm just not very good at the baby mom thing. I always joked that I wanted my last kid to be born at age 2, but there was a sense of desperation to that unrealistic hope.

Sometimes I just think I'm not cut out for mothering the completely dependent. I'm always trying to do too many things at one time and infants rarely even let you do one thing at a time. I can't sit still for very long unless I'm working on something that requires sitting (or chatting on Facebook or phone) and infants want you to just sit and hold them for hours on end. Now with two other kids I can't even sit long enough to pee without one of them needing something it seems like. Then there's the lack of sleep.

I'm going on five weeks of no more than three hours at a time of sleep; sometimes I think with a maximum of three hours of a sleep a night with a bit of dozing for the rest of the night. I thank God for my rebounded energy level of the past year or so because I'm not sure how I'd function otherwise. Honestly, even with little sleep I really don't feel that exhausted; otherwise I would have probably snuck in more than just a few naps in the past five weeks. My mood has been pretty positive for the most part, but the baby's constant crying some days of late is starting to wear on me.

Some days I feel like he just cries ALL day. Other days like yesterday he seems pretty content. Then of course there's all the input from everyone from my mom, to my sister, to my husband on what to do about it. "He needs to cry it out.", " Your baby is crying! Are you going to pick him up?", "I think something isn't right. He shouldn't cry that much.", "It's your milk. You should just quit breastfeeding and use formula." At one point in the past week I just wanted to put my hands over my ears like a toddler to block them all out. There's the unstated assumption like I should know what to do to fix it, fix him. I don't know. Babies cry. That is normal.

God love them all, but in the end it all comes to mom. Not to take anything away from dads (as my girls are now huge daddy's girls) or family and their willingness to help, but an infant's needs fall to mom. Sometimes it seems like I'm the only one that can calm him down. My second was like this for the first several months as well. Again I was the only one that knew how to deal with her. My husband is pretty good about picking up on my breaking points most of the time this third time around and will cut in to help before I explode but unfortunately he  really can't get what it's like to be mom. I would love to just think I could disappear downstairs because the game is on or I've helped out for a few hours to give some relief  so now I can go do my thing. But my disappearing is "deal with the crying baby so I can shower, do the dishes, or get outside usually with the girls for a long walk."

I don't say this to be mean. I say it as the reality of being the mom. It s mentally exhausting sometimes. Some days it's just hard to be the mom. On days like today when the baby fusses all day I know I'm getting to my wit's end. I hate how I get impatient with my youngest daughter who I usually try to be more patient with. And then I pick fights with my husband over bologna. No joke. Literally bologna. And I just end up frustrated.

I'm frustrated with feeling impatient with the girls, frustrated that I don't get any quality time with my husband and pick fights over stupid stuff like bologna (which now is kind of funny), frustrated that I don't understand why the baby has good days like yesterday where he seems content and days like today where he rarely sleeps and just eats and cries all day. On top of it we have his first set of follow up appointments coming up with his neurologist and cardiologist in the next two weeks so that combined with his fussiness of the past two weeks gives me a bit of anxiety.

I swear after knowing what I felt like after I had  Kenzi with this whole messed up thyroid/depression thing and the anxiety of this pregnancy with his diagnosis concerns I've been feeling pretty well mentally/ emotionally. I've just had a few too many rough days lately. I'm a veteran mom here this time around. I know there are easy days and there are hard days. And I know I can't let the hard ones get me down and need to regroup so I took an hour walk today, got a few minutes of quiet in the shower, and now got to sit here in the quiet dark and vent/write. Tomorrow will be a better day. Prayers for Lincoln and my mental state (for my family's sake) are always welcomed though.

Here's my handsome little guy at one month already.