Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Introverted Parenting

I'm very much an introvert. I have consistently scored 19 out of 20 towards introvert on the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. I have known for a long time that coming home and having a little alone time was central to my well being. I like people. I just need quiet to quiet my mind.

I never realized how tough parenting - especially stay at home parenting - is when you are an introvert. I have, on occasion, felt like I quite literally do not have a minute to myself to just relax. As any mother knows, your bathroom breaks come with company.So, not exactly a "break".

I've been focusing on finding how I can successfully parent while still ensure I'm caring for my introvert self. Here are a few of the things that seem to help me out a little:
  • Hobbies - my self care has always been creating. I love to sew and more recently have taken up embroidery. I have my two machines set up upstairs and try to steal away as much as I can. I also have started doing watercolors and hand lettering. The great thing about these is I can do them downstairs with the kiddos. It gives me a few minutes of creating among the chaos of the day. 
  • Go to bed before my husband. I've heard it said that marriages where partners go to bed at the same time are happier. I don't know about that. I just know the extra little bit of time to unpack my day and get ready for bed ALL BY MYSELF is amazing for me. It makes me a healthier and happier person for him and the kids. 
  • Nap time is precious. Enough said. I am so glad my kids nap at the same time and give me a little time to recharge in the middle of my day. I'm pretty sure nap time helps me be a better mom from 4:30-8:30 each day. 
  • Volunteering. It sounds silly to say that the connecting with others feeds my introvert soul. But, it does. My volunteering for my sorority and for the greater sorority system is for me. It helps me to interact with adults and think about something other than Paw Patrol.
  • Connecting with other moms. I'm so blessed to have found my local MOMS Club and to have connected with some awesome moms via our playgroup. The random motherhood texts make you feel like someone else gets it. Again, you wouldn't think connecting is what an introvert wants; but we need connections as long as it's a bit deeper than the superficial conversation about weather. 
  • Target trips. They aren't paying me to say this (but hey Target, I would take a gift card if you wanted to send one!) but an evening outing to Target BY MYSELF is the greatest luxury in the world sometimes. Let's wander the aisles, touch all the fabrics, and imagine I had time to read those awesome sounding books. Oh, and I can get laundry detergent and milk? Win! A trip to the grocery store works too even if it's not quite as much fun. 
  • Working out first thing in the morning. This is a newer one for me but has fast become my sacred alone time. I get up early and get my blood going. I've been doing Core de Force on Beachbody or taking my dog for a long walk. It's a serious recharge for my spirit to do something that is 100% for me and helps me start my day on a good note. 
I will say that I don't know that I'm successful. Today for example.... first Abby woke up right in the middle of this post. And then, after dinner tonight, she tried throwing books at me. Finally my husband told me to go to the grocery store. I needed that grocery trip!

How do you balance it all if you're an introvert?


Friday, May 12, 2017

My Own Summer Bucket List

I read this article the other day and knew I needed a summer bucket list with my kids. Because I can easily fall into the rut of doing just the playground, which while fun, isn't helping them explore their surrounding. I want to create explorers!
 So I sat down and just wrote: things I've been wanting to do with them, things that don't cost much (or any!) money, things that will get us out and about. A few might just be Mommy/son dates like visiting Niagara Falls when we're in Buffalo. And Abby isn't ready for marshmallows in the yard yet. Altogether I have 12 items but I keep adding a few things here and there. I will probably put it on flip chart paper and hang it up so Chase can check things off when we do them because he'll get joy in that!

I hope this helps us to make the most of summer and have fun! I can't wait! What would be on your bucket list?

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

A Prompt Life

 I've been thinking a lot about goals and self improvement lately. This season of motherhood is tough because they need everything from me. So there is little time left for me. And a lot of that time that's okay. I expected it. I waited a long time to be a mom and had quite a bit of me time. But - oh the but - I do need time here and there to feed my soul. It helps me to be better for them. It keeps my mind stimulated.

I think I've shared that I've been combining watercolors with hand lettering. It's been a good release for me. And it's something I can do when my little people are awake and hanging with me. Not all of my hobbies have that same versatility. I enjoy finding quotes and expressions that inspire me and putting my own spin on how to bring it to life.

I've also been trying to write more. I love writing and you only get better with practice. In the past I tried The Artist's Way. But right now my early mornings are reserved for exercise and I'm not willing to get up earlier to write too. Today I stumbled across this book of writing prompts while shopping at Target. It was $6.99. And I figured it would be a great thing for my kids to have many years from now so see a bit more of what made their mom tick.
My goal is probably to do 2-3 a week. Daily just won't fit with all of my other hobbies. But a few times a week during nap time is completely feasible. Who knows, you might see some of the fruits of my labor here! I want to keep pushing myself to be as me as I can be and not let this season of my life strip me of the things that help me grow, be challenged, and reflect on my values.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

A Miscarriage

Before Chase, I had another baby. I was pregnant and miscarried. The baby wasn't planned but so welcomed. Losing that baby was one of the toughest things I've gone through, not only in the physical pain of miscarrying but in the raw, awful emotional pain. 

I haven't talked about it in this space because it is so personal. But a friend came to me two days ago, in the midst of her own miscarriage, seeking advice. It ripped at my heart. Not because of my loss but because I so wish no one I know had to have this experience. It's the sisterhood you never wanted to join.

The only advice I could offer was to grieve and allow yourself to cry. You've lost a baby. It's tough because not everyone knows that. You feel like your body failed. And yes, you might have another baby. But you'll have always lost that one. Find a way to celebrate that little life.

I also sought out a therapist afterwards. My pain was so great I wanted to process it. I didn't find a therapist that was the right fit and then, a short while later, I was pregnant with Chase. My pain diminished with a new pregnancy. That's me though and wouldn't be the case for everyone. I'm a huge believer in therapy if you need it.

Your partner might not have the same sense of loss. Remember it's your body doing this so your void might be stronger. You've got the cramps and pain, such a physical reminder of your loss.

And, if you're in the process of miscarrying now, be as kind to yourself as you can be. Talk to someone. Treat yourself to a manicure. Watch Law and Order all day long. Do whatever feels good to you. I'm so very sorry you're experiencing this.

I will say it was a true bring-tears-to-my-eyes honor that my friend came to me. My heart breaks for her. I hope I was able to help on some level. And I hope my sharing might help a few others over time. You aren't alone. And I'm sending love your way.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Ways We Exhaust Our Kiddos!

 We didn't plan this weekend out in advance and were left kind of scrambling to put together some fun things for the kiddos. Saturday it was raining so we needed to find something good indoors. Luckily, we're not too far from Giggleberry and it was a perfect thing to do.
 There is a water table there; Chase couldn't care about anything else. He played at a few other places but running from side to side fishing for ducks and rearranging things was what truly made him happy. Abby, on the other hand, wasn't tall enough for that and thus wandered to a lot of other things. She crawled through the tunnel, rode a carousel horse, and played on the firetruck.

Then today, we met up with friends and visited A Day at Delaware Valley University. There were bounce houses to climb in, animals to see, and a bubble entertainer. All of this was great for Chase! It wasn't quite as good for Abby. Any time we took her out of the stroller, she kind of ran off. I let her a bunch. We got out to see the animals. She LOVED staring at the sheep.
 She also loved seeing the chicks and donkey. I'm so glad I was able to do that with just her because I was able to focus on letting her take it all in.

Isn't that such a joy - seeing how your kids take in the world? It's truly one of my favorite parts of parenthood. Chase is a tentative explorer, preferring to have me by his side. He's getting more adventurous though, which I love. Abby is more of a spitfire. You tell her no? She heads right in! She loves to touch, explore, and discover. It's rewarding to see but also sometimes a little nerve racking, as we have to watch closely to ensure she stays safe.
Both kids were thoroughly exhausted when we left there and slept in the car for about 45 minutes. Plus, we had an early bedtime for both!!
I call it a successful, kid-centric weekend!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Putting Myself First

Post second baby, the weight did not leave me like it did post first baby. Which is kind of funny because I nursed longer with the second kiddo. Anyway, I've never been the healthiest Stacy I can be and with the extra weight and the ever narrowing gap between my age and the age my dad died of a heart attack, it was time to make some changes. 

I knew I needed to find a way to increase my activity, both for health and energy. I've been working out pretty regularly for the last month and a half. I'm currently aiming for 5-6 times per week. I get up earlier than everyone in the house so I can hammer it out before the kids need me or I'm faced with a thousand other distractions. Although I don't always enjoy rolling out of bed, I definitely enjoy getting up and moving. I subscribed to Beachbody On Demand and have been doing some mixed martial arts, yoga, barre and other things. I'm really loving that 6-7 am time because I get to focus on just me. I feel like, when you have little kids, focusing on yourself is something that doesn't happen very often. 

I also love that post workout high. I ran for a short while (apparently running and scoliosis don't mix) and loved that high. Now I get it with punching and kicking!
Post workout sweaty selfie with a lovely iphone haziness
 I've also been using a FitBit again. I love tracking my heart rate and I like the reminder to get up and walk. Extra bonus is, if I do enough, the husband's wellness plan will give us money.
Since I've been working out it looks like my scale has gone down a few pounds. My big hairy audacious goal would be to lose about 50 pounds. But honestly, the most important thing for me is to get my heart as healthy as I can and to have more energy for keeping up with the kiddos.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

A Gift for Me

When we had our second baby we didn't get quite as many meals and other little bit of help as we did with the first. I think this is pretty typical honestly. You already experienced the parenting learning curve from the first and probably prepared more this time. However, I'm a HUGE believer in meals being so helpful. Plus, cooking and helping people are two of my favorite things.

A friend just had her second boy and I was able to work with our little group of friends to cover a few meals after they returned home. Tonight I delivered chicken tacos to them for dinner. Our chicken taco recipe is the easiest. It's just:
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • cream of chicken soup
  • 1/2 a package of taco seasoning 
Cook in the crockpot for 2-6 hours.

I doubled the recipe and we had tacos tonight too! Little do my friends know that bringing them dinner was a total gift for me too. Not only did I get to see that sweet baby but I got to help take one thing off their plate.
I also included some chocolate chip cookies and these little homemade friends for their two boys. Because homemade love is just awesome.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Looking Back on the Breastfeeding Experience

Now that we're past the breastfeeding/formula stage, I can look back on it all through a different lens. It was a true struggle for me both times to admit defeat. Because that's what it felt like. The first time, with my son, I didn't know a lot about breastfeeding and figured it would just work. Shocker to anyone who has gone through it - it's not that easy! And I was trying. The latch wasn't great. The production sucked. And I was so exhausted. Exhausted from lack of sleep but truly bone tired from trying. It made me cry. A lot.

The second time, with my daughter, I did the pre work. I visited with a lactation consultant (LC) in advance. I set up a follow up appointment for after her birth. I used a nipple shield. I met with the LCs in the hospital. I took advice. I used different positions. I breastfed then pumped. And man, was I EXHAUSTED. That's serious work. And it was again just too much for me emotionally.

A year later, I can look back on it all and be proud of myself for trying and proud of myself for quitting. Because quitting was what I needed for me. And that's okay. Thankfully we live in a society where formula is available. My kiddos were fed. And a healthy mother - physically AND mentally - is best for baby. I worried I'd miss out on that physical connection with my children. But I was still feeding them and comforting them. When they are hurt, I'm the one they want. When it's bedtime I'm holding them, reading to them, and helping them to transition to sleep. I'm so glad I was able to recognize that quitting was what I needed. And that I was surrounded by people - my mom, my husband, my doctors - who told me that when I needed to hear it. I sincerely hope all women who need to hear that get that. Because your health is important. Taking care of yourself allows you to care for your kiddos.

This post is in collaboration with The Honest Company. Learn more about their formula here

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Challenge of Food

My kids have gotten a bit picky when eating lately. They were such great eaters - going for pretty much everything - but suddenly we're a little unwilling to eat banana, grapes, or oranges. What's changed? No idea. But that's just kiddos being kiddos I think.

From the very beginning, we've subscribed to baby led weaning. We might not have called it that right away but that's what we did. My son - the eldest kiddo - was done with formula right at a year. He loved food so much and took to milk right away. It was kind of magically how he transitioned from bottles to sippy cups and from formula to milk. Okay, seriously magic.
The youngest is slowly getting there. She drinks a lot of water - more so than milk - so I'm hesitant to make the transition. She will tool around the house with that sippy cup on water all day, dribbling water down her as she goes. She also loves food, although not everything lately. She'd eat an avocado a day if I let her (who has that kind of money??). She loves hot dogs. She likes broccoli. She will eat all of her strawberries and then her brother's! But we're still working on moving off formula completely. And honestly I'm okay with that because I'm trusting her to get to the right place when her body is ready.

I also don't really fix a separate meal for them. They eat what we eat although it may be supplemented with something else. When we do chicken tacos, they eat tomato, tortilla, avocado, chicken, and olives. Last night when we had Swedish meatballs and asparagus; they did noodles, asparagus, avocado, and tomatoes. I'm not willing to fix a whole separate dinner. That's just not how I mom.
Speaking on momming (when you create a word, you determine if it has an additional m right?) I will say I've always felt good about the decisions we've made for them with food. They eat mostly nutritious food. It's a balanced diet with a few sweets thrown in. We let them explore and develop their palate. Personally, I'm trying to model healthy eating and exercise for them.

And I've never regretted using formula with them. I hang out with some crunchy mommas. But they also have always subscribed to fed is best. And choosing the formula route was what I needed for good mental health. Between latch challenges and production (oh production!! Don't get me started!), it was so taxing to me emotionally. I really hope all mommas focus on making that choice - the one that is right for their body, mind, and life.




Sunday, April 10, 2016

Beauty School Dropout: Otherwise Known as Quitting Breastfeeding

I had a moment this week where I felt a little like Frenchie from Grease. You know the Beauty School Dropout number? Yeah, that was exactly what I was feeling. After struggling with breastfeeding following Abby's delivery, I decided to drop out. I simply wasn't producing enough for her. The multi step process of breastfeeding, supplementing and pumping was too much for me emotionally. Yes, it boosted my production a little bit but not enough to feed her fully and it left me miserable, which isn't particularly good for any momma.

And so I met with my lactation consultant to slowly begin the process of weaning. Thankfully, we immediately cut pumping. That lifted a huge weight off of me. I got an hour to two hours of my life back each day. And after marathon nursing sessions (suck - sleep - suck - suck - sleep for 10 minutes - suck) we are now at the point where we can cut back the length a bit. Just those two steps alone might keep me nursing. Time will tell.

There is so much pressure to nurse, both from the medical community and from regular people. And honestly, the medical community is probably better and more understanding than the regular Joe. Yes, I believe in the benefits I'm passing on to my child by breastfeeding. But I also believe I need to be healthy, including emotionally, to ensure my child is thriving. Breastfeeding, for me, isn't helping me thrive emotionally. The sleep deprivation coupled with the need to eat constantly (and sneak said food so Chase doesn't insist on eating everything too) plus the postpartum hormones is truly doing a number on me. I reached out to my doctor this week for help. After Chase, they put me on a low dose Zoloft and that made a huge difference. I may need to do something similar again. I know that the decisions I make - whether to breastfeed and whether I seek out an antidepressant - will be determined based on making me the healthiest mother I can be so I can best benefit my kids. Yes, people will judge. My attitude must be "let them" as my top priorities are my kids and my health. I just hope when I don my imaginary pink ladies jacket, I can truly keep that attitude in the forefront of my brain.