Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Moms Fighting Depression

I'm at a point in life that I was before. My two oldest were one and three at the time. Tank and Phina weren't born yet.

My days back then were survived, not lived. Every moment passed into hours and hours into days and days into months. I was in the house almost constantly, worrying about naps and cooking and cleaning when all I wanted with every fiber of my being was to walk through the woods and sit beside a lake. With two toddlers, my time was constantly demanded. Nights were full of waking up for night time bottles and occasional changes or trips to the potty and I was up early in the mornings to send Cris (hubby) off to work with his coffee and breakfast. There was tension between us because after stressing out all day with work, he'd come home to a stressed out wife. An entire day home and our house was nowhere near clean. Food wasn't cooked with the devotion and attention it should have been but man, I was sad...I was always sad. 

I had fallen into a complete depression. Not many knew about it because I've always been the type that could hide behind a smile and a joke but God knows how badly my heart and mind ached for a moment of peace and solitude. My spirit was suffering because my energy was so low that I couldn't even read the Bible or pray the way I should. I just wanted to get out of the house - to go hiking in the mountains or fishing or camping - but Cris was busy with our business which was taking off and the last thing I wanted was to spend time in the woods with two kids who were cranky and screaming because they were tired.

Listen, this is not something I share with people usually. I don't want people to look at me and think what they're seeing is a poor, stressed mama who can't manage her time. Which, by the way, people, do you know how impossible time-management is when you're not feeling well? When you barely manage to wash your hair twice a week and even forget to feed yourself because you're so busy with others? That was my life then...

And, well, here's the thing...I'm there again. I'm back to having two toddlers constantly vying for my attention. They fight and scream and cry and fight some more and on top of that, my first two kids are old enough now to talk back and misbehave on a whole other level. I'm back to surviving my days. I'm back to an almost constantly messy house and food that could taste better. I'm back to being stuck in the house because Tank is, well, Tank and Phina is so heavy and still not walking. Worst of all, I'm back to feeling sad almost constantly and not knowing how to stop it.

But...there is a difference this time:


I experienced years of depression back then. Recently, I recognized the signs as they crept up on me and I am doing everything possible to resist the fall. I am mentally at work throughout the day to find every reason to not be depressed.

When driving to pick up my kids from school, I absorb the natural beauty of North Carolina. I know that sounds silly but I do it. Growing up in a desert, all I ever wanted was to be surrounded by the woods and here I am. So I literally take in the view as I drive. Especially now that it's fall, I can never drive without feeling breathless because everything is so pretty! 

I remind myself on a daily basis that it's not the end of the world that there are dishes in the sink.

When the little ones nap and the older two are in school, I take time to sit my butt down and breathe. If I have to close my eyes to the mess of toys or crumbs on the floor, I do, for the sake of my peace of mind because God, I am losing it. I play my music throughout the day and mentally plan how I'll spend my time when my little ones aren't so little. 

I occasionally drive out to a neighborhood we plan on living in sometime in the future, park my car, shush the kids and listen to the silence for five or ten minutes. I chat with the older two about how we'll decorate the rooms and spend our summer mornings by the lake with lemonade and muffins. The younger two are usually snacking in silence or playing with their books or toys. My mind calms and hope fills me when I think of how we'll make life in the not-so-distant future. It reminds me that my current mental state is not my forever mental state.

That's the thought that helps me most: through experience, I know that these two little ones will grow up and I'll get back on my feet. I know that I won't be in this mindset forever. I won't feel strapped down to sadness forever. The kids are difficult for now, but they will grow. The little ones won't be little forever and naps won't forever control my schedule. Tantrums will end in a few more years. My first two grew and I was able to spend more time with them outside. We could better communicate so I was better able to get things around the house done. I would wake in the morning and enjoy my coffee in silence as they slept in a bit longer than they did when they were smaller. I did have a time of feeling normal and happy and I can rest assured that I will have that time again.

My Girls - Then and Now
There are so much that we mama's go through and life is so hard to manage with so many people and things needing our time and attention. Small kids are a sanity-killer but we need to remember that they won't be small forever. Oh man, how often do we hear that? All the time! But take the moment to stop and really realize that THEY WILL NOT BE SMALL FOREVER.
We need to find what soothes us and use that daily to keep up above the things trying to pull us down into depression. 

I tell myself every day that I will not let depression take me again.
And I will say it again...


_Woodland Mom

Thursday, October 29, 2015

City vs Country - vs Kids

It's no surprise to anyone that I adore living in the South. You smile to everyone you pass on the roads. You can ask almost any person you walk by for comfort food recipes. "God bless you" is heard in the grocery stores, gas stations, pretty much anywhere. You can start up conversation with anyone while waiting in line and the older country folk have wisdom of a lifetime they love to share.

Every morning, I go downstairs and the first thing I do is open the blinds. Trees, grass and songbirds are my "good morning," every morning - every season. I'm sure Cris, my husband, has heard more than enough of "Dear God, I love North Carolina" but I do hope he takes pride in the fact that he's the first reason I came.

There is one thing that I noticed soon after moving here... and that's the work ethic in the people born and raised here. There are a lot of construction workers here that seem to be very "on the job." Home Depot and Lowes is always full of people hauling materials for their jobs - and on a side note, lots of cowboy types tipping their hats to the ladies, which I just love the see. But it seems that work ethic is pushed into minds in the teens. Every summer, I see teenagers mowing lawns and doing all sorts of work around the home for their neighbors. Thirteen year olds are cleaning gutters, raking leaves, trimming trees. It's an amazing thing to see in America's young guys! These are the kids that will grow to be men - something you don't see so very often. These guys will be able to raise a family and take care of their wives and children. I can't help but smile every time I see them, so busy in their labor and not at all bothered or ashamed by what they're doing. They're helping their neighbor, they're getting paid and getting experience that they will no doubt use in their future.

These days, kids are babied. Their self-esteem is babied. No one is wrong anymore. No one is last anymore. No child feels the sting of losing a game because "we're all winners," right? I feel like that's such a big problem these days. Babying every aspect of a child is sheltering that child. Teens are too sensitive now. Adults are too sensitive now. Everyone just wants to "follow their dream" and expects that dream to leap into their arms. That's not how life works. Life is work. It's labor. It's focus. It's time and sacrifice and not always getting what you want.

Kids here in the South are taught to respect authority and respect their elders. Teens here offer to help anyone who seems like they need it. Strangers will stop on the road to help you with your flat tire.
Where do you think this type of behavior starts? At home! I wish, I wish, I wish parents would realize that it's at home that our children are developing their behavior - not at school. In most schools today, the teachers are not teaching them how to respect, they're teaching them academics. As parents, it's our job - OUR job - to instill these things in our children.

Why are there so many kids talking back? Why are there so many kids calling their parents "stupid?" Why are there so many 20-something-years-olds out of work, out of school and out wasting their lives and their parents money away? They're too busy playing video games or dreaming their lives away to actually make a life for themselves, aren't they?
Where did they learn this behavior?
At home.

At home.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Beat Viruses With Essential Oils

(This is not paid advertising. All opinions on all products are my own)
My one year old, Phina, was quite sick the last two weeks. She was coughing - mostly in the night - and severely congested. She snored like her Grandpa and was a major mouth-breather, even when elevated. I tend to turn to essential oils when it comes to this type of thing, especially when they're this little (Phina is 1 and a half and a healthy 28 pounds). I will admit that I have not depended on them alone, though. 

After years of experience with viruses - *ahem* I do have four kids - I learned that you can want to be as natural as possible but when it comes down to it, you will use what works. For mine? Essential oils have worked and worked even better when used alongside Hyland's homeopathic remedies. 
I tried the Nighttime Tiny Cold Syrup, but my kids are one of those rare types that get hyper instead of tired when given anything with a "sleep aid" in it. The Complete Cold 'n Flu was what worked best for her. She would calm down, and her coughs would lessen within a few minutes of giving her the syrup. Sometimes, she'd have a coughing spell just after administering it but afterwards, she'd be fine for a few hours.

Back to the oils, though. I placed about 13 drops of tea tree oil and 16 or so drops of Oreganol in one of our cold mist humidifiers. (we use the Crane Drop Shape ultrasonic humidifier and I haven't had any issues with it yet when using essential oils. 

I also made a slave to rub onto Phina's chest (and on her feet once she was fast asleep because she hates the goopy feeling between her toes).

I blended:
5 drops of Thieves (I use Young Living oils)
4 drops of peppermint
4 drops of lavender
4 drops of lemon
1.5 tablespoons of Coconut Oil

Ok, so there may be some moms about to jump on me for using too much essential oils to the coconut oil ratio but I am telling you, this baby girl's congestion was bad and this blend helped. There was no sign of it burning or irritating her skin.

The virus hung out for about a week but these remedies did help to ease the frustration for baby and for mama. I could feel less guilty for going as natural as I could for her and confident that I didn't just attack her little body with chemicals and junk like that. Yes, I know it's possible to go even more natural but you know what, this is what helped my baby and if this is going to keep her from getting worse and feeling pooped all day, I'll continue doing it this way.

We all want what's best for our little boogers. And, mama-to-mama, I want what's best for your baby, too!

Maybe you have some advice for me! I'm learning every day, as we all are and am looking for even more natural remedies to help out the little ones.
If you  do have something, comment below! I look forward to hearing from you.


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Holy Basil and Stress Relief

Hello Moms, Dads and everyone who has a problem with stress!
I've been introduced to something recently. It's called Holy Basil Leaf.

Listen up...I'm a mom of 4.  My patience has been severely lacking these past couple years. My stress levels - WAY high. Yelling? I'm a pro, yo. But lately, it's been getting out of hand. My kids started thinking I was preggo again just because I was so cranky and stressed all the time! (nooooo, thank you!)

Someone came to visit a little while ago, with his wife and kids and one of the first things I noticed was how mellow he was about everything. No matter what his kids did, he handled it the way it should have been handled - calmly. Did his kids get away with everything? No way! But he was able to do what needed to be done with his head cool. I was like, "what the flip! How do you do that?"

The first night he was here, he told us about this herb he started talking recently called, "Holy Basil" for stress control. I immediately thought about how calm he was all day and I couldn't believe it. Something that worked! But, would it work for me?

I found it at Whole Foods for $29.99 and started taking it. The first day, I was chill...like a penguin. I couldn't feel anything to tell me that something new was in my body but when it came to things that would usually stress me out, I had no problem. I laughed more. I played with the kids more. I took my precious time doing whatever I needed to do - and all without yelling.

This stuff works.

I'm seriously going to recommend it to anyone I know that's stressing out a lot because I can see it work in myself.

Yikes...I sound like a commercial.

Woodland Mom

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

There's a Chill in the Air!

Why is that? Because it's now officially Fall! September 23...one day after Bilbo and Frodo Baggin's birthday. I will never be able to forget these dates and that makes it even more wonderful. 

It's not a secret that I love Fall. A sudden desire to cook stews and make broths overcomes me. I love pulling out the scarves and hats and boots for me and for the kids. The heat is on at night and the mornings carry in them a chill that keeps you awake. Coffee is wonderful. The smell of pine grows stronger so the doors and windows are open. 

As I was driving my little ones to school, we all started giggling with excitement to find the leaves already beginning their change! We're all excited here!

It's Fall, everyone! Pull on some warm sock, cozy up in your favorite chair, open the windows and breath in the life!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Country Berry Cake

I woke up uber cranky today. For some reason, coffee wouldn't do it for me. The imps have been crazy since they woke up, doing crazy things, climbing things, calling me "Mom" and what have you. You'd think a morning of coffee and "When Calls the Heart" would be a goof foundation for a calm, collected woman but, alas, the imps had their diabolical plans instead.

So, what to do when your calm is taken and thrust into the chasm of "motherhood?" You turn on some Dan Gibson's Lakeside Retreat and stomp all angry-like to the pantry to toss all baking supplies onto the table, of course!

I have a bag of frozen berries. Well, had. I decided I wanted to have some berry cake today and I wanted it to be sweet and good with my coming second cup of coffee. This is an experiment and I'm letting you all in on it. So, if it doesn't work out, you can all laugh at me. I'm going to call this my "Country Berry Cake" - because everything with the word "country" in it has to be good and has to work out.

Here are the materials from my pantry:

2 cups of flour
A tidbit less than a tablespoon of baking power
A teaspoon of salt
A tidbit less than a cup of sugar
Almost a 12 oz bag of frozen strawberries and blueberries (maybe 10oz)

Half a half a cup of butter (4 tablespoons)
2 eggs
A teaspoon of vanilla extract
3/4 of a cup of milk
1/4 of a cup of grapeseed oil because "health"

I preheated the oven to 350 F because it seems like a good number.

I sifted the dry ingredients and added the wet, milk and butter at the same time to be specific. Then the eggs and vanilla. When the batter was nice and smooth, I folded in the berries then poured it all into a 9 x 13 baking pan. I had to spread out the berries as the blueberries are like fish and school together. (yes, bad visual for cake but take it, people. I'm cranky, remember?)

At this point, it looked like this:
I'm hopeful.
I placed it into the oven for about 30 minutes then impaled it with a toothpick to see if the innards are still wet or dry. (in real world terms, I poked it with a toothpick.) Sadly, it was still very, very wet and gutsy so I waited longer. About 45 minutes to be exact.)

And then it looked like this:
(yes, I lost my sense of patience and cut into it and ate before taking the picture. Excuse: You can see the "texture" here.)


Honestly, the cake is heavenly. Crumbly and soft and perfect for coffee.
Try it. Let the country gal out.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Expecting Too Much

My plastic sword-swinging eight year old, Merida, was always more advanced than the other kids in her class. From 18 months, I could see that she was going to be a lover of books.

She didn't care to play with other kids. She'd rather sit in her corner with her picture books and flip through them while chaos ensued all around her. I was concerned at first until I sent her off to preschool at three years old - mainly for the sake of socializing. I was surprised to find that she knew the alphabet, shapes, colors and she could count to ten while many others in her class could not. She was a smart cookie. Still is. She's had straight A's all year, every year since she started school. Her teacher's words were, "you've got an amazing daughter. She's the kind of student all of us teachers want. If we would have a class full of kids like her, there'd never be any problems."

I was proud. I still am proud. But this whole experience has caused some problems when it comes to her sister, my six year old.

I shall call her "Princess Unicorn Giggles" or Rapunzel, though the first is more fitting. Since she could sit on her own, life was all about butterfly-pooping unicorns and fuzzy rainbows. My little Rapunzel, with her super-long hair and big, round, blue eyes is - academically speaking - right where a six year old should be. Her mind is more concerned about her next game or adventure and she could really care less about math or reading. She can do it but she just doesn't care to. She's in first grade now and her grades are nothing near what her sister's were. Now, at first, I was very worried! I called in for a parent-teacher conference to see why my child was behind.(though, she really wasn't) 

"Why is she only reading small words?"
"Why can't she do subtraction?"
"Why isn't she reading chapter books like her sister was at this age?"

I was frustrated and Princess could tell...but that only made things worse. It stopped any possibility of her loving to learn. It was a job then. It was a job to try to read and it wasn't fun anymore. Numbers, letters and shapes weren't exciting like they were when she was a toddler.

Fast-forward a few months later when I went inside her class to explain to her teacher that an accident on the highway is the reason that there are only six kids in her class.
"I had to take a different road," I explained. "I'd have been in traffic for two hours if I didn't."
"Yeah," a sweet, high-pitched voice said behind me.
I turned and saw this little blonde girl only two desks away from Princess.
Her eyes widened in wonder as she went on saying, "but there was no slug in the woad so I don't know where the twaffic is coming fwom."

The teacher chuckled and looked at me with this, "oh, kids are silly" look and it hit me. I looked to Princess who was giggling away at a boy making funny faces and my stomach hit the floor. I'd been expecting way too much from my little girl. Her sister was more advanced and mature than the average kid at that age, but Princess? She was right where the rest of them were. She was where she's supposed to be and I was pushing her and stressing her out. I felt horrible. My heart broke for her and on my way home, I decided I'd chill out. Ever since then, I've been a lot more understanding of who she is and what she finds interesting. We've made math and reading fun and...at her own pace. She enjoys me "quizzing" her now and she just seems like a more relaxed kid.

I'm far from being the perfect mom and I'm learning about this parenthood thing on a daily basis. Yes, I have four kids, but not one will be the same, nor will the experiences be with each one of them. There is no limit to what can be learned as a parent and there is no level you can reach to be able to say, "hey, I'm a pro. I know exactly what I'm doing and I'm the best at it." We can do our best but by doing, we're still learning.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Protective Wear When...Washing Dishes?

Honestly, I'm really just talking about gloves. You know, those yellow, rubber gloves that Dexter's mom always wears?

Yeah, those are the ones.

Lately, my fingers have been shriveling like a prune every time I do housework, but mostly the dishes. And not only do they shrivel, but they feel like styrofoam which gives me that nails-on-a-chalkboard feeling. Believe it or not, this is not the main reason I've been wearing gloves.
Let me tell you the story.

A few days ago, I was at Walmart with the smaller 2 goblins of mine. My son, who is now two, decided that this day would be the grand entrance into terribleness. You know, the terrible twos? I thought he was early in the game but turns out, it's only just beginning.
We were walking through the candles and frames section where he got a hold of a candle and - surprise, surprise - dropped it. Instinctively, I tried to catch it but, alas, was too late. It shattered on the floor. So I kneel down to pick up the pieces and find my finger on my right hand dripping with blood. I'm talking literally dripping. I didn't even know how I cut myself or when!

Hold on...pause for a second...before I go on with the story, let me give a little aside here: when we reached the register, he pulled more stuff off the shelves. You know those shelves strategically placed there with their cursed temptations of Snickers and Twix and Hot Cheetos, where you pull out your wallet so you can count your money and realize at the last minute that you cannot go another moment without inhaling that junk? Yeah, those shelves. Ty decided to play Geronimo and toss things from there. Then, when we got to the car, I bent down to grab something from the bottom of the cart when he grabs a fistful of my hair and pulls like he's having a tug'o'war with Hercules. So, yeah...that day was frustrating and overall terrible.

Moving on with the story...
I get home and start trying to get to work but the gash on my finger stiiiiings every time it comes in contact with water.
"Oh!" I said, and hurried to my utility closet where I keep my gloves. After one-handedly digging through all the sponges and towels and light bulbs and stuff, I find the gloves and get to work. When I finished the dishes, I realized, HUZZAH! No styrofoam feeling! Well, dur-hurr, Ma, why didna' thinko' this before!

Reasons for wearing protective gloves while washing dishes? Check.
But let's be real about this. There are quite a few more reasons.

  1. No more shriveling fingers.
  2. Safety from knives. Whether the water in your sink is full of bubbles or murky from all the stuff you've washed so far in that session, there are knives at the bottom and if your luck is anywhere as bad as mine is, you'll grab them by the blade. It's kind of like bread landing on the buttered side...it just happens. All. The. Time.
  3. The quality and health of your nails. Water and soap matters. Your nails will soften/weaken over time and they'll easily crack, peel, bend, etc. My nails are paper-thin already so the last thing I need is any additional damage to them.
  4. Washing with hot water. Everyone knows that washing with soap and hot water kills the most yuckiness. Of course, burning yourself is never a fun thing to do and if you wash with water half as hot as I do, burns are a promise.
  5. Save yourself the shuddering and gags. There is often yucky stuff floating around the sink and touching it gives me the heebie-jeebies. Soft, slimy noodles. Clumps of grease from your buttered pan. All those ooey, gooey not-so-yummies.
Are there any reasons not listed here that you wear gloves while doing the dishes? None shall be judged.

Until another day.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Gunk Removal

If you have picky kids, you've had the unfortunate experience of cooking something they won't touch. So, of course, that meal is stuck in a pot that's been pushed to the back of the fridge and forgotten for a couple of days. No? Just me?


Well then, I'm sure there's been other situations where you ended up with old food stuck to your cookware and you just can't seem to get it off. Yes? Yes! I win!
Well, I've been in this situation quite a few times. I'm not gonna lie. I have picky kids so I've lost a few meals to the back of the fridge a number of times. I cringe when I find them and realize I'm the mom and will be doing the cleaning, so I looked into some methods of gunk-removal. This seemed the most promising and...actually works!

  • 1/4 cup of baking soda.
  • Enough hydrogen peroxide to form a paste.
This consistency worked fine for me but thicker will work even more wonders!

VIOLA! A perfect paste for scrubbing your cookware!
OOOOoooo! Shiny!

(a picture would usually go here but I've only so much time when the baby doesn't take real naps! Next time. I pinky promise.)