Sunday, March 25, 2012

Simple Woman

Find it HERE.

FOR TODAY:
Outside my window... Rainy, rainy day

I am thinking... the house we looked at last week.  Maybe we might buy it?  I don’t know.  Homeownership freaks me out.

I am thankful... for my education.  I’m not so much using it in a professional capacity, but at least it keeps me from being a moron.

In the kitchen... cookies!

I am wearing... pjs

I am creating... pffft

I am going... to write up a book review for the book blog right after I write this. (same response as last week.  weird.)

I am wondering... about that house we may or may not want to buy.

I am reading... Almost done with Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater and just started The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan
I am hoping... this week doesn’t feel as long as last week.

I am looking forward to... summer.

I am learning… a lot about mortgages and house buying.  Should we do that?

Around the house... what if we didn’t rent a house anymore but bought one?

I am pondering... did I mention the house we looked at?  Well, we’ve actually looked at several.  But, there’s this one…

A favorite quote for today... “The government, which was designed for the people, has got into the hands of the bosses and their employers, the special interests. An invisible empire has been set up above the forms of democracy.” –Woodrow Wilson

One of my favorite things... chocolate.

A few plans for the rest of the week: William is presenting at a conference in Richmond, so we’re headed there later this week.  It’s fun to get out of town.

A peek into my day...
DSCN1265
Well, this was my day a year ago.  When I still had a baby.  *sigh*

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

On Parenting, Part 2

I came across this article recently (and by “came across” I mean that someone posted it to facebook, of course) about generational trends in parenting.  “From Generation X to Generation Me” by Rhiana Maidenberg.  It really got me thinking.

What this article talks about is the parenting style of most Gen X’ers.  And I think she nailed it:

Many of us, now as mothers, are now staying home, sacrificing career and economic prosperity to be the one to do the drop-offs and pick-ups. We read every new parenting book, determined to raise our children with all possible opportunities and advantages. By the time the children are two, they are enrolled in ballet, soccer, gymnastics, music and art class. Our kids are constantly praised for their efforts and are repeatedly told how smart, talented, beautiful and special they are.

And this is how we raised the "Me" generation. (italics, and boldness, added)

This is related a lot to what I talked about in On Parenting, Part 1.  I think this is an interesting perspective.  A lot of Gen X’ers were raised by parents who were less engaged and—even though most of us seemed to have turned out perfectly fine—we’ve decided that our parents were not engaged enough.  And to compensate, we are totally over engaging. 

But we are creating a generation of children who can’t function in the real world.  We’re creating what I like to call the American Idol Syndrome (AIS).  I watch the “audition episodes” of American Idol, and revel/despair in the level of unawareness that these people have.  Their parents, who are usually waiting outside the doors of the audition room, have told them all their lives that they are super talented and amazing.  The illusion all comes crashing down when the judges start to squirm after the first few notes. 

On a related note: If you ever get the chance to ask my husband about the time a parent of one of his students called him at home to argue about her child’s grade, you should do it.  He’s a college professor, ya’ll. 

Maidenberg (and the author she quoted—check out the article) gives us three things we can do to combat this trend:

  1. Allow the child to fight her own battles.
  2. Don’t be the parent that demands her child be invited to all the birthday parties.
  3. Let them experience failure.

I think sometimes as parents we forget that childhood is part of life.  And this is what life is like.  And if we are too focused on “protecting” our children from every little thing, then we are leaving them totally ill equipped to be adults.

I think a better approach is to let them experience these things, and then guide them through appropriate ways to deal with it.  So, these are some notes for myself:

Let your child fight their own battles—help them recognize their power and confidence when they win, and when they lose. 

Don’t protect your child from social nuances by make believing that everyone likes him and always will.  A big part of social development is actually learning when someone doesn’t like you and why.  It’s a good way to avoid being an obnoxious person.

When they fail, teach them to try again or try something else, and to develop a sense of self worth that is not wrapped up in being the best at everything all the time.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Simple Woman

Find it HERE.

FOR TODAY
Outside my window... Cloudy, but still spring like.

I am thinking... about an internet fast.  Sometimes social media is more of a burden than a joy.

I am thankful... for Thing 2’s squishy kissable cheeks.

In the kitchen... lunch was Irish food leftovers.  Super fun!

I am wearing... jeans and a t-shirt.  A purple one.

I am creating... fabricated responses to this question.  I’ve not been super creative lately.

I am going... to write up a book review for the book blog right after I write this.

I am wondering... if the weather is gonna cool off again before it officially goes warm.  I hope so.

I am reading... Grip of the Shadow Plague by Brandon Mull, Growing Happy Kids by Maureen Healy, and I’m about to start Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
I am hoping... to get a hair cut this week.  Or to just cut it myself.  It needs doing.

I am looking forward to... seeing The Hunger Games!  So excited for that movie.

I am learning… a lot about mortgages and house buying.  Just getting our feet wet right now.

Around the house... someone should vacuum.

I am pondering... about the differences between me and 23 and 33.  Its been on my mind lately.

A favorite quote for today... “Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” – Abraham Lincoln (I disagree with him, by the way.)

One of my favorite things... napping.  There is just enough of it in my life.

A few plans for the rest of the week: We’re trying to potty train Thing 1.  This is day 2.  I think I’m gonna be tackling this all week… or for the next month.

A peek into my day...
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*sigh* Right?!?!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St. Patty’s

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Cutest Things in green that you’ve ever seen.  Am I right?

The Irish fare was great this year, but not over the top as it could have been.  For one, the Irish Soda Bread is still in the oven, since I started making it at the same time that I started dinner.  I was doing too many things at once to get it done quickly, and then it takes an hour to bake.  Its okay.  It will still be good later.

I did bangers and mash, which was awesome.  I sautéed bangers with cabbage and onions and it was so good.  The problem was that we’d also purchased some Dubliner that I planned to melt over the top of everything at the end.  I totally forgot!  We remembered we had it after dinner and I’m so bummed.  We sliced some and ate it though, so as to not miss out on it entirely.  For one, its Irish and some must be consumed today.  For another, its like the most yummy cheese ever. 

Tonight we’re making lime cupcakes with avocado frosting.  Not necessarily Irish, but green.  So, that counts for sure.

Did you do something fun to celebrate the day?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Dysthymia

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.  When the topic of mental health comes up around me, I always encourage open and honest discourse.  Difficulty with mental health is not something that should be swept under the rug.  Most people deal with *something* in their head at some point or another.  In conversations that I have with people about mental health, I always say it should be talked about the same way any other health condition is talked about.  If you have something wrong with any other organ in your body, you talk about it, what’s wrong with it, the different ways to treat it, etc.  The brain is an organ.  It needs to be discussed in much the same way.

So, that’s how I think mental health should be discussed.  Expect, of course, when I’m talking about me.
I posted once about my PPD, and in that post I mentioned that I’d been diagnosed with dysthymia.  And I don’t think I’ve mentioned it since, except maybe in passing once or twice.  But, the fact is, I deal with dysthymia all. the. time. 

I discovered after I was diagnosed with it that most people haven’t heard of it.  A list of symptoms generally looks something like this:
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Too little or too much sleep
  • Low energy or fatigue
  • Low self-esteem
  • Poor appetite or overeating
  • Poor concentration
I find this a pretty vague description.  When he diagnosed me, my therapist explained it like this:
normal person curve for dysthmia explanation
A normal person has highs and lows.  When a normal person has a low they get sad, but not necessarily depressed. 

My therapist said that most people live their lives in this area:
normal person curve and range,for dysthymia explanation
If you suffer from chronic depression of any kind your range is more like this:
depressed person range for dysthymia explanation
Normal people generally don’t get anywhere near it.  Any given normal person may have experienced depression at one time or another, so they’d know the difference.  When the average person says, “I’m so depressed.” they mostly mean that they feel pretty sad.

In relation to all of that, this is what dysthymia looks like:
dysthymia curve for dysthymia explanation symptoms

I think sometimes I do reach really happy highs.  But it takes extenuating circumstances:
normal person happy spikes, for dysthymia explanation
For most people, these incredible moments would look like this:
normal person happy spikes,for dysthymia explanation
And you see from the way a person with dysthymia's mood fluctuates, that the same thing that would make a normal person feel pretty sad, make me feel honest to goodness depressed:
low curver comparison, for dysthymia explanation
(mostly just kidding about the Santorum thing.  mostly.)

And things that would make a normal person feel depressed—a miscarriage, a death in the family, etc.—I don’t think there is, like, an uber depression level that I sink to.  Perhaps I’ll go more the the bottom of the range of depression, but I think rock bottom just doesn’t sink lower than what it is.

So, anyway, that’s what dysthymia is.  I don’t think it keeps me from living life for the most part.  Even at my lowest points I wake up in the morning and get things done and take care of my Things.  At my higher points I can get more done.  Is there always more I wish I could bring myself to do?  Yes.  Do I beat myself up over that a lot? Yes. I’ve been dealing with it on and off since college—although I realized that in hindsight, because I’d never heard the term until I started seeing a therapist for post partum depression after Thing 1 was born. Learning about it sure made things make sense, if you know what I mean.

There is no real consensus on what causes dysthymia, just like with depression.  My guess is that most of the time it’s a body chemistry thing.  Some people deal with it for several years, some people deal with it always.  Because pinpointing what causes it is a problem, treating is also a problem.  Some people respond well to anti-depressants (SSRIs, SNRIs, and the like).  I took Prozac when we realized I was having postpartum depression (which began for me during pregnancy-yeah, that can happen) and I responded well to it… as far as being super depressed went.  It didn’t make me normal.  And, about a year after Thing 2 was born I went off of it.  I didn’t need it for PPD anymore, and it’s not effective otherwise. 

So, I’m in the midst of exploring other options.  We’ll see how it goes.  I sure am sick of feeling bummed all the time.

That is all.

Monday, March 12, 2012

No More Pacifying

I’ve set a couple of goals lately, and one of them was to go pacifier free with my Things.  Mostly, I wanted to go pacifier free with Thing 1.  He has been using pacifiers for sleeping only since a little bit before his first birthday.  But, he’s three now and was still sleeping with them.  Thing 2 was also only sleeping with them, and I wasn’t so concerned about that – he being just 18 months.  However, I knew there would be trouble if I tried to take them away from Thing 1 and not Thing 2. 

I was searching around for books, like No More Pacifier for Piggy, but couldn’t really find one I liked.  The problem was that most of them seem to be written for kids who use their pacifiers all day long, which neither of mine have done for awhile.  Also, most of the books had bad reviews from parents.  BUT, when I was googling those books, I came across this site: http://www.bye-bye-binky.com/

This seemed like a simple enough approach, and I figured that if it didn’t work I could always just buy some new pacifiers and try something else.  But here’s the thing.  IT WORKED.  Woohoo!

Thing 2 started to show some distaste for the pacifier around Step 4.  It took Thing 1 a little bit longer to start complaining, or saying he needed new pacifiers.  But, they both continued to use their pacifiers through Step 7.  I just made another cut every morning when I gathered up the pacifiers.  Thing 2 started rejecting his first.  It wasn’t as seamless as the pamphlet leads you to believe.  He actually was pretty pissed about it.  Getting him to sleep was kind of hard the first couple of nights.  He’d be mad he didn’t have a pacifier, I’d give him one, he’d be even more mad that it was not what he really wanted…  But, by the third night he was just falling to sleep without it.  He DID however, start waking up in the night and wanting a drink again.  A habit which we had worked hard to get him out of.  So, now we’re going to have to address that again.  (Maybe.  Sometimes I wake up thirsty, so I can’t really blame the kid for it.  I’d just rather sleep through it.)

Thing 1 was a different story.  William always puts Thing 1 to bed, and every night was asking him for a trade.  “Would you like to sleep with your pacifier or your train/flashlight/cars/whatevertoyhethoughtmightdothetrick?”  Thing 1 didn’t even entertain this at first, but as Step 7 progressed he concerned it more.  His biggest concern? “I can’t sleep with just my lips!” He said that several nights.  William just always explained it was his choice, but that Mom, Daddy, and Thing 2 all sleep with just their lips.  Finally one night it took.  And Thing 1 slept with his flashlight.  And he hasn’t had a pacifier since.

Next up: Potty Training.  Thing 1 has been ready for this for awhile.  Its me that is holding us back.  Time to take the plunge. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Simple Woman

Find it HERE.
FOR TODAY

Outside my window... sunny warm day.  Very spring like, which I’m not really ready for.  I think I’ve made my thoughts on the lack of winter this year very clear.

I am thinking... that sometimes it feels like a good idea to escape to a deserted island with my little family.

I am thankful... for my sister, who talks me through all kinds of trauma, even when she’s experiencing a lot of trauma herself.

In the kitchen... the fridge is full of the groceries we bought yesterday.  I love that.

I am wearing... jeans and a t-shirt.  A blue one.

I am creating... a new story idea in my head.  I will log it away with all of the other story ideas for books that maybe I will write one day.

I am going... to be up late tonight.  I had a migraine today and took an Excedrin.  That stuff always takes forever to wear off on me.  Probably because I don’t otherwise consume any caffeine. 

I am wondering... why people think Thing 2’s name is Wezley.  It’s not.  It’s Wesley. 

I am reading... The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown, Growing Happy Kids by Maureen Healy, Enna Burning by Shannon Hale – all the same books as last week, since I didn’t do any reading while we were out of town.  And this week I’m probably gonna put these all aside again and reread Hunger Games.  Except maybe The Lost Symbol, since I’m so close to finishing.  I’m seriously mid-denouement. 

I am hoping... the Things adjust to stupid daylight savings quickly.

I am looking forward to... seeing The Hunger Games!  So excited for that movie.

I am learning… to remember that people are just not always who you think they are.

Around the house... we left for our little vacation this last week with the house pretty clean, and its so nice to come home to that.  Its just easier to get stuff unpacked and put away.

I am pondering... the stupidity of daylight savings.  Man alive, I hate it.

A favorite quote for today... “Family is not an important thing, it's everything.” – Michael J. Fox
One of my favorite things... a Sunday afternoon walk with my family.  That’s a nice part about the warmer weather.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Thing 2’s 18month check-up!  And some friends have offered to babysit and so possibly a date as well!

A peek into my day...
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The Things at the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh.  This train set is roughly the size of a tennis court.  Thing 1 loved it as I knew he would.  Thing 2?  I have literally never, in all of his life, seen him get that excited about anything.  It was SO. FUN.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Corn Allergy

My sister as been talking to me about corn allergies for more than a year.  At least, she had been, when I finally decided to look into it.  She discovered her own corn allergy some time ago, and was encouraging me to look into it.  Since I don’t share all the symptoms she has I kept telling myself that its not a problem I have.  Towards the end of last November, I finally decided to do some reading on it.  What I discovered is that there is a very long list of symptoms one can have if they are allergic to corn.  Some people get all those symptoms, and some just get one or two.  And, of course, I had several.  Of Course.

Even though its not something you hear about as often as other allergies (corn is not considered one of the more common allergies) it’s actually relative common.  Corn contains the same kind of protein that wheat has, and so people can be allergic to it just the same.  I’d almost rather be allergic to gluten, because then at least there are lots of food labeled “gluten free” these days. Even being allergic to one of the most common allergies means that the FDA makes you label it as an ingredient. I feel pretty common that corn is never going to be on that list of allergens. Corn lobbyists will never let it happen. Corn, and all of its derivatives, makes up so much the crap fillers in all of American food. So, we corn allergy sufferers just have to work it out on our own.

In the end, I came to terms with my allergy when I decided to go corn free for a week.  At the end of that week I was trying to tell myself that nothing much had changed, but then I realized I hadn’t had a single migraine.  For awhile there, I’d been getting them every other day. For me, corn just causes a few symptoms – stomach aches, migraines, and (the worst of them all) some fierce grouchiness coupled with depression.  Its amazing really, how food can affect you.  And affect your mood.  Depression is a very real, and often overlooked, symptom of food allergy.  When I continued to stay off corn I realized that I felt happier and had more patience. And, to boot, I had fewer migraines and headaches and I realized I don’t really have the IBS that I thought I had.  It was just corn messing up my system.  When I’m corn free, I feel pretty awesome.

BUT that doesn’t stop me from trying to tell myself its not that big of a problem and I can eat corn sometimes if I want to.  The other day I was at a Mexican restaurant with my family and a friend.  I decided to indulge in corn chips.  And because of this article (which I referenced before in this post), I decided to take my pulse about an hour and a half after.  It was 112.  (PS my resting heart rate is usually 65.  Yeah, I’m allergic to corn.)  And what’s worse is that I just felt crappy after, on several different levels

Going corn free sucks, though.  And its overwhelming.  We, for lots of other reasons, make most of what we eat at home and use the best ingredients we can get our hands on—so eating at home is actually not that hard for me.  But every time I eat out (which we LOVE to do—and we also love to travel, which equates to more eating out) I face the problem of corn starch, corn syrup, and 1,000 other corn derivatives.  I like to tell myself that things like maltodextrin aren’t a problem because they are so far removed from corn.  But, when I haven’t had them in a while (and I usually don’t, because we don’t buy things that have all those random chemicals in it), and then I have it—I feel the difference.  But corn is just in EVERYTHING.  And not just food…  toothpaste, shampoo, the containers that the food comes in…  The idea of eliminating all of these things just makes me feel tired…  or it’s the corn making me feel tired.  Or both.  Whatever.

This is definitely a work in progress, and I’m getting used to it.  But its not awesome. 

That is all.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Simple Woman

Find it HERE.
FOR TODAY
Outside my window... its sunny and cool.  There is some snow forecasted overnight, but not much and it won’t last.  bummer.

I am thinking... about signing Thing 1 up for karate.  I think if he’s old enough to join, that he would really love that.

I am thankful... for Spring Break.  William will be around all week!

In the kitchen... pizza tonight for dinner.

I am wearing... my Sunday best.  Church in about an hour.

I am creating... a blog post about corn allergy.  Its coming up.

I am going... out of town this week!  We’re excited to get away.

I am wondering... why the Things felt like they needed to get up so early this morning.

I am reading... The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown, Growing Happy Kids by Maureen Healy, Enna Burning by Shannon Hale

I am hoping... that the nap Thing 2 is taking right now gets him through church today with minimal grouchiness.

I am looking forward to... seeing The Hunger Games!  So excited for that movie.

I am learning… to leave my Things at home with a babysitter with the knowledge that they are gonna live.

Around the house... blocks and cars.  Everywhere.

I am pondering... the day when there will not be blocks and cars everywhere.

A favorite quote for today... “I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life's realities.” – Dr. Seuss

One of my favorite things... cuddling with Thing 2 in the morning.  These days are almost over.

A few plans for the rest of the week: We are going on a little vacation for a few days to see some friends.  We’re way excited to get out of town, eat yummy food, and be in good company.

A peek into my day...
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