Confessions of a stay-at-home mommy

I feel very blessed to be at home with my son for most of the time. My work schedule is flexible, and I’m able to do some of it from the house (or even the park, thanks to smartphones). The trouble is, being flexible sometimes is a curse as much as it is a blessing.

Allow me to explain.

First, as wonderful and sweet as my son is, he’s also a sensitive child. Some children go through phases, aches and pains with little to no fussing. My child is not that way. If something is amiss, we’ve got drama. And, when you’re with your child all day during a dramatic day with no break or support, you’re willing to do pretty much anything to help him relax and nap.

I swore I would never put my son down with a bottle, I know how bad it is for his teeth, but I sit here typing my confession now, telling you it’s happened. Not regularly, but in desperation.

We’ve also had triumphs followed by regression, largely due to me being worn down. We had him completely off pacifiers and bottles until his molars started coming in. Again, we haven’t fully regressed, but if it’s what it takes to get him the sleep he needs, I’ll give in.

My schedule isn’t the same everyday, so my son’s routine can’t be perfectly consistent either. In many ways, this has made him a very go-with-the-flow baby; but, in other ways, it’s made transitions through the back-to-back phases more difficult.

We’ve read all the books, and we make really good plans. Trouble is, since I’m the only one enforcing the plan, if something throws me off, the plan just falls through the cracks. Also, it’s my first time out, so each day and each change is new. I don’t know what to expect before it happens. I just try to carry on and remain calmer than my son.

If I have a work call, I’ll throw on a video so he’s occupied. Is he in front of the computer or TV all day long, absolutely not. We’re talking 30 minutes a day, max. Sometimes you just need a minute to handle something.

I try not to beat myself up about our inconsistencies or my little “cheats.” He’s consistently seen to and loved. He experiences life with me everyday, and we have many adventures and learning opportunities.

I know he’s only 16 months, and we’re doing pretty well to be mostly off bottles and pacifiers. Overall, he’s thriving; but, I can see how a little time away here and there would probably boost my resilience.

It’s amazing how guilty we mommies can make ourselves feel. I know I’m a good mom, but I feel bad for needing the time when he’s napping, or wanting time away. I feel bad for doing what’s easy sometimes times instead of what’s considered “right.” I truly believe children need to know they aren’t the center of the universe, but it’s harder to strike a balance between enrichment and hard-knock-life-lessons than one may think .

As I said, I’m grateful being with my son so much, I just wonder if I might do a better job if I had a few more minutes of me-time.


Why Advocare is right for me, and (maybe) for you

As someone who works in the health and fitness industry, I’ve spent years discrediting diets and supplements. My motto has always been that you should stick with things that have a proven record and the least amount of manipulation. Eat things as close to their natural form as possible, and put in the work when it comes to exercise. There is not pill that will make you skinny without any side effects.

My reasoning for not supporting most supplements on the market is because they are not tested or regulated. No one can guarantee what you’re using or tell you exactly how to use it, so you’re swallowing a mystery, and most likely flushing your money down the toilet (literally and figuratively).

I still feel this way, but I support a company that makes supplements. Why?

Most people do not get everything they need from the foods they eat. In an ideal world, we would get everything directly from the source, but the reality is, we all have holes in our diets.

Why Advocare?

The first things that made me turn my head and look at Advocare differently were the people (who use it, who make it, and who are behind it), the testing processes, regulations, nutritional panel, long-standing history and time on the market, and the support provided along with the products.

I played devil’s advocate for a few months. I would email Advocare with questions and get on the phone with people, ready to discredit everything, and I was always pleasantly surprised at the responses. These people make things for olympic athletes, they’re a member of the council for responsible nutrition, they have an alliance with informed-choice,  and they just really know their stuff. Every step and decision for the products and the company has been very intentional.

Could I find any negative reviews or stories of adverse reactions, of course. My take aways were that they were normal, one-off circumstances. Just like skin care products, anything potent enough to produce results could also produce an unwanted result if someone is sensitive to a particular ingredient. When ESPN and people like Dr. Oz,  Mark Cinelli, Dr. Stanley Dudrick and Dr. Leanne Redman put themselves out there in the press and say they’re behind Advocare, I think it’s safe for little old me, with my blog and my fitness company, to put it out there, too!

The thing that sealed the deal for me was my own personal experience.

As someone who already walks the walk when it comes to making healthy choices, I didn’t know I had room to improve that didn’t require a truly drastic, unrealistic change. Besides, there is nothing harder to trim than the last few pounds. Anyone who has watched “The Biggest Loser” knows that the biggest contestants lose big numbers at each weigh-in. Once you get within several pounds of your goal, the weight comes off more slowly.

I didn’t use the products to lose weight, specifically. I was already happy with my body, but we’d been away from home for 3 months, and I felt like I needed to get back on track. Using the products as needed my energy soared, I dropped pounds I wasn’t even trying to drop, and overall have had an easier time maintaining my health and fitness.

When I began my journey as a distributor, it was to round-out my wellness business, and I assumed I would only sell it to clients – I steer away from selling to friends and family. As my journey continues, I can’t imagine not sharing this with everyone. If I can make anyone’s life easier, or make anyone healthier, wouldn’t the people I love be the first people I would want to help?

Advocare is a companion to your health that comes with a coach. Because you can’t buy it off a shelf, you can’t buy the products without someone explaining them to you. You buy a product, and you automatically get an education on how to use it. I know a lot more about nutrition and fitness than your average Joe, and my education and background comes with your product. That’s a bit better than just directions on a label, don’t you think?

Whether you want to lose weight, gain muscle, increase performance, gain energy, sleep better, or even go to the bathroom more easily (potty talk has become pretty normal…ha!), there is something here for you. Tell me how you would like to feel better. If I can help, I will; if I can’t, I’ll be honest. I don’t want to sell anyone anything they don’t want. I don’t like selling enough.

From the business side, there wasn’t any risk or a pyramid structure. There was simply an opportunity to get my products for less, and the potential to pay for my childcare while I train clients. For my family, it’s a win-win. Plus, unlike even the best Black Friday sale, people can choose to buy wholesale rather than retail.

It’s a way of life, and it works well in ours.


Slow-cooker turkey breast over kale

As a spin-off to my slow-cooker turkey breast soup blog, I want to share a recent recipe I’ve been having fun with.

Like the soup recipe, I still coat the defrosted turkey breast in pesto and cook it in the slow-cooker. What’s different on this one is that I throw in whatever vegetables I have on hand (I’ve done onion and different squash varietals, red peppers, carrots, etc.), add in just enough broth to help their flavors mingle and keep them from sticking, then, I serve them on top of fresh kale. The heat from the meat and veggies wilts the kale just enough.

I add a little Israeli couscous for my son since he needs the additional carbs, but we don’t.

Using spinach or kale as a rice or pasta substitute is a great, easy way to completely revamp the nutritional profile of your meal. Between the fiber and the overall nutritional makeup of dark, leafy greens, you’ll stay full longer, and avoid unnecessary starches. You don’t have to completely change your diet to eat more cleanly; just make easy swaps like this one.

This meal is great all-around because it’s ready whenever we finish our whirlwind day and are ready to eat, and it’s family friendly. Eating well as a rule is easier than trying out a fad-diet. It’s just too hard to make a special, healthy meal for one person. You need options, like this one, that everyone can enjoy. Eating well should taste really good.


Forget the glory days, the time to play is now

I’ve never excelled at one specific sport. I’m inherently average. I love to play, I’ve just never been picked first for a team. I primarily danced, rode horses, and did musical theater growing up, so I only learned team sports from the sidelines.

Back in school, being average at team sports was tough because the people who excelled were at their peak. Youth allows the fast to be faster, strong to be stronger, endurance to go even longer, and agility to be set free as a young body offers less limitations.

It’s not that I don’t understand what it takes to be the best at certain sports (logistically speaking), I’ve just never been able to fully sync what my mind knows with what my body can manage.

A funny thing happens as we all age. The playing field evens out. If you’re fit, you can still participate in any sport available, but the fast people from your youth have slowed down. All of a sudden, you can hang.

I say all of this because I want to encourage my fellow eager participants with less than athletic prowess to give sport a second chance. At this age, everyone is just looking for people willing to play. They no longer care how amazing you are, or how many trophies are in your parents attic.

If you do a little research, you can find adult groups out there playing basketball, soccer, dodgeball, kickball, softball, etc., and for many of you without an affinity for the gym, it’s a fun way to get active. You can even start your own league at work or church, if there isn’t one offered currently.

Forget your youth, the time to play is now!


You are a body of potential

Every morning you wake up with potential; regardless of what side of the bed you may get up on.

Every morning presents an opportunity to improve. You don’t have to take the opportunity, but know that it’s there every morning, just as real and present as your rumpled covers.

It’s amazing what the simple recognition of your own potential each and every morning can do. Whether yesterday went well or not, today you can…

  • resolve a situation,
  • forgive someone,
  • improve your fitness,
  • learn new information and skills,
  • eat healthier,
  • BE better wherever you choose to use your potential.

If it doesn’t go well today, tomorrow you’ll wake with the opportunity yet again.

Everyone has something they put off until tomorrow, typically because you don’t look forward to it; but, each day you have the chance to put that dreaded task behind you.

It sounds cheesy to acknowledge that we call today the “present,” but it really is one. You don’t have to like your little wrapped bundle of potential energy with the perfectly tied bow on top, but, whether you open it up and use it or not, it’s waiting there for you each morning, right next to your cup of joe. Curse me being Mary Optimism all you want. I’m just stating the truth.

Tomorrow is another day, and Annie is sure to keep singing about it. Today,..now that’s something you can really work with.

 

 

 


Health is a family affair

Actual conversation from last night:

Me: I’m trying to only have a glass of wine OR chocolate if I want a treat at night.

H: A good wife has wine AND chocolate with her husband.

Can you say spouse-pressure? Lucky for me, my husband was (half) kidding, but family intervening in healthy decisions is a larger problem than you think.

When you’re single, it’s easy to make a diet/lifestyle change, because it only affects you. The more people it affects, the more resistance you encounter.

Shockingly, even someone trying to lose weight and improve her health – changes other family support in theory – can be stopped in her path when other family members aren’t on board with how it affects them. It’s tough to stick to your guns and avoid temptation when it’s in the house, whether it’s there because you want it, or because someone else wants it.

If there is chocolate in the house, I will eat it, if there isn’t, I won’t. Period. If I decide to not have chocolate in the house, my husband can’t have any either. No chocolate for me equals no chocolate for him.

Removing processed, junky food from your diet means removing it from the house, just as going to the gym often requires encouragement from an entire household. If you are trying to eat more vegetables and hit the gym, but your partner is asking you to hangout on the couch with a bag of cheetos, he is not supporting you.

Ask your partner about his/her behavior. Maybe…

  • He knows he needs to make changes, too, but doesn’t want to, so your healthy behaviors are an unfriendly reminder/suggestion to him.
  • She doesn’t want you to lose weight because of the attention you’ll get. (Sad, but true story.)
  • He can eat whatever he wants and not exercise, and he never gains a pound.
  • She doesn’t realize she isn’t supporting you.

Making healthier choices is a lifestyle change for your entire support system. Just as people need support to fight addiction and remove negative behaviors, they also need support instigating new, positive ones. The people in our lives bring us up or down, and they aren’t always aware of it.

Make healthy behaviors a family affair, and speak up when you need better support.

 


Hello, we’ll be your family

Typical relationship steps (as if there’s a typical relationship):

  • Boy meets girl.
  • Boy and girl date.
  • Boy and girl date exclusively.
  • Boy and girl analyze everything about each other.
  • Boy and girl either break-up, or wait until each thinks they’ve been together long enough, and tie the knot.

Cut to a baby’s first relationship:

  • Baby enters world.
  • Baby meets family.
  • Baby is instantly part of the most serious, long-term relationship he will ever be in…forever. Hello, family!

It’s both beautiful and scary at the same time. A baby is assigned parents, for better or worse. There’s no Parent-Match.com.

On the one hand, there’s instant, unconditional love, without anyone needing to lie about likes/dislikes or put on makeup before the other wakes up. On the other hand, if it isn’t a great match, you’re stuck.

Funny, but true. 

Marriage vows try to mirror this same ideology, but it’s unrealistic to expect two adults to skip the analytics and criticisms that come with age, knowledge and experience, and fall perfectly into true, unconditional love.

Babies need parents in a way adults typically don’t need each other. It’s the same with pets. A dog knows who feeds it and takes it out, and that’s where we get the old adage, “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.”

When the idea for this blog sparked, I thought it would just be funny to mention how babies are thrust into relationships without the usual dalliance. Now that I put it all down, I can see a more serious moral to the story. Without need, relationships are conditional and disposable.

It’s not all about passion, love and sex. It’s about focusing on improving someone else’s life, and scratching an itch they otherwise can’t reach. Without the right partner, one could itch incessantly.


Who would you be if you could be anyone else?

This blog stems from a recent discussion with my dad. He has lots of good stuff going on in that head of his. 

If you could be anyone else in the world, who would you be?

Up until 5 years ago I might have said any number of people, but then I married my husband and became more content being me. Thirteen months ago, I officially decided never to be anyone else.

I’m Aidan’s mommy. People should seriously want to be me. I’m straight up VIP in this house.

For all you parents out there, I’m sure you see where I’m coming from and feel the same (at least most of the time, with the exception of during tantrums or the teenage years).

A lot changes when you decide you wouldn’t rather be someone else. Even though I couldn’t actually trade places with someone else before, the desire kept me from a certain level of contentment.

Now, I fantasize about who I may become, and what all my friends and family will live to see, achieve and accomplish. There’s an entire world out there to experience, and it all requires me being exactly who I want to be. Who I am. Me.


Your best home defense might not be what you think

I’m a scaredy-cat. I’m strong, and I’ve taken self-defense, but I’m still a small, vulnerable person. Add to this that I’m now a momma-bear (other little people to protect), and my husband’s job takes him away frequently, and you can easily see why I want to know my best defense should anything happen.

Although I’m very familiar with guns, I didn’t grow up with them in my house, and even my active-duty husband doesn’t want them in our home. I have many gun-toting friends with differing views, but I firmly believe you are more likely to have a gun accident than to be a hero, and, for us, it’s not worth the risk.

Honestly, we’re all more likely to die from a car accident than anything else, but I still like to know what my plan is for a worse case scenario. I don’t like the idea of being without a gun, or with a gun. What to do?

It turns out I can still be prepared to defend my household with something most of us already have handy in the kitchen. It’s not a knife, a skillet, or a hot pot of boiling gravy. It’s not even my dog; although he does make a fabulous alarm. It’s a fire extinguisher.

That’s right, pull the pin, aim without worrying about misfiring, missing or having to kill someone, blast away those lovely chemicals, then pop ’em up the side of the head with it.

Everyone needs a plan, and this one might not suit everyone’s taste, but a loaded gun is a deadly loose cannon, and I like my family’s odds better with Big Red.


Breastfeeding for a year, and our weaning plan

Let me preface this by acknowledging that my parenting methods and experiences are mine alone, and I recognize that decisions surrounding breastfeeding are deeply personal. No matter what science or an outspoken friend/family member says, only you can choose whether or not to breastfeed, for how long, etc., based on what works for your health and lifestyle.

Some of you might think I’m crazy for nursing for a year, while others will think I’ve stopped too early. I’m sure you’re all lovely people, but your opinions on my choices really don’t matter. All that matters is that my family is happy and healthy as a direct result of the choices we’ve made, and I’m really proud of us.

My breastfeeding journey in a very large nutshell:

Week 1-6: I know why people choose not to do this.

Through month 3: Breastfeeding feels like a leash tying me to my child. I can’t take most medicine or have a glass of wine without considering if it’s sharable with a tiny baby.

3-6 months: Breastfeeding is easy and convenient – no dealing with bottles, etc., but I’m glad to say I’m almost halfway though my goal of nursing for a year.

Months 6-11: I love this! I know I said I was only going to do it for a year, but we’re both really enjoying it, and it’s so much easier now. We’re just not ready to stop. Besides, it’s only 4-5x a day, and I can always choose to give him food instead if need be.

What a difference a week makes…

Month 11 I took a 1-week trip to Colorado sans hubby. My son was on my boob like crazy, and his teeth tended to linger as he got lazy. By the time I returned, I was ready to reclaim my tatas.

I needed to make a plan and stick with it because we have another trip coming up at the end of this month. I don’t think it’s wise to ask a baby to tackle multiple adjustments at once.

Weaning:

At the time I started weaning my son was nursing 5x a day; roughly – 7am, 11am, 3pm, 7pm, and once during the night. During weaning, we’ve alternated bottles between whole milk and formula in order to gradually introduce cow’s milk to his digestive system. He’s done great, showing no preference, and with no negative reactions. We weaned gradually over 3 weeks.

The first nursing session that became a bottle was 3pm. We started with my husband giving him a bottle on day one. He fought it, but was happy to drink it once he took it. The same thing happened when I gave it to him the next day. Day 3, he took the bottle with ease.

After taking the bottle so easily on day 3, we decided to drop the 11am the next day. He took it, no issue, opening his mouth as soon as he saw it.

After 2 days with an 11am and 3pm bottle, middle of the night feedings became bottles, too. I left a diluted bottle in the fridge for my husband so I wouldn’t give in while in a sleepy state, and my son went along with it. Not having mommy or getting to nurse in the middle of the night made waking up in the middle of the night less enticing, which was also good, and a long time coming.

After a week (we were now a total of 2 weeks into weaning), I dropped the 7pm session. Honestly, I thought I might cry. This was always my favorite session; however, in case my milk started to dry up once going to only one nursing session in a 24-hr period, I didn’t want to worry he wasn’t getting enough right before bed. If he had fought the bottle, I probably would have given in, but he didn’t, so I felt good about the decision. That was three nights ago.

The first night he didn’t nurse, he also didn’t sleep well, which has been pretty typical. Although, since we’d been diluting bottles more and more each night, we were able to see that he didn’t need the calories, so we stuck to our guns and didn’t feed him.

The second night, he slept 12 hours straight, which had never happened.

The third night, he woke up after 9 hours, but was fine to go back to sleep with only a little water.

I’m currently still nursing in the morning, and I’m not sure when I’ll stop. I could go on for a while, for a couple more days, or it could be determined by when my ducts decide to stop making milk. Time will tell, and I know my son will do great when that day comes.

Because I weaned my son gradually, and I wasn’t an over-producer (which bothered me at times when I wanted to pump), I never needed to pump/express when I transitioned him to a bottle. Not pumping ended up keeping me honest to my plan so I couldn’t easily fall back into it. For once I was happy to make “just enough.”

I’m happy I chose to do this when I felt it worked for us, not when someone else told me I should. I’m proud I did it this long, but I also feel surprisingly good about the transition. All around, it has been a really positive experience for me, one I look forward to sharing with our next child. Even weaning has gone better than I anticipated.

If there’s anything I hope other’s gain from this, it’s to keep going during those first few months when it feels like a chore. If I stopped when it wasn’t any fun, I would’ve missed out.

Tomorrow is my son’s 1st birthday. I’ll raise a glass, without worrying about what’s in my bloodstream – thus in my milk, and toast to all the learning, growth and joy we’ve experienced. What a year it has been!