Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Warning...Don't let this happen to you! (Husbands! Take note, Your wife needs you!)

Before you read any further, this entry is not for the weak of stomach. This is about me getting sick and so, you should know that up front because there are more details than I would usually share.
I have recently talked about my struggles with motherhood lately, that and my cooking/baking adventures. I finally hit a few walls. I was so worked up a few nights ago that I threw up. Yes, you heard it here first. I puked after my children both screamed for about an hour in my attempt to get them to bed. We have been struggling with bedtime a lot lately. Ian got overly tired, so he got wired. He came home sleepy and then became a screaming madman and the screaming woke his sister. After that, they just set each other off repeatedly. Ian was almost asleep initially and Dustin got a phone call. He turned the fan on in the bathroom and went in there to talk, so as to not disturb, so I thought. The phone call lasted for 45 minutes, he had no idea what I was going through...When he did, he took over the little screamer and I continued working with the big screamer.
Now, lately, my stomach has been bothering me. So much so that I have been thinking about making a doc appointment. Dustin may have made the correct diagnosis last night. I'M A GIANT STRESSBALL! Now, the stomach/abdominal pain hasn't necessarily gone with particularily stressful moments. Now that I look at the last weeks, my body basically went on strike.  I have had various moments in my life when I know that this has happened before. I almost gave myself ulcers at 16, so I'm experienced, but it really hasn't physically manifested itself in this way since I was about 21 and that involved finals and way too much coffee and no sleep and a big project.
I look at what lead up to this. Dustin and I both got stomach flu, (thankfully the kids avoided that one), children not sleeping through the night, Ella teething, colds and fevers for both. Now, as I write this, I haven't gotten a full night sleep in over a week. Dustin is currently teaching an EMT class 2 nights a week, so I'm on my own for bath and bedtime. The last 5 nights I have been sleeping in a recliner with one child or the other for most of the night.  My neck is stiff, my back is sore, I haven't been sleeping and I live with two children under the age of two and therefore, they are dependent on me for EVERYTHING! It's just the stage we are at and someday I will miss it, I realize that this is also part of the insanity that is motherhood.
Now, I will get back to being sick. After we finally got them to bed, I told Dustin about the pain (hoping the paramedic could diagnose me since that is one of the few perks of being married to a medic). He thought it sounded like stress. We went to bed. I laid there, my stomach got tighter and tighter and tighter. Then I got the metallic taste in my mouth. (Thankfully, I actually had emptied my garbage that day). I sit up, grab the garbage, Dustin asks if I was sick...I answered accordingly.
This is way more information than anyone needs. But, I also see this as a warning to others as well as a learning experience for myself. With that action. All the stress left my body. It was like all the poison departed. Here's what I learned...I NEED A HEALTHIER OUTLET FOR STRESS! You think?  I also started my Prilosec again.
Now, it's not like anything changed between last night and this morning. I was in the chair a large portion of the night. I was actually up more, 3 times to take care of a screaming daughter. But, I now know what it is and that it has to change. The other thing I notice. I have only gotten out without children 1 time since December. Dustin and I got out two times alone, which is a pathetic date run too. What I really needed was a day by myself!  I got it last week, so it helped. I also noticed, without the sleep and because I've been feeling cruddy, I haven't exercised much in that time. I am realizing that my 30 minutes of random treadmill and cardio 3-4 times a day was probably keeping me sane and letting out what recently was building without it.  This morning, I felt like I had gotten rid of all the garbage last night. Today, I got a new start.
I also got something that I needed more than anything. I needed to know that Dustin appreciated what I had been dealing with and loved me for it and supported me. Last night, when we talked, I knew he heard me. He heard my pain, my stress, my sadness, my doubt and for once he said, "Why wouldn't you be stressed, you spend the entire day taking care of the kids, it's understandable, but I think you need to find a better way to get through it and I'll do whatever you ask to help."
This morning, I didn't ask, but he did help, in the most loving way possible.  I had another night in the recliner. Dustin had to be in town at 8:30, so it wasn't realistic for him to get up with them. (And truthfully, our marriage is very traditional this way, sometimes annoyingly so...I'm the Mom, I get up. And I will rant about this in a blog in the future because he's gotten an earful about it enough times!) Right now, I'm singing his praises.
He came down to find me in the recliner and said, "What can I get you?" I mumbled, "Coffee and Cheerios." And it was there in minutes, along with, "I'm so sorry it's like this right now."
The coffee and cereal might as well have been lobster and champagne.  I needed to know I wasn't alone and that even if he wasn't getting up, he appreciated the fact that I did. I needed empathy and he delivered it, with a cup of Carabou Blend and Multigrain Cheerios.
This incident has lead to some important discoveries. I am not always good at saying what I need and telling Dustin. I sometimes leave him guessing or assume that he knows. He jumped at the coffee and cereal because I was clear about what I wanted and he could give it to me.
He, like a lot of men, want to fix things. Sometimes he can't, but I can be better at expressing what I need from him, even if it isn't to fix it. And maybe, sometimes I should tell him something that I want, that he can get, so he can be part of the solution, even if it won't change the world. Coffee and cereal didn't change the situation, but it let him do his "fixing" thing, even though he knew it wouldn't change things, but it was going to make it better.
So, from now on, I need to check myself and be clearer about my needs. Dustin needs to point out when I'm not being clear and do it before we are in a fight about it.
So, five years into this marriage thing, we're still figuring it out. Good deal.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Hardest Days...And Then Things Get Wonderful Again

I had been struggling the last week or two. I love staying at home with my kids, it's a joy, there are so many things that I'm glad that I get to be there for, that I'm glad I don't have to miss. 
There's also the days that I just need to get away...And when I feel that way, the guilt of feeling it, it's a bit hard to take. It's a vicious cycle. I even called my friend D and asked, "Am I a terrible mommy?"  Thankfully, she assured me that I was normal. Getting away means you are a better you, a better mommy, a better wife
I need to recharge and it doesn't happen when you are home with two children all the time. 
I sometimes I think I worked less when I worked in my interim call. There were some long weeks, but I got lunch breaks!
So, last Friday, Dustin stayed home and I went to town for a foil and cut. I put some fun bright red in my hair and the cut is fabulous. I got to remind myself of who I am. I get in a rut where I wear yoga pants and t-shirts and feel like a slug. So, after my hair appointment, I did a little shopping. I got a fun dress for summer, some jeans, a great sweater to go with the dress, and I got a great cotton shirt.  I also bought a pair of platform, peeptow pumps, they are not practical, but they are so pin-up girl and so hot...I had to have them! I have a great skirt and shirt to wear with them, now for a little warmer weather and I get to take them for a test drive. This last storm took some of my thunder out of dressing.
I realize that I will feel like a slug if I always dress like a slug. So, while yoga pants and T-shirts are fine some days, they don't have to be my uniform. It's time to start dressing like me again. I guess I'm doing my own episode of "What Not to Wear" for myself. It's time to be true to the person that I know I am and I am that person, even when I am at home. Just because I'm not going anywhere, it doesn't mean I can't dress for myself.  It feels like a good decision.
Today I worked at my very part-time job. I work for a funeral home in town. I'm one of the people who hands out the folders, takes cards and pushes the casket. It's sad, but I look forward to my "working" days because I then get to run around town for a bit by myself, either before or after.  I'll end of working a couple times a month, sometimes less, sometimes more. But, my boss, M, he's great to work for, I knew him when I was full time in professional ministry. I went to college with his wife and he knows Dustin well too, so it's fun to go help with funerals.
I said when things get hard...then they get wonderful again. I sometimes have a hard time remembering that from day to day. I'm prone to meloncholy, I admit it. When things are rough, I have a very hard time remembering that this too shall pass, I think it will last forever. It's really the habit of thinking that when things are bad..."everything" is bad. When I get overlooked..."nobody" likes me. I know it's the habit of thought that I developed mostly when my depression was untreated and even when I am better, the thought patterns are something that I really have to be aware of.
But, today, I did remember that it will get wonderful again. I got home from town, my kids were happy to see me. Ian ran to me and gave me a big hug. Ella started to bounce up and down in her exersaucer and I know it was for me. That's wonderful, there's no other way to say it.
And there was another triumph. Ian came to me this evening and said, "Mommy change britches." Which means diaper in our world. He's never asked before...He asked me to get him out of his poopy diaper. I feel like we are entering a new chapter and I'm so excited. I've been telling him for weeks now, "If you need your diaper changed, if you feel wet or messy or uncomfortable, tell mommy or daddy." And he did what he has always done...nothing. The poopy diapers have never bothered him. Today...they did. He asked to be changed! Like I said, I'm sure in a few months I'll be complaining about potty training a two year old boy, but for now. "Change my britches, Mommy," might as well be a sonnet. It was music to my ears. Until the next hard day...and then we'll get wonderful again. The cycle continues.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Meal Planning...Part 2...Try again and trying to figure everything else out!

We did have the barbecues, a day after I planned them, but we had them.
I got a little off track. Dustin is starting to teach an EMT class and it's not on my radar yet. Yesterday, I had decided to make stroganoff for supper, but forgot until later last night that he teaches tonight. I need to get Monday's and Thursday's in my head. Wednesday is Lenten soup supper at church, so that night is covered. We'll have the straganoff tomorrow night when he's home. So, now I need to figure out tonight for Ian and myself, Thursday night for Ian and myself and then I need to come up with Friday as well. I didn't realize it could get this complicated.
What really makes me nervous is how the Monday and Thursday class is going to go when we start seeding. We are more organized this year than ever before, but still, it's a bit nerve racking. There's equipment that Dustin is starting to get ready, then it will be the planning. Some reports say early spring, most say late and it's hard to know what that will do to the planting schedule.
The weather is saying there will be snow and rain tonight. Thank you spring in NoDak.
And to top it all off. We want my parents to visit and they haven't been here in about 3 months, which totally sucks. I want my MOMMY!
Dustin and I went down to the basement. He brought 2 bags and 3 boxes to Goodwill. I will have another two-three boxes packed by the end of the day if I can find the time between laundry loads and a teething baby. We are trying to go through things and weed out before we move in June. We want to bring what we love and use. We want to get away from keeping the things we feel we have to keep, or unimportant sentimentality.  It's going fairly well, but some things are hard to decide on.
My books, quite a few in storage. They aren't being used there, but some of them I want, some of them I haven't gotten to read yet. I was a professional student, how does one walk away from the books?
I have some regular fiction that I have read and probably won't read again, those I will give to the AAUW book sale. But the rest of it? I'm not sure how to weed it out yet.
But, 4 boxes to Goodwill is a good start. So, maybe instead of getting down on the things I have trouble parting with, I should celebrate what I have let go of.
It's a whole different menu to plan. What to keep? What to go? What do you love? What do you use?
We may have a rummage sale this summer too, but the time to organize it, well, that could get tricky. Ready, Steady, Go.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Meal Planning...Hopefully and there's a Cow and a Pig in my Freezer!

I realize that as a SAHFW you end up winging it from time to time...Well, a lot of the time during spring, summer and fall. Winter, I guess is the predictable time. You stay in all day because it's too cold and if you are lucky, you find a way to still wear your kids out so they will go to bed.

I do notice that when I'm home, I have a tendency not to plan things out as much. I think this is a problem. I think it leaves me without goals to achieve and without goals to accomplish, I think my sense of self worth diminishes a bit. It's sadly, a self-esteem thing.

Those who know me really well know that I am a fan of the Fly Lady. She really sets up everything in organization on the premise you can do anything for 15 minutes, I think she is right. I haven't been "flying" lately, but I notice when I try, even just trying, I feel more pulled together and accomplished. I tended to use her steps more when I was working, I realize now that I am home full time, I might need them more than ever. It is so easy to let things slide and "do it later," when you know you are going to be home.

Some Fly Lady stuff I have always kept doing. When you wake up, get dressed to your shoes.  I need this, when I don't, I feel like a slug and lack all motivation. This was especially important when I am dealing with my depression. When things have been bad, I've always been able to say, "At least I got dressed!"

But, one thing I never have done well, but really wish I would is meal planning. 1) I know it would save us money because we wouldn't waste food. 2)It would help me with the ever looming question, "What am I going to make for supper tonight?" 3)I would try new things  because I would be prepared to cook them.

I think we have started a good Saturday family routine. Dustin tends to stick around for Saturday mornings (this all goes out the window when seeding starts!), but last Saturday, I baked bread and Ian helped me make cookies while the dough was rising. It was fabulous and Dustin thinks it should be our Saturday morning. We cleaned house, so that was all done by noon too, it was great! It made the day oddly special.  So, I think if I can plan my menus for the week too, that would be great.

The other exciting news on the farm is yesterday Dustin and I went to Valley Meats and picked up our beef and our pork. We ordered a whole cow and whole pig. And now, two freezers are graced with the wonderful stuff. Dustin and I are not going to finish this on our own, that's about a 1/2 a ton of meat. This is meat for us, his parents and my parents. The whole family will benefit from this prize.
We hope we can get back to fattening up one of our own steers and bringing it in for butchering, that would be fabulous! (I see future 4-H projects in the making.)

So, now that I have a good assortment of quality meat to choose from, I think I should find it easier to meal plan as well. I have every cut imaginable. But this first week will be for cleaning out the last of my grocery store meat in my freezer. Now that I only have to buy poultry, I am feeling on top of the world.

So, tomorrow, hopefully I get buns made in the morning and we will have barbeques in the evening out of the crock pot. We shall see...


I've been going to post the cake business, but the photos were not uploading correctly and when they did, they took forever. So, I finally have them up, so I'll give a little story.
The abolve photo is my first attempt at red velvet cupcakes. Here are the little darlings in the oven. You may think to yourself...They don't look very red. You would be right because I didn't realize that I was low on red food coloring. I have decided as pretty as red velvet is, it's ridiculous. It takes so much red food coloring that I should have had stock in red food coloring before I tried it. I believ I prefer my homemade devil's food...if you didn't know, Devil's food is brown.
But I was committed to attempting this current trend in the cake world. So here is instead my reddish tinted velvet. Who needs all the food coloring anyway?

Fresh out of the oven. I used mini muffin tins and I will definitely do it again. They are just two little scrumption bites and are perfect to give one to a child. They were fun to decorate for valentines day and looked like candies in the box when decorated. So much fun.

Here are the cute little decorated cakes. Sooo much fun! Cream cheese frosting, just in case you are curious. I piped it on with a piping bag and tip and then sprinked with various sugar things.

The Farm-All Cake
Happy Birthday to my Father-in-Law

Here is the cake and put together for my FIL's birthday. It was homemade devil's food and cream cheese frosting. I had to decorate it during Ian's nap time, so it is not as detailed and neat at Ian's birthday cake was. But I am happy with how it turned out. I did this based on a picture of a farm-all.

So, here are the cooking adventures as of late. I am currently planning for Ian's choo-choo train birthday cake in a few weeks. Pictures will be forthcoming, in April after his birthday.

I am still making bread. Have made it three times now and we have only had to buy bread once since I started. I gave a loaf away for a gift and so, we were short until I could make again.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Recent Cooking Adventures

 I told someone (Flathead Mama) I would post my recent bread baking. I will be posting more of recent cooking adventures, hopefully in the next days.  I've got my first attempt at red velvet cupcakes and the decorating of the cupcakes.
I also want to show you my cake decorating tries.

But, here we have bread. I made white bread, my whole wheat flour seemed a bit old, I'll have to get more soon. I may just clean wheat out of the bin and then bring to my mom to mill. (my mom has her own stone grinding mill, I have lovingly called it my inheritance for year. The biggest reason being I covet it.  The first picture is the yeast, sugar and warm water. I love the smell of the yeast growing.

This picture is after the mixing and the first kneading. I love baking bread. I made my first loaf at age 10. I haven't done it for awhile. Mostly because, I just seemed to make excuses that I don't have time.
I realized something as I made this. I remember why I like making bread. It relaxes me. There's something about punching the dough down and kneading and feeling the texture change that is so very wonderful.  And the blissful smell that permeates the house as it bakes. HEAVENLY
Here we are with it sitting in the bowl for the first rising. It took awhile, more time than usual, but it did rise nicely.

In the loaf pans for their second rise.

Here they are. If you look behind and to the side, you can see read velvet cupcakes

So, it doesn't get any better than this. I'm hoping to keep it up. I may now try the mixer and my dough hook. But, I know it takes a bit to figure out the flour. It's easy to get too much because the dough hook works it in really well.
Here's my bread. The first I've made in awhile. Hoping that I can now do this every couple weeks. 1)it tastes better. 2) it's so much cheaper than buying it. 3) I have 25 lbs of flour because it was on sale for a great price. 4) I want my kids to have the same memory and experience I did. To see how much you can do for yourself. It's a beautiful memory and when you ask, "Where does bread come from." They will know that we grow it, escentially. It may come from out wheat, it may not, but we are part of that wonderful world of food production. They should be proud of it.