PMS

First of all, I want to celebrate 1019 views on my blog!!! It’s been about 3 weeks. Thank you so much for your support!!

I admit that I have massive mood swings. I have mentioned before that they tend to be related to my hunger. If I missed a feeding, I can’t even help myself. I will snap at anyone for almost anything. I end up in this catch 22. I am irritated, and when I am irritated, I can’t eat.
The past few days I have been in a funk. I am having trouble eating. I know I need to. I can feel it when I am out with the kids, or doing chores, I get light headed, but the thought of food just turns my stomach inside out. I have had to force feed myself. Sometimes, once I start I’m OK. Just getting through that first bite… Other times, every bite is forced. That was me all day. I tried to auto pilot myself through breakfast and just felt sick. I did not even think of lunch until around 2pm because I was busy, and nothing looked good. I choked down a salad.
When I was running, a little while into my third mile I saw stars. This is getting ridiculous. I couldn’t even have a conversation with my fiance. I just want to cry. On top of everything, I am breaking out!! I am sure it’s PMS, however, I don’t get periods. In November I started using birth control to help with my cysts… and I also decided that I was ready to get my tubes tied. (Sometimes I wonder if the cysts would have been better than my mood swings! But nothing would be as bad as getting pregnant again!!!) It took a few months to finally get everything in place for me to get the Essure procedure (http://www.essure.com/what-is-essure/how-essure-works). In order for my doctor to perform the procedure on me, she said I had to be on birth control for 3 months prior to, and 3 months after I got Essure. I opted to get the depo for the last 3 months after getting pregnant and miscarrying very early even though I was on the mini pill.
If you are wondering why I did not choose an IUD, first of all, my body does not react well to hormones, so after trying the pill, the patch, the ring, and the depo, and having symptoms ranging from migraines, to acne, to weight gain, and general psychosis, I almost chose to get the copper IUD. Right around this time, one of my friend’s IUD dislodged and cut her cervix. Another friend got pregnant with the IUD in!! I decided I did not want to risk either outcome. Essure and a few months of torture was my option. I am now on the tail end of the depo shot, and this month I will get my xray and hopefully my tubes are tied.
My favorite part of all of this is in order to get my xray, I have to bring proof that I’m not pregnant because if I am the pregnancy could be compromised… Clearly I am concerned about that…NOT. They also want me to come in 7 to 10 days after my period (no sex) so they can see in my tubes. Funny story: I don’t get a period thanks to the birth control that I was required to get in order to get my tubes tied. Also, the whole point is for them to not be abl to see in my tubes! Irritating much???
So here I am periodless, just wishing I would effing bleed! Like it would be some sort of release!

Tantrums… adults have them, too!

My kids have multiple personalities. No, really. They go from human to banshee in 2.5 seconds, you won’t even see it coming. There are days when I swear they are not mine. I look at them and think, seriously? Do I need to call an exorcist? As quickly as it begins, it’s over and you would never know that their heads were spinning in complete circles, they were foaming at the mouth, and convulsing on the floor. In fact, all of a sudden they are as sweet as candy and I just love them MORE.

As they get older, the fits are less and less often, (thank goodness!!!!) It doesn’t mean they are easy to deal with. What do you do when your kids are losing their minds??? Umm, I for one need to hold on tight to my own mind, because for some reason my brain’s defense mechanism is to shut down, or blow up.

Patience. My biggest goal is to exercise and strengthen my patience muscle. I need a patience six pack. I’m comparing patience to my abs, because they need some work, too, and abs are difficult because there is so much that goes into having washboard abs. First and foremost, you need to be eating clean. You have heard it before, “Abs are made in the kitchen.” You can’t eat crap and expect your belly to go away. No matter how much you are working out, if you are eating crap… well, you are what you eat. Second, you have to push yourself, toning is the hardest part!!! Today I was told to do burpees, 100 sit ups, planks as long as possible, leg lifts and butt kickers!! Does that sound fun to you??? Eff no! Will I do those exercises? Eff yes! I want to be comfortable in a bikini!

So let’s talk character. How do you magically “become” patient? You don’t. You train. You feed yourself positive vibes, tell yourself affirmations. “I can be patient, I will be patient, I am patient.” You PUSH yourself!!! The kids have turned into fire breathing dragons, destroying the house and not listening to anything you say… scream at the top of your lungs? Well this used to be true for me. I needed to get their attention and had I said, “Don’t touch that” 50 damn times, and oh, whadaya know, she is touching it! Evidently they can’t hear me, so my only option is to make a bigger noise than they are making. You know what happened? I scared them. They would stop in shock and burst into tears. Aaaand then my heart would break.

I would feel so bad for scaring them, and I hadn’t meant to but my patience was just not strong, and they paid for it. In reality, it’s normal for kids to push boundaries. My job is to enforce them, and protect them lovingly. So I came up with a new trick. Now when my kids are acting like chimpanzees, I get down to their level, and in a firm voice I give my command, if it does not work, I get back down, look them in the eyes and say, “If you do not stop, you will get a time out, and I am going to scream at you, do you want me to scream at you?” It’s like magic. they don’t like time out, but even more, neither of us like when I scream. I don’t know that this is a good thing to say, but I know that calming myself, kneeling down and speaking, not screaming, takes a lot of work, and every time I don’t scream, it gets easier.

Now that I have worked on my patience, I have to work on discipline. What do you do when your kids are disobeying, whining continuously, and driving you nuts? Do you believe in spanking? Personally, I am not a fan of teaching through violence. We stick to time outs, and losing privileges. Our 5 year old boy is definitely out growing time outs, we just had to up time out from 5 minutes to 10! I also had to start keeping him home from his cousin’s and grandparent’s houses. He was playing everyone. He would act out when he wanted to go somewhere else, knowing whoever he was irritating would send him wherever he wanted to go because they were fed up. When I came along I knew he needed stability and drilled into his head that if he did not learn to behave at home, he was not going anywhere, and if he misbehaved while he was somewhere else, he would have to come home. He is doing really well.

My 3 year old is another story, she used to throw fits that were so intense I was worried there was something wrong with her, like really. They were the kind of fits that made you think something is not right here. I never really knew what to do, so finally I would put her into her time out area and just ride it out. I don’t think there is much more you can do with a 3 year old. She has grown out of the “demon child” fits and now when she throws a fit it’s mild and time out or a firm voice handles it.

My 8 year old… well I’ll just tell you a funny story. Yesterday, I had a bunch of kids at my house, which is not uncommon. Most of the kids were playing outside, so I was back and forth between outside and inside. I went in to check on the 3 that were inside, and found my step daughter and my friends son in a bed hiding under the covers kissing!!! I did not even know what to do!! When they peaked out, there I was arms folded, eye brow raised. Really!!! What do you do???? I remember being 5 or 6 and getting caught kissing a boy in a closet. I got spanked. I don’t know if you are supposed to punish kids for natural curiosity. I did not punish them. I had a talk with my step daughter and told her it is inappropriate for kids to kiss, and when she is older, and has a boyfriend, she can kiss him.

Ahhh… the joys of parenting!

Body Image

My mood and my body image go hand in hand. When I am in a bad mood, I NEED to avoid the mirror. That might sound funny to some, but I swear I gain 10 pounds when I am sad, angry or irritated. If I look in the mirror, I might have a full blown panic attack because I can’t figure out where the extra weight came from. I will talk myself down by telling myself that I am feeling negative, so my eyes only see negative. Having recovered from an eating disorder does not mean my body image has improved, in fact, sometimes I am convinced it is worse than it has ever been.

While I was pregnant I was so miserable, I could not look at myself. I was eating extremely unhealthy, I was nauseous constantly and gained 65 pounds… maybe 70, I stopped looking at the scale. I was already depressed as it was, and every time anyone saw me they wanted to look at my stomach, or worse, touch it. I watched my body fill out, saw stretch marks emerge, bought clothes that were bigger than I had ever worn, I had acne… it was a teenagers nightmare. I was disgusted with myself, I felt so ugly that I could not imagine anyone else thinking any different. I pushed everyone away.

Birth probably made things worse because then I did not have the “I’m pregnant” excuse. However I did have the “I just had a baby” excuse, and I have seen that one used for years, if not for the rest of the mothers life. I admit, it was fun going from an A cup to a DD, while breastfeeding, but now I’m back to my barely A cup with stretch marks, and loose skin. (Desperate Housewives was one of my favorite shows, and I love the scene where Lynette tells the young pregnant girl that her boobs look like the balloons you find behind the couch 2 weeks after the party, and her stomach looks like spanish stucco. I can relate to the boob part!!! That entire scene is awesome! Here, just watch it:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2eKGsHge9NU ) It took me a year to fit comfortably back in my clothes, thanks to breast feeding, because I did not do any exercise besides taking some walks.

Yesterday I posted about how I can’t eat when I am upset, some of that has to do with my body image. In my negative mood I will dissect my body, and tell myself I should not have eaten so much, even if I hadn’t eaten a lot. I will focus on things that I really can’t change, and in reality in these moments, there is nothing I can do… I am already doing what I need to, I eat clean, I work out… I need to focus on being positive. Loving myself. You know that feeling when you think of being intimate with someone who disgusts you? You feel gross inside and out. That is how I feel about myself when I am challenged to show myself love.

When I was in treatment for my eating disorder I was given an assignment, to make a doll that represented me, a baby Justine doll, and nurture her for a day. It was supposed to be me when I was 2, around the time my mom left us. After making the doll, I promptly threw it over my shoulder, and did not touch it for a week. The next time we had group with all of our therapists, mine asked me if I had completed the task. I said I made the doll, and no I did not nurture it, it’s not even real, after all. I should have known better because my next assignment was to nurture that damn thing for the next WEEK! My therapist asked me to go get the doll. I got it and put her down in front of me.

She asked me to hold her…
I picked it up by it’s hair.
She asked me to hold her like a baby.
I did.
She asked me to look at her.
I couldn’t.
“Why won’t you look at her?”
Me: “I can’t.”
“Why not?”
Me: “I don’t know, I hate it.”
“Why?”
Me: “I don’t know.”
“Look at her.”
Me: (I looked at her, and started to cry) “She is ugly, and fat, and I hate her.”
“She is only a baby, how can you hate a baby?”
Me: “I don’t know… I hate her.”
“Hug her, tell her you love her.”
Me: (Hugging her) I can’t, I don’t love her.

At this point I broke down. It was crazy to me that I could HATE a doll so much. I had never realized how worthless I felt, how ugly, and disgusting I thought I was. Those are the voices in my head when I look in the mirror sometimes. When I got out of treatment I threw that doll away.

I can’t imagine my beautiful, perfect, smart baby girl feeling the way I felt towards that doll… I mean myself.

Food and Feelings

You are sitting at your kitchen table, there is a plate in front of you… Now STOP. It’s time to check in with yourself. Are you hungry? On a scale from 1-5 how hungry are you? When was your last meal? How are you feeling? Don’t be vague, if you feel good, use other feeling words like, happy, excited, curious, relieved. If you feel bad, use describing words like, sad, tired, sick, anxious, angry, scared. Now go back to your hunger scale, and ask yourself if you are hungry because of these feelings, or not hungry because of these feelings.

Now pick up your fork, think about each bite, chew. Taste. Is your food crunchy? Is it salty? Sweet? Wet, dry? How does this food make you feel? Do you feel guilty? At peace? Remember your feelings from before you began your meal, do you feel the same? Better, worse?

Yesterday I was running out the door, I guzzled my coffee, took a shot of Ionix (organic 5 hour energy, basically), grabbed a boiled egg and my water bottle, and ran out the door. We were gone until 5pm and by the time we walked through the door all I wanted was food. At this point I could have eaten anything. It’s a dangerous place for me, or anyone to be in, what do you eat when you feel like you will pass out at any second, you don’t have time to cook, and if you did cook, you would probably be full before it was done because you would be snacking on all of your ingredients anyway. This is kinda naughty, but I’m being honest, I pulled out a bag of flax veggie chips (I have not told you about “girl math” before, but this is a good example, in my brain, at this moment, flax seed and veggie chips counts as eating flax seeds, spinach, and carrots. Even though, I know perfectly well that this is not the case, I did quick girl math in my brain, and rationalized my decision. That is the point of girl math, you know, to rationalize a situation, maybe you are justifying eating those beer battered french fries at happy hour, either you have not eaten all day, or you just REALLY love mustard, and you can’t drink it from the bottle. You have an extra glass of wine before bed because you skipped dessert. You run up and down the stairs a couple times to work off your lunch. It’s all girl math.) and the homemade guacamole (girl math: avacado is healthy fat, and I made it so I know there is no crap in it.) At this moment, as I am pulling a chip from the bag, my 3 year old throws a fit. The combination of starvation, exhaustion, and irritation took over, I replaced the chip, closed the bag and put the guacamole back in the refrigerator. I was done. I had lost interest in my food.

I made a huge mistake, I know better than to let myself get too hungry. When I am hungry, the slightest thing can happen and my mood is shot, I will snap at anyone for almost anything, and I can’t shake it. At this point, food is not an option. I will be sick if I force myself, so I just need to seclude myself, calm down and get over it so I can eat before something else ticks me off.

**An easy way to avoid situations like this: I usually bring a bag of trail mix (raw almonds, raw peanuts, dried cranberries, and dark chocolate chips) in my purse, just in case I need a handful, or one of my kids gets cranky, they go nuts over chocolate. Dried fruit is easy, too.**

I know that it’s easy for people to go the other direction. You miss a meal, and the next thing you know, you are binge eating whatever is convenient.

This is why I want to challenge you to take your time with your food. It’s not going anywhere, just sit with yourself for a minute and reflect on your feelings. You may decide that you are not actually hungry at all, you are just bored, or you are sad and this meal will take your mind off of it. You might realize that you don’t want it. Maybe you are trying to change your eating habits, and you know eating fast food, or white bread, or 3 bowls of cereal is not going to help you reach your goals. So many of us will guzzle it down before we think too much. I struggle with that. My situation is a little different, having recovered from an eating disorder, sometimes I will not think about food while I eat, just to get it over with. If you saw me at breakfast, you would hardly know I had eaten, I eat and walk, talk, clean, get dressed, you name it. I do not register breakfast. I do not care for breakfast, I usually feel like I do not have time, I just know that I need it. This is where meal plans come in handy. I know what I am going to eat every morning, it is one of 3 things, either greek yogurt and organic hemp granola with a handful of trail mix (minus chocolate), 2 boiled eggs, or an organic meal replacement shake. those are my options, and it does not take thought. Lunch is similar, I have to REMEMBER to eat, and more often than not, it’s quinoa, black beans and either salsa or guacamole, or a shake. This is another meal I don’t really register because it’s fuel. I am eating out of necessity. Dinner is the tricky one. I can easily skip dinner. It helped when I started making dinner for my fiance and I. I enjoy all of the flavors, and smells, by the time it’s done I usually want to eat it. It can be a problem, sometimes I eat too much because from about 4pm to 9pm life is crazy and I tend to be starving by the time I can make food, but I may lose interest. It’s a fine line.

As you can see, I need to check in with myself, too. Let’s all work on checking in. I think it will make a huge difference, and if anything you will get to know yourself, and learn about your relationship with food, and your willpower.

Because The Bible says so

I have PTSD, from the church I grew up in. To some of you that sounds ridiculous, others might relate. It is not as uncommon as you might think. As far back as I can remember my family was a part of this “church”. It was Bible based, nondenominational, and originally a very loving environment. By the time I was a teenager, I was fighting deep depression, an eating disorder, and more than anything I was fighting myself. I had been on the shit end of bad leadership over and over. I can’t speak for what the adults went through, but this is what I experienced:

When I was 11 and 12 I was not a leaders daughter, and even though I had literally grown up with these kids, I was cast aside, uninvited to sleep-overs, family events, and finally, when it was time to change from the “Pre-Teen” group to the “Teen” group, I was asked to stay behind, even though a leader’s daughter, younger than me was placed in the teen group. My parents fought  for fairness, and would eventually be asked to leave, they were “marked” by the church for sticking up for what was right. Unfortunately for me, and my little sister, this did not happen soon enough.
As a teen I questioned my leaders. I did not take the round about “because the bible says so” answers. Nobody could explain to me why god was so angry and destructive in the Old Testament, only to suddenly be so humble, sacrificing his son for our sins in the New Testament. Supposedly, we are all god’s children, yet here is god’s REAL kid. Why he had to die? Because Old Testament god did not think things through and wanted all of these sacrifices, which did no good so now god decides, HE will sacrifice something. It’s a mess! I could go on, but I won’t… this time. It was branded in our brains that all of our friends were going to Hell, and we might, too if we were not careful. This made it difficult to have friendships outside of the church.
Eventually I was silenced. I was told not to ask these questions because I had no faith. I was used as a doormat, I was told to be the greeter, because I was so friendly, they used me to draw people in and then they pushed me away. My closest friends, one of which I have literally known since I was in diapers, and the other I had known in elementary school, were instructed not to spend time with me. I caused too much confusion… they did not want me poisoning the flock. Once I was told to stop flirting, when I had not even spoken to a boy the entire evening. The teen leader who confronted me said, “You don’t have to talk to any of them, it was just the way you are.” Gee thanks…
I tried to believe. I studied The Bible, and found no comfort, only inconsistencies, confusion, and my faith in EVERYONE fell apart. I even went as far as to go through the church assigned studies, one of which is called, The Church Study, where they tell you this is the one true church, and anyone not in it will go to Hell. In another study, The Cross, I believe, after reading you a disturbing story of what EXACTLY happened when one was crucified, an account of what Jesus went through, you were asked to confess your sins. At 14 I don’t believe I had true “sins” to confess to, but I humiliated myself anyway recounting everything I had ever done wrong… I was made to feel overwhelmingly ashamed of things that are completely natural. This is when it was convinced that I am not OK. The person I am, my personalty, my body, no part of me was OK, no part of me was deserving, no part of me was worth anything. I was broken, officially. While I could not imagine a god that would create someone so worthless, I submitted, and was baptized, with the promise that when I came out of that water I would be free from my “sin”, and I would finally be “good”.
When I rose from the freezing Pacific Ocean, I understood that it had all been a lie. Everyone here was fake and had been sold the same bull shit, and instead of being honest, they turned around and started selling the bullshit. I knew from experience that I had to pretend, too. If I wanted to keep my friends, if I wanted my parents to have any faith in me, I had to lie. I kept up the facade for over a year, I think. A year of torture, I got Mono, and if you don’t know, Mono causes depression, so on top of being depressed, and being medicated (by Zoloft which causes worse depression in teens), I was… depressed-ER. I don’t really think I can describe my misery that year. I was so alone, and I had nobody to be honest with. During all of this, my little sister was told by a teen leader that she was “too fat to study the bible and get baptized”. That’s a really loving thing to say to an insecure 13 year old. Comments like that drove my sister to use and sell drugs, and eventually rehab… many times. I can’t blame it all on the church, addiction runs in our family, and she caught the bug, so to speak. She is sober and doing awesome now, I am so proud of her. She has come a very long way.
By the time I was 16, I was through with pretending and “fell away” from the church. My eating disorder became obvious. Anorexia with Bulimia. I would restrict, and when I did eat I would purge. I was sent to a treatment center for eating disorders for three months, a few weeks into my Junior year of high school. During this time my parents were marked and asked to leave the church they had been a part of for, I don’t know, 14 years. Coincidentally the church had a huge falling out right around this time, so many people left.
Why on Earth did I tell you this story??? Oh yeah, I wanted you to understand where I am coming from when I explain why I believe it is important to let children, and young adults make their own decisions. I will not send my children to church. Personally, I do not believe in the Christian god, and I certainly do not want my children to be taught to hate, that they are not worth love, that they are not good enough or that they will burn in the fiery pits of hell. You might be thinking, “But Christians follow Christ, and Jesus was so good!” Yeah, JESUS was good, he was loving, accepting, forgiving, he spent time with the sinners and he did not judge. I don’t know many Christians who do ANY of those things. If my kids want to go to church, can they? Absolutely. I will also spend time reinforcing their greatness, because we have no idea what they take from these biblical stories.
You now understand why I will not be raising my children Christian, now let me tell you why I am not raising them vegetarian. Personally, I choose not to eat meat, or dairy and only occasional fish because morally I can’t justify it. Thousands of animals are mass murdered after torture, and disgusting living conditions so you can go to your nearest Mc Donalds and get a double cheese burger for 99 cents at the drop of a hat. It is not natural. Humans are genetically hunter-gatherers. So your body tells you to eat as much as you can at each meal, because historically, you didn’t know when you would get your next one. Since food is readily available, you would think you could slow down and listen to your body, chew. You don’t, and unless you make the conscious effort, you won’t. The factories, and the cows are causing pollution. The animals are given growth hormones, which everyone is ingesting, and we wonder why the obesity rates are so high. CHILDREN are being diagnosed with diabetes. It is disgusting to me. Yet, here I am, allowing my kids to eat meat. Do I buy organic meat? Yes. But if I am so against even eating animals, why do I let them eat animals? Because I want them to make their own decision, when they are old enough. I do not want to my kids to be guilted into doing what I believe is right, I want them to choose what they believe is right.
For more on the ICOC and my fucked up religious backround check out: “So… I grew up in a cult” http://healthymama.net/?p=356

****If you are reading this because you have had a similar experience, have history with the ICOC/ICC, or you need help leaving, I am going to post some resources here for you. Free to email me at isahealthymama@yahoo.com or find my “recovery page” on facebook www.facebook.com/icocrecovery Here are a few blogs and websites from people who have left the ICOC/ICC and have shared their experiences and knowledge:

http://www.reveal.org/ <— This page has the truth about the ICOC.
http://www.spiritualpornography.com/ <— Don’t worry, it’s totally appropriate, she named it Spiritual Pornography because that’s what Kip McKean called it when you read anything negative about the church. They post information it might be harder to find, such as Kip’s (supposed) resignation, and letters written to the church.

http://henrykriete.com/ <— Here you can read what REALLY happened with Henry Kriete and his family.
http://ministeriolatino.blogspot.com/ <—- Here you can read a blog from a former member of Kip’s current church (City of Angels International Church of Christ). He has written actually experiences between himself and Kip, AND other “leaders”. A very interesting read. He came across my blog and actually recognized someone I had written about (I kept it confidential).
http://www.tolc.org/ <—- Here you can read Henry Kriete’s letter and other letters written to the church. You can also click “debate” and you will be transferred to http://forums.delphiforums.com/n/main.asp?webtag=ICCdiscussion&nav=start&prettyurl=%2FICCdiscussion%2Fstart where you can interact with current and former members.

 

Let’s get organized!

Getting organized will change your life, it changed mine so much that I have developed a bit of an obsession. It began with the 2 months I lived between places (2 weeks in a motel, and 2 weeks with my ex’s family.) and had a 1 year old. I was so stressed out about not having a home, that I began to mentally nest. I NEEDED stability, but I had none. My initial reaction was to stop eating. This is normal behavior for me when I am stressed out. Having recovered from an eating disorder I have to pay close attention to my eating habits. So for that month, I admit, I did not eat a lot. I just couldn’t. I was so uncomfortable, I needed to focus on something else. I bought this awesome book called The Organized Mom by Stacey Crew http://www.amazon.com/The-Organized-Mom-Simplify-Life/dp/1605501301. I wanted my house to be organized, and pretty and I wanted to know where things were when I needed them. My house is pretty damn organized. I have a drawer with baskets inside, one for my mail, and one for my fiance’ mail. There are cups inside the drawer with pens, and pads of paper. Why is it in a drawer? It’s an eye sore. I can’t stand seeing a mess in my house, and with kids you can’t escape from messes, but you can make an effort keep things decent. That is just one example of a nifty change that makes our lives easier, and prettier.

I want to talk about the kitchen. Keeping your kitchen organized will help you want to prepare food, and encourage you to keep it organized.

Pantry: First of all, take everything out. It’s a mess, I know. Now commit to only replacing the food that is healthy. It might not be much… Are you prepared?  Get a trash bag and fill it with all of your cans,(you can donate all of it, or pass it on to friends or neighbors.) canned food is not good for you. Next, the boxes of ricearoni, and pastaroni… if it has more than 5 ingredients, it’s not good for you. (Do I have food that has more than 5 ingredients? Yes, and slowly but surely they are being replaced, and now they are much fewer than before.) Now throw out the top ramen, and take a look at your noodles… and say goodbye… unless they are wheat, or rice or maybe soba noodles… most likely your noodles are not worth eating unless you have already replaced them. There are healthy alternatives, there are tofu noodles, you can eat spaghetti squash, quinoa!! I LOVE quinoa, I usually use it to replace rice, oh yeah, throw out your white rice. Bread is really tough, because it is hard to find bread that does not have a lot of ingredients. Next time you’re at the store, READ THE LABELS! Chips, the chips we like are a little naughty, but, we are not hard core yet, so we eat flax chips. Although sometimes we make them! Also, I will admit that occasionally I will buy hot cheetos (I know, I’m fired, but the kids love them! They are being phased out, though). Flour, get rid of white flour. And sugar. Cereal? Try organic! Replace your vegetable oil with coconut oil, or sunflower seed oil. replace peanut butter with sunflower seed butter or almond butter. Are you getting the idea? Now that you have no food… Let’s put it away.

Put all of your like items together. If you have small things, you can do what I do, I have two boxes that are filled with things like oatmeal packets, granola bars, trail mix, and other small snacks. Everything else belongs in it’s own space.

Refrigerator: The fridge should be easy, keep fruits and veggies, and make room, because next time you shop, you are filling your fridge with more fruits and more veggies. If your eggs are not cage free, put them in the bag, replace your milk with almond milk. If you have those disgusting little individually wrapped craft cheeses, *gag* throw them out. You can do better. Personally I use dairyless cheese. But if you can at least get rid of plastic cheese, that would be great. Make sure your meat is organic (see my blog “Why Organic” for details). I honestly can’t remember other crap foods from the fridge because ours has been very clean for a long time. Just make room, You will need it.

Look around the kitchen and figure out if you have put things in convenient places. The coffee maker should be near the cabinet for mugs, for instance. The spoons you use frequently in cooking should be in a vase near the stove. The oven mitts should either be hanging on or near the stove, or the nearest drawer. Tupperware should be organized and contained. I have a bottow drawer that has all the plastic bowls and plates and cups for the kids. It’s easy for them to get to, and it’s all in one place. Go through your drawers and take out everything you don’t need, don’t use, or is broken.

Is there a pile of dishes in your sink… or along the counter? Do your dishes! Just do them! If it’s dirty, wash it. It’s simple. I used to be that person that did not do my dishes until I had no more clean spoons. Looking back, I’m not sure how I survived. Keeping your dishes clean will simplify your life. Keeping up with them is so much easier than spending an hour every few days.

Now that your kitchen is nearly empty, give yourself a pat on the back and make a meal plan. Meal plans make it easier to make a shopping list. Start small, the next week. You can even try going to a website like Emeals http://emeals.com/ , or an amazing blog  http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/ that my friend showed me a few days ago. I suggest planning out every meal, but it might be better to slowly work up to that.

One thing that makes my life easier, is preparing food in advance, so all you have to do is heat it up. I make my pasta sauce, noodles, purees and cut up my fruits and veggies, boil eggs, and fill water bottles and put everything in tupperware so it’s easy to grab when I need it. Whether I am running out the door and need a kid friendly snack (or 5), or I need to make a meal.

I hope this was not boring… I just know that organizing made a huge impact for me in every area, so maybe it can help some of you.

Making Commitments, Setting Boundaries, and Keeping Promises

How many New Year Resolutions have you made to finally lose that extra weight? How many times have you broken a promise to yourself? How many times have you allowed someone to cross a boundary, and felt violated because you did not stick up for yourself.

It’s time to make the ultimate commitment, TO YOURSELF! Promise yourself that you will not break another promise to yourself. You want to lose that weight? Let’s do it! You don’t want to back down anymore, stick up for yourself!

How about your kids? How many times have you promised you wouldn’t buy junk food for your kids? How many times have you threatened a discipline and not followed through? How many times have you reacted out of anger, and regretted it? How many times have you committed to a schedule only to throw it out the window come Tuesday?

I can relate to all of this. I have made a lot of changes, but I still struggle. Today in particular, it was about my kids. My fiance’s mom offered to pick up my 5 year old from school, and I was thrilled because I was behind on some housework, and wanted to catch up on some emails and phone calls, normally the kids and I are out and about from about 11am to 3pm. I was glad for the physical break. As soon as he came home LJ wanted to go over to his cousin’s house, they live next door, and he is forever begging to go there. I said yes, and the day was filled with kiddos running back and forth between houses. Until my 8 year old came home in tears because LJ was playing “Black Ops” with his 7 year old cousin, and the boys had been mean to her when she told them not to play it. LJ knows VERY well that he is not allowed to play that game.

I am a firm believer that children watching violence, and participating in it creates aggression. I know from watching my step son that this game has encouraged him to deal with confrontation with violence. Instead of talking about his feelings, calming himself, or even crying, he lashes out, slams doors, hits walls, screams, and he almost kicked me once. Coming from such a sweet little boy, you have to think there is something encouraging this behavior. I have no doubt that it’s the violent video games. When kids play these games they are taken into a world where violence is reinforced. In real life, if you shot someone, you would be hauled off to jail, in video game land, you are rewarded! You get more points, you go to the next level. As an adult who can comprehend completely the difference between reality and fiction, this may not affect you, for a child (your brain is not fully developed until you are 23 or 25! And LJ is 5!) they get everything mixed together.

I’m relatively new to the family, so it took me a while to implement rules. I was feeling out the situation. It was clear to me very quickly that this game was causing problems. I was afraid to deal with it, though because I was afraid LJ would be upset with me, and I was worried my fiance’s family would be offended. Really?? I was ignoring my gut instincts because I was concerned about my popularity with a child, a child whom I love, and loves me. Sometimes as a parent you HAVE to be the bad guy! Sometimes I wonder why I am the mom who is always saying, “No”. Why do these other parents not care… do they simply not know what their kids are up to?

I went next door, and confronted LJ. When I walked through the door he had the ultimate “Oh shit” look on his face, and he turned to his cousin and said, “See, I told you.” At this point, it was confirmed that LJ knew EXACTLY what he was doing, so I told him to go home, and he was going to have time out, and he was not allowed to go back to his cousin’s the rest of the day. Did he go home? No, he went running directly to his grandma and cousin, rationalizing and crying hysterically, hanging onto his grandma and begging her to take him to her house. I had to get down and look him in the eye and make the scary voice so he would go home, and threatened that his dad would give him a spank when he got home. (I am not a fan of spanking children, however, it is a great bargaining tool.) He sobbed all the way home and to the time out corner.

As if i did not feel bad enough, grandma is calling my fiance to tell him her side of the situation, and get on his case for spanking, which has only ever happened 2 or 3 times, ever. So now I don’t know what to do. All of a sudden it’s a power struggle between me and my soon to be M.I.L. I wanted to give in. I did not want to cause animosity. More, though, I did not want to break my word to LJ. I know that giving in on a punishment will create more problems. So I stuck to my guns, and LJ had mini fits all afternoon, but the whole point was to instill in him that disobedience will get him nowhere.

When it comes down to it, my instincts say, follow through, set boundaries. Kids need boundaries, they feel safe when they know there is a limit. They may not always like it, but as far as I’m concerned, doing the right thing, in this case, obeying his parents, will help him develop integrity.

Another situation I run into has to do with food. In this house we avoid processed food for the most part, we eat veggies and fruits, and the meat (for the kids and my fiance) is grass fed, free range, hormone free, etc. I admit, I do have some naughty treats occasionally, but they are being phased out. When they kiddos go to other places they are fed CRAP! One of my huge annoyances is juice. Unless the ingredients on the bottle says nothing more than “pressed apples, or squeezed grapes” my kids don’t get it here. Have you looked at the ingredients in juice? the front promises that it is natural and, 100% juice, and the ingredients are all words you can’t pronounce, oh, and it’s  juice concentrate. So what do you I do? Honestly, as of yet, nothing. I feel terrible every time the kids come home with a bottle of milk (I have more issues with milk than I do with juice.) or fast food. So far I let go, taking everything away from them could potentially push them to only eat those things when they grow up, so I guess right now I’m rationalizing. I’m not feeding it to them… so maybe it doesn’t count?

I am committing right now to set SERIOUS boundaries. I am committing to choosing punishments in advance, so I don’t react out of anger, talking over the consequences with the kids before they act out, and finding a healthy way to find common ground with the other parents, and grandparents in my kids lives.

Now let’s talk about you… where in your life are you giving in? Sometimes I only run two miles, some days I spend the ENTIRE second mile convincing myself to run the third. Sometimes… (yesterday) I eat M&M’s. Sometimes I lose my temper. I have been working with myself to take my deep yoga breaths, and remain calm WHENEVER I talk to anyone. No one deserves my temper. I feel really good about the changes I have made. I can physically feel a difference now that I have practiced self control over and over, whether it’s following through with myself, and running that last damn mile, or only occasionally indulging in candy, or focusing, breathing and speaking instead of screaming. Can you commit to yourself?

Bonding

“Bonding: Something that binds, fastens, confines or holds together.”

I came across a website the other day (http://www.bottlepets.net/), these stuffed animals that fit over bottles. At first I laughed and thought, “Wow we are just trying to make everything creative and unique.” Then I registered the genius of this product. Combining a healthy loving bonding experience with a bottle feeding experience. We all know that as far as I am concerned, breast is best. Breast feeding is positive for both the mother and the baby. Not only is the baby receiving optimum nutrition and immunity, but he/she will also have a sacred chance to bond with his/her mother. The closeness, being held, looking at mommy, learning her face, memorizing her expressions, developing trust. Meanwhile mommy and baby are flooded with Oxytocin, the love, trust and cuddle hormone. The entire experience is magical, and in my opinion substantial in raising a confident, loved, loving little human.
Not everyone chooses to breast feed, not everyone is able to. you can still absolutely bond with your baby. This is where Bottle Pets come in. Covering the bottle with a friendly happy “lovey” (a term I use from the book The No Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley) is such a fantastic idea! The idea of a lovey was a stuffed animal or blanket that a child could bond with, and when they went to bed, in their own bed *at birth, or whenever the parents decide.* they had a something familiar, something they had bonded with to keep them company and to comfort them while they slept in their own bed. It will give a baby a fun feeding experience, and you can take the Bottle Pet off of the bottle between feedings, to help your baby bond with this new friend.
I’m gonna go ahead and mention that my BIGGEST pet peeve when it comes to bottle feeding is bottle propping. Choosing not to breastfeed is one thing (I understand we can’t all do it.), but leaving your baby while nature intended you to bond, and risking choking is unacceptable. While I do think Bottle Pets are a great idea, this is not an excuse to be a lazy parent. While your baby is drinking a bottle (wearing a pet or not) you should be there, holding, talking to, cuddling with, and playing with him/her. Should you choose to add a lovey, which I highly recommend if you are bottle feeding, you can encourage a bond between your baby and the lovey, and it will help when you are sleep training, when you leave your baby with a sitter, or even when you leave the room.
Bonding, how intense, just the words “to bind”, “fasten” “hold together” they are almost primal. With this “Fifty Shades of Grey epidemic (Sadly I have read FSOG, and was completely disturbed because Christian Grey is misogynistic, and anyone who calls herself  a feminist should be mortified by what these books encourage. Also, on that note, if you want real literature I can guarantee Anne Rice’s Claiming of Sleeping Beauty trilogy was written better, is more imaginative, and sexier. Not to mention she makes it clear that this is solely fantasy, not a lame attempt to make BDSM mainstream.), I can’t help but to think of how raw love can be. Bonding with your partner is intense, indescribable. Sex is one thing, but actually feeling a close, deep connection to someone that you sleep with is out of this world. Maybe you are there, maybe you have been there, maybe you have yet to experience it, bonding with your partner makes you feel safe, comforted, warm, connected. The same things you feel as an infant bonding with your parent. As we age, this feeling matures, and eventually we are able to experience it on a different, yet equally deep level.
Dancing with her lovey
Jo (4) and her lovey

Yoga Breaths for Life… Out with the bad… In with the good

While I was jogging tonight, I was reflecting, as usual, it begins with today, and inevitably I am taken to a deeper place, my healing place. It’s the only time my thoughts are rarely interrupted. A quote I read has stuck with me for weeks now, “When you say yes to someone, make sure you’re not saying no to yourself.” Those were the words I needed to unleash the bitterness and resentments I was holding. I have said NO to myself over and over for so long, that once I started to say YES, I felt… guilty.

Years ago I was stoned in a bathroom with my friend, and I was peeing on a stick. This situation was absolutely hysterical to us, and looking back, maybe I needed some emotional lubrication for this life changing moment. Somewhere, in a sober part of my mind I knew that if this little digital fortune teller said, “Pregnant”, I was going to be a mother. The weird part is that I REALLY wanted it to say “Not Pregnant”. Like REALLY. I did not want a baby, I did not want to be responsible for someone else… I did not want to be responsible for myself. Why then did I know I was going to have this baby? Not because I’m pro-life, I’m not, I’m die hard pro-choice. I had only been with my boyfriend at the time for a few months. He was the nicest of all of my past relationships. Having jumped unceremoniously from an abusive relationship to this “safe” relationship, I was… unprepared, to say the least. When I started dating him, EVERYONE approved. This was the first time in my life that my family was supportive of a relationship I was in. My friends gushed about how great he was. I don’t know how I felt, looking back. I think I held on to all of the positive things I knew, and what my friends and family said, and I thought that I could make this work. I could be with the nice guy, and although I have intimacy issues, maybe those will fade in time, and I will grow to fall in love. On paper we were great, our signs matched! (Until years later we actually did our charts and learned that on the surface, yes, it looked pretty, but ultimately we were not compatible.) All of a sudden, I have missed my period, I’m throwing up, and I know, if I don’t have this baby I will ruin any chance I had with him. He would resent me because he always wanted a family, I had seen it before. When the stick announced that I was in fact pregnant, I laughed. My friend thought that meant it was negative…

That was one of the biggest times I said yes to someone else, and said no to myself. I paid for it, dearly. I spent the next 9 months throwing up, fighting- and losing a battle with depression, I got horrible acne, I gained 65 pounds, I lost friends, and my little spark of a “Perfect on Paper” relationship crumbled. I rationalized it. I deserved all of this for not wanting this baby. If I stuck it out long enough, eventually the relationship would work. I had to be a good mom, somehow, I swore to her that no matter what, I would never leave her, I would grow to love her, too. I committed to give this little girl all of the things my mother was unable to give me. But I wasn’t happy about it. By saying yes to having this baby, I was stuck for the next 18+ years. (I did fall in love with Baby Jo. It was a relief.)

I continued with this pattern of thinking, and became very bitter. Bitter with my ex, bitter with the “church” that instilled this sick ideology in my head, bitter with my family for encouraging this ridiculousness, bitter with my friends for not understanding, bitter with my mother for not being there when I was little, bitter with myself for not sticking up for myself, for holding back the truth for years, and for this deep dark anger that I had never seen before. I started push positive people out of my life, and fed off of the negativity of other people. People who don’t trust anyone, who keep their hearts closed off, lonely people. They were my validation.

Recently I went through a period were I lashed out at people. People I love so much. I was so full of bitterness, I just exploded. A lot of what was said was true, some of it was just my insecurities and fear. I saw this change, I saw this growth in me, and I was not ready to let it take root. So I punished everyone around me, instead of taking responsibility and growing up. I was so afraid to lose people, that I let go of them instead.

Slowly my heart softened. My fiance, Mr. Positive turned my world upside down. He dissolved my intimacy insecurities, and showed me how happy I could be. How happy our life could be, crazy and hectic as it is, he showed me what is really important. For a while I stayed in the shallow end of positive thinking. I did not want to jinx it, and I was holding on to my old life, where I had time to spend with my friends, I had time to chat on the phone, I could have some resemblance of a social life. Now, in reality, unless you want to have a play date, we are probably not hanging out. As for phone calls, I have no idea when I will have a chance to answer, let alone talk. I’m OK with this. As new and life changing suddenly parenting 2 more kids is, and having a consistent schedule, and virtually no free time, I love it! It has helped me weed out the negativity. It has helped me focus on what is important. My family is important. I’m sorry to all of my friends that I have not communicated with, if it were not or Facebook and being able to “like” a few statuses, I don’t know that I would do! So, yes I feel a loss, but I have used all of that sadness and turned it into positive energy. I am taking care of me, I am taking care of my kiddos, I am happy in my relationship, and I am building a business! I am healthier than i have ever been, and working daily to  become healthy physically, mentally and emotionally. I have a long way to go, it’s OK, though, I love having a goal! I feel really good about these changes, and it doesn’t really matter to me anymore if all my family and friends approve. If they love me, they will stick around, if not, I have my amazing supportive fiance, and my awesome kids. So… deep breath in with the good (1…2…3…4…5…) and out with the bad(1…2…3…4…5…).

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When they are gone

How May I Annoy You Today? <--- my step son <3
How May I Annoy You Today?

It’s Friday. Friday’s tend to be bitter sweet for me. All the kids leave. All week long, everything is about the kids. Dressing and feeding and cooking, and cleaning, daily walks playtime at the park, play dates… It is a whirlwind Monday through Thursday. I think sometimes the only thing that gets me through the day is the countdown til bed time! And the countdown til Friday afternoon.

Part of the reason I do so much with these kids is because they tend to be gone on weekends. I’ll be honest, I need the break. I need the uninterrupted sleep. I need quiet time. I need a chance to actually complete the task I started. I need a reason to get dressed in anything besides workout clothes. I need time with my fiance. So the rest of the week I can be the best mom I can be. As a work at home mom, you just don’t get breaks. There is no time out, you can’t put the kids on hold. The only “time out” I get is maybe if one of them is in time out! and my 30 minute run, or I am so overwhelmed that I have had to step outside to cry. I have those days.

This morning I was so ready for everyone to just GO AWAY! I am patient everyday, and it gets exhausting. Especially when I am already tired. My three year old did not want anything that she wanted. Confused? So was I. She asked for an apple, but did not want me to wash it, then she did not want me to cut it… Then she only ate two slices. She did not want to get dressed but she wanted to wear her orange dress. She did not want me to unzip it, but she wanted to step into it. She then did not want me to zip it up, and was frustrated that it kept falling off. She did not want me to brush her hair, but she wanted the orange ponytail. She did not want to paint her nails, but wanted to have a pink and purple pattern on them (thank you Team Oomie Zoomie “Pattern Power!”) Her dad was “taking forever!” But when he got here she wouldn’t leave. And that was just one kid.

My eight year old step daughter, Jenna, has this obsession with her Monster High doll. It’s this barbie that is pretty, but it looks like Frankenstein, or something. It has stitches all over and it wears really high heels. I guess it’s a T.V. show. Anyway, she has been carrying it EVERY WHERE, “Monster High wants to push the stroller, Monster high wants to take a bath, look I am brushing her hair, do you know Monster High’s favorite color? Monster High has a werewolf friend, and a vampire friend, and do you know who has them? I’m gonna take her to my cousin’s house this weekend so we can all play. Look! I’m sharing my sandwich with Monster High.” As if that doesn’t make my head spin, Jo is now obsessed with Jenna’s Monster High. And it’s not fun fighting with a three year old and explaining that it’s not hers! And then, for some reason Jenna (and Monster High) were playing with goggles, and Jenna says, “I can see you in 3D!” In my head I was thinking, “No shit!” But that is frowned upon when trying to nurture and be patient with children, so instead I explained the differences between 1D, 2D, and 3D… she did not get the concept and ran around the house telling me everything was 3D.

This is life. So when people say, “I don’t know how you do everything you do!” This is how: I prioritize. People before things. The kids come first. I love them, and when I look at them I am amazed and touched by their innocence, and brilliance. I do not want to be the one to snuff their flames. I take care of myself. I know the things that I need to keep me sane. I need to exercise, I need quiet time, I need to write, I need to read, and I need to connect with my fiance. Do I always get all of those things? No. However, I am important, so I make a commitment to myself to workout 5 days a week. (Until my daughter was almost three I did not get breaks. That’s when I discovered running. I needed to run because I needed time that was not spent taking care of anyone else. Jo and I did every single thing together, I even slept in her room many, many nights. I love my baby girl like I have never loved anyone, so I know the importance of taking breaks. I was not always a patient mom. I did not take it out on her, I took it out on her dad. Running saved my sanity, and helped me be a patient attentive mother.) I sometimes use my cool down walk as mini quiet time, and then my shower when I get home. I recently committed to this blog, so here I am writing. Reading is a tough one. I have a magazine and three books on my bedside table. They have been there for months. I’m still working on how to fit that in. I love to read, but there are not enough hours in the day. When I read I get sucked into the story, you won’t see me until I have read every word in the book! I have been following blogs though! Spending quality time with my fiance has been a challenge, however, this new schedule with the kids does help. We do not eat dinner with the kids. They like bland food, and I am not a huge fan of eating, so my food better be spicy and flavorful! It is also easier for me to have them on a feeding schedule. They have about 6 different dinner options that they all like, and we rotate. I usually blog while sitting with them at the dinner table. From 5:30- 8:30 it is insanity in this house! Bath time for 3 kids, dinner, movie, snack, brush teeth. It just doesn’t slow down until 9:00, which is when I start our dinner. We have our routine, and it’s quiet, we enjoy our food, and he even does dishes! Some nights we are so exhausted we can’t even turn on the T.V. to catch up on our shows. It’s really nice to have the schedule, and quality time… Short lived as it may be.

Friday night’s and Saturday’s are quiet. And that is when I start missing the kids. I will fold their clothes and get choked up. I make their beds, and wish they were in them. The miniature chairs are empty, and I wish they were having a tea party. I do enjoy the calm after the week long storm, but I miss my kids. Now look what I’ve done. I already miss them, and they have only been gone since noon.