Sunday, July 31, 2016

Musings on The Whole 30

Tomorrow August 1, on my 41st birthday, I start the  Whole 30. 2016 has been a year of change. I've been battling to change my eating habits, and my lifestyle, and never ever go back to having chronic headaches several times a week and being bedridden  with migraines for a quarter or even third of my life! 

When I juiced the month of April, I saw amazing benefits in my energy and mental clarity among other things, and have not ever descended back into eating an entire row of brownies or eating spoonful after spoonful of cookie dough. I'm still off caffeine. I don't have severe sugar cravings every afternoon and need to rummage for chocolate. But I'm gradually getting headaches back again, and my energy isn't as high and that near constant irritability that used to plague me when I was sick is rearing its ugly head. 

Juicing was really good for me in that I didn't have to eat real food and the temptation of all the not healthful food choices was essentially eliminated. But it was really time consuming, expensive and not sustainable. When I was finishing that month of my juice fast feeling wonderful and looking better to boot, a couple of my friends suggested the Whole 30 as kind of a where to go from here next step. 

I eagerly got the books from the library and immediately decided it would be impossible to not eat sugar or bread.  And cheese. They want me to eliminate cheese! It was too strict and regimented for my personality. 

But then my doctor suggested that going gluten free might be really beneficial for me, and told me it appears that my gut still needs a lot of work and that my liver is working too hard and I should do another cleanse. And then a good friend told me she's been diagnosed with thyroid issues and was going to start the Whole 30 a bit before the time I'd been hesitantly considering it. And then another one of our friends was going to do it with her in solidarity at first but then discovered all the ways it would benefit her family. And then another friend told me she'd join me on the second wave, and give up gluten and sugar.And another friend and fellow cheese lover said she's eliminating dairy. 

So here I am. I had my cup of Teeccino this morning without French vanilla creamer. I didn't have a bit of any of the kids's cookies or Italian ices. Today, so far, has been Whole 30 compliant. 

Kevin and I are going out on a dinner and movie date tonight so I'll see if I can keep up the momentum, but I like to be able to tell myself I don't have to, as I'm starting officially tomorrow. 

I'm going to cook for the family lots of on plan meals, and also have separate food for myself when the kids are having sandwiches or something. 

Kevin supports me in that he'll eat his evening ice cream in the office instead of next to me on the couch. When I was listing off all the veggies we needed to pick up at the store, he said, "And I need chocolate and beer."

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

the concepts of play and fighting

This excerpt is from For the Children's Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay. It encapsulates my philosophy of life and learning pretty well. I intentionally give my children large blocks of unstructured time, space to roam, and freedoms to do just about anything as long as it doesn't impinge on others' person or property. While it sounds good theoretically, I am struggling to make it work for me and my family. 

I am with my children all of the time. I am physically present all of the time. I am mentally and emotionally available to them probably sixty percent of the time. I have done everything I know to do to live this philosophy. 

And yet, it seems like my kiddos can't think of anything to do when I want them to. If we have friends over, they will disappear for hours, barely turning up to eat. 

If it's just us though, they want to sit right next to me, or on me, or fight about who is going to be on me. Or they'll come in the living room where I am obviously otherwise occupied and start noisily eating something which one-grosses me out, because I hate the sound of people chewing and eating and two- isn't allowed in the living room, or just start asking me inane questions or fighting and bickering, trying to get my attention. 

I spend a few hours with them in the morning, reading out loud, talking with them, doing schoolish type things. By then I need a break. I need space for my body where no one is touching me and space for my brain where no one is asking me rapid fire questions, or demanding I do something for them. Or whining!!

Then it seems like I spend the rest of the day fighting for a break and fighting to get them to help clean up after themselves, and help one another and me, and fighting to get them to stop fighting! I'm struggling. 

How much time should I be "all there" ? How much rich creative play can I really expect? Why do the books say boredom is a good thing as it launches creativity, but in practice all they can think of to do is torment a sibling? Why do they need to make their noise and mess right where I am? Why don't my children stick to the boundaries? They matter more than the furniture but it still drives me nuts that the carpets and couches are stained from the eating in the rooms they're not supposed to and there are holes in the upholstery from scissors and saws and "exploration". I GIVE them interested support and empathy during their quarrels and try to really listen and reflect their feelings and they still demand more.  

How do children learn to play without my intervention? Or when they just don't want to? How do they learn to get along without making me crazy? How I stop taking their big emotions onto myself? 

I'm struggling with these concepts of play and fighting. Struggling.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Goodwill Stylist aka The Un Stitch Fix

I've done a couple of Stitch Fixes and loved the idea of it, but it was super hard for my frugal self to swallow the price point. I've been saying for months I needed a stylist who would thrift shop for me and today I was able to do it myself!! 

I am WAY more excited about these finds than I was even about my Stitch Fix. 

This dress is from Banana Republic. It cost $4.88. It is my favorite color and fits pretty well. I love how the cut is vintage-y.  I can't nurse in it, but I can wear it to an event where I wouldn't need to take Fizzy Baby along. 

The shoes are Born and the most expensive thing I bought. They were $12.88.

This top is St. John's Bay and the flower has sparkles and a little 3D effect with chiffon detailing.
The capris are Nine West. I've been wanting a pair like them for ages, even though I've seen memes about how no one should decorate their bum. I don't care. I love them.

This tank I got today and the unicorn leggings. Everyone needs unicorn leggings.

Here is a better picture of the j. jill tank. I paired it with a mega comfy polka dotted pencil skirt from Old Navy. Leggings, tank, and skirt were all $2.88.

I also got a pair of capris from The Gap and an American Eagle skirt short enough that NO one should be wearing it. I plan to cut the lace off the skirt and cut the capris into shorts to trim the legs with the lace. 

Additionally, I found a VS nightie with tags, 4 dresses/outfits each for Finnella and Elivette, jeans and a few shirts for Brielle, an Iowa State jersey and sweatshirt for Cadrian, another pair of unicorn leggings, a tunic, a maxi dress and a couple pairs of pajamas for Aviana. 

Total cost was LESS than my last Stitch Fix (which was 3 items). 

Even if it takes more time, it's settled.  I'm going to stick with my Goodwill stylist. 

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Staying on Task. Or Not.

I had high hopes for what I could get accomplished by 10:30. Incidentally, it's 10:42 and I am attempting to nurse the baby down for her nap. 

Here's how my to-do list this morning played out. 

Check FB while nursing Finnella at 6. Slither out of bed about 6:30. Try to renew library books due yesterday but it's already too late. Collect them from the cabinet. One is rain damaged and I'll have to buy it. At least I liked it! One is not in the cabinet. Not too bad of odds considering how many we check out at a time. 

Go out to office. Stare out the new storm door at the last vestiges of rain from the storm last night on the deck while listening to the cacophony of birds. Go back into kitchen to get a cup of teeccino. 

Cadrian is up. Go back out to office to work on updating my birth related resource list for my Birth Boot Camp recertification. Cadrian follows. Asks a barrage of questions like, "Which would you like better, to die in a rain storm or get run over?"

Finally give him permission to make a smoothie so he'll disappear for a bit. He actually didn't make a giant mess! 

Work on updates. 

Kevin comes in, wants to chat. He finally wanders off to catch the news. 

Girl child brings me baby. I take baby to Kevin, who's watching TV. 

Finish updates. Start working on community groups, like La Leche League. To most easily find the information, I go to FB and quickly wander down one rabbit trail after another, including discovering that a year ago today Finnella smiled her first smile and looking at family photos we had taken four years ago.

One child after another keeps coming in the office, while somehow Kevin manages to continue watching the news alone. I must need to change something with my pheromones so I'm not so attractive. 

By 9 am Elivette is the last one up. Ask Brielle to make her and Finnella some eggs so I can go work out. I go to get dressed and realize I need to unpack. I get everything out of the suitcase and make categorical piles on my bed. I get some things put away when Elivette comes up crying because Brielle won't make her malt o'meal. 

I finally get her calmed down and get dressed, leaving my bed covered in clothes. 

I head outside to work out. I'm tired and not really in the mood but I keep at it. It's not long before Elivette comes out with a bowl of cut up delicious fresh peaches and starts to feed them to the dog. I rush her inside and ask Aviana to make her some malt o'meal since she refuses to eat anything else and Brielle refuses to do as she (or I, for that matter) asks.

I see someone had gotten out last night's pizza so I grab a piece and heals back out to the patio. I ate pizza while working out. I take my fitness very seriously.  

I at one point get distracted by the weeds and start pulling some when Cadrian comes out. " I thought you were supposed to be working out!" 

I finally straggle done, and go inside fully intending to get everyone rounded up for Circle Time, but Finnella is so fussy I take her upstairs to nurse her. 

And that's how I managed to get 1 1/2 things checked off in the four hours I've been up. 

How much I love today is a better goal than how much I get done. 

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Farm Fresh Road Trip

Six kiddlets and one mama heading up to Chicago area for Independence Day weekend.

Minute 1: tan I have a snack now?

Minute 7: it takes a wong time to det to Gigi and Opa's.  (Repeat every 2-3 minutes) 

Minute 11: pass out multiple "pixie cups" of cheddar popcorn accompanied by threats of being tossed out the window if you spill any

Minute 20: wait for train

Minute 30: Burger King drive through

Minute 36: I'm hungry, tan I have a snack now? 

Minute 49: enter expressway with very minimal exits and much construction and no shoulder

Minute 53: air conditioning starts blasting heat. Even shutting off fans does nothing to stop it. Roll down windows, hope for the best. There is NO WHERE to pull over. 

Minute 58: three year old, red in the face and exquisitely in pain begins scream crying "top on the side of the road to doe peepee and poopoo!!"

Minute 59: thankfully see a sign declaring we are not far from the only exit for another 35 miles because there is no way to pull over in the construction and traffic 

Minutes 59-65: Hold it baby, can you hold it? 
Big brother: just pee in your seat! Hahahaha!!

Minute 60: Nine year old, red in the face and exquisitely in pain begins scream crying, because of a leg cramp

Minute 66: baby wakes up.

Minutes 66-80: Take kids into gas station by turns. Deny requests to buy fireworks, toy cars and snacks. 

Minute 85: return to tollway. 

Minute 86: I'm hungry. May I have a snack? 

Minute 87: is it my turn with the kindle yet? 

Minute 88: miraculously, shutting off Suburban has fixed the heating issue, at least temporarily, and air conditioning works once again and we can roll up the windows.

Minute 88-120: negotiations for Kindle turns, drinks of water, much conversation and laughter and "It take a wong time to det to Gigi and Opa's house": arm in backseat stroking baby's head

Minute 100: Cadrian gave Denton the Kindle so he could play Math V. Zombies, but only after he used up all the bullets so poor five year old had to do too hard of math problems for him in order to get more bullets. For some reason this made me laugh hysterically. Aviana to the rescue--provided him with a well stocked arsenal.

Minute 115: finally stop laughing. Hysteria  may have other sources... 

Minute 121: let boys in third row have popcorn bag

Minute 121:30: uhoh!--the popcorn dropped all over the floor and seat

Minutes 122 continued: feverishly feed baby grapes to keep her quiet. She bites into them, eats their guts,  spits out the outsides. Don't care. At least she's not crying.

Minutes 123 continued: everyone gets louder and louder the heavier the traffic gets and the closer we get to our destination. 

Minutes 125 and on: Jokes like: why did the cow cross the road? To get to the other side. Why did the calf cross the road? Because he was nursing his mama

Minutes 126 and on: Brielle texts my friends with video of crying baby. And texts whomever will text her back

Minutes 127 and on: children wave exuberantly at fellow drivers and shout things they thankfully (hopefully) can't hear like "hey lady! You're fired!" 

Minute 140: notice phone battery (and therefore GPS directions) is getting dangerously low. Charger in a bag in the way back. Carry on bravely. 

Minute 145 and on: childish jabber noise and intermittent baby fussing accompanied by the constant pinging, baaing, and general noise of Elivette's Todo Math game 

(Don't forget the "it takes a Wong time to det to Gigi and Opa's house!" Every few minutes)


Now it's "how wong befowre Uncwle Torydon dets hewre?"

Clean out popcorn, grapes, at least half a pint of blueberries,  and an entire garbage bag of trash. 

Ahh. We're here. 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Stitch Fix #2

Stitch Fix is my favorite. I did my first Fix six months ago and liked all the items I received. I felt so pampered. Retail shopping is something I rarely, if ever, do and Stitch Fix fits nicely into my life. 

You fill out a form to let them know what you like, about your lifestyle, and preferences in color and items. Having a fashion Pinterest board is helpful so your stylist can get an idea of what your tastes are. (Here's mine:

I was excited that I got two referral bonuses to use ($25 each) and in addition if you keep all five items they choose for you, you get 25% off! 

It costs $20 as a styling fee, but if you keep an item, you get it taken off your order. These items averaged $30 after the discounts. 

Now with the basics out of the way here's what I got:

Elaine Ikat Print Pocket Front Knit Tee
I would never have picked out either the color or the pattern, but I really like it. It's extraordinarily soft and will dress up if I want. The light color is more of a light blue than is showing in the picture.

Banzai Twist Detail Top

This is a dressier fabric that I would worry about spilling on or the kids goobering, so this is strictly a going out of the house shirt. I don't own anything green either, so I am surprised how much I like it. The twisty neck is a fun detail, and I could still wear a necklace with it. 

Montgomery Cross Front Top

This is a knit fabric, also incredibly soft and, I think, quite flattering and nursing friendly

Halle Printed Flare Skirt
I really love this skirt. It's got a vintage feel in both feel and pattern. I have one almost like it with polka dots. It has the unfortunate flaw of being a bit too snug and not having an elastic waist. Since having all these kiddos, I am all about the elastic waist. I may alter it so it's more comfortable, because it is definitely not an all day item as is. 

Sam Hi-Lo Short Sleeve Tee
This shirt, again, is amazingly comfortable and so soft! I'm quite tactile so that matters to me quite a lot. It is a good basic piece and a lot higher quality than what I am used to wearing. 

However, it is not very forgiving. Here is what it looks like with the wrong pants and wrong bra.

If I keep all five items, the discount basically lets me get 1 1/2 of them for free. And as an added incentive, I don't have to go to the post office! 

 What do you think? Would you keep them all? I need to decide by Saturday. (You have five days to decide, I just couldn't get the pictures taken and the post done right away.)

If you decide you want to try Stitch Fix, I'd be honored if you went through my link:

Friday, June 10, 2016

Gentle Parenting in a Big Family

I first became committed to Gentle Parenting--parenting without threats, spanks, yelling, anger--three years ago. We always have been Attachment Parents--breastfeeding, baby wearing, cosleeping are a few of the tenets--, but  I didn't understand Gentle Parenting or Peaceful Parenting, or how it could possibly "work". I even joined a Gentle Parenting board and tried to learn more, almost a decade ago, but it was not a good fit at the time.

Gentle Parenting as described eloquently by L.R. Knost "is guiding instead of controlling, connecting instead of punishing, encouraging instead of demanding. It’s about listening, understanding, responding, and communicating.” It is a concious shift away from the way I was brought up, away from what everything in my body is demanding, away from the gut center of my brain.

Gentle Parenting is, I think, a bigger challenge for me than traditional parenting because it requires more from the parent. More thought, more emotion, more connection, just more. No matter how you parent, or how many kids you have, it's hard, don't get me wrong. When I had two little daughters and I was spanking, it was hard. Now though, I have to think more about why I'm being reactive and what is going on in my child and what is the behavior trying to tell me and teach them how to problem solve at the same time I'm trying to change a diaper and spell a word and give directives and help a child and there are six of them!

I follow several Gentle Parenting pages on Facebook and it seems like they all have one or two children. It feels frustrating because they offer their good solutions, and say things like "if you...then they will..." and it just doesn't happen right away. The dynamics in a home with one or two children are very different than a home with several. I am dealing with teenagerish hormones at the same time I'm nursing a baby with four loud and active and strong children in between!

I don't think I thought this "big family thing" through very well.

It is hard to coach a small child through their big emotions. It is hard when some kid is lying stiff as a board and mad faced in the middle of the floor when everyone else is following directions and  you know if you stop and help this kid through it, everyone else's well oiled machine-ing will grind to a halt. It would be so much easier to say, "Fine. If you're not going to clean up then no TV tonight." Or "Fine. If you're going to act that way, you don't get to be with the family" and physically drag that child to the corner. I know this, because even though I'm committed to Peaceful Parenting, I'm not perfect at it. 

There is still yelling and still anger, and still fights and frustrations and upsets. The differences are dynamic though. Instead of angrily telling my child "You're acting like a brat!" (yes. I said that.) I can now angrily say, "I am so angry right now! I feel so frustrated when you hit your sister! I need to calm down! (I take some deep breaths, and ask, more calmly)What can we do differently next time?" I am teaching my children important skills when I do this.

I see a huge difference in Aviana at 3 and Elivette at 3. Elivette knows she is respected as a human being and an integral part of our family. I thought I was showing the same sorts of things to Aviana, but because I punished her when she threw tantrums, didn't allow her grace when she was angry or "disobeyed", because I honestly thought I was doing what would teach her how to be a compassionate, loving grown up. 

Elivette and Aviana handle their emotions completely differently. Aviana, almost 12, has been 'gentle parented' for three years, but Elivette has known it this way her entire life. Aviana will sneak pinch or hit her sister when frustrated; Elivette will cry "I'm so mad!" and we'll work through it together and let her feel those emotions and let them dissipate. Aviana is used to stuffing them down because they weren't accepted for so much of her life. Elivette doesn't really have tantrums, because she feels heard most of the time, and knows she's accepted. Aviana threw tantrums of epic proportions. 

I know a lot of it has to do with personality and I know each child is different. I don't want you to read this and think "I gentle parent and my kid still has fits. I must suck." That is NOT what I'm saying! I just know this to be true in my own family--that I am seeing the fruit of this hard work of gentle parenting these lovely chiddlers, as they grow into compassionate, loving adults.

(As an aside, I was spanked, screamed at, belittled, criticized, hurt, and more, and I still grew up to be a lovely human being. This post is not meant to give guilt trips. At. All. I'm just trying to relate how positive of a change this has been in my family, and how I am seeing delightful things happening here. )