May Challenge

After last post’s depression settled in, things got worse. 🙂 Well, they did for me, anyway. Eric is going out of town for a month! He is going to be traveling and installing internet in the homes in Montana, Wyoming, and Washington, which means that yours truly will become a single mom, albeit temporarily, in 32 hours. The feelings of being trapped, the depression I’ve been battling (or allowing to flood over me), the lack of control, the stress of our home life are all going to dramatically change when that timer goes off. So, I’m trying to be proactive. In the past, when Eric left (in his Army days, this was a frequent thing), I would shop myself silly since you get paid well to be separated from your loved ones for a period of time. Even more if that soldier is in a combat zone. Sure, you’re being paid to deal with the extra stress that those situations entail, but nobody ever joined the military without knowing that it was a fighting thing. Anyway, ramble over. Going crazy with a credit card is just not an option this time. And sinking into the mire isn’t either.

What I’m trying to say is that I have a new desire for change. I’m already being thrust into singleness for now, I think it should make me stronger. So, some goals I’m setting for myself for the month of May:

1. Eat Paleo (ish): I have been wanting to go Paleo for a long time now (over 6 months from my first attempt) but the thing is, my self-control is supremely weak. I’ve come up with a way that might bolster my courage and self control for the month of May. One of the problems I have with Paleo is all of those foreign foods. Realistically, I’d be replacing 90-95% of my current diet. That kind of exchange is just going to make me crazy! My plan is to start with a Paleo foundation (meat, vegetable, vegetable, fat- I made that up), but after consuming even a small portion of my prescribed Paleo plan, I’m giving myself the liberty to consume whatever standard fare I’m coming up with for my arrows. I’m hoping to combat the feeling of deprivation you get instantly from telling yourself you “can’t” have something. Because I can have whatever I want. But I don’t want to have whatever I can have. I have to find that inner drive that tells me I’m better than the tootsie roll on the counter or the ice cream in the freezer. I’m hoping this works for a couple of weeks and then I can begin a true Whole30 within a few months, having built up a arsenal of yummy foods.

2. Exercise daily- The most movement I get these days is to walk to the mailbox. I bought P90X last year and successfully used 3 days of the program (Whoopee), but I was so terribly sore that I just couldn’t bear to do another minute. This time around, I’m not planning on doing the full workout, for starters- they are just too long for a newbie. I’m going to schedule 45 minutes into my morning for exercise and get done what I can. I’m also not going to be using weights or resistance bands. I’m pretty sure I can get an effective workout with my own body weight. Maybe after 30 days, I’ll break out the resistance bands I bought just for this program, but probably not- the weights were easier to use.

3. Blog/Journal nightly- I love writing, I love blogging. I don’t think I really have anything super interesting to say, so I doubt I’ll ever get any followers, but eh, that’s okay. I’m doing this for me anyway. I’m going to need to process down from my day anyway. I expect that requiring myself to sit at the computer will be all this takes. I do enjoy writing after all.

4. Clean!- A major stressor in our house is the lack of cleanliness on my part and on the part of the kids. It leads to a lot of frustration and angry voices around here. And, even if I were permanently single, I’d need to get this done. However, without Eric imposing any of his standards on me, I’d like to see if I can make some successful progress in this area. Related specific goals are to do dishes nightly (perhaps right before I blog!), participate in FlyLady’s zone rotation (I’ll just be decluttering/cleaning whatever I can for 15 MINUTES ONLY), and the kids and I will continue to work on establishing our morning and evening routines. They truly are sanity savers…and I’m going to need all the spare sanity that I can get!

5. Homeschool according to the plan- Another big challenge already on my plate is the homeschooling that we are struggling to “get done” every day. I know that it’s not always about just doing the lessons, sometimes there is more organic learning going on, but at my house, creating fictional things in Minecraft is about the extent of our “unschooling” time. I have great goals in this area of my life, but first, I need one last attempt to stay on task. If I can’t make reasonable progress in my homeschool this month (90% success or better) then we need to seriously consider sending the kids to public school next year (and every year after that, because I can’t do this every other year nonsense) This is a high-stakes month for me.

6. Tech-time limits- I think this might become the integral part that allows me to keep the homeschooling ball rolling. I will allow my children 60 minutes of “tech-time” to spend as they choose, so long as they do their schoolwork efficiently and without whining. I won’t spank or yell, I will withdraw 10 minutes of tech-time for each infraction after their first warning. I expect it to be very difficult those first few days. The biggest concern I have is what I’m going to do with Andrew, whose life seems to revolve around Team Umizoomi most mornings. I don’t have enough toddler activities to entertain him without that electronic babysitter. I’m googling preschool activities like crazy. Most of them require too much work.

There are more, I also want to get outside (a necessary thing if I want a vegetable garden to grow), and I want to create something regularly. I’ve got plans to start on my quilt and I’m dreaming of a summer wardrobe. But I’ll save that for another post. I think this month is my last ditch effort to improve my life without the aid of pharmaceuticals. I need to fight this depression, but it just latches on so tightly that cutting it out can be painful at times. It’s not cancer. I keep reminding myself that it could be worse. I could have just lost my daughter to a horrifically speedy growth that couldn’t be cut out. And I remember to play with my children, smile like I mean it, and know that today is the only day I’ve been given. Lord, grant me the strength…

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Trapped

I got online this evening to blog about the new diet that I’m going to try, only to realize that all I’ve ever posted was (insert new diet here) day 1. Ugh. I wish that surprised me, but it doesn’t. I’m a horrible dieter. In fact, the only area of success I’ve ever had was in gaining weight- which is pretty counter-productive at this point. I’m topping the scale higher than I’ve ever been (pregnancy included) and I’ve gotten to the point where my failures greet me every morning in the form of back fat, trouble standing, and low energy. There are so many diets that help you lose weight that it can just be confusing. One low-fat, one high-fat/low-starch. Glycemic-Index, Paleo, Atkins, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, etc. My head is swimming from the blur of dieting and all their insisting that theirs is THE way. I’m so tired of their ways. I’m so stuck in the rut of promising to diet and then not dieting. I’ve made lists and goal sheets, I’ve planned meals and read recipes, I’ve even had my sister clean out my kitchen from all “forbidden foods.”

Many days, I entertain the idea of weight-loss surgery, except that I know it wouldn’t work. I’d get into the office and the doctor would say, “okay, prove you can stick to a diet: lose 10 pounds.” I’ll walk out of that office determined to do the right thing and I will end up losing nothing. What’s the missing link? Am I just trapped in this unhealthy cycle forever, like Sleeping Beauty having already pricked her finger or Snow White after the apple or Rapunzel in her tower- incapable of actually getting out, getting free? Am I waiting (unconscious) for Prince Charming to show up? That my diets have all failed because they weren’t the right prince. It wasn’t true love? I love these fairy tales, I’m not really one of those people who blames fairy tales for all of women’s woes today (quite the reverse, I assure you). Perhaps it is the mystical and mysterious depression that has settled into my body. Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Maybe it’s just my insatiable desire for fast food and sweet stuff.

No matter what the problem, I want to deal with it intelligently and strongly. I want to stand, victorious, at the top of Mount Everest and look back at what I’ve done. Mostly, I just want to feel normal, moderately active, figure “flaws” that can actually be camouflaged by clothing instead of exacerbated by it. I want to feel pretty in a dress and sexy with nothing on at all. And don’t give me that crap about society’s standards being unhealthy. I’m not 120 trying to lose 5 pounds with D-sized breasts and hollow cheeks. I’m 240 pounds with DD sized breasts and a stomach that passed them up. My libido (what libido) [let’s not even go there]. So, what’s going to work? What’s the magic pill that makes this all go away?

Did I mention that I homeschool? That my children are mired in my misery for every waking hour of their lives? Shouldn’t that motivate me? Shouldn’t the desire to stand victorious at the end be motivation enough? Why isn’t it enough? How do I fix this? I keep thinking about it and contemplating it and planning around it. But never doing it. Because doing it is hard. I’ve never done anything hard. Ever. The hardest thing I’ve ever done was finish delivering my (first) daughter naturally after 4 hours of pushing. The doctor was prepping the operating room for my c-section. I knew that was undesirable and somehow the determination and drive came over me. If I thought I had an extra 2 hours, I probably would have quit. As it was, I thought I could deliver her and I did. And though I’ve had three other (natural) deliveries since hers, I can’t really call them hard because I’ve only had to push less than 10 times for all three. Combined. It’s been a miracle, but not my miracle. Maybe it is just the feelings of being overwhelmed. I’m not good when I look at mountains from their base- in any area of my life, I just quit. If that’s the dishes, the laundry, the homeschooling, finances, or diet.

I wish I had a nice, fuzzy, upbeat ending, but I don’t. I’ve got nothing. And I feel helpless. And trapped.

Guilt Tripping

Its the age-old debate in my house all over again.

It all started with my sister talking about a school in Kentucky that she wanted to attend. My mom jumped on that bandwagon and decided that she would also like to be a sonographer when she grows up. That sparked the entire conversation about education and income, jobs and the future.

Somewhere along the way I got swept up and now am in the middle of planning my return to college and sending my children off the public school system and any potential children into the day care system. I am looking at studying to be a teacher which is a noble, even child-friendly career for women. My family needs the money because we have handled our money so poorly in the past that we have gotten into an incredibly bad position.

My issue is that I really like the idea of going back to school and putting my children into school. I like knowing that I can help out the family financially and still be present when necessary. As a teacher, my hours are going to be quite convenient as a mother except that I wouldn’t be able to homeschool my children. So, the guilt that I am feeling is that I thought that I NEED to be a stay-at-home, homeschooling mother in order to fulfill the Biblical definition of “keeper at home,” after all, how can you keep something if you’re not there.

I am terrified of making the wrong decision, of becoming an independent feminist, of loving money more than my children, of ruining the lives of my children. I am struggling with this issue SO MUCH!!! I hear that God gives you peace when you are on the right track, but apparently, I can deceive myself because I have felt peace about things that have turned out to be a clear error in judgement.

Am I making a mountain out of a molehill, here? Is working outside the home the worst thing ever? Are my kids going to be Christians if they go to a public school? Will they succeed academically? Moreover, what about the children my husband and I have been praying over? Am I going to have more children, only to place them in someone else’s care so that I can attend school and eventually teach all day long?

I feel like my very right to call myself a conservative Christian woman is up for debate.

Hope for the Future

I am now about 95% sure that I have miscarried and I have cried and entertained the thought of grieving the loss, but find that I have hope instead of grief.

Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us,and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work. -2 Thessalonians 2:16 & 17

I really wanted to be pregnant, moreover, I thought that it was right and good for me to get/be pregnant. We did, against the odds and I think that God was sovereign in allowing conception. It gave us hope for the future. We were all excited and were already picking out names. I felt ready and I couldn’t wait, even the 40 weeks would be long enough. But something wasn’t right. Only God knows what was going on in my body and only God has the power to change it. So I take comfort and look to my future and my hope.

…for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow. – Jeremiah 31:13

So what does my future hold? Only God knows, but I am planning on waiting a few months to get pregnant again. I am looking forward to trying to lose some more weight (which I should have done first anyway) and taking it from there. I will still be taking vitamins and trying to live like I am pregnant (less coffee, no medications, focus on good nutrition) until it just becomes my lifestyle. I am also looking forward to adding some new workouts to my routine.

And I am always remembering two of my favorite verses:

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. -Proverbs 3:5 & 6

Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. -Philippians 4:4

Nervous Wreck

Well, I am yes, a nervous wreck right now. I think I may be having a miscarriage and truth be told, I just can’t get my mind off it. I am shaking with the very thought and at the same time, I know that whatever happens is what God wills, but that doesn’t make the wondering and waiting any easier. I have been doing research, lots of research. About 20-30% of pregnant women experience some bleeding and about 50% of those women miscarry. So my chances are good especially with the cramping PLUS bleeding, that is the more ominous part. One or the other isn’t so bad, but both doesn’t look so good.

However, as my midwife just told me, there are plenty of stories of women who have had these issues and have still carried a healthy baby to term. Another possible solution is that it was twins, and one of them did not survive. At this point an ultrasound is the only definitive way to find out, but unless I find a very good machine, I am not likely to even see the uterus at this point. I am 6 weeks along and will need to wait to find out for another few weeks.

I promised to call my midwife tomorrow with an update but she seems to think that usually, if you are going to miscarry, that you will do it within about 24 hours. It has already been that long since I started bleeding. The cramping is not terrible, in fact, I doubt I’d even notice it if I wasn’t so honed in to the goings-on of my abdomen right now.

Pray with me, if you think about it. I know that I can trust God and I am taking comfort in His will and His sovereignty. If we are to have a child, we’ll have a child. If Sarah and Elizabeth can have children in their old age, surely the Lord can work wonders in me, if He wills it. But for now, I am going to rest.

Diet, Health, and Pregnancy

Two days ago, my sister called me up to tell me that she is pregnant. Of course, I’m thrilled because Kelly and Jared are great parents, but I was a little sad because Kelly and I had been talking about being pregnant together for a pretty long time now. It hit me that I was no closer to getting pregnant that I was several months ago. Discouraging and disappointing. However, the good news was that my husband has agreed that we should have more children.

Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate. -Psalm 127: 3-5

So, the other day, I made an appointment with the public health doctor’s office to have my evil Mirena IUD removed. I have hated it from the day I got it, though I was persuaded that it was okay, that it was hormonal and therefore I wouldn’t be ovulating. After more research, I find that is absolutely not true and I have been desperate to remove it ever since, even venturing to see if my husband could do it (which he couldn’t). My appointment is scheduled for November 19, 2009 and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Because it is “public health” I had to accept a different form of birth control and I chose condoms, which we will likely never use.

Eric has already been suggesting dates to try to get pregnant at or around Christmas, and I whole-heartedly accept that idea…BUT, I am still overweight- obese even. I would love to have a natural childbirth and give birth at home. In order to do that, you need to have a healthy pregnancy. I am sure that I could have a healthy pregnancy, but I am at a significant risk for high blood pressure and gestational diabetes. In addition, heavy mothers tend to have heavy babies and those babies don’t always come out so well, which leads to an increase in the likelihood of a C-Section. Not at all natural.

I decided that it was HIGH TIME that I get my act in gear. When I thought of a healthy lifestyle, the first thing I thought of was Perfect Weight America. The book is fantastic and though it is really challenging, I would love to be healthy for my baby. So, my goal is to follow the plan for two months, which takes me all the way to the end of December. Perfect timing. I anticipate that I will lose weight during this process, however, that is not my main goal. My goal is to get healthy. That means that I want both my diet and my activity level to reflect a healthy lifestyle. If my weight hasn’t caught up in two months (which it likely won’t), then I will either keep on losing weight on the diet or I will get pregnant and continue with healthy lifestyle choices.

It may be simple, but it is definitely NOT easy. If you notice on the top, I added another category, called FISH, where I will post notes about my diet strategy, food choices, and progress reports. Expect to see plenty of information on the main page as well. For example:

Today was the first day of my diet and I chose to start with a 10 day cleanse. For more information about Perfect Weight America and the 10 Day Cleanse, see my FISH link on top.

My weight is 191 (YIKES!!!)

My planned meals were pineapple, apple, chicken soup, chicken soup, and finally a large vegetable salad with 1/2 an avocado and 2 tablespoons of dressing. Water consumption about 140 ounces (3/4 oz per pound of weight)

What I really ate was: small serving of pineapple (not enough), whole apple (I didn’t eat the seeds 🙂 ), small serving of chicken soup puree, and a large salad. I drank over 100 ounces of water.

I felt…like junk. My sister made coffee for breakfast (which is my standard breakfast fare) and my mom finished her day with cookies (of which the smell kept wafting up the stairs to torment me- she may have done it on purpose…I’ll never know. 🙂 ). Truly, I was hungry for much of the day, but I didn’t eat enough according to the plan and it was the first day, so it is to be expected. I was craving whatever was in front of me, but I didn’t splurge…except with the dressing on my salad. Tomorrow, fewer ingredients will go into my salad and I will try a new healthy dressing. I am excited about tomorrow.

I will post pictures and measurements in the FISH section tomorrow.

Stop in for a Long Visit

Hmm, grab a nice hot cup of coffee or tea (or just water to cool yourself down in the pre-summer heat) and spend a few minutes at my kitchen table. I have freshly baked brownies with hidden spinach and blueberries…No? Why not? Okay, I’ll pull out my secret stash of Dove chocolate and we can chat? Milk or dark? 

So many things have been going on (see here or here) that I really have not had time to write. I love writing and always will, but one of my struggles has been properly using my time. I love the saying, “Idle time leads to idol time” because that is really true for me. I love my computer and my “free” time, only my free time is coming at a time that really isn’t free. It belongs firstly to my Lord, then my husband and then my children. When I have fulfilled all my obligations in those three areas, then I am allowed free time…that’s not what I’ve been doing!!! Anyway, I see myself blogging once a week or so for the next few months but hopefully, as I learn to manage my time well, I will have more time available for blogging. I have been scheduling my upcoming homeschooling year, planning out the books I’d like to go through and whatnot, establishing a new family routine and schedule along with ChorePacks which are truly awesome! I have also been trying to create a summer wardrobe for me and my daughter out of the fabric I already have and most lately, I’ve been searching for a job.

My homeschool plan is pretty cool, at least I’m excited about it. I kept going back and forth about early “formal” academics and reasoned that if I were to put my daughter in kindergarten (which is what I’m talking about) she would be into much heavier academics than if I were to homeschool, but, I don’t think that I am a late-starter. I do acknowledge that during the first few years (from about 5-8 years old) what you are really doing is giving your children character training while teaching them to read and write and do math. I am so okay with that, but, I don’t think that the fact that I will be attempting to develop character is a reason to sluff off on the work I’d like my child to do. My curriculum for kindergarten includes Saxon Math K, which is really a dumb thing to have purchased, but at the same time, I am extremely glad to have a script with which to guide me as I try to teach my kiddo about patterns, calendars, and counting (among other math concepts). Was it necessary? No, probably not. Can she learn all of those things without a text? Absolutely. Can I teach them effectively without the program? I think not, truly. I don’t tend to be very good at explaining things to my children. One of my many flaws. I appreciate the book telling me what to say and when. I will add my own personality when I need to. Outside of that, I am using Sonlight’s Pre-K (4/5) program except it’s Bible component, I have a replacement in the Children’s Illustrated Bible. I have begun to teach Jordyn to read with The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading and finally I will be using Handwriting Without Tears only because it was easy to order. I estimate that our days will be somewhere between one and one and half hours. Obviously, if my child starts freaking out and shows signs of hating school, we’ll slow down and just enjoy reading, but I think she will do very well with what I have planned.
As far as schedule goes, I have found (thank you Duggar family!) Managers of Their Homes and Managers of Their Chores and ChorePacks. My kids love the ChorePacks and so do I. It is a fun, easy reminder of the tasks that need to get done and my kids love flipping the cards. I even made myself one (to demonstrate how cool it was to the kids) and I love it. It is so much easier than a list for my little morning routines, when I can easily forget to do something (like start a load of laundry!).
As for the summer wardrobe…well, that is pretty tricky. It always comes back down to several dichotomies. Modesty or fashion? Skirts or pants? Dresses or skirts? Long or short? Bathing attire or ??? And, the end result is that if I make a decision in one category, can I neglect the rest? I am doing this to please the flesh or the Lord? What is the root here?

Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. I Peter 3: 1-4 KJV

I don’t think that those verses say that apparel is irrelevant, but I do think that they speak to the heart of the matter. It isn’t about what you wear, as much as it is about the condition of your spirit. Am I wearing dresses and skirts to feel like I am doing okay? Am I just covering up the sinful pride and ambition and yes even anger and fear that I feel? Am I behaving in a manner so as to have someone describe me as “meek” or “quiet”…I think not. I think that is why I LOVE watching the Duggars on TV. Michelle Duggar is such an example of what a meek and quiet spirit looks like. It is peaceful to witness. I have a long way to go. For now, I would like to wear primarily dresses or skirts. I can’t think of a good reason to wear pants, though not standing out comes to mind, so I want to try to wear more of them.
I am making a dress from a pattern that I got when I was almost 20 pounds heavier, and it doesn’t fit anymore…so I’ve been scaling the pattern down, which is essentially creating my own pattern and now, I have the pleasure of learning how to construct a sleeve pattern. It is really fascinating stuff and I’ve always wanted to know, but it is a little more than I bargained for.
And last but not least, a friend of mine has given me a contact to email about a work from home computer job. It is a good job, but it will be very difficult for me to do. I am especially worried about timelines and deadlines, but if the Lord provides this job for me, then I will know that it is in His will and I know that He (and He alone) will give me the strength to accomplish it.
Finally, as you might figure, I don’t think I’ll be writing too much. I’ll do my best, but that list is pretty long and I have even more than that to do…but it was nice visiting you for this little while. I’ll stop by your place as soon as I can…