Thursday, April 29, 2010

Discussion with Hubby

Robert and I discussed my list tonight. It was great to hear exactly how he feels about everything and to realize that the way we've been actually doing things (not how I've been wanting to do them) is really just right in most areas. I was also surprised to hear that he agrees with the way that I've been doing the immunizations and that he's possibly leaning towards homeschooling because of the fact that the school is so far away. He said that the distance is a good enough reason to homeschool. But, we also have over a year until we have to decide so we'll keep praying. So much can change in a year!
Most things we have been leaning towards natural, but with in reason. Because of being stressed and busy, I've been doing some things out of convenience, and that's okay in this season of life. Instead of constantly feeling guilty and like I'm doing something wrong, I'm just going to go with it.
I'll update with specifics later. I'm obviously still "chewing on " some things considering I just decided to clear my plate today :). I'm just at peace with a lot of things right now. My main goal with all of this was to see where Robert really stood on things and to see what was realistic at this time. I'm still going to take one day at a time and do everything simply for a while.

Clearing My Plate and Starting Over

I had really been struggling again... just had anxiety that I couldn't kick no matter how hard I tried...

But, yesterday I had an amazing day.  A friend of mine here at camp asked me if I wanted to go to town with her, and I'm so glad that I did.  I got out of the house and had great conversation.  It was a nice, relaxing time out and about (believe it or not with 4 kids total!).

Through prayer, through some conversation with this friend, and through conversation with another friend of mine, this is what I'm doing: clearing my plate and starting over with only what I need. 

I've decided to take a step back from many things that I've been focused on, things that I thought were for our family, and things that I've wanted to do but haven't really asked God what He wants, and start over.  I know that I've said this many times... but I'm really going to do it this time :).  I'm going to be much more proactive about it this time. 

I constantly go back and forth about things, I have a very difficult time with balance, and I struggle daily with things that shouldn't be a big deal.  So, I'm "hitting the reset button."  I'm also deciding today to not allow blogs, what other people do, and what I think others are thinking rule our decisions about our family.  I've decided to stop reading blogs for a while and to stop being a part of online forums and things for a while (cafemom, mothering, etc).  What would I do if I didn't read what others do?  What would I do if I had no outside influences telling me what they think is best? 

I also need to start submitting to my husband's wishes and desires for our family instead of doing what I read about and see in others' lives.  Homeschooling is one of those areas.  Robert, from the start, did NOT want to homeschool.  I had basically just made the decision to homeschool... and just hoped that Robert would follow suite.  He has sort of followed along, but after talking to him last night, I realized that he's still not sure  that homeschooling is for our family!  What a wake up call.  This is going to be a HUGE area of prayer for the next year (can you believe we only have a year to decide!!).

The reasons why we wouldn't homeschool are (or reasons why it would work out better/fine):
1) Karis is SUCH a social person and would LOVE being in school.  She talks about going to school all of the time. 
2) We're not ones to think that it's necessary to shelter our kids from the world... we feel like as long as we are being the parents we should be, they will be okay... maybe even thrive.  That has never been one of our reasons to consider homeschooling.
3) Whether or not the kids are in school, their education is still our responsibility... so where the school is lacking, we can pick up here.
4) Being realistic, knowing me, I'm not sure if I can handle teaching three different "grades."  Robert is unsure about this as well.  It's a LOT of work... and as much as I think I can do it, I'm not sure that I could.  Ideally it would be great, but I'm trying to be realistic these days.
5) We feel like there should be Christians in school.  I've seen this as a way for others to come to know Christ.  If there aren't Christians around non-Christians, how else would people come to know Him? 
6) Robert and I both went to public school and we turned out fine (I think! ;).
7) God will take care of them!

The reasons we would homeschool are:
1) The ability to choose curriculum and style of education,
2) The fact that the school is 25 minutes away!
3) Robert's schedule here at camp.
4) Being together more.  

I realize that every family is different and has different reasons for things and does things differently.  I'm okay with that :).  This is just where we are.  I have peace that God will give us both peace for what He wants us to do, in His time.  What a relief!!

Here's a list of things that I will be praying/thinking through for a while... to decide if they are for our family... without any outside influences... just prayer and discussion between Robert and I... some of these things seem little, but I'm literally starting over:
  • Cloth diapers vs. disposable vs. a mix of both
  • Natural products/cleaners vs. conventional vs. a mix of both
  • ALL homemade foods vs. some processed (yet healthy) (this includes crackers, bread, tortillas, cereal, etc)
  • Eating in the dining hall... how much?
  • Farmers Market shopping every week or every other week (and Azure Standard), or just shopping at some local stores (HEB, Costco, and Newflower Farmer's Market) and using those resources sometimes. And just going as I need to...
  • Letting our kids eat "unhealthy" stuff in moderation vs. not allowing it at all
  • Only having local channels vs. getting Dish Network again... I miss TLC and the Disney channel for the kids!
  • Breastfeeding... how long do I continue this?  How long do I continue trying to do both?  Should I just take it one day at a time?  Or should I set a goal (like 5 months or something)?
  • Are chickens, goats, and a large garden realistic for our family?  With the amount of hours that Robert works, I'm not sure.  Maybe in a few years?  We'll see.
  • Homeschooling vs. public school (would love to put them in Faith Academy but can't afford it!)
  • Whether or not I will go back to teaching if we put the kids in school.  If so, I have a lot of CE's that I need to get for my certifications!  150 hours for one, and another 50 for the second (EC-4 and 4-8).  I would most likely have to take graduate courses in order to be able to get enough CE's.
  • Church- we love our church, but it's far away and in a direction that we never go anymore... especially if we put our kids in school.  I want to be where our community is.  We always come to the same conclusion when we talk about it right now... we love it too much to make any changes presently.  This will take a LOT of prayer as well.
  • Immunizations... I haven't talked much about this because I have been very undecided.  Karis is completely caught up.  Ethan, we have been selective and delayed... and we're doing the same thing with Levi (the alternative schedule from Dr. Sears).  It's been a very tough thing for me because Robert would just completely vaccinate... and I've struggled with it.  I have a very patient pediatrician that understands my dilemma and will just do what I ask her to.  We'll keep praying about this area.
  • Discipline... doing what we're doing or trying something new... I think things are going okay as is... so we'll see.  
  • Vitamins/supplements/etc?  What's necessary, what's not?  They are expensive!
  • What to give and where to give it... but we need to give more.  This is something that I've talked about a lot but haven't actually taken the "plunge" to make commitments to anything.
  • Trying to have a specific schedule of doing everything, or just going with the flow?  I will always think some things are important like nap times, but I've never been able to follow a schedule, so why keep trying?  I feel defeated constantly because I try to follow a schedule and can't. 
  • Planning meals- how should I do this? 
  • Should I get someone to clean my house once a month?  I've had friends that did this and said it takes a huge load off!
  • Should I try to plan lessons for the kids?  Or should I just let them lead their learning at this time... and learn through play and life experiences?
For each area, I will ask these questions:
  • What does God's word say?  Is there a definite answer for this question, or is it a gray area?
  • What does Robert think?
  • Is it something that we have to decide right now?  Or can we just wait a while?
  • Is it an area that we can just do what we want at the moment?  (for example, how we shop, where we shop, etc)  Or should we just make a decision and go with it and let our "yes be yes and no be no?" 
  • What will help me to be "mentally healthy?"  What will be too stressful for this season?  A "mentally healthy" mama is best for the whole family :).
If you think some of this is silly, then we're in the same boat :).  I agree :).  But, I need to start over in every area, and this is a great way for me to think through everything.
So, here I go... just living today, praying/thinking through things, and allowing God and Robert to lead our family instead of trying to do it myself!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

High Expectations

It's amazing what conversation with other mamas will do for an anxious/stressed out mama. 

First, I was reminded yesterday that I didn't choose or cause my anxiety, so stop feeling guilty when I struggle.  That is a good reminder because feeling guilty for my anxiety is just another step backwards.  To remember that I have no reason to feel guilty helps me more forward a bit.

Second, I was reminded by another mama with three kids, that many of the things that I struggle with are normal (though I have a few other things going on that most don't...).  It's normal to struggle with being able to keep up every day, to get frustrated and yell when the kids get too loud, to struggle with the desire to do everything that I want and not be able to at this season, to want to keep the house clean and the laundry caught up but not be able to, to struggle with wanting to play with the kids, etc.  I have three kids, ages 4 and under... and I'm struggling through some other things.  She said "give yourself a pass."  She said to literally make a "pass" and put it somewhere where I can see it often.

Third, that same friend reminded me that it's okay if we eat in the dining hall some if it means that it will help me mentally (by getting out, seeing friends, and not having to worry about cooking every once in a while).  She said it's better to eat junk and be mentally okay than to eat healthy and struggling.  It's not worth it.  She reminded me that balance is key... eat in the dining hall some and eat healthy food at home the rest of the time. When Levi gets a little older and we have more "normalcy," I can get back to cooking more and more from scratch.  It will come.  It's not going to be like this forever.

And... give all of it to the Lord, daily.  He will carry me.  He will give me the strength that I need.  He will help me through when I don't think I will get through. 

All of these things I know, but it's good to hear again and again and again.  When I'm in the moment of my anxiety "attacks," it's hard to remember anything that I would remember when I'm having a good moment.  I need all the reminders I can get these days :).

Monday, April 26, 2010

So Much to be Thankful for...

I wrote a blog about my struggling... then I read this blog about a little girl named Chrissie who is struggling for her life.  She had open heart surgery last week and has been fighting ever since.  It really puts things into perspective.  This wonderful family, though they are worried and sad, glorify God through every moment... the good and the bad. 

So, I struggle with anxiety... I have a LOT to be thankful for despite this struggle.  I have an amazing, perfectly healthy family.  I have all that I need and more.  I have a relationship with my wonderful creator!  Through that relationship, I have the ability to intercede for those who are in need. 

Lord, please help me to get my eyes off of myself and put them on You and others!  Help me to not focus on the things that I struggle with, but give them to You and move on and love those that you have put in my life! 

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Random Post… Updates

I’m beginning to feel like I can breathe.  I am beginning to feel like life isn’t falling apart.  I’m beginning to feel like routine is possible.  I’m beginning to feel like I can do this… with the Lord’s help.  I’m not so overwhelmed 24/7 now (although I do have my moments… doesn’t everyone?). 

Through the decisions that we have made, through getting away once a week, through eating meals at home together as a family, etc, I feel like things will get better… and they are already starting.  We have more routine now than we have in a while, and when things don’t happen exactly the way I want, I don’t feel like everything is falling apart.  I’m not sure why, but when I’m really anxious, it is almost impossible to really create routine.  I have a hard time with consistency and balance, so I just shut down when things aren’t perfect. 

I have a long way to go, but I just feel like I will get there now.  I was truly doubting things would ever get better before. 

Things are going pretty well in this area.  I’m still not giving him a whole lot of formula… on average about 6 oz a day.  I don’t think that’s bad at all!  And, he sleeps well, which is great.  At night, he usually has a 6-7 hour stretch, then another 4 or so hour stretch.  That’s amazing!  He sleeps better now than Ethan did when he was almost one.  God knows what I need!!  He knew I needed an easier baby :).  If I had another one like Ethan, I think I would really be losing my mind :). 
Levi has grown quite a bit with in the past week or so.  He is outgrowing his 0-3 month sleep and plays (pajamas) and is now having to wear 3-6 month.  He has grown in length more than anything.  He’s still pretty skinny… just longer. 

More about our eating habits
Last night, the movie Food Inc. came on PBS and Robert and I watched it together.  I’ve seen it before, but he hadn’t.  While it didn’t surprise him, it did inspire him to change things around here (completely).  After we watched it, he asked me if we could buy all of our food and products through Azure Standard and the Farmer’s Market. :)  The majority of our food and products can be bought through those two sources, as well as on Vitacost (most of our personal care products) and a few items bought at Costco.  This also gives us more reason to start eating at home (instead of in the dining hall here at camp).  So, it looks like the majority of our meals will be eaten at home now.  We will still eat in the dining hall some, but it really does make things less stressful to just be together as a family around our table at home :).  We have really been enjoying that this week.  We eat better, things are less rushed, I don’t have to drag them there and back, and the kids get down for their naps a lot easier.  It’s just better all around.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Azure Standard and Our Eating Habits

Azure Standard
As I mentioned a few days ago, an amazing buying club (co-op) called Azure Standard is going to have drop off points in this area.  This is a BIG deal because they are one of the least expensive places I have found for organic, grass fed, free range, natural products.  Many things that we have avoided because of price, we will be able to afford now (including grass fed butter and raw milk cheese)!  They pretty much sell everything.  So, even though I will have to drive far to the drop off point, I should be able to get the majority of my groceries at one time, and for a good price.  Some of the prices are the same as the farmer’s market… such as meat and eggs, but it’s nice to just have it all in one place.  I can make a meal plan for the month very easily!

We have chosen to use the San Marcos drop point for several reasons: 1) I know the person coordinating and many of the “buying club” members (San Marcos is a second home for me since we lived there for so long), 2) It’s a great, easy location, 3) My grandmother lives right next to the location :), 4) Austin is just stressful :).  And right now they are most likely going to be making the Austin drop site in Georgetown… which is about as far if not a little further.  They are talking about adding a second drop point, possibly, but for now I’ll just stick with San Marcos.

Their website is great because they have a spot where you can put items in your “favorites” and when you need something, you don’t have to search for it again, you just click on it and add it to your cart.  Easy and efficient. 

The only downside to using Azure is that they aren’t “local” foods.  But, this is the best we can do right now :).  They are at least in the United States!

Our Eating Habits
We have been eating in the dining hall a lot lately, and this morning we made the decision as a family to start eating at home more.  Yes, it’s nice because it’s free and easy, but it’s not super healthy, and it will just be less stressful to stay home.  Robert is able to come home for lunch during the week, and dinner is rarely served during the week.  So our plan for now is to eat at home except when he works on weekends.  This way we can also start developing more routine.  The summer will probably be a bit different, but because of the fact that he has a new position this year, we’re not sure what to expect yet, so we’ll see how that goes.  We will probably eat lunches in the dining hall and dinners at home.  We’ll see.  Right now we’re trying to take everything one day at a time :). 

I think it will help me because, as I said, I’ve been gaining weight.  It will be MUCH easier to avoid temptations such as dessert and sweet tea because we rarely have those here, and dessert is served at every meal in the dining hall.  It will also help with my dilemma on how to stop giving the kids french fries and other very unhealthy foods.  They are so used to being able to eat anything that the dining hall serves.  If we’re not in there as much, it’s not as difficult to avoid.

It’s also a great way to spend time as a family.  Robert came home today; we ate lunch, then read several books together before nap time.  It was perfect :).

One of my biggest goals in all of this is to be home more.  Going anywhere with all of the kids is very stressful and exhausting.  It always messes up our routine and makes it difficult for them to get a nap, which is not a good thing :).  It’s tough that we live so far away from everything, so going to the store turns into a whole day trip.  So, hopefully with using the buying club and eating most meals at home, this will make life a little less stressful for us (and save us money).  Instead of driving to a bunch of places, I hope to be able to take the kids for walks and things so that we are still getting out (and I’m getting much needed exercise).  And eventually I will start some lessons with them again.  I’m still giving myself some grace since Levi is only 2 months old.  In about a month or two I would like to start planning some things with them.  We’ll see :).  We have set up a “school area” in Ethan’s room (the biggest bedroom besides ours), so hopefully we’ll start utilizing it soon. 

These are all just goals and I’m sure we’ll have moments in which we don’t meet them :).  Again, I’m just taking everything one day at a time right now.  I don’t want to overload myself with too much, but I also don’t want to just give up on things that I think are important. 

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Make the Choice

With the anxiety that I struggle through on a daily basis, in order to get through it, I have to force myself to look at the "bright" side of things, constantly.  If not, then I just wallow in self pity and focus in on this "thorn" that the Lord has allowed me to have.  He allows this thorn so that I will allow Him to be my strength.   

God reminded me today while worshiping Him that He will never leave me nor forsake me.

The circumstances in life do not define my joy.  His Spirit is what gives me joy, even when things are hard.  Even when I don't understand life's circumstances. 

I will praise Him no matter what.   

He always knows what I need.  He knows how much I can handle.  He gives me His strength and power at the right moments.   

He doesn't promise an easy life, but He promises that He will carry us through.  

He puts people in my life to speak His truth to me at the right moments.  I am blessed with amazing friends and family.

Some words that a friend spoke to me really made a difference in my perspective of things.  Thank you, friend.

Here are some words that she said that really stand out to me:

"You don't need to worry about what others will think. You and Robert have made the decisions that are the best thing for your household; and that's all that matters. Period."
"I will be talking with my mom, I will tell her 'Well I think...' and she will stop me right there and say 'I don't care what you think... tell me what you KNOW.' "
"Tell me what you know... You know Robert loves you... you know you love your kids. You know life is difficult... You know God is in control."
"So when Satan pops up telling you these lies (as he is the Father of LIES) saying 'your house needs to be cleaner' You tell him 'I know that the world will not end if my bed is not made; I know its ok to have a messy house.' If Satan tries to attack your breastfeeding you tell him 'I know that my son is happy and has a full tummy and I know it does not matter by which means this occurs'."

I love the bluntness that she spoke to me.  I needed that.  It's not necessarily going to take the anxiety away, but all of these words remind me that ultimately Satan will try to make me believe these things, and it's up to me whether or not I allow it.  I can sit here and focus on all the anxiety that I'm experiencing and why, or I can tell Satan that I know God is bigger and more powerful than he is, and that he's not going to win this battle

That's what this is.  A battle.  A spiritual battle.  And what do we do in a spiritual battle?  We arm ourselves.  Satan wants me to be too tired or too distracted in the mornings so that I don't spend time with Jesus.  The only way to arm myself is to spend time with Him.  Read His word.  Pray to Him.  Praise Him.  Gain His strength through His Spirit.  With His word, the sword, I can fight Satan and win. 

Even though my anxiety makes some things more difficult, I have a choice in how I respond.  I can let it run my life or I can let Jesus run my life.  

I daily ask Jesus to carry this burden for me.  I daily ask Him to take my anxiety from me today, so that I can serve Him better. 

If I sit and focus on my weaknesses, Satan wins, and I make the choice to give in.  If I focus on Jesus and what He has called me to do, then I make the choice to look at the amazing people that the Lord has placed in my life to love and serve. 

At church this morning, my pastor reminded me that we have a choice whether or not we lose control in our anger.  That's so true.  Even though my anxiety makes me a little more irritable, therefore I get angry easier than I should, I have the choice in how I deal with that.

Even though my tendency is to yell because of the kids getting the house really messy, or because they're being loud (as kids tend to be), I can make the choice to yell, or I can make the choice to not allow something so silly get the best of me.  I can laugh and remind myself that we can pick it up later, or let the kids be kids, or I can lose control.  It's my choice.

I can make the choice to be anxious when the house isn't clean, or I can choose to just leave it and play or rest.   

I can make the choice to eat too much because it comforts me for the moment, or I can choose to allow God and His word give me that comfort.

I can make the choice to go spend a lot of money on nothing, or I can choose to stay home and enjoy the amazing family, friends, and home that the Lord blessed me with. 

I can make the choice to allow what others think run my life, or I can choose to know that we've made the best decisions for our household, period.

I could go on and on.  You get the picture :).  Today, I am choosing to look at things from a fresh perspective.  I am choosing to allow God to work in me and be my strength. 

Will I mess up?  Absolutely.  But, God's mercies are new every morning.  When I mess up, I can wake up the next day knowing that He loves me the same, and His grace and power will carry me.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

What Will People Think??

So… this morning I was thinking that maybe I should delete the two posts about my postpartum anxiety.  Maybe I said too much?  Will people judge me?  Will people think that I’m making too big of a deal of this?  If I have a good day, will they think that maybe I’m just overreacting?  AM I overreacting??  Is this just in my head?  Do I just think I have a problem and I really don’t?
Then I started laughing.  Out loud.  I’m pretty sure Robert thought I was crazy.  
Welcome to my brain.  It’s constantly thinking.  Constantly worrying.  Constantly thinking “what will people think?” 
Everyone thinks these things to an extent.  I think about it all the time.
How funny is it that I am anxious about what people will think about me having anxiety?
Galatians 1:10 “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God?  Or am I trying to please man?  If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
Ouch.  I know that worrying about what people think is sin.  Yet, I can’t control it much of the time.  It just pops up in this crazy brain of mine.  All.  The.  Time.
Romans 7:15-8:3 15For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 21So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.
1There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. 2For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Praise God for His Spirit and the grace that He gives.  Praise God for sending His Son so that I don’t have to stress about my sin, but allow Him to do a work in me.
I am confident that He will deliver me from this struggle in His time (which could be when I am home).  Until then, I will walk in the Spirit and allow Him to give me the power to overcome, day by day.  I am learning to take one. day. at. a. time.

All I Need
JJ Heller
"Don’t need a thing
My good Shepherd brings me all
You are all I need
You let me catch my breath
Even in the valley of death

You are all I need

All I need to be complete
Is Your love
Your blood that covers me

You lift up my head
You provide the wine and bread
You, You are all I need

There’s no need to fear
Even with my enemies here
You are all I need

All I need to be complete
Is Your love
Your blood that covers me

Goodness and mercy are following me
You’re all that I need

You make a home for me
Where pastures are green as far as I see
You are all I need

All I need to be complete
Is Your love
Your blood that covers me"

Friday, April 16, 2010

More on Postpartum Anxiety and Depression

I had such a great day yesterday.  The older kids weren’t here, so it was quiet and I was able to sift through a lot of things.  I felt hope for the first time in a while due to all of the decisions that we have made, and I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Because of this, I thought maybe that I wasn’t suffering from PPD&A (postpartum depression and anxiety), but that maybe I was just having a bad day the day before.  I started thinking maybe it was silly of me to go to the doctor and assume that I was suffering from this (even though she agreed that I was suffering from this and wanted to quickly do something about it).

Then I came upon a blog (through someone commenting on my last post- thank you!) that discussed the symptoms of PPD&A in great detail: Postpartum Progress.  I very quickly realized that the way I’ve been feeling for a while had been explained on this blog.  As I’ve said before, I already struggle with anxiety and sometimes depression (as a result of the anxiety), but it is greatly amplified right now (and usually is after the birth of my babies).

I had no idea that some of the things that I’ve been struggling through characterized PPD&A. 
  • My constant need to keep my house clean, keep up with laundry and dishes, etc, and the inability to relax.  A dirty dishes, crumbs on the floor, toys everywhere, an un-made bed, etc, brings me great anguish. 
  • The constant guilt that I feel and the constant questioning of myself that goes on in my head.
  • The constant fear that I have that something bad is going to happen to someone that I love.  This blog post that I wrote shows a little of what I’ve been fearing. 
  • The anger that I feel towards my family and my extreme irritability.  I yell a lot these days (which isn’t like me).
  • The constant need to try to make everything feel more normalized, and not being able to do it. 
  • Being VERY overwhelmed and feeling that it’s never going to get better.
  • Shutting down when I feel really overwhelmed (if I don’t go on a yelling rampage).
  • My heightened sensitivity to what I think others are thinking about me and my people pleasing ways.
  • The fact that I have lost a loved one recently… and the way that he died was so tragic. 
  • I eat for comfort (I have made my favorite chocolate chip cookies probably 5 or more times since Levi was born… no wonder I’m gaining weight!).
  • I also shop for comfort… I’m normally someone who doesn’t spend money on anything but groceries, gas, and occasionally eating out.  But lately I’ve just wanted to shop, shop, shop… which results in spending too much money… which results in guilt… which results in worry about money… great cycle, huh?  So much for my no spend month… Maybe I will start over in a few weeks…
  • Feeling like a bad mom all the time… and constantly trying to “fix” that.
  • The fact that depression and anxiety are in my family on both sides. 
I’ve had friends tell me that they had no idea I was going through this.  I guess I’ve been trying to just “be strong,” and I really had no idea that I had an actual problem.  But when I realized that I did, I decided that it was best to get help before it got “real bad.”  And with my brother recently committing suicide because of major depression, my mom (who never tells me what she thinks I should do) told me that she really wants me to get into the doctor to discuss options.  I decided to go with it and I’m glad I did.

Now… I do have to say, that even though I’m going through all of this, I still have hope in Christ.  I’m not completely hopeless like many might be because I know that God is helping me through this.  I have joy in the Lord despite my struggles (joy and happiness are two different things!).  I am thankful for all of the people that the Lord has placed in my life to support me and help me just when I need it.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.  Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.  The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:4-7

Some ways that I’m going to try to deal with this (along with the power of Christ and medication :)
  • Allow myself some time to clean, read, blog, etc. and let the kids just play and “be.”  It’s okay.
  • Allow myself to shut down at times.
  • Stop trying to plan fun projects and things for my kids for a little while (just do things when I feel like it).  I don’t have to entertain them all the time.
  • Get away at least once a week without the kids (I’ve been doing this lately… it’s wonderful).  And it’s okay if my mom takes the older kids overnight whenever she wants.  I need that time.
  • Just do the best that I can with breastfeeding (and always remember that it’s not the end of the world if I give my baby formula… it’s there for people who have trouble with breastfeeding, and I’m thankful for it).
  • Allow people to help me.  Stop feeling bad or guilty when people help me.
  • Allow myself to feel that it’s okay to be frustrated with my kids… I have a lot on my plate.  Having three kids, 4 and under is a LOT. OF. WORK. I just need to learn to redirect that frustration so that I'm not yelling :).
  • Allow myself the opportunity to go back and forth about things for now.  Some days I want to pursue something wholeheartedly (for example, natural living), and other days it’s too much.  That’s okay.
  • Allow myself to be sad about my brother.  It’s the normal part of the grieving process.  It’s time for me to grieve.  He died in such a horrible way… I need to process this.  Here is a post on my personal blog that I wrote a few weeks ago about this. 
  • Remind myself that it’s okay that I’m not perfect.  It’s impossible to be.
  • Remember that His mercies are new every morning.  When I mess up, I can start fresh the next day.  Praise God for His grace.  I’m so thankful for my personal relationship with Him.  Without Him, I really would be hopeless.
Isn’t it like me to come up with a step by step plan?  :) What happens when I can’t follow this plan?  It’s okay.  I just need some kind of plan to try to keep myself on track.  I’m not perfect.  I. Will. Fail.  It’s okay.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Breastfeeding, Postpartum Anxiety, and Birth Control

I debated sharing all of this, but decided that I want to continue being real and sharing my challenges.  I’m not sure if it will make complete sense because I’m still making sense of it myself :).  But, it helps me to write things out, so that’s what I’m doing.  Just to warn you, this is a very long post :).  There are many different topics.  But, they all fit together, so I didn’t want to separate them!

Breastfeeding Problems...
Last week I had an appointment with my pediatrician and found out that Levi weighed 10.9 pounds… which is the 25th percentile… and his length and head size were in the 10th percentile.  I didn’t think a whole lot about it except that Levi is just smaller than my last two (which, I think he really is just smaller because his head size and length are smaller).

Fast forward to Tuesday of this week.  My midwife came over for our last appointment.  She weighed Levi and he weighed 10.10.  He only gained an ounce since last week.  We both recognize that the scales may be a bit off, but he needs to at least be gaining four ounces a week.  I started thinking back to the past few weeks and I realized that maybe he’s not getting quite enough.  Each day, he’s wanting to nurse more and more often.  He’s nursing on average 10-12 times a day still (sometimes more), and he also takes 4-6 ounces of formula.  Most days either in the morning or afternoon (sometimes both), he literally just sits at the breast all day.  I just don’t have time for that with the other two kids!  And if he’s not getting enough even though he’s doing that, something needs to change.

My midwife began telling me ways that I could possibly increase my supply (because I told her that I wanted to be encouraged to keep going!).  She said that I could pump after feedings and wake him up every three hours. 

I did that Tuesday night into yesterday.  I woke up in tears yesterday and couldn’t stop crying all morning.  It seems like everything hit me all at once.  All of the feelings that I’ve been trying to suppress and just “be strong” with came out.

Depression and Anxiety
Not only have I been struggling and anxious about breastfeeding, I’ve been struggling with my brother’s suicide (and the guilt that I’m experiencing because of that), struggling with the difficulty of having three kids 4 and under, and just having crazy hormones.

As I’ve discussed in the past on my blog, I struggle with anxiety as it is.  On a normal day with normal circumstances, I can deal with it on my own (well, with the power of Christ!). 
Yesterday I decided to look up the “symptoms” of postpartum depression, and I have many of the symptoms.  After talking to Robert, my mom (who is really worried about me), and my midwife, I decided that it was time to go in and see my obstetrician. 

I didn’t realize until yesterday just how constantly angry and frustrated I am at my family.  I didn’t realize how much I yelled at my kids.  I didn’t realize that Ethan’s constant crying and screaming might be related to my being stressed and anxious all the time.  Tuesday night Robert and I heard some crying coming from Ethan’s room.  He was standing by the door, asleep, crying.  It broke my heart and really showed me that I needed to make a change.  I want to want to enjoy being with my kids… I want to stop yelling at them for no good reason.  I want to stop worrying about the house and the little things that don’t matter.  But I just can’t stop on my own. 

I’ve also realized, through discussing this with Robert and my midwife, that the dip in my supply might be related to my anxiety.  If I can’t relax, then I can’t produce.  And the more anxious I get, the less milk I have.  I don’t think I could ever produce enough to breastfeed exclusively (as I’ve discussed in the past), but the amount that I’ve been producing lately is less than what I’m capable of. 
Anyway… back to the appointment with my obstetrician :).  I really like her.  She is midwife/homebirth supportive.  She understands my desire to do things naturally.  But she also agrees that I need to do something if it is effecting my family.  She made it clear that we don’t want to do anything to make me numb, or to make it difficult to deal with the things that I’m going through, but I need to do something to lighten the load that I carry.  I need something to help me “breathe.”  I need something to be able to help me move forward and begin to make decisions that will help myself and my family.  I need something to help me to stop being paralyzed and drowning in my anxiety.  I want to be able to enjoy my wonderful life and my wonderful family. 

We decided that it was time to be put on a medication for a while.  It’s a very low dose, and it’s completely safe for breastfeeding, so I can continue that.  It will help me to just pick myself up and move forward.  I don’t have to take it forever, but I will just take it a month at a time for now.  I’ve taken medication before and the only reasons I have ever stopped taking it were to start trying to get pregnant.  If I decide to continue this time, I can.  She also really strongly suggested counseling.  I had already talked to my mom about that yesterday morning, and I am going to go with my mom to her counselor whenever she goes next. 
I have struggled with taking medication because of the fact that it’s not “natural” and because maybe I’m not “relying on God” enough.  I decided that God allowed these medications to be made for a purpose.  I have prayed about it off and on for several years and always come back to that conclusion.

Decisions for Our Family
Robert and I have made some decisions that were very difficult, but are helping me move forward.  These decisions have been prayed through for a while. 
One of those decisions is whether or not to take meds… and deciding to take them has lightened my load already. 

The second decision is that with breastfeeding, I’m going to stop trying so hard.  The harder I try, the lower my supply gets.  So for now, I’m just going to breastfeed and supplement whenever I need to.  No more counting the ounces that I supplement (and trying to avoid supplementing at all costs).  No more counting the hours between.  Just breastfeed and supplement.  Levi likes to breastfeed so much that he won’t allow my supply to go down anymore, really :).  He won’t take more supplement than he needs because he will only drink a bottle if he’s really hungry.  I will continue taking all the herbs, but I’m not going to pump after every feeding.  I don’t have time for that.  I’m not going to wake Levi up every three hours.  I need my sleep in order to be a happy mama to my little ones :).  It feels good to just let go and to stop trying to control something that I can’t control. 

The third decision is with birth control.  This has been one of the things that has stressed me out beyond belief.  It shouldn’t be that difficult, right?  Well, it has been for me.  When I first got pregnant with Levi, we had decided that Levi would be our last baby.  After the first trimester, I started to feel that maybe I’ll still want another one.  I wasn’t sure that I was ready to be finished.  That feeling continued after the birth of Levi, despite the anxiety and depression that I experience after every birth, and despite what my husband wants.  We’ve discussed the Mirena IUD, Paragard IUD, vasectomy, birth control pills, barrier methods, NFP (natural family planning)… just about every method out there.  We aren’t ready to do anything completely permanent because you never know… we’re still pretty young :).  But, we are ready to make a semi-permanent decision.  I will be getting the Paragard IUD.  This IUD is non-hormonal, and it doesn’t allow the egg to be fertilized (which, if it could, that would be causing an unknown abortion).  It lasts for up to TEN years. 

I’ve struggled with the idea of “if God doesn’t want us to get pregnant we won’t.  And if he does, we will” mentality.  Why use birth control and try to control whether or not we get pregnant?  Well, Robert and I believe that every family knows what’s best for them.  We have prayed for a year or so about all of this, and the IUD is what we feel the most peace about.  And, you know what, God really is in control, and if He wants us to have another baby, we will.  We really feel God leading us towards adoption in the future.  And if we adopt, we want to adopt an older child that has been left an orphan.  There are so many unwanted children in the world; why have another one of our own when there are kids who need a home?  We’re still praying about this and will continue for a while.  Our little family is perfect the way it is right now!

Through all of these decisions, I feel so much peace.  We have finally made decisions that have been weighing on me for a while.  We are finally moving forward with things.  And, oddly, I feel like I can enjoy my family more because of this. 

I’m looking forward to the future.  I’m looking forward to raising the family that the Lord has given me to raise.  I’m looking forward to the ups and downs of life. 
Homeschooling, having a large garden, raising goats and chickens, going to the zoo and museums together, hiking and camping together, going for long walks around camp and the park, and just being a family are things I'm looking forward to now.  I am completely content with the family that the Lord has allowed me to raise and don’t feel like I “need” just one more. 

These decisions may be different than the decisions that you’ve made for your family, and that’s okay.  We’re all different for a reason.  We all have different convictions and desires.  I’m thankful for that.  And, again, I’m learning to be okay with being different. 

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Oat Crackers

These crackers are lightly sweet and nutritious!  The whole family loves them.  Best of all, they are easy!

Oat Crackers

1/2 cup whole wheat flour (I use hard white wheat)
1 1/2 cups quick oats
1/2 cup rolled oats
pinch of baking soda
2 tablespoons sucanat
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 stick butter
1 egg yolk

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Mix dry ingredients.
3.  Rub in the butter until the mixture is like bread crumbs.
4.  Mix in the egg yolk and maple syrup until a firm dough.
5.  Kneed lightly.
6.  Roll out to a thickness of 1/4 inch.
7.  Cut with cookie cutters or a pizza cutter.
8.  Bake for about 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

Links Not Working

Since I switched my url back to homeofthecroslands, many of my links don't work.  I am aware of this and it will take some time to fix.  If you're looking for a recipe, click on the label that you're looking for (for example, Recipes: Chicken).  You will find them there until I get my recipe page back up and running.  Sorry for the inconvenience!!

Monday, April 12, 2010

I Am Who I Am

I have been learning so much about myself lately. I have stumbled upon some blogs that have really reminded me that it's okay to just be me. I have always felt like I needed to apologize for who I am… I feel like I'm always stepping on toes, not doing things right, or annoying people. I have come to the conclusion that I am who I am. I will never please everyone. I am not like anyone else, so there will always be people that will disagree with me. That's okay!

A couple of years ago I began doing "crunchy" and natural things. Because of that, I felt that I must follow the "crunchy" lifestyle in every way or else I couldn't be "accepted." I felt that if I said I did something (or even just shared that I wanted to do it), if I didn't follow that to a "T," then I was messing up BAD. I was always walking around as if I was going to get in trouble. How silly is that?

Lately I've been keeping up with the blog SortaCrunchy. Not only did she live in San Marcos for several years, she and I are a lot alike. Her blog has the title that it does because she likes the freedom of saying "sorta." A few days ago, I read a post titled "Heavy on the Sorta," and it reminded me that I can live naturally and be "crunchy" without doing everything the way others do them. Again, I am who I am. There's so much freedom in that. This is why I felt the need to get rid of my natural homemaker title. I need to be who I am without having the title to live up to.

She made a list of things that she does that aren't considered "crunchy." Here's my list:

  • I drink sodas on occasion (I LOVE Dr. P)
  • We watch some t.v.
  • If I have the opportunity to eat something yummy, yet unhealthy, I do it without even thinking…
  • I still use some "toxic" cleaners because they work better (though I've limited them)
  • I still use some "toxic" personal care products (I have very few left that are commercial products)
  • We eat some boxed foods (cereal, crackers, etc)
  • We still use some medication
  • I haven't been using cloth diapers lately (because I don't feel like doing all that laundry right now!)
  • I vaccinate (selectively/delayed, though)
  • I don't use a lot of homemade things at the moment (in this season of my life, I don't have time!)
  • I didn't plant a garden this spring (we will be doing a fall garden, though)
Now, this doesn't mean that I won't ever become more natural over time, but it just means that I have the freedom to do things however I feel at the moment… or however that season of life allows me to do things.

I won't write about the things that I do that ARE crunchy because I've already done that. If you're interested, read this.

Something else that I've learned is that it's okay that I'm not perfect! I wrote several posts on this topic so I won't re-write them, but I there's so much freedom in being honest and sharing the reality of my every day life. I have a long way to go, but I'm okay with where I am today. I'm learning to take one day at a time.

This weekend I realized that I always feel like I'm doing things wrong. It was very obvious when my grandfather made a comment about my discipline (he was just concerned that I was getting frustrated over nothing), and I got upset. I realized that I don't own the way I discipline. I know it works. Both of my kids have great manners (saying thank you, please, etc). Most days, they respect others :). Both of my kids' attitudes and tantrums have improved. They know what the rules are in the house. They know what to expect from me. They know that I love them. But, there are times that I'm human and I get upset or frustrated. Don't we all? I need to learn to own the way that I discipline when people make comments (because it happens…). It was refreshing to read this post about a mama dealing with the tantrums from her boys. I. Am. Not. Alone. I realize that more every day.

I've made a point lately to do my best to only read things that are real. I got tired of seeing blogs from people who seem like they have the perfect life… because no one does. It's also good to hang out with people who are willing to share their struggles in this life. And I'm sure other people like me better when I'm honest and they don't feel like I expect them to do things the way that I do. Sometimes my expectations for myself rub off on others. We all need to just be the person that God created us to be and do things the way we feel are best for our family.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I realized something the other day...

I have been so worried about Levi.  I lay him down and check on him constantly as he sleeps.  Sometimes, if he doesn't appear to be breathing, my heart starts racing and I just have to pick him up to make sure he's okay.  At night, I wake up after a few hours and wonder if he's okay because he hasn't woken up to eat yet.  It's constant.  I worry about the other kids, but not quite as much since they are out of the SIDS age... But, I do think about "What if the kids and I got into a wreck and all died... how would Robert deal with that?  How would my mom and dad deal with that?"  Or I worry that Robert could get hurt or die in a car accident or while working, or whatever.  I know some people some think about those things at times, but I think about them all the time.  I always just think that maybe I'm a little weird...

I realized a few days ago why I think that way...

With my brother's death, it has made the reality of death real to me.  You never really think that it can happen to someone in your family or to you.  But when it does happen to someone close to you, you realize that life is very short and you or your loved ones could die at any moment.  And you ask for protection when you pray, but you really don't know if God is going to choose to protect them or you.  And that's a hard reality to face.  I don't understand why my brother had to die (especially the tragic way he did), why my friend's five year old daughter has stage 4 cancer, or why a friend of mine found out that their 4 week old might have cystic fibrosis.  And in my human nature, my first reaction is to have anxiety and worry about these things... and sometimes to be frustrated or angry... but we've never been promised an easy life.  The Bible says that our lives are but a vapor and we know that death is part of life. 

So, how should I react to this realization?  Should I just continue to worry and be angry because of the difficulty of death?

No... I should live life!  I should love my family more than ever before.  I should spend quality time with them because you never know when their last day could be.  I should stop worrying about a spotless house and clean laundry and go outside and blow bubbles.  I should stop focusing on things that I want to do all the time and play a game with them.  I should teach them about Jesus daily so that they may come to know Him at an early age. 
And I should just keep praying and trusting that God is in control of them and all I can do is love them and take care of them the best that I can. 

I may never understand why certain things happen until I go HOME.  But, I trust that God has a reason and a purpose for everything.  He will use the hard times to grow us and for Him to be glorified.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Things that God is teaching me…

The more I focus on God’s desires and not earthly ones, the more I grow and learn.  God has been teaching me so much lately… and I don’t want to forget these things!

  • He’s been showing me that the focus of our budget has been off… I’ve been focusing on our grocery budget being big enough that we can afford all the things that I think are important… God has been showing me that there are people who don’t even have food, so it’s more important to give to those people than to make sure everything that we have in our house is organic, free range, etc.  Eating well is good, but it shouldn’t come before giving to those who need it. 
  • The focus of my time has been off (this is something he’s been teaching me over a period of a couple of years)… I need to spend more time playing and less time focusing on the house… I need to spend less time online (which I’m doing so much better) and more time with Jesus.  I like to blog to process things in my heart, but that’s about all I do anymore… it’s pretty freeing.  I pray that this continues. 
  • I want to read more books instead of blogs and things online.  I want to spend time learning and growing in the time that I have.  One book on my list is Church History in Plain Language.  I started it a long time ago and only got through the first chapter.  It’s a wonderful book. 
  • I want to spend more time with people.  People are where our efforts and energy should be going instead of a “virtual world”, a clean house, and perfect food.

Alright… I’m off to go play outside with the kids and then do a project :).

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Levi, the Kids, Robert's time off, etc........

Things are really going well.  I'm blessed :).

He's starting to chunk up, though still not as big as Ethan was at this age.  He has his first Dr. appointment on Monday, so I will know how much he weighs then.  I'm thinking probably about 10 pounds.  We'll see :).  He's in 0-3 month clothes, but many of them are too wide for him.  He's long and skinny (compared to my other babies).  The sleep and plays are almost too short, and his feet are a little too long for them.
He's a sweet boy :).  He wakes up on average once a night now, which is amazing!  And honestly, I don't know what I would do without that time.  I love rocking and nursing him in the quiet of the night.  Nursing is going really well.  He takes on average 3-5 ounces of formula a day (a little bit late morning, and a little bit late evening)... which, in my opinion, is nothing.  When I first started supplementing, I was giving more than that, and he was littler and needed less over all.  So, I would say that breastfeeding is successful this time!!  I LOVE it.  It gets easier and easier every day.  I wish I would have stuck it out in the past... I feel like I missed out by giving up so early.  But, oh well.  I can't go back and change the past!  I'll just keep going as long as I can this time!
Levi is also starting to smile now :). 

Robert's Time Off This Month
Robert got several days off this past week, and we just hang out the majority of the time (when he wasn't working even though he was off).  Wednesday we went on a hike and had a blast.  We are blessed to live on 260ish acres to roam around on :).  Thursday my mom came and watched the kids so that he and I could have a date day.  We went to Red Lobster (we had a gift card), then hung out at an awesome coffee shop in Austin.  We enjoyed our time away!
Next weekend we are going to Rockport to visit my grandparents and aunt and cousins.  I'm looking forward to getting away from the camp for a while because every time Robert is off, he gets calls all day and ends up going to work for a little while.  It gets a bit frustrating.  And if we're away, he can't do that!! :)  We are staying at grandma's Thursday night, then at a cottage Friday night through Monday.  It's going to be refreshing for all of us!!  We need it because summer is coming very soon, and life is only going to get crazier!!

Our "New" Car
Robert and I had some money put away to buy a bigger vehicle for our family.  We still have our Mazda Tribute because we are "upside down" on it, so we couldn't just trade it in... But, we desperately needed a vehicle that worked better for our family.  We have been looking for several months for one... we wanted to pay next to nothing for it, which meant that it was going to need some work (which Robert can do).  We didn't realize that God would bless us with the deal that we got!  We bought a '98 Ford Expedition Eddie Bauer.  It had some issues, but Robert already worked most of them out.  We paid $1900 for it!  And it's worth, in fair condition, $4400!  The work that he has done, which only cost a few hundred, made it worth over $4,900.  We are truly blessed!  It is very comfortable and perfect for our family.  I will still use our other one when I am out and about by myself... my mom comes once a week and I usually take Levi and buy groceries, so that will be perfect.  And on date nights, etc we will use it.  Once it's not upside down anymore, I think we're going to sell it.  We'll see.

The "Older" Kids
They have been doing MUCH better lately.  Karis has grown up significantly since she turned four.  It's amazing.  I don't know who this little girl is :).  I definitely think four is my favorite age so far!  She's very helpful... and even when she starts throwing a fit, she stops very quickly.
Ethan is still an almost 2 year old boy, so he's into everything.  And he's still clingy and throws himself on the floor screaming... BUT, when you mention putting him in his room, most of the time, he says "none!" which means done :).  Then, he stops... he sometimes starts again, but that's okay.  He'll get there.
They have both enjoyed playing outside.  The weather has been great, so they get to play outside most days!  It's a blast!!

Despite the stresses of having three little ones 4 and under, I am enjoying life.  I am SO incredibly blessed with an amazing husband who would literally do anything for me and the kids, I have wonderful, beautiful children :).  I can't believe all that the Lord has blessed me with!!

Blood On My Hands

I am sitting at Panera for my weekly alone time, and I have been reflecting on Jesus' sacrifice for us.  I was listening to the song "Blood On My Hands," by Todd Agnew, and I decided to look and see if there was a video for it on youtube.  I found one where someone put the song to the movie "Passion of the Christ" and boy did it really bring some perspective. 

It's so easy to just think about his sacrifice as if it wasn't a big deal... we hear about it all the time... every Easter we discuss it and reflect upon it, but do we really understand His sacrifice?

The video is graphic (if you've seen the movie, you know that), so if you can't handle that, then don't watch it.  But, this is realistic.  This is what it was like for Him. 

Friday, April 2, 2010

Living Life

As I have been sharing lately, I have been on a journey… to find balance in my life… to decide whether or not blogging a lot is practical for this season of life… to be more comfortable in my own skin… to learn to be okay with imperfection…

Until recently, I wanted to be “known” in the blogging/“virtual” world.  But, the more I get to know myself, the more I begin to realize that I can’t live up to the person that I would like to be at this season of life, the more I realize that having a “professional,” well known blog isn’t what I need right now… 

I’ve decided that living life is more important right now.  And, the more I live life, the more I love life.  The less I worry about researching information to put on my blog, the more I can actually live out what I’ve learned.  The less I worry about what others think about me, the less I am anxious.  The more I can focus on just loving my husband and children and doing the best I can for them, the less being “known” in the blogging world really matters to me. 

Having a blog that focuses on one aspect (natural living) makes me feel as if I have to focus on that in general… and I don’t really want to focus on that…

I’ve decided that I just want to go back to the original intention of my blog… to share my life… to share my thoughts and reflections… to share what God has been teaching me… and yes, to share what I learn through research.

I’m excited about this journey and I hope you’ll stick around!

Stay tuned for some more things that I’ve learned lately…