Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Life Lately #16

I have my computer back!! Repeat: I have my computer back! I never realized how much I depended on it until I didn't have it for two weeks. But the guy who fixed it was really nice and gave me a huge discount off the labor cost due to having to wait so long to get it back. Praise the Lord, hallelujah, I can type like a normal person again instead of having to use my phone/iPad for everything. 

Reading: Why I Hate Green Beans by Lincee Ray. I'm about a third of the way done with it and my goal is to finish it by the end of the month! I'm a slow reader these days. Mostly because when Imogen naps, a lot of the time I'm too tired to read and I end up zoning out messing around on my phone instead.

Watching: At the moment, Paddington Bear. I would rather be watching something else, but the smallest Clark is in the room and therefore all shows, even though she isn't really watching, must be relatively kid-friendly. After she goes to bed, though, everything changes.

Listening to: See above. Also waiting with bated breath for the new Snow Patrol album. ALSO loving a new artist I discovered called Portugal. The Man. Yes, that's his (their?) name. "Portugal. The Man." Look up the song Feel It Still. Catchy as all get out.

Wearing: Jeans and a sweatshirt, but I'll tell you what I DIDN'T wear when I took Imogen out for a walk today - my winter coat! I started out wearing it, but it was 54 degrees today and a mile into our walk I was overheating and took it off - and even pushed up my sweatshirt sleeves! I don't think I've done that since, like, last August. 

Eating: A lot of protein. I'm still counting my macros and I'm trying to get about 130 grams of protein every day and let me tell you, it's pretty difficult. I feel like I eat nothing but chicken, Greek yogurt, and protein powder. It's for a good cause so I'm fine with it, but it's a struggle sometimes.

Loving: Watching how fast Imogen is changing. It's hard to be sad when she's turning out to be such a smart and funny little kid. I'm sure this is technically nothing special but today I was trying to point to something in a book and she wanted to see something on the page underneath my arm, so she shoved my arm out of the way so she could see better. It seems like every day she does something new that leaves me scratching my head and wondering how one day she's barely able to control her limbs and the next she's purposely shoving my arm to get it out of her way.

Not Loving: How fast she grows out of her clothes! Her 9 month appointment is coming up in a few weeks (how!?) and at her 6 month appointment, she was still in the 75th percentile for height. I'm interested to see if she's still actually long for her age, or if I just feel like she is. I don't know, is 28 inches an average length for an 8 month old? According to the WHO online calculator she's in the 86th percentile still? WHO knows (ha) but she's already wearing some 12 month clothing just because she needs the length, so...

Thankful for: No shots at the aforementioned 9 month doctor visit! I'm also thankful that we only have a few months left before we can start transitioning Imogen to whole milk instead of formula. I feel like my bank account is dying a slow and painful death. Formula ain't cheap.

Creating: Something for a friend having a baby, and I'm starting to attempt to design Imogen's first birthday party invitations. I *only* have three and a half months to get that done, after all. (Honestly, I'm only starting now so I have a ton of time to work on it.)

Wanting: A different hairstyle. I still love my short hair, but I'm getting bored of it. It's been almost two years of the exact same haircut. My hair is thin, though, which is why I keep it this short. I've toyed with the idea of growing it back out but then I remember how much I hate it when it gets long and is so obviously thin. And by thin, I mean thinning. Not like I just have fine textured hair. Like I've had postpartum hair loss all day every day for the last 10 years.

Laughing at: All the lip syncing segments on Jimmy Fallon. I've been watching them on YouTube and cracking up on a daily basis. The one with Emma Stone is one of my favorites, even though it's several years old. Girl can LIP. SYNC.

Feeling: Happy that spring/summer is within spitting distance. I mean, "summer" is a relative term, but I'll just be glad when I can consistently leave the house without my winter jacket and when I can start wearing my fun shoes again (TOMS! Vans! Chucks!) and not be a slave to my boots.

Buying: Some new toys on Amazon for Imogen. She's very much past the stage where she finds things like rattles and teethers to be exciting for more than .6 seconds, and I'm wanting to get her some more developmentally appropriate toys. I'm about to pull the trigger on this, this and this. I know the shape sorter toy won't be used properly for quite a while, but I figure it'll be new and interesting anyway and she can grow into it.

Anticipating: Isaiah's upcoming mini vacation. He very rarely actually takes time off from work, and never just to stay at home, but he's taking three days off next week which, because of how his schedule works, actually gives us 10 days off to spend as a family. I'm a little bit excited about it. Even when he takes time off to go to Seattle, he usually switches shifts with one of the other officers so it's never really an actual vacation. AND, we're usually headed to Seattle, which is great and I love visiting my family, but it's not family time for US. This is 10 whole days of just the three of us, and our 8th anniversary is in the middle of it, so it's nice timing.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

In defense of SAHMs and homeschooling

Antisocial homeschool kids not making any friends or having any fun, educational experiences outside the home.

Before I start getting into the topic, let me preface this by saying that I have nothing against working moms or moms who send their kids to daycare or public school. Nothing against them whatsoever. If you feel that working and putting your kids in daycare is the best choice for your family, that's awesome. Some mothers have to work out of necessity, and some choose to work because they feel that's how they feel they can best contribute to their family. I'm not here to judge working mothers or mothers who hire a babysitter so they can get a break from their kids once or twice a week or even moms who send their kids to daycare part time even though they aren't working.

Whatever works for your family, that's what's best. I would add that, personally, I think whether a mom chooses to work or stay at home is between her, God, and her husband.

That said...

I've seen several comments floating around the blog world and internet in general lately that are kind of derogatory toward stay-at-home moms and homeschooling. It seems a lot of people think that kids who stay at home vs. go to daycare/public school are in an either/or type of situation. EITHER they stay at home, OR they get to have friends. EITHER they stay at home, OR they get to experience people and things outside the home. EITHER they stay at home, OR they're socialized and well-adjusted.

It probably irritates me a little more than the average person, because I am both 1. the product of a SAHM/homeschooling family and 2. a stay-at-home-mom myself (homeschooling is TBD since I have a few years to think about it), but it's irritating nonetheless. I was homeschooled, I spent a couple of years in a private school, and I also went to a public high school. I can honestly say that I had the same amount of friends no matter where I was. I had school friends, I had neighborhood friends, I had church friends, and I had friends that were just the kids of my parents' friends. During my homeschool years, I was most certainly not lacking in any kind of socialization or experiences outside the home. My mom actually worked really hard to make sure both my sister and I had plenty of opportunities for activities outside the house.

People seem to think that if you keep your kids at home and don't send them to daycare and/or public school, you're essentially locking them in a basement with some bread and maybe some water and no exposure whatsoever to the big wide world outside. It couldn't be further from the truth, and honestly, I wonder if people who think that have actually ever talked to someone who was homeschooled or never went to daycare.

My sister and I both took music lessons and played in a youth symphony with other kids and teens for years. I played softball both for the YMCA and the local junior high school. My sister took ice skating lessons and met friends there. We both went to a homeschool co-op for a couple of years where we got to take a couple of classes and meet plenty of other kids who also homeschooled. We went rollerskating with other homeschool families every single Friday for several years. We had church Sunday School and youth group and had friends who both homeschooled and went to public school.

We were most certainly not lacking in either friends or outside-the-house experiences or, if you prefer, "socialization."

Honestly, I truly can't even begin to describe how much I despise that word when it's applied to homeschool kids or kids who don't go to daycare while their moms go to work. Kids are people. Kids are not dogs. Kids can learn social skills from their parents, their siblings if they have them, their neighbors, watching their mom interact with the dang cashier at the grocery store, for crying out loud.

To be blunt, I really do not understand what half the world has against SAHMs or homeschool families. There's no rhyme or reason to the accusations that are thrown out there, whether they're passive aggressive or blatantly rude. Maybe sometime, somewhere, there was a homeschool kid that was kinda weird or a little bit anti-social, but that's seriously not the norm. And, frankly, I knew plenty of daycare/public school kids who grew up to be terrible people. Public school does not a perfect person make (obviously, as evidenced by recent tragic events).

I guess all I'm saying is that I wish people would quit making off-the-cuff comments or passive aggressive statements that really don't do much to disguise how little they think of SAHMs or homeschoolers. Maybe talk to one of us sometime and try to understand our side of things. Sure, there are plenty of judgmental people/mothers out there on BOTH sides of the aisle. There are SAHMs who think working mothers are evil, selfish human beings who are shirking their child-raising responsibilities. There are working mothers who think SAHMs are lazy and sit around in their pajamas eating brownies while their kids play in their rooms alone all day.

Let's just not be either one of those people, okay? There are plenty of actual, legitimate reasons to judge people. How a person chooses to parent/school their kids really isn't one of them.

Questions? Let me know. I'm happy to share my life experiences with you.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Life Lately #15

Reading: Working on The Great Gatsby. I don't know how long it'll take me to finish. I have to be in the right mindset to read and pay attention, and I haven't been in a reading mood lately. I'm so tired, I'd rather just zone out on my phone or watching Netflix. 

Watching: Vikings when Isaiah is home, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel when he isn't. 

Listening to: I randomly stumbled across a song by The Fray on Spotify the other day and I had totally forgotten they existed. So, I'm currently shuffling a ton of their songs and reliving my college years.

Wearing: Non-maternity jeans! Don't get too excited for me, they're [redacted] sizes bigger than my pre-pregnancy jeans, but at least there's no elastic/fabric belly band thing on them. 

Smelling: The no-bake cookies I just made. Lazy cookies, but they're quick.

Eating: The aforementioned no-bake cookies. I've been really doing my best not to eat much (if any) sugar because I'm really trying to ditch this stupid baby weight, but it's Friday...Imogen has decided that sleeping at night is a big joke and she'd rather be awake at 2am, 3am, 4am, 6am, and awake for the day at 7am after not going to bed until 9pm the night before. I don't know what's happened to my good sleeper, but I'm currently self-medicating with cookies.

Loving: My new printer! The other day a friend asked me if I could do a piece of handlettered art for her house, and of course I said yes. Coupled with the Procreate app, I now have the ability to actually print things like letter art, along with shipping labels, gift certificates for birthdays, and so on and so forth.

Creating: The aforementioned letter art for my friend. I don’t believe I’m a professional by ANY stretch of the imagination whatsoever, but I had a lot of fun making some amateur artwork.

Laughing at: The gifts my aunt chooses to buy for Imogen. I love her and she is SO generous and has bought us more stuff for the baby than the rest of my family combined, but she likes to find things that are so not age-appropriate. This week we got a box from the National Geographic store and it was this virtual reality headset thing. It’s for, like, grade schoolers...Imogen won’t be able to use it (or care) for several years, at least. It was very nice of her but still really funny.

Feeling: Motivated. Our new playpen for Imogen came in the mail the other day so this weekend marks Isaiah’s and my official return to the gym. I’m stocked with new leggings, protein powder, BCAA and pre-workout supplements and it’s ON. I’m also considering hiring a macro coach for an 8 week program just so I can get some help fine tuning my diet. My metabolism doesn’t seem to be the same post-baby and being in my mid-30s doesn’t help either, I’m sure.

Hoping: Imogen goes back to sleeping well again. For the longest time she was sleeping about 7-8 hours, waking up to drink a bottle, then going back to sleep for another 3-4 hours. I don’t know what’s going on but I feel like I have a newborn again. And I don’t even feed her all the times she’s waking up, so she hasn’t gotten into the habit of eating all night long or anything. I still only feed her once around 4/5am, and the rest of the time I leave her to just fuss herself back to sleep. But once I wake up and have to listen to her for 20 or 30 minutes, I’m AWAKE and frustrated and I’ve been getting about 5 or 6 hours of sleep a night for weeks and I am so exhausted.

Anticipating: The new Snow Patrol album, set to release on May 25th! I've probably never mentioned this because I haven't really had a reason to, but Snow Patrol is one of my all-time favorite bands. I started listening to them way back in 2003 with the release of their Final Straw album. That's 15 years ago, for those keeping track. It's been seven years since their last album release (Fallen Empires, 2011) and I legitimately thought they had broken up or something. I'm so thrilled that they haven't, and I'm expecting their new album to be pretty darn awesome. I mean, their promo video has a dude sitting at a piano floating on a raft, what's not to love?

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

2018 Goals, a few weeks late.

Are 2018 resolutions still resolutions if they aren't written out in blog format in January?

Who knows, but I figured I'll write this out real quick while it's still the 31st just in case my carriage turns into a pumpkin at midnight, or something.

I don't normally do the whole goals/resolutions thing, at least not at the beginning of every year, because I tend to believe that goals can be made and accomplished any time you want and there's no reason to wait until a new year starts to get cracking.

That said, I have a couple things floating around in my mind that I'd really like to work on and I guess if I write them down it makes me more accountable.

1. Work on my fitness.

I know, I know. This is basically every person's resolution every single time the calendar switches over, which is why gym memberships skyrocket and the Nike store is sold out of half their products. The thing is, I had a baby last July. I love her to death, and I wouldn't trade her for the best physique in the world, but pregnancy really took a toll on my body. I had grand illusions of having a "fit pregnancy" and I pinned a crap ton of pregnancy workouts on Pinterest and YouTube with the intention of gaining as little weight as I could while still being healthy and giving Imogen everything she needed. Unfortunately, I was really sick from weeks 6-13, and I literally could not stomach anything but bagels, crackers, bread, and more bagels. Eating healthy food made me sick, not eating anything made me feel even worse, so "carbs" became my safe word. Before having Imogen, I was in probably the best shape of my life. I was going to the gym several times a week, hiking with Isaiah almost every weekend, running and lifting weights and working on leaning out and getting more defined muscles. I had a body fat percentage I was proud of for once in my life, and I didn't want to cry anymore when I stepped on the scale. I've known through trial and error and lots of macro experimenting that too many carbs make me gain weight, so you can imagine what eating nothing BUT carbs for almost two months did to me. I also think my genetics factored in a bit, because I didn't eat THAT unhealthily after I started feeling better, but I ended up gaining 45 pounds. My mom told me she gained something like 60 pounds when she was pregnant with me, but it all dropped off really easily after I was born. I was hoping my own 45 pounds (on a 5'4" body that's not pretty) would drop off just as easily, but - whomp whomp - it didn't.

I wish I could say I've been working really hard at losing weight and I don't know why the scale isn't moving, but that would be a lie. I don't eat like crap - really, I don't - I don't eat much sugar and I don't snack on junk food and I don't overeat - I just haven't been exercising really much at all. Imogen is almost 7 months old, and I still have 30 pounds to lose to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight.

It's my fault, and I'm owning it - but I'm also going to change it. I've started using My Fitness Pal again to track my macros, and now that Imogen is taking fairly regular naps that are longer than 30 minutes I don't have any excuse to not exercise. We have a treadmill in our house, and the way I first started losing some weight back in 2015 was with Kayla Itsines' Bikini Body Guide (circuit training), and I want to start doing that again too. Isaiah and I plan to start going to the gym together again soon, and we even ordered a portable playpen so we can take Imogen and not have to worry about getting a babysitter (we go to the trooper academy gym, so we can take her - in case that sounded weird).

I know a lot of people say "9 months on, 9 months off!" but 2 months from now is an unrealistic amount of time to lose 30 pounds if I want it to stay off, so I'm going to try really hard to be back to my pre-pregnancy weight by Imogen's first birthday on July 2nd. That gives me 5 months, an average of 6 pounds per month. I know it's going to take a lot of hard work, but I'm ready. I'm sick of wearing jeans that are 3 sizes bigger than I used to wear, and I'm sick of not being able to wear 95% of my closet because everything is two sizes too small for me right now. I look at pictures from last summer and I want to be really upset that I let this happen, but it's also a little bit motivating because I know what I can accomplish and how I can look if I try really hard, and I'm ready to try really hard.

2. Stop feeling guilty over not being able to breastfeed Imogen.

I haven't blogged much about it because it's still a really big source of guilt and hurt, but long story short, I had every intention of exclusively breastfeeding Imogen until she was at least a year old. For the first week or so of her life, nursing was going really well. She was gaining weight, my milk came in just fine, and (I thought) she was getting the hang of latching. Then something stalled. She stopped gaining weight at an appropriate rate. She was fussy (so, so fussy) every time I would try and nurse her. She would nurse for two minutes, then pull away and start crying and thrashing around and doing this odd little head-banging move. I went to the lactation consultant at our clinic, and we tried so many things. Different positions, different nursing pillows, making sure I had a good letdown (not over/under-active), and so on and so forth. Finally, she checked for a tongue tie and, lo and behold, Imogen had not only a severe tongue tie but also an upper lip tie, which was preventing her from latching properly and, since she wasn't latching properly, she wasn't getting enough milk. In turn, that made my milk supply take a huge nosedive - supply and demand and all that. We ended up flying down to see a specialist in Washington who fixed her lip and tongue when she was 3 months old, but by then, she had already had so many bottles of pumped milk and formula that we were never able to get back to breastfeeding. She would just get so frustrated because my supply was low, she was used to instant gratification from bottles, and every time we tried to nurse, one or both of us would end up crying. The last time I nursed her was November 30th. She wasn't even 5 months old.

I struggle every day with "what ifs". What if we had discovered/fixed her tongue tie earlier? What if I had just tried harder to nurse her? What if she hadn't been born with those issues? What if not being able to bond over breastfeeding hurts our relationship in the future? What if the fact that she's not a very snuggly baby is because she's somehow subconsciously mad at me for not nursing her? What if we have to go through this all over again with our next baby? I know half of those questions are irrational, but being a mom makes you pretty irrational sometimes. Starting now, I want to stop beating myself up over the whole situation, and just be thankful that she is perfectly healthy and thriving on bottles and formula. Besides, we're on our way to transitioning to solid food, and by the end of the summer she won't be needing bottles anymore anyway. I want to just be happy that formula and bottles exist to feed my baby, and not feel guilty and start tearing up every time I run across a blog or Instagram post about someone else's amazing breastfeeding journey. I also want to be proud that we endured so many months upon months of lactation consultant appointments, therapy appointments for her jaw/latching issues, weigh-ins at the doctor to make sure she was still gaining weight, the hours upon hours of pumping I've done in order to give her SOME milk, even if it's not ALL milk - and not have those feelings of guilt come creeping in again every time someone else finds out we're doing bottles of formula now and kind of acts like maybe I didn't try hard enough. It's happened - I don't like it - but I'm done letting it get to me.

3. Curb my spending/earn some money.

I wouldn't classify myself as a shopaholic, but having a baby kind of makes you want to buy ALL THE THINGS. Imogen does not need one more outfit until she actually grows out of what she currently has. She does not need one more toy until she hits a new developmental stage and rattles and crinkle books just aren't fun anymore. She does not need one more book until - okay, that's a lie, she always needs more books.

Still, I need to quit buying her things she doesn't need right now/yet, and instead I'd like to find a way to earn some money from some of the clothes and things she's outgrowing. I've been saving a good amount of her clothes in case we have another baby girl someday, but there have also been many bags donated to the thrift store. I do like donating things so someone else can have nice baby clothes for a fraction of the cost, but I'd also like to start selling some of her nicer stuff so I can recoup some what I've spent on her clothing. There's an app called Kidizen where you can buy/sell new and used baby clothes from other moms, and I'd really like to start selling some stuff on there. I ordered a printer on Amazon so I can print shipping labels (I'm such an adult now!) and as soon as it comes I'm going to try and get some stuff listed. And then put that money into savings and not immediately spend it on more baby clothes.

So, those are the three things I'd like to work on this year. If you have any magic potions to make me instantly drop 30 pounds, let me know - I'm excited to get back into the exercise grind but also very much NOT looking forward to the amount of hard work I know it's going to take. Yikes.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

2018 Reading Challenge

I've never heard of this reading challenge before, but when I read saw it on Kristin's blog today, I suddenly felt more motivation to read books than I have in quite a while. I had quite a lofty goal of 40 books in 2017, and I think I ended up reading something like 22. Insert an [excellent!] excuse about how I had a baby and had zero motivation to read any books that didn't pertain to nursing, sleep training, or baby development during the latter half of the year.

This reading challenge from Modern Mrs. Darcy has you choose 12 books, which I find to be a much more attainable goal than the 20-30 I was thinking about attempting to read. I blame Goodreads and all of you people who somehow find time - with kids - to read 50-60 books a year. Tell me your secrets because as soon as nap/bedtime hits, all I want is Netflix.

So, here is my official list of books I'd like to read in 2018. I'm putting 12 books down for my Goodreads reading challenge goal, with these dozen in mind. If you've read any of these and think I would be better off choosing something else, feel free to let me know. I'm open to suggestions, too!

Also, confession...I'm a dummy and didn't know what "a book in translation" meant. I had a hunch but I still had to do a little Google search.

#1. A classic you've been meaning to read.  Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. It's honestly a little shameful that I've never read this book, considering how much I love the movie. I even own a beautiful copy of this book...that I've never opened. Tsk tsk, me.

#2. A book recommended by someone with great taste.  Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor. My friend Michelle is my number one go-to for book recommendations. She recently gave this one 5 stars, and that was good enough for me. It's also set during WWI and I'm a huge sucker for war novels.

#3. A book in translation.  A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. This is another book I've been meaning to read for a while. I've been told by some that it's a little bit dry and the audiobook is better, but I cannot - repeat, cannot - get into audiobooks. I've tried. The most I've been able to sit through is about 3 chapters of The Devil in the White City, when I was holed up in a dark room the entire evening after getting LASIK in December. My Audible trial is about to run out and I'm going to just have to lose that audiobook because I'm not paying for a service I'll never use. I digress...we'll see how it goes with this book, whether I think it's hard to read or not!

#4. A book nominated for an award in 2018.  Idaho by Emily Ruskovich. To be honest, I had to spend a good half hour Googling books that have been nominated for awards this year. This one was on the 2018 shortlist by the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association (naturally). I'm not entirely sure how much I'm going to like this book because it involves a man with early-onset dementia and that topic does tend to hit a little too close to home (my dad), but I'll give it a good college try.

#5. A book of poetry, a play, or an essay collection.  The Tell-Tale Heart and Other Writings by Edgar Allen Poe. I've always been somewhat fascinated by Poe, despite not really having read much of his work. I'm excited to delve a little bit into the mind of a famous poet.

#6. A book you can read in a day.  We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. I had to Google "books you can read in a day" also. I just don't tend to gravitate toward shorter books for some reason. This one is described as a sort of psychological thrilled/horror book and after reading the synopsis, I'm intrigued.

#7. A book with more than 500 pages.  Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. This one has been on my to-read list for quite a while, and it just so happens to be 531 pages. Score.

#8. A book by a favorite author.  The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton. I've read both The Lake House and The Secret Keeper, and really enjoyed both, even though I wasn't entirely thrilled with the ending of The Lake House. Still, even though I've only read 2 out of 5 books by Kate Morton, I would consider her one of my favorite authors. I really like the way she weaves a tale.

#9. A book recommended by a librarian or indie bookseller.  Wool by Hugh Howey. I don't personally know any librarians or indie booksellers, but it just so happens that our local bookshop puts little cards next to the workers' favorite books, describing why they like them. I just so happened to notice this one at the bookstore the other day and apparently it's one of their favorite books, so I'm counting it as an indie bookseller recommendation.

#10. A banned book.  The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Once again, I've seen the movie but never read the book. I've been meaning to read this one for a long time; seems like 2018 is going to be the year I finally get around to reading books I've had my eye on for a while!

#11. A memoir, biography, or book of creative nonfiction.  Spaceman by Mike Massimino. I've seen this one recommended several times around the blog world, and if multiple people are recommending it, I figure it's probably a decent read. I just hope it's not like The Martian, because I think I'm the only person who absolutely hated that book (the movie was okay).

#12. A book by an author of a different race, ethnicity or religion than your own.  Silence by Shusaku Endo.  I've been going back and forth on whether or not I want to watch the movie based on this book, so I figure I'll just go ahead and read the book and then decide if I want to watch it. The author is Japanese, and I am definitely not, though (fun fact!) I did take 3 years of Japanese in high school.

I think I'll update this list as I read these books, and let you know what I think of each one!

Are you doing any sort of reading challenge this year?