Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Baby With Colic

Let me tell you a story. A story about my first family picture experience.

I arranged a session at a decently priced studio and was super excited to have our first family pictures taken. We were going to use them as Christmas Cards. I had adorable, red and cream ensembles for the kids and the hubs and I. I packed us up and we headed to our session. Upon arrival, Travin, my then 2 month old baby boy, began to cry. Atley, my 1.5 year old was eager to explore this new area and started running around.

I decided to try and breastfeed the baby, but he wouldn't latch. Our session began, screaming baby and all, so 28th Atley still refusing to sit still. I could tell our photographer was frazzled. She didn't use a single pose I'd suggested and kept staring at my infant like he was an alien from Jupiter. I calmly explained, "He has colic. Please just keep shooting." 45 min or flying bows and kicked off shoes later, I left the studio in tears.

I was SO disappointed that our photographer was unable to capture the "perfect" image of me and my family. I wanted my children to look like Gerber Babies, smiling affectionately, with me and my husband romantically holding hands behind them. I bought the CD anyway because I felt so dang bad for making every employee there listen to my boy cry until his lungs might burst, but I was sure I wouldn't like any of the pictures because....well....we just didn't look happy.

The longer I scanned through the images, and let the anger from the photo session fade, the more I discovered the pictures didn't capture two perfect children who behaved well all the time, and two happy parents who never felt exhaustion and helplessness. No, the images on the CD captured PERFECTLY my family the way it is. 

My son has colic. My daughter had colic until she was 9 months old.

For those of you who don't have experience with this, may you forever count your blessings. Yes, I know I'm luckier than some women who never have the opportunity to be a mother, and I'm so thankful for that each day. However, there is a very real pain associated with having children with colic and only those who have been through it know why. 

There isn't a super clear explanation for colic. The babies just cry...and cry....and cry. It is the saddest, most horrific ordeal any mother could go through. It is like Ground Hog day, and every morning you wake up thinking, Today will be the day!! I'll make them happy today! And every day, you fail. Your baby cries until they are blue in the face, writhing and contorting their bodies in unexplained agony. They look you in the eye, with tears rolling down their cheeks. And their heart says to yours, "Mom, I don't understand. Can you fix it?" 

I probably sob just as much as my babies during these beginning months. 
No, my dearest, most precious creation. I cannot fix it.

Oh, and yes. The babies are in pain because when you take them to get their shots, and they hardly cry, because it is nothing know your offspring is living in torment. It KILLS you inside. Even during the rare moments of quiet, or sleep, or smiles when they choose to appear--those smiles make you feel like you're floating on a cloud of exaltation, soaring through the pearly gates of heaven, on a high only 12 Mountain Dews could bring--, the hurt does not have time to heal because the next day, at the crack of dawn, it begins all over again.

Are you an animal person?  Do you have a bird, or cat, or gerbal you take to Starbucks with you ? I'm a dog lover myself. Imagine, every morning, your dog's leg was snapped. You had to listen to your beloved pet cry and whimper, day, and night, and nothing you did helped. Plot twist, every morning for the next 9 months your dog woke up with a new broken bone. Good luck staying sane.

It is a million times worse with a baby human. (no offense animal enthusiasts. Its just natures law)

But that is as close to explaining the emotional toll in words I can think of.
Now throw in a few exciting trials like getting the flu, having a husband that travels for work, often 7 days at a time, and the fact that it is 10 degrees outside so you're vitamin D deficiency is accumulating with stress from lack of out door activities.
With an active toddler, sometimes I HAVE to put Travin down so I can take care of her needs. Which means blood curdling cries until I can see to HIS needs. I'm fortunate if I have a second to pour a bowl of cereal, which I try to consume while cradling/bouncing a baby, and juggling a toddler who is climbing all over us. Food is a luxury...which usually ends up on my floor.

 I'm a firm believer in God and His plan for all of us. I know somewhere, deep down, this is God's way of "succoring me" to come unto Him. Since I have a tendency to forget to pray, and rely on the Spirit, He is allowing me to get down on my knees and pray every hour of the day. Having to go through this torture, twice, is a growing moment for me, and it is definitely teaching me to pray more consistently. Obviously, I haven't learned my lesson yet...side eye....or my children would most likely be happier. Nonetheless, I will continue to try and pray frequently and listen to God's prompting for how I can comfort my sweet (evil) little ones. Joking. Sorta.

In the end, I know they grow out of colic and become cherished (still evil) toddlers. Joking again. But really. 

I hope anyone who has a baby with colic knows they are not alone. And that there isn't anything you are doing wrong. You cannot always fix it, and that's okay. I know that feeling of failure and heartache and wanting more than anything to transfer their suffering to you. Maybe, in a tiny way, it helps us also understand the Atonement of Jesus Christ more. I'm so sorry you feel hopeless. I understand that burning desire that is half desperation to find a solution and half desperation to flee. I understand the guilt for even thinking you would want to leave. Of course it is only temporary, to find some solace and calm, to find a place to think and screw all your nuts and bolts back in, but it still shocks you that you would want to. Its okay. Its necessary even, at times.  

In conclusion, I'm so glad with how my pictures turned out. My Christmas cards were a HUGE hit, with the caption, "Silent-ish Night" successfully bringing smiles to faces. I will forever remember these hard days and nights because I bought this stupid CD. This image here happens to be my favorite, because it depicts exactly how my kids felt. Atley was so over it. And Travin was taking in a deep breath, gearing up for a big scream. My children are beautiful. And hopefully I am too, even when I am bald, because I pulled my hair out one by one.....

Saturday, December 26, 2015

I'm Sexy and I know it (Dern de der der dern)

Any woman wants to know how to keep it sexy in her relationship, but there is nothing like a New Mom looking for simple ways to be fresh and hot when trying to adjust to this wild adventure of parenthood. Nothing says glamorous like life with an infant...let me tell you...and I just had my second.
My beautiful baby boy is now three months, hooray!!!! My daughter is 21 months, so yes, I had them very close together. I thought I'd have this baby stuff down, but having a baby girl first and a boy second has switched things up a bit. Lucky for me, I've learned a few new tricks of the trade. Like, how not to smell like laundry that has sat in the wash for 5 days, and how to go a week without washing your hair and not look like you just showed up to Burning Man. When it comes to being sexy as a mom, I've got it all figured out. From my heart to yours, here is a day in the life of a sexy New mom:

But First, a little prequel:
{3:04am. Drag one eye open and feel your way to the bassinet to pick up your crying baby. Feed, burp, diaper change, put baby back to sleep and fall face first into the puddle of spit up now covering your pillow.
5:10am. There's a baby crying somewhere. Oh, yes. Its yours. You chose to procreate again for some reason. Don't bother opening your eyes, just sleep walk/sit, breastfeed, burp, put baby back in bassinet, toss your puke soaked shirt on the ground, lay a towel across your bed and go back to sleep all without even cracking an eyelid.
6:30am. The nursery door opens and in walks your toddler. For the LOVE pllleeeaaaaase do NOT wake the baBY!
Welcome her into your bed with a big hug and (slobbery) kiss. Those are my favorite!! Baby wakes up anyway. Guess it's time for the millionth- spill- clean- up- mop- four-times-before - noon to begin. Rub those dark circles and start your morning right.}
Now that we are awake, it's time to get serious about our sexy.
Bring on the hottness!

Once you're out of bed, Take out your retainer, because that is totally unsexy. There's no need to look in the mirror. That nighty is fabulous when stained and stiff from leaky breastmilk, but just to keep your laundry to a minimum, slap on some new breast pads. Mmhm. Lumpy no bra day, Round 23. A dab of deodorant and a messy bun. If your hair is naturally curly, you're extremely lucky. Baby barf acts as an organic hair gel. Victoria's Secret models die for that stuff. Since you're gorgeous as is, and rock purple under eye bags like a champion, you don't need makeup. You'll brush your teeth later.
Now, I'm all about getting ready. A head to toe matching yoga workout outfit is a must! It is totally adorable, flexible, and squeezes the cute areas of back fat you've acquired after baby number two. The neon green matches your amazingly comfortable, practical Nike's, and the material absorbs baby puke like nobody's business! Win for mom!

On a non-work day, we have breakfast, and then it is learning time. Blast your favorite country radio station, get smeared with every Crayola art product known to man, breastfeed, burp, change multiple diapers, and by the time you know it, it's lunch hour. Food is a very sexy part of your day, because you never know when you might see it again. You mow down in mach speed, showing off a little because you have a die hard Sexy Chew Face, and start cleaning as your toddler finishes. With infant in the Bjorn, you jiggle around your kitchen in a wannabe "dance-off-while-scrubbing-dishes" extravaganza. You remember your glory days and give twerking a go, but you hurt your back, wake up the baby from whining, and end up lying to your toddler about "trying to fix the oven" when she gives you a strange face. Its okay. You can practice twerking later during naptime.
You wake up an hour and a half later, sweat or drool or breastmilk covering most of your upper body, realizing you and the baby fell asleep during toddler naptime, sprawled on the couch, mid-feeding session, as the toddler comes running out of her bedroom pointing to the TV, yelling, "Dada?" (cartoons?) No big deal. You can watch Frozen for the 14th time, because you have a terrifically sexy voice and know every song by heart. You're practically Madonna.
Its time for the sexy selfie of the day. You try your best angle a thousand times, squishing both kids into the frame because you have to look like America's number one Multi-tasking Crafter Stay At Home Mother of the Century to the social media world. Don't you DARE remove the Cheerios stuck to your hair! It adds texture to the image. Now, this is where you use all the good filters and then put it in black and white. The contrast does wonders for your complexion. Your skin is suddenly smooth and all the zits you named have disappeared. Crop it just below that one rogue hair sticking out of your bun, but don't cut out the chalk wall portrait you illustrated photobombing in the background. People will have no idea how many spilled sippy cups you've cleaned up, or the fact that you only had time to clip 8 of your toenails yesterday.
When the hubs gets home, you blend in the flour from baking and spit up from baby in to your awesome yoga ensemble, clean up a bit by shoveling all the uneaten kid snacks into your mouth and kicking objects into semi-organized piles of books, stuffed animals, and blocks, grab some gum and remind yourself to brush your teeth as soon as he isn't looking. Hubs gives your yoga pants a smile and you grin cause you've been working out ALL day.  14 pounds has to come off quickly do a couple squats to prove it, and try not to fart...Which reminds you, your natural pheromones congeal harmoniously with that vanishing deodorant smell.
After dinner, you do baths and puzzles. Dad plays with the kids while you pump. This is where you really get your man's attention. The breastpumps these days are high powered, electronic suctioning devices that look and sound like miniature satellites. It is a bonding moment for you and your husband when you watch in awe as your nipple stretches three inches longer than it ever should and you gain a new respect for the Dairy Cow. 4 ounces of creamy goodness and two magenta areolas later, you're proud to flaunt that swollen, sore rack you thought only came with $3,000 debt and an offer for reality television.

Nighttime rolls around and you, on a lucky day, get to take a 47 second shower. You start to pass out while changing into jammies, because you're sleepy yawning face really turns your husband on. When you get the kids in bed, you shake out your hair that nearly stays in the same shape it has all day regardless of no ponytail, and change your breast pads. Sour milk smell is sooooo midday!! You think about getting frisky with the hubs, but your baby monitor is playing a ten second interval of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star over and over....and over. The baby might wake up, disturbed by creaking bed frame, and you realize you STILL haven't brushed your teeth. OH WELL. Put your retainer back in and hit the pillow. Your husband loves looking at your flabby backside, pondering all the lovely things you accomplished throughout the day, how you kept your two cherished children alive and still managed to keep up on most of your household chores. He is silently praising you for finishing your 6th load of laundry for the week, and for being able to change a diaper in under 10 seconds, and he's admiring your ability to only cry on the inside, unless it is an odd hour, in which case you cry every other minute for no particular reason at all. And lastly he's patting dat fine booty of yours cause all of you and everything you do is SEXY as all get out!!!! The added cushion to your rump reminds him of the inside of LASAGNA, which makes his mouth water as you snore into oblivion, wearing your t-shirt inside out, with dried baby poop streaked across your forearm.
You're so beautiful, it is unreal. 

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Skill of Being Kind

A rare less than 5% of people are born with a special skill. The Skill of Being Kind.

It sounds so simple. Many people think they are already kind, or at least kind enough. Others don't worry about being kind. And some are born with this miraculous, innate ability to mirror Jesus's kindness. While we've all heard of this universal attribute, sadly many of us have not learned it.

Yes. Kindness is a skill. It is a difficult task for the other 95% of us.

While everyone is required to learn to be kind, it takes everyone a different amount of time to perfect it. Some people are very young, and some very old, when they learn the true meaning kindness. Once learning what it means to be kind, you then have to apply this skill to your life. This is incredibly difficult, because as humans we are fighting our environments. We are not often raised in kind environments. We don't always work in them, drive in them, live in them. We are fighting the instinctive behaviors we grew up with and were taught. We are also protecting ourselves from pain by putting up walls and thinking me first.

This was Satan's most brilliant idea yet to corrupt an already selfish Human species. He made us feel like it was necessary to worry more about ourselves than other people. If I can just take care of me and if I just love myself first are truly dangerous thoughts. They aren't evil but they can turn a person evil when that person becomes consumed with them. When you are so focused on your own happiness, it is literally impossible to focus on other people's. In fact, it has become so common, popular even, to be self-absorbed, that being selfless and meek are seen as weak and unattractive.

It is heartbreaking.

When you think of Christ, do you ever think of Him as one who put His needs, wants, desires before those of others? Of course He didn't. Read the bible.

Christ was the most selfless and meek of all. We are asked to be like Him, even as a little child, with that humble quiet demeanor. That has been long forgotten in this wicked world, where wealth, fame, belongings and "beautiful" looks have distracted us from why we even came here. It is so easy to be rude, without even knowing we are rude. Because that rude conduct Is so accepted, there is no need to change it. At least not here, on earth. However forgotten in this life, kindness is not forgotten in the next, and it is a large key to the gate of eternal happiness.

I often think of the things I say and do out of habit, reflecting on how they would be received if I were living among Christ and His people. More often than not I am appalled at myself. For example, if I honk my horn at someone while driving, I later think about the situation, and how necessary it was For me to honk, whether it was imperative or whether it was out of frustration and selfish motives. I am bothered by the frequency of my mistakes, my rude attitude, when I think about what the other person might be going through. Here is another fine example from the opposite perspective. I was driving with my two kids in the backseat. Both children were screaming. It was a bad day. My toddler had thrown her sippy cup on the floor. When I came to a red light, I knew that if I could just reach that cup and give it to her, one of my screaming kids would be appeased. (as a mom, that is better than gold, sex, and chocolate-COMBINED) anyways, at the red light, I put my car in park and went for the sippy cup. I retrieved it and handed it to my daughter just as the car behind me began to honk. I looked forward and the light had just turned green. Now, this fellow had not been waiting for me, nor had I stalled his day or made him miss the light, but he was impatient and obviously very concerned about his own agenda. I was very flustered by that man, but also by the fact that I realized I probably have done the same hurtful thing to someone else.

If we are to learn to be kind, we must emulate Christ in all of our actions, including limiting those mortal and natural desires to think first of ourselves. God taught over and over that service was the best way to learn to love others and yourself. Service, as in serving the needs of others. It is wonderful what service does to a person, but the service must be done with the right intentions. If you're only doing an act of service because you desire something for yourself, it no longer is service. It is a selfish act.

Being kind comes from the heart. It is apparent in those people who were born with it, and those who learn the skill. They don't think twice about sacrificing something they might want to do so that someone else can be happy. They don't hesitate to move their feet if they happen to be blocking the path of another. They hurry to help, assist, volunteer. And They do all of this for people who do and don't deserve it. They remember the situations of others around them, so they can ask about it later to check in. For example, if your friend had a death in the family, did you send flowers, offer to help at the funeral, or give them a call a week later to see how they were coping? Did your neighbor have a sick child? So you cooked them dinner or texted them to see how the child was healing? In second thought, maybe someone you didn't like needed aid. But were you there for them, or were they "undeserving"?

There are three degrees of kindness.
1. Being Kind because we have to.
2. Being Kind because we want to.
3. Being Kind because we need to.

Being nice to someone who isn't nice to you is a need, my friends. And it will transform you In ways unimaginable. It will make you kinder than you ever dreamed.

It is not always second nature for us to be kind, in fact it is quite unusually the opposite. It is unnatural and hard for us to be kind. That is why it is a skill, one that disappears if not practiced. Sometimes I meet older people who are grumpy and unfriendly, and I wonder why they still haven't learned to be gentle like Christ. Many of their earthly accomplishments will fall short at the Golden Gates as they're compared to their aggressive and self centered goals. Were they more driven towards money and fame? Did they pursue unhealthy relationships? Did they misuse their bodies? Were they more helpful to themselves than those around them? Did they speak to others how they wanted to be spoken to? Did they slight their greater heavenly responsibilities for lesser earthly ones?

There is nothing wrong with having a variety of goals, but it is so so so important to prioritize.

Being Kind should be in our top 2 priorities.

I know kindness is something I was not born with. It is something I've been working on for several years, and I am just now being able to put the mental work into physical actions. As I've been spiritually practicing this skill, I'm learning to physically practice it by demonstrating kindness in my actions. I'm finding it easier to do, day by day, as my original reactions are replaced with more Christlike ones. I think of others more than myself. I try to live in a way that Christ would be proud of. Although I err frequently, I am happy with the progress I've made and the happiness in others who are recipients of a kind deed I've done.

What kind deed can you do today to start you on your journey to becoming a kinder person?

Monday, December 7, 2015

Clean Eating: A Healthy lifestyle

I'm no saint, and I admit to indulging in junk food all the time. Hey, we gotta live a little right? However, I try to make simple choices in my every day meals that help me avoid a lot of processed foods, hormones, or pesticides. Again, I'm not a crazy fanatic about it. I'll eat my frozen Hot Pockets in a rush, just like the next guy. But, honestly, I find cooking so therapeutic and I notice a big difference in my body and the way I feel when I am smarter with my food choices.

It wasn't that hard to make the switch. I call myself a Chegan, because I'm basically a Vegan that cheats 😏 !! I eat very little meat, and TONS of vegetables...AND CHEESE!!! Mmm. Okay, so I'll go over my meal choices for the day with basic recipes so you can see how easy it is to be a healthy, clean eater. P.s. My husband and my toddler both LOVE my cooking. IT IS POSSIBLE to cook for the whole family.

First thing when I woke up today, I made a detoxifying tea. (it's kind of an acquired taste-lol- but if you enjoy the taste of "clean" it will be a quick adjustment )

You use 1 cup hot water, 2 tbsp Apple Cider vinegar, 2 tbsp lemon juice, 1tbsp sweetner of choice (I'm allergic  to honey, so use stevia or something) 1 tbsp of cinnamon and a dash of cayenne. I read a lot about this drink online and found it to have a lot of energizing properties. And maybe it's just the taste, but it wakes you up! It also has its way of working through your digestive system, if you know what I mean. This drink supposedly burns calories just on its own.

For lunch, I made a taco bowl, and baked fries. Every human on the planet cannot resist French fries! They are my ultimate guilty pleasure. Guess what? You can make your own at home and they are just as good, if not better! Truth.

For my taco bowl I sauteed some organic corn till blackened then dumped in a can of organic tomato sauce with a scant can of water, half a can of organic black beans, and roughly a half to three fourths cup of Jasmine rice. I let that simmer while I prepared the fries. It was a total of about 30 min. I cut up about 8 potatoes, tossed in 2 tbsp of organic coconut oil and sprinkled it with Greek seasoning. I broil them on high for 15 min, until crispy on the outside. Seriously, the best thing ever. And the broiler is my BFF....FFFFF....forevs. I broil EVERYTHING because it is so fast and tenderizes the veggies just enough. I broil all kinds of veggies from parm cauliflower to garlic broccoli. Coconut oil is my next BFFFF. I have a giant jar I use for everything, even outside of the kitchen. Hair, skin, teeth. I'm currently in the process of training my body to go without store bought deodorant. (see Cameran Diaz's The Body Book for details ) But we can go over that another day. Anyway, when the rice is done all liquid will be absorbed. Top with avocado and cilantro. So that is my healthy lunch, super filling, with lots of good protein, carbs, and nummy ness.

For dinner, I made roasted eggplant Parmesan. Just cut up 2 large eggplants into big circles. Layer a lasagna dish with your choice of marinara, parm cheese, and eggplant. I use some garlic salt on top and bake for maybe 20 to 30 min at 350 degrees. So good!!!

For dessert, um, yes, I never skip dessert! I made Apple pie from apples off my tree. I didn't add anything else to the filling, just apples. I made up the crumble topping, using (about ) 1 cup oats, half cup brown sugar, half cup flour of choice, and half cup softened butter. To be extra weird, and yummy, I threw in about a half cup of my toasted coconut hot chocolate!! Now, I absolutely hate coconut in the meat form. But I enjoy the flavor of it, and the hot choc really gave the crumble a unique flavor without putting legit coconut on top. I used a premade Marie Calendars crust, and bomb diggity!!

And there you have it!

For the most part, I try to buy organic. I eat so much produce it is ridiculous. Like, literally. I've gone through 4 avocados and a bundle of bananas this week! (it's Monday).I also eat tons of eggs...eggs for breakfast. Eggs for lunch. Eggs for din din! I find that I have more energy and a healthier body composition when I focus on clean eating. I can also eat a TON of food without stressing about calories. I do believe in purchasing products with less GMO. And hopefully less anything artificial, but like I said, sometimes it is impossible. And I'm not gonna turn down someone else's hard cooked meal! Even if they don't use the same ingredients I do. But this lifestyle just works for me.

Also, because I'm a whack job that likes to prep on one day, while the kitchen is a disaster, I also made Chickpea Patties to eat for breakfast throughout the week, and a berry smoothie with organic mixed berries and almond milk. Using more apples from my tree, I made an Apple chia seed pudding by boiling apples in 100% Apple juice and cinnamon, then adding about 3 tbsp of chia seeds. Its amazing for breakfast OR dessert. If I snack, that's where I get naughty. I enjoy string cheese, crackers of any salty design, chips and salsa, or granola bars. Veggies and dip is a good go to, or a spinach salad with balsamic vinegar/olive oil dressing.

It can be intimidating at the grocery store, wondering what to buy, and how to NOT spend a thousand dollars. but once you commit, you realize there are a few staples that you buy every visit, and keep your pantry stocked full, and you can whip up TONS of recipes. You just build from there, and it isn't much more expensive. I guess it's a sacrifice you have to make for the lifestyle you want to live.

Anyone have any recipes they wana share??