Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Gina's Zucchini Pizza Bites

I know I wrote about Gina's Skinny Recipes a couple of weeks ago, but I just made her Zucchini Pizza Bites and oh my goodness....

My husband and I are having friends over for dinner tomorrow night, and I've planned a meal that won't ruin my WW week.  I'm cooking options for regular eaters as well as those of us who are dieting.  We're grilling, so the main course will be burgers and hot dogs.  However, in addition to hamburgers, there will be turkey burgers.  :-)  I'm making a yummy (light but doesn't taste light) potato salad and I'm trying Gina's baked onion rings.  I also wanted to try these zucchini pizza bites as appetizers.  I'm not a huge fan of zucchini unless it's in my great grandma's oh-so-tasty bread, so I thought I should try them before feeding them to everyone.  Well... I just made them, and they're fabulous.

I love them.  They taste good and are a great snack but more importantly, they're SO EASY.  I can totally see how it would be fun to make these with kids.  Plus, it would be a great, healthy snack for picky kiddos because of the pizza disguise.  :-)

If you have any zucchini sitting around, this is a great recipe.  I did everything she advised except for the pizza sauce.  I looked at the price of pre-made pizza sauce in comparison to the price of a tiny can of tomato sauce and decided to go with the tomato sauce.  I just added some salt, pepper, garlic powder, and oregano.  It tastes just fine.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Soooo Stressed!

I haven't been blogging lately because of everything that is going on.  I am beyond stressed and overwhelmed with this move.

In June, our little family is packing up and moving across the country.  Yes, we'll be close to family and friends... FINALLY, but we're teachers.  Teachers do not get paid during the summer.  Plus, I haven't even been working this year (SAHM), so we're already suffocating financially.  I have a brilliant idea!  Let's add a cross-country move to the mix!

We have been incredibly blessed this week as I have accepted a job offer.  We have the security of knowing at least one of us will be bringing in an income and will have access to insurance in a few months.  This is a huge relief.  I just wish my husband would receive a call.  He's an amazing teacher and cares more about his students than anyone could possibly know.  He has accomplished incredible things here.  His resume is awesome.  The employment opportunities just aren't there.  His content area is not in high demand, and the market is flooded.  The one place where we felt slightly optimistic he would find a job has received over 80 applicants.  Who wants to risk hiring someone on the opposite side of the country when they have 80 people ready to walk in the door?

It's stressful to say the least.  My heart goes out to my husband.  He's one of these guys who has to work hard and provide for his family in order to feel any sort of self-worth.  I'm grateful for that; I just wish I could pull out a magic wand and create a teaching position for him.  :-)

We also still have no place to live.  Our family members are all willing to let us stay with them until we find a place.  Again... awesome.  I just hate all of this uncertainty.  I am one who must have a plan and schedule.  I have to know exactly what is happening each day, or I am an absolute mess.  I need to know we have a house waiting on us somewhere.

Bleh.  I'm so sick of looking for houses and job vacancies.  If you hear a loud crunching sound, that's just me throwing my computer into the street.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Healthy, AMAZING Recipes... In LOVE With This Site

My Weight Watchers journey is progressing well, and I think I've finally learned to cook.  That helps.  However, I've been repeating many of the same recipes, and they're starting to feel a bit monotonous.  In an effort to find new recipe ideas, I stumbled upon Gina's Skinny Recipes at SkinnyTaste.com.  I am so excited about this site and want to share.

Each recipe is presented with step-by-step instructions and pictures demonstrating what each step should look like.  This is AWESOME as I am not a natural in the kitchen.  Plus, all of the Points+ values are already calculated!  Even if you're not doing Weight Watchers, you can still plan these healthy meals into your daily routine.  All of the nutritional information is provided as well.  =)

I couldn't have found this website at a better time.  My husband's grandfather is visiting in a few days, and I've been racking my brain about dinner options.  I want to continue to cook healthy food, but I also need really good recipes that everyone will like.  I am definitely picking through these Skinny Recipes with a fine-tooth comb.

If you're looking to change up your recipe box and wanting to try some healthier options, check out this site.  :-)  You will not be disappointed.

Just a couple of examples:

Sweet Light Angel Food Cupcakes

Chicken Rollatini with Prosciutto and Cheese

Monday, May 2, 2011

FATspiration Tip #5

I haven't written a FATspiration tip in a while, so here goes...

FATspiration Tip #5:  Eat every 3 hours and keep a daily food/drink journal.

I've seen this done on all of the FAT shows recently, but when it was recommended by my beautiful, skinny cousin, I knew it had to be true.  :-)  She's one of those people who makes a fat girl want to spit out the candy she just stuffed in her mouth.  This woman has an amazing body, gorgeous hair, and a very pretty face.  The worst part?  She's so ridiculously nice that you can't hate her.  :-)  Seriously though, she works really hard to keep her body looking as awesome as it does, AND she's really into the fitness world.  She knows her stuff.

According to this wonderful lady, eating every 3 hours keeps your metabolism going.  Obviously, sitting on your couch with a box of Twinkies ready to fill your "every 3 hour" requirement is not what we're shooting for.  Personally, I like to keep a bag of fresh almonds in my kitchen (no salt or sugar added).  If it's been a few hours and I'm not ready for a meal, I just grab a few almonds.  If I remember correctly, I can have about 23 for 4 Points.  I don't even come close to eating 23, so it is a healthy, filling, super low-Point food.

I can also speak from experience regarding the food journal.  Tracking your food is a component of WW, and it has really helped me.  Those of us who are addicted to food go through bouts of denial.  When I first started keeping a journal, I could not believe how much I had been eating before WW.  It was disgusting and kind of scary.  Even now, when I don't lose during a week, I know it's because I didn't keep detailed track of my food on a particular day.  I think I'll remember it later, but it's really easy to forget.

In addition to keeping a journal, even if you're not doing WW, you should set goals for how many glasses of water you want to drink each day.  I love having the little water tracker on my WW tool.  During the weeks I lose the most, I meet my daily water goals.  Tracking it keeps me aware and motivates me to make sure I'm drinking enough.  On Saturday, I looked back through my previous WW weeks.  The water is a huge factor.

If you're trying to shed some pounds, add the food journal to your plan and make sure you eat healthy snacks throughout the day.  :-)  Good luck!

Click here to visit my cousin's new blog!  She has a lot of great ideas about saving money.  :-)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Healthier (and Super Easy) Calzones

I tried a new recipe/creation this evening, and my husband really liked it.  It was super easy, quick, and would be a fun meal for kids so I thought I would share.  I found a basic recipe on the WW site but changed it to be more flavorful and filling.  You could change/add whatever you like to make it suitable for your family.

4 Servings

Ingredients:
10oz frozen pizza dough (I just used an 11oz thin crust refrigerated dough.)
     -room temperature
4Tbsp Fat-free canned tomato sauce
1/4 cup (or more) Part-Skim Mozzarella Cheese (Shredded)
Pepperoni?
Ground Turkey?
1 garlic clove (finely chopped)
Onion (finely chopped, just enough for a sprinkle on each piece of dough)
Pinch of salt and pepper
Whatever else you want to add!

Instructions:
Roll out dough on baking sheet.  Form it into a square and cut into 4 smaller squares.  Add a Tbsp of sauce to each piece of dough.  Spread.  Sprinkle with garlic, onion, salt, pepper, and cheese.  Add additional toppings.  Fold dough in half diagonally or pull up each corner.  pinch the corners or edges together.  Bake at 375 for 11-15 minutes.

I only used one slice of pepperoni on mine but 5 on the others for my husband.  I needed to keep my Points low.  Next time, I'll plan for more points and add a little ground turkey.  I think I'll also add some chopped green pepper.  :)  Again, this is a really easy recipe and quick to throw together.  It would also be a fun meal for the kids to help prepare.  :)

If you try it and have any suggestions, please comment below!

1st Shopping Trip With Coupons

A while ago, I posted a response about TLC's Extreme Couponing show.  Well... yesterday was my first shopping trip with a tiny bundle of organized coupons.  Hah. I was so proud of myself.  I only saved $11.00, but I look it as I SAVED $11.00!!!

I was really excited.  My husband saw the packed cart and didn't think we were going to stay within our budget.  It felt really good to see the final total on the screen at the register.  He was surprised, and I was happy.

This is only the beginning....

Sunday, April 24, 2011

OMG. Kloe is NOT fat!

OK, so I try not to write about reality TV and the ridiculous obsession with "perfect" people in media today.  HOWEVER, I have a confession to make.  I absolutely LOVE the Kardashians, and Kloe is my favorite.  She is gorgeous, intelligent, and has a great deal of substance to her personality.


Tonight, I watched the new episode of Kloe and Lamar.  Kloe was feeling a lot of pressure because of her supposed weight issues.  I know people criticize Kloe constantly because she doesn't look exactly like her petite sisters, but I don't get it.  I do not understand how anyone can say she is "ugly" or "fat".  People are petty and jealous.  She is beautiful; she has money, and she is in love with her husband.

If you don't like her, get over it.  Why are you even concerned about it in the first place?  Don't you have your own life on which to focus?  Seriously.

Why on earth do people intentionally say terrible things about others (and waste precious time)?  WHAT IS THE POINT?  Does it make their lives any better?  I'm highly doubting it.

As for Kloe, I completely understand how she would be affected by the comments being made.  That would be enough to pull anyone into a slump.  Even her own mother made her feel insecure.  WTF?  How could a mother say something so insanely superficial and selfish to her daughter?  It's absurd.

Now, if Kloe wants to lose weight because she is uncomfortable in her body, I'm not here to judge.  We all have an ideal place where we like our bodies to be, and it differs among individuals.  When I look at people bigger than me, I do not necessarily think they're fat.  Yet, I am unhappy with where I am because it isn't comfortable for me.  I don't judge my skinny friends for wanting to lose a pound or two because they know what is best for them (physically and mentally).  WHATEVER.  I just wish we could rise above the unattainable image of perfection that is constantly forced down our throats.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Canyon De Chelly: 10 Months Later

The story behind the birth of my daughter is a long one.  I won't go into details, but I was in labor for over 2 days and didn't realize it.  My mother and grandmother were visiting us at the time, and since the baby hadn't come yet, we decided to take Grandma to see Canyon De Chelly.  If you've never been, it's in Chinle, AZ and is absolutely amazing.

Well, it was probably a silly thing do, but it made for an interesting story.  I was in labor while we were there and fighting contractions the entire time.  This is a picture of my husband and me (17 hours before our daughter was born)...


... and THIS is a picture of me during a contraction.  


We only have about 2 months left on the "rez" and I've been wanting to take our daughter back to Canyon De Chelly.  I wanted to get some pictures of her to keep as she gets older.  Today provided the perfect opportunity as we were meeting an old friend in Chinle.

10 Months and 2 Weeks Later: 


Pretty cool.  :-)  

Thursday, April 21, 2011

I'll Take the Messy House

My husband is finally back from his trip.  My house has returned to normal, and our little girl is happy again.  For 4 days, I had a CLEAN house.  Within 11 hours upon his arrival, the floor was covered with clothes, socks, bags, ties, belts, shoes....  There were 7 empty glasses leaving trails from the kitchen, to his chair, to the bedroom, and back to the kitchen.  Trash had piled up on the bar, and a heaping stack of unorganized papers rested next to my husband's computer.  

I'm happy.

This sounds so lame, but I would rather have the messy house than an empty, boring, lonely, clean one.  

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Daddy's Trips Aren't Easy On Us

My husband left yesterday to attend an educators' fair.  He is recruiting teachers to come out to the rez.  :-) It needs to be done, and I'm happy he is able to get away from the insane amount of stress he's under at work.  It's just kind of hard on us.  I'm used to him being gone for work or coaching sports, but the little one is just now able to realize he's missing.  She says "da da da da" periodically throughout the day, and I tell her he had to go "bye bye" but will be back soon.  She usually starts waving at the air.  When Daddy leaves, we always watch at the door.  During one of our little photo shoots this morning, I think she was looking for him.


She was waving with her right hand....

Friday, April 15, 2011

Saturday Blog Hops

I'm going to be doing LOTS of hopping this weekend.  The husband will be away on a business trip; this is how I will be filling the void.  :-)  Feel free to join in!

Spotlightanimated2

FATspiration Tip #4

Another week is coming to a close for me, and I must face the scale tomorrow morning.  This has been a rough week... which brings me to this post.

FATspiration Tip #4:  There will be rough patches.

If you've read any of my earlier FAT related posts, you know this is my 3rd week on Weight Watchers.  I really do love the program and think it's a great fit for me.  If you're not familiar with the program, you have a daily Points allowance based on your height and weight.  However, you also have a weekly allowance for days you inevitably splurge.  AND... in addition to the weekly Points, you can even swap your activity Points if you still need that extra wiggle room.

Thank God.

For whatever reason, this week got off to a rough start.  I have a lot going on right now, and I'm assuming I reverted back to my terrible habit of compulsive overeating.  I literally wanted to eat everything in my house.  I definitely needed those extra points this week.  I didn't totally ruin my diet, but I did use about half of my extra (weekly) Points.  The fact that I didn't completely throw the diet out the window because of a few bad days is a big deal for me.  In the past, I would have given up.  Now, I have to just face the fact that there are going to be days or even weeks when I'm going to struggle.  The important thing is to keep pushing myself.  In an effort to combat the extra eating this week, I did exercise more.  I increased my elliptical workout to twice a day and continued with the vigorous walks when the weather was decent.  Hopefully, the exercise has been enough to keep me from gaining any weight back.  We'll see tomorrow morning.

Click the links below to read the first FATspiration Tips.
FATspiration Tips 1, 2, & 3

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Allergic to Diapers

My daughter seems to be allergic to pretty much everything.  I found out within her first week home from the hospital that the Dreft laundry detergent we had bought would have to be given away.  All of the clothes I had washed in preparation for her arrival had to be rewashed with detergent that was free of all perfumes and dyes.  Heaven forbid an old dryer sheet get mixed in with her baby clothes.  She'll break out in a rash from head to toe.  We can only use sensitive skin wipes, and her cheeks must be coated with a petroleum jelly based ointment before going outside or the puffy, redness will ensue.  

Because of all of this, I should have known better the first time I put that Huggies diaper on her little butt.  Since she was born, we've used Pampers diapers.  We received Pampers Swaddlers at baby showers and loved them, so we just stayed with that particular brand.  Now, she's in the Cruisers.  I usually buy the diapers when I go to town, but we ran out the other day.  I sent my husband to the grocery store to buy more, and he came home with a package of Huggies.  They're a few dollars cheaper, so I was hoping they would work.  

Upon changing the first of the Huggies diapers, I noticed a deep red rash.  It was different than a typical diaper rash.  It covered the entire area, was dry, and wasn't broken up into separate bumps.  I simply can't stand my daughter having diaper rashes.  I don't want her to be uncomfortable or irritated, so I constantly change her diapers and keep the area clean and dry.  When I saw the new rash, I cleaned it, let it dry, then covered her in Desitin.  That usually does the trick, but it didn't work this time.  I repeated this process each time I changed her diaper, and it was only getting worse.  Her diet hadn't changed; she hadn't been exposed to anything unusual.  After about two days of this, I decided it had to be the diapers.  I found a few Pampers in a diaper bag and used those until we could get back to the store.  After 3 of the Pampers diapers (and the cleaning, drying, and Desitin), the rash started to get better.  It's been about 24 hours now, and the rash has improved significantly.  It had to be the Huggies.  

I don't know if it is something in the Huggies diapers or the fact that my daughter is just used to the Pampers and reacted poorly to the switch, but I won't be using Huggies again.  I'm not saying Huggies diapers are bad or that you shouldn't use them.  I'm sure there are babies out there who are allergic to Pampers as well.  Just consider the diaper allergy as an option if your baby suddenly develops terrible diaper rash and you've explored all other causes and treatments.  

To read more about diaper rash symptoms, causes, and treatment, click here.  

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wordless Wednesday ~ Life is Hard for a Baby

Starting with a little sun...


Taking a break to play the piano...


Eating shoe strings with Daddy...


*Sigh* ...  Rough Day

Pier 1 Outdoor Furniture is Here!

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Pier 1 for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Pier 1!!!  It is my absolute favorite home furnishing store, and I'm so excited that spring is finally here.  Spring weather means we can be outside enjoying time with friends and family, and Pier 1 has the best outdoor furniture and decor to make this possible.  Whether you're entertaining or simply relaxing in the sun, you can find whatever you need to make your outdoor space comfortable and gorgeous at Pier 1 Imports.
Must Haves for this Summer:
These Outdoor Wicker Stacking Armchairs are my favorite "go to" item.  They're practical, durable, and super cute.  If you feel like jazzing up your space a bit, check out the more vibrant colors.  Grab as many as you need to seat all of your guests and then stack them for easy clean-up!  The best part about these chairs?  They're affordable at only $79.95/chair!

This Taza Round Outdoor Table would be a great addition to these chairs as well.  The beautiful colors in the table would coordinate with any of the outdoor furniture available at Pier 1, but it would be perfect with the colors of the chairs above.  
I'm also in love with this Outdoor Crazy Chair!  It's amazing.  The design is totally unexpected, unique, and looks so cozy.  I can totally see myself curled up in this chair for a nap in the shade.  This one is definitely on my wish list.  At $99.95, it's a great deal!
Simply Looking to Update Your Space??
If you are just looking for a way to update your outdoor space at an affordable price, check out Pier 1's Reversible Outdoor Cushions.  The Scatter Daisy pattern is my favorite.  You have a pop of color on either side of the cushion, but if you're not in the mood for a floral print, flip it over for colorful stripes instead.   
    
You could also add an umbrella to your patio space as a focal point.  There are many different umbrellas to choose from, but I like this Hot Stripe Umbrella.  It's cute and only $99.95!
    
Indoor/Outdoor
Pull your entire seating area together with a beautiful rug!  Many of these rugs are indoor AND outdoor.  When summer is coming to a close, bring the rug inside for use year-round!  This Brown Scroll Indoor/Outdoor Rug is gorgeous and could easily transition from a patio space to an indoor living area. 
Papasans
Don't forget about the iconic Pier 1 Papasans!  The newest addition and most comfortable looking outdoor seat around is the Outdoor Swingasan Chair.  It is fun and would provide worlds of entertainment for all of the kids in the family.  
If you're looking for a papasan chair to nap and/or cuddle with that special person, check out the Double Papasan!  
Sales and Clearance!
Visit Pier 1 today to take advantage of great bargains and clearance items!  You can always find great prices at Pier 1, and their sales are fantastic.  
Check out Pier 1 for your complete outdoor entertaining area today! 
Visit Sponsor's Site

Monday, April 11, 2011

I Hate Coupons?

After reading all of the blog posts about TLC's Extreme Couponing, I was interested in seeing what all the fuss was about.  People seem to either love or hate this show.  I couldn't believe the uproar I had been seeing in the blogging community.

Anyway, I watched it last night.  I must confess... I hate coupons.  I can't stand them.  I don't have the patience or organizational skills to deal with those little pieces of paper.  Even when I intend to use them, I either or forget or lose them in the bottomless pit that is my purse.  I have only used 1 coupon in my entire life. However... I think I may start using them on a regular basis.

I could not believe how much money those ladies saved on that show!  Don't get me wrong; I think those particular ladies are raising new generations of hoarders by forcing their children to live that lifestyle.  There is a clear difference in using coupons to save money and using coupons to stock up on products you will NEVER open.  Sixty-two bottles of mustard???  Did anyone else hear that woman's husband say he didn't even eat mustard?  What's the point?  Clearly, some of these people have voids that are being filled by hoarding.

I did learn something about shopping though.  I could be a little more proactive with my shopping.  I could plan and utilize coupons when applicable.  I could pay more attention and shop smarter.  I'm going to start using coupons.  :-)  BUT... if I ever store toilet paper under my baby's bed or fill my shower with paper towels, please hold an intervention!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

At A Crossroads

I'm struggling with what to do and where to go from here.  I absolutely love staying home with my daughter, and I know all of the benefits of being able to give that to her.  The bottom line is... I have to go back to work in August.  We're moving across the country, and our bills are ridiculous.  Student loans are eating us alive.  I have to go back to work in order for us to keep our heads above water.  I just wish more than anything that I could continue to stay home even after we move.

Don't get me wrong, I love teaching.  I honestly enjoy working with students and making an impact on their lives.  I'm good at it, and until I gave birth, I thought it was what I was supposed to be doing.  Instantly after my daughter was born, I knew I was supposed to be a mom.  For the first time in my life, I absolutely LOVE every aspect of my current job.  Caring for my daughter.  I feel it in every fiber of my being.  This is what I'm supposed to do.  This is my purpose.  It makes sense.  I love teaching, but the part I love the most is being a mom to the kids who need me.

In the area where I have been teaching, many of my kids don't have both or either parents in their lives.  Many kids endure inexplicably horrific situations at home.  Many feel abandoned and don't receive the nurturing they need.  This is the reason I love this place so much.  I've always felt needed by my kids.  I truly see my students as my own children.  I would adopt them in a heartbeat if I could convince my husband.  :-)  Believe me, I've tried.

Now, however, I have this beautiful little girl who needs her mother.  When I teach, I immerse myself into it.  I can't do that and give my daughter all of me at the same time.  I can't give 200% of myself to both positions, and she has to come first.

None of this really matters because it can't change anything.  I have to go back to work.  It's inevitable.  I have submitted applications and am praying for interviews.  I need a job.  I shouldn't think about these things because there isn't anyway to get around the fact that I'm going to have to spend more time working during the day than with my daughter.  It just breaks my heart.

This morning, I saw something that made me question what I'm doing.  I never watch Oprah or her OWN channel, but for whatever reason, I caught it today.  As I exercised on my elliptical, I watched Oprah's Master Class.  She said things I have always told other people and have tried to live by, but it hit me differently today.  I believe every single thing in life happens for a reason.  I believe we are the only people in the world with any control over what we do in our lives.  I believe we are thrown hurdles but have the ability and knowledge to make the best of situations and use the hurdles to persevere.  I know all of this, but I keep hoping some magical creature will pop up, wave a wand, and fix all of the issues we're facing.  Oprah, however, reminded me that "luck" like that doesn't exist.  In the Master Class episode, she says something that really hits home for me.  "Luck is when preparation meets the moment of opportunity."  If I want something, I'm the only one who can reach out and grab it.

The whole Oprah thing got me wondering what else I can do to prepare myself for the moment of opportunity I will have if I create it for myself.  I know I want to write a series of children's books; I know I want to write books about life, teaching, and being a new mom.  I know I want to turn this blog into something bigger.  I know I have the knowledge base to accomplish all of these things.  I just don't know where to go from here, but I have to figure it out.

Oprah also talks about how we must discover our purpose in life.  If we don't know our purpose, we're "just wandering around."  My purpose used to be teaching, but now, it's being a stay-at-home mom.  That may seem silly to everyone else, and people will tell me it's a "waste of [my] education", but it's what makes me happy and what leaves me feeling accomplished.  As long as it is what I feel is my purpose, I know it's what I should be doing.  I just have to figure out how to make it a possibility.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Sunday Blog Hop - BBL

Stop by the Baby Bottom Line and link up with the Sunday blog hop!  If you're already "hopping" around, take a peak at some of my posts.  :-)  If you like what you see, feel free to follow.  Leave a comment and I will follow you back. Thanks for visiting!

The Baby Bottom Line

Friday, April 8, 2011

FATspiration Tip #3

Make ground turkey your friend.  :-)

Since beginning this weight loss challenge, I've used ground turkey 3 times.  I've made turkey burgers twice and added ground turkey to a lasagna as well.  I was a little hesitant at first because I don't like to eat food that tastes healthy.  You know... that cardboard taste.

However, I actually enjoy the ground turkey.  I can't remember what ground beef tastes like now which means the turkey must be doing the trick.  Plus, it's WAY healthier.  I buy the 99% fat free.  The best part is that my husband likes it as well.  I asked him last night if he preferred regular hamburgers over the turkey we were eating, and he actually said he likes the turkey better.  He feels much better after he eats it.  The grease isn't just sitting in his stomach making him miserable.  :-) That's a very good thing.

As I've said before, I'm still learning how to cook.  I'm not good yet by any means, but if you want my advice on the turkey burgers, my "recipe" is below.


Turkey Burgers

Ingredients:
Ground Turkey
Garlic (powder or fresh minced)
Onion (powder, minced, or freshly chopped)
Salt
Pepper
Cheddar Cheese (or whatever cheese you want)

I just use the desired amount of each and mix the seasonings together, form into patties, and cook.  Don't forget to top with cheese!  :)  If you've never used ground turkey for burgers before, know that the patties do not shrink.  You don't have to form them into larger patties as you would with ground beef.  Just make them the size and thickness you want.

Good luck!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

FATspiration Tip #2

Keep pushing yourself!

This is my second week of eating healthier and exercising regularly.  I must be perfectly honest.  It's different this time.  I've started thousands of diets, and I usually don't make it through the first week.  I don't know why I've suddenly developed will power, but I have.

There are tough days, but I think that's what makes WW a good program for me.  If I need to indulge in a sweet treat, I can.  I'm training myself to think about it first though.  Sure, I would rather eat chocolate all day than fruit and veggies, but are the points worth it?  For me?  Right now?  No.

This brings me (again) to my second FATspiration tip.

KEEP PUSHING YOURSELF!  Don't give up.  Make yourself get up off your rear end and exercise.  Make yourself experiment with food until you find healthier options you can actually enjoy.  Yes, it's hard, but it gets easier.  If you get past the 3rd day, you can keep going.  You may not want to, but you can.  :-)

FATspiration Tip #1

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Teething Monster (Symptoms and Remedies)

Dear Teething Monster,
I appreciate you coming in waves.  I know you mean well.  You're trying to give us a break here and there.  I get it... but for the love of God, please just get it over with already.
Thanks,
Me

I haven't been posting regularly this week as my daughter has been teething.  It is brutal, and I'm exhausted.  My little angel has transformed into this screaming demon child.  Of course, I don't mean that, and yes, I feel terribly sorry for her, but my goodness.  I had to sit her in her playpen for less than 1 minute to stir dinner this evening.  My husband heard her screaming down the road as he walked home from work.  All doors and windows to the house were closed.  We've been dealing with this whole teething thing since she was 4 months old, but it would come in waves and has never been so intense.  Why has this week been so bad?  I found the culprit.  There is a tiny little hint of white on her bottom gums.  :-)

This brings me to the topic of today's post.  If you think your baby might be teething and are looking for signs and ways to help, you're in the right place.  Most babies begin teething between 4 and 7 months, but ALL babies are different.  My daughter will be 10 months tomorrow and still has no teeth surfacing.  Again, please note that I am not a pediatrician; if your child is experiencing a high fever or seems to be suffering from some sort of ailment, please consult your doctor.

Signs Your Baby May Be Teething

  • Excessive drooling
  • Fussiness
  • Irritability 
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Fever
  • Runny nose
  • Coughing
  • Decrease in appetite

Possible Ways to Help Ease Baby's Discomfort

  • Chilled teething rings
  • Chilled pacifiers (This is a trick I learned from my sister.  I use the Soothies pacifiers because the entire thing chills and my daughter likes to chew on the base.  She hasn't used pacifiers in months but likes to chew on these.  Soothies also makes teething pacifiers, but I've never tried them.)
  • Baby Orajel (Naturals or the original formula)
  • Clove Oil
  • Infant Acetaminophen and/or Motrin
  • Teething Tablets 
  • Chilled baby food
  • Water (to rehydrate) 
  • Use a clean finger to rub gums 
  • Snacks that Baby can chew (arrowroot cookies, Gerber Graduates snacks)
  • If your baby develops a rash from the drooling, pat the skin dry, then coat with petroleum jelly or Aquaphor.
  • Comfort and Love  :)

The most important advice I can give is this:

Be patient.  Take deep breaths through the crying and remember your baby is experiencing major discomfort.  It isn't his fault that his gums hurt and your schedule isn't working out as planned.  :-)  

For further reading, visit the sites listed below.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Precious Pictures

I'm exhausted today.  I spent ALL day yesterday experimenting in the kitchen.  The apple cake I tried was a dud.  However, the lasagna I made was amazing!  I actually made the tomato sauce from scratch, and it was delicious.  I used a Weight Watchers recipe but added ground turkey to half of the lasagna so my husband would have some meat.  He liked it as well and still doesn't believe it was a WW recipe. 

I'm too tired to think of a clever post for today, so I'm just going to upload some very cute pictures of my very cute daughter.  :-)  Enjoy!


Friday, April 1, 2011

Ultimate Blog Party 2011!!!

If you haven't joined the Ultimate Blog Party at 5MinutesforMom, you should check it out.  There are thousands of other blogs to explore and new blogging friends to meet.   This is my first year as a participant, and I'm excited.  :-)


If you're just now discovering my blog, let me tell you a little bit about me and the topics I discuss here at Stories and Advice for Moms.  I originally started this blog a few months after my daughter was born.  I had been teaching high school English, Speech, and Drama for 3 years, gave birth to a GORGEOUS baby girl on June 7, 2010, and decided to take a year off to stay home and care for her.

My husband and I have been living and working on the Navajo reservation in AZ since graduating college and getting married in 2007.  We are in an isolated, rural area and far away from family and friends.  We've been given this amazing gift and are on our own to try to figure out how to take care of her.  :-)  As a new stay-at-home mom with no family around to help, I spent hours researching lots of mom information on the internet.  I became overwhelmed with all of the information out there and decided to start a blog where I could summarize the key information many new moms are seeking.  That was my intention.  :-)

Little did I know, this blog would help me overcome my postpartum anger and insomnia.  Many of my earlier posts cover all of those postpartum issues that aren't so glamorous.  I write about the ugly stuff we deal with but don't really hear too much about.  :-)

In addition to writing about PPD, I also share stories about my little girl, baby development, DIY ideas, recipes, and my most recent challenge... losing the baby weight!  :-)  Well, maybe it's not "baby weight" that I'm losing, but it's a good cover.

My most popular posts are listed to the right.  Check them out if you're interested!  You can also search my blog for other topics.  Please feel free to join the "followers" along the way!  If you leave a comment, I'll follow you back.  :-)  Thanks for stopping by!

Suddenly My Baby is a Little Girl

I am entering yet another new chapter in my crazy life and I am doing so with incredibly mixed emotions.   It seems as though my baby has turned into a little girl overnight....

Our little Emma has developed a distinct personality and is starting to turn into a toddler.  Don't be deceived by the lack of hair.  :-) She's making calculated decisions, discovering her surroundings, and expressing emotions.  She claps when she's happy and proud and cries when trying to manipulate situations.  She's amazing. 



I'm excited for her.  She is so happy exploring things on her own and developing new skills.  The selfish part in me is a little sad that I'm already losing the little baby we brought home from the hospital.  I'm sad that she won't be depending on me every second of every day.  Sad that this is only the beginning of a whirlwind of change.  However, it's awesome to be a part of it.  :-)  I'm blessed to be able to share each of these new steps with this beautiful little girl. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Stylish Blog Award!!!

Thanks to Kagi, at Sweetened By Kagi, I have received a Stylish Blog Award!  She passed this award along to me today, and I am excited to be a part of it.  Thank you so much, Kagi!  Check out her blog for some awesome ideas for creative and adorable sweet treats.  For all of you moms out there, she has some really cute Elmo themed cakes and cookies.  :-)  Thanks again, Kagi!



Here are the RULES that come along with winning this award:
1. Thank and link back to the person who awarded you this award.
2. Share 7 things about yourself
3. Pay it forward to 15 bloggers that you have recently discovered.
4. Contact bloggers and tell them about their award!

 **********
 {7 Random Facts About Me}
  1. My favorite foods are tomatoes, macaroni and cheese, and taco salad.
  2. I'm obsessed with music and LOVE to sing.
  3. I rock a pretty awesome clarinet!  :-)
  4. My sister is my best friend.
  5. I want to be a cosmetologist.  
  6. Janis Joplin is my favorite female performer of all time.
  7. I think everyone needs to know and live the message in Matisyahu's "One Day".
**********

I am awarding the following blogs with the Stylish Blog Award as well!  A few of them are new to the blogging world and are sharing some great tips, tricks, and ideas.  Others have been around for a while and constantly offer great advice, share wonderful stories, and host neat giveaways.  They're all worthy of this award.  Please check them out and "follow" these wonderful ladies.  :-)   
In no particular order...

http://theadventuresofmissv.blogspot.com/
http://saveyourmoola.blogspot.com/2011_03_01_archive.html
http://www.heidihurd.com/
http://erasingthepounds.blogspot.com/
http://stephanieandadambaby.blogspot.com/
http://aglutenfreemom.blogspot.com/
http://www.hollyatnaptime.com/
http://dishesinthedryer.blogspot.com/
http://ftmommyferg.blogspot.com/
http://www.thethriftymilitarywife.com/
http://margarettidwell.blogspot.com/
http://thriftyandfrugal.blogspot.com/
http://twinpossible.com/blog
http://www.themomadventures.com/
http://www.staying-me.com/

Thanks again for this awesome award!  :-)



Should I Let the Baby Cry at Night??

Who knew this topic was such a controversial issue??  Last night, as my daughter delved into the 24th minute of screaming cries, I entered this topic into my search engine and began reading.  I had no idea how many mothers are so passionate about their perspectives on this debate.  I was just searching to see what I would find.  After reading the terrible things mothers have said to each other, I've decided to write about it and provide unbiased pros and cons.  *** This question shouldn't be asked until the baby is old enough to sleep through the night in his or her crib.  Obviously, young babies need more feedings regardless the time of day.

First, I would like to preface this with the fact that not a single parent in the world wants to be told they're abusing their kids or setting them up for emotional and physical turmoil.  This debate, for example, seems to encroach upon that territory.  If you do not let your child cry at night, I respect it.  If you do let your child cry at night, I respect it.  As long as the child is being loved and properly cared for, these are your decisions as parents.  I go with my gut on these things, and you should as well.  Ultimately, you know what is best for your little ones. 

For me, I was letting my daughter cry because she has recently started waking up the second her body is lowered down into her crib.  Once she realizes where she is, she stands up and cries.  Last night was the 3rd night in a row, and I don't want her thinking we're going to run in there every single time.  My husband doesn't get to spend much time with her during the week as he works so many hours.  Because of this, he thinks it's OK to spoil her on the weekends.  I know he misses her and hates working as much as he does, so I've tried to be patient.  Saturday, however, he rushed to her side as she cried in her crib and let her sleep in the bed with him.  After about an hour, I put her back in her room and didn't hear a sound until the next morning.  The following night was HORRIBLE.  She cried and cried and cried.  Finally, I brought her to bed but only because I could not physically stay awake any longer.  Around 2am, I put her back in her crib.

Last night, I decided we should wait and see if she stopped crying.  I hate letting her cry and can't stand her being upset, but I do NOT want her climbing into bed with us every night as she gets older.  It's common sense to know if we continue allowing her to sleep with us every time she cries, this behavior will continue to repeat itself.  As we let her cry last night, the cries turned to screams and gasps for breath.  Yes, I want to comfort my child.  I'm not a monster.  It got more difficult the longer the cries lasted, so I thought would search and see what other moms were saying about the issue.

After reading some feedback, I began to feel even more guilty about letting her cry.  I still didn't want to reward the behavior, so I waited until she had stopped for a few minutes and checked on her.  She was still standing there... defeated... but standing.  Since she had calmed down, and blank faces from internet posts had made me feel guilty, I picked her up and cuddled her back to sleep.

Should I have felt guilty though?  No.  I know my kid.  People can say it's impossible for a baby to be manipulative, but my kid is very manipulative.  I know in my "gut" that I should have remained strong and let her soothe herself.  She's almost 10 months old.  She's very smart and independent.  It's OK.  As I said, this is my personal story about my child.  Your parenting style may be different and your child's needs may be different as well.

After reading the various arguments floating around, I've decided to construct them into 2 lists below.  The first list is why women say we should let the baby cry and the second, why we should not let the baby cry.  I've also included a few links you can check out for more stories and advice.  If you've found this post via a search engine, please note I am not a doctor or medical professional.  I merely research and summarize.  :-)

Why It's OK (Supposedly)
  • Baby needs to learn to soothe himself
  • Baby won't develop the behavior of "controlled crying" in order to manipulate situations in the future
  • Baby will learn to comfortably sleep in his crib
  • Sometimes babies just cry
  • Need to learn to cope with separation anxiety
  • Schedule
Why It's Not OK (Supposedly)
  • Babies cry because they need something (not feeling well, diaper, food, comfort, sleep, etc.)
  • Emotional insecurity - Baby may not think the parent will be there when needed
  • Baby may not feel loved 
  • Intense separation anxiety
  • Some people think it is selfish.
  • Baby will learn to associate the crib with fright and being upset rather than comfort and sleep.
Again, I am not saying I agree with each of these points.  I think it is up to the parent to decide what is best for their child.  Much of the response to this question seems to be one sided.  If you're wondering whether or not it's OK to let your child cry, don't let anyone guilt you into deciding one way or the other.  Read what you can, but ultimately, you know what is best. 

For additional reading, click the links below.
Storknet
Boston.com Article
BabyCenter
MedHelp

    Monday, March 28, 2011

    Fatspiration Tip #1

    I have tons of mommy topics in my mind that I would like to write about, but at the moment, I'm consumed with my newest attempt at losing weight, getting healthy, and feeling better about myself.  It is Day 4, and I'm doing pretty well.  I already feel so much better and have more energy.  I'm sticking to my points (WW) and have been spending time on my elliptical every day.  Again, this is only Day 4, but I feel good about this. 

    I do have moments of weakness, and I really do think about food most of the day.  However, when I feel I might give in, I stare at my FAT picture. 

    Fatspiration Tip #1:

    Take a FAT picture!  FAT = Finally Acknowledging the Truth.  

    If anyone else out there is trying to shed some pounds and is actually serious about it, I strongly suggest taking a FAT picture.
    1. Change into an outfit that fits your body.  Don't try to cover your flab with baggy clothing.  Find a pair of leggings or shorts and top it with a tank top or sports bra. 
    2. Set up a camera with a self timer or have someone prepare to take your picture.  Make sure the camera catches your entire body.  Don't try to crop out the spare tire or thunder thighs.  :-)
    3. Pose!
    4. Display the picture on your refrigerator, cabinet, or wherever it will give you the most inspiration. 
    Not only will this keep you motivated but you'll have a "before" picture as a reminder of all of your hard work once you lose the weight.  :-)

    Thursday, March 24, 2011

    Therapy In Blogging

    I started this blog with the intention of sharing my stories with other new moms.  I wanted to provide some sort of help to other mothers in similar situations.  However, the writing really turned into a type of therapy for me.  It has become my outlet.

    I would advise anyone struggling with any internal battles, conflict, confusion, or depression to write about it.  I know it has helped me.  There is a sense of anonymity in blogging.  You are in control of how much personal information you release and whether or not you want to share your blog with people you know.  When I started, I didn't tell anyone about it.  Eventually, I started publicizing my writing.  For me, it was another step in the healing process.  I had to confront my issues and be honest with myself.  Once I got things out in the open, I felt better.

    The support and encouragement I've received from fellow bloggers has been phenomenal.  There is an entire blogging community comprised of people going through whatever situations you're going through, and it's nice to know these people support you.  Even if you don't want to search for other people writing about the issues you're experiencing, it really does help to put your thoughts into writing.

    To read an interesting article about blogging being therapeutic, check out CNN Living.

    Wednesday, March 23, 2011

    Postpartum Hair Loss - Update

    I frequently check the key words and phrases that are being linked to my blog and have seen quite a few people searching for information regarding postpartum hair loss.  If you have been directed to this post via a search engine and would like to read the original post (Postpartum... Baldness??), click here.   I initially wrote about hair loss when my daughter was 4 months old.  Five months have passed, and I have encouraging words for other mothers in the same situation.

    It is common for women to shed hair following a pregnancy.  According to the American Pregnancy Association, about 40-50% of women also experience telogen effluvium, which is "the excessive shedding of hair that occurs one to five months following pregnancy."  The hair is supposed to return to normal within 6 to 12 months.

    When my hair fell out, I was left with bald spots.  I had very long, thick hair, but with the excessive shedding, decided it would be best to cut it into a shorter style.  It has been a long process, but my hair is slowly growing back.  The bald spots have been replaced with new hair growth.  Some pieces are reaching about 2" long.  It makes for awkward pony tails and some crazy looking hair styles, but I'm glad it is noticeably growing.  Below, I've posted a picture to display some of the new hair growth.



    I'm not posting this picture because it's flattering by any means.  If you're experiencing a similar situation, I just want you to know that it does get better.  As women, whether we like it or not, our hair is a defining feature.  It is part of what makes us feel confident and attractive.  To lose it can be devastating.  When mine began to fall out, I struggled quite a bit.  My hair has always been the one thing I could control and manipulate however I wanted.  I've always been proud of my long, blonde locks.  When I lost it, I lost my self-esteem.  There was not much I could do about it, so I turned inward, refused to leave my house more than absolutely necessary, and drowned my sorrows in food.  I'm hoping other moms out there will have patience and follow the advice listed on the American Pregnancy Association website.

    The American Pregnancy Association offers great tips for battling this excessive hair loss.  If your hair loss has not improved within 6-12 months after pregnancy, consult a doctor for a proper diagnosis.  Many women experience female pattern baldness.  Click here to read more.  For these women, there are treatments to help create new growth, but they are costly, and you must have the correct diagnosis in order to find the best treatment.  Again, check out the links above for more information.  Have patience and keep your spirits high.

    Tuesday, March 22, 2011

    New! Essay Editor

    I have created a new page!  Click the "Essay Editor" tab above to learn more.  I'm piloting an editing resource via this blog.  If you or someone you know is in need of a qualified English teacher to edit an essay, check out my services!

    Monday, March 21, 2011

    Personal Story Time: I can't cook.

    I grew up baking.  That's what we do.  The women in my family bake.  If you're in the need for some traffic-stopping zucchini bread, I'm your woman.  However, I have never been much of a chef.  Can't we just have chocolate chip cookies and banana nut muffins for dinner?

    When I started my stint as a stay-at-home mom, I decided I would learn how to cook real food for my husband and my daughter.  I set out on a mission to learn how to instinctively cook healthier, tastier meals.  I can whip up a tater tot casserole like it's nobody's business.  Meat and potatoes are easy, but everything else?  Not so much.

    After dinner one night before I went back to work, my husband said, "Huh... you're becoming quite the cook.  I didn't expect that."  In typical male fashion, the comment came out wrong, but he meant well.  Practicing had been helping me, and I saw some progress.  I felt more confident in the kitchen.  Then... I went back to work and stopped experimenting.  For 7 weeks, I cooked what I knew (again).  I was tired after working with high school freshmen all day and cooked whatever was simple and quick for dinner.  Now, that I'm back home, I'm discovering cooking to be one of those skills I have to continue practicing or I lose it.  The past 3 days, I've tried new recipes.  When I ask my husband what he thinks as he's eating his dinner, he pauses.  Every single time.  He pauses.  Then, after carefully deciding how to respond, he says, "It's alright."  "It's disgusting" is what he wants to say.  Today was the worst.  The poor guy had worked 11 straight hours without stopping for lunch or breaks.  He was starving when he walked through the front door.  Anticipating a hungry husband after he missed lunch, I had concocted a marinade for a few hamburgers and had them cooking as he arrived.  Anxiously, he grabbed his plate and sat down to enjoy his meal.  How he stopped himself from spitting out that first bite, I'll never know.  The marinade was awful; I had soaked them way too long; the burgers were gross.

    I'm going to continue trying new recipes and attempting to learn how to cook meals that don't involve fried potatoes, macaroni and cheese, or taco salad, but I'm not holding out much hope.  I think I missed that gene somewhere.  It wasn't passed down.

    Saturday, March 19, 2011

    Working Didn't Work for Me

    In January, I decided to go back to work as a high school English teacher.  I had stayed home with my daughter for her first 6 months and had made the decision to put her in the care of a babysitter and return to my other children (my students).

    Before I begin explaining this crazy experience, I need to preface with a few details of the area in which we live.  My husband and I are both educators.  We participated in an award winning program as undergraduates and were placed on the Navajo reservation to complete our student teaching.  We fell in love with the area and our students and decided to stay.  In doing so, we assimilated to life on the "rez".  We have no family here and the majority of the friends we made in our first year here have moved on and out of the area.  We drive 2 and a half hours to town (for all shopping, doctors' appointments, and general running of errands) and are incredibly isolated.  I'm not complaining.  These are merely the facts.  As non-native district employees, we live in the teacher housing unit on campus.  The middle school and district office building are on the other side of my backyard fence.  School isn't just a job here; it consumes one's entire life.

    The kids here make their ways into your hearts quickly and will pounce on every bit of attention, love, and effort you are willing to put forth.  I truly care about all of my students as though they are my own children. I am a good teacher.  I am effective in the classroom and out.  In my time here, I've sponsored many clubs and activities.  I have students who have graduated but still call me "Mom" when seeing me at the grocery store.  I love teaching and love my kids.  Having said this, when I do things, I want to do them perfectly.  Obviously, I want to be an amazing teacher.  When I started teaching again in January, things were different.  My daughter had to come first.

    People told me things would get easier as I continued working.  I would adapt and get used to the little one being with a babysitter during the day.  However, that did not happen.  In the 7 weeks I was working, there was not a single day I didn't break down crying at school.  I taught my lessons and worked with my students.  I did everything I was supposed to do, but the second the bell would ring between classes or my prep period would come, I was broken.  The distractions minimized, and my focus was on the little girl I had dropped off with the babysitter.  I obsessed over it.  Then, at the end of the day, I would pick up my daughter and refuse to touch any work related tasks until she was in bed for the night.  This was done in an effort to make sure I always put her first, but instead of enjoying my limited time with her, I stressed about work.  Each second I was at home, I was obsessing over all of the things I needed to finish for school.  I am not one of those people who can stay up all night long trying to finish my work, but I couldn't sleep either.  I would lie in bed mulling over the hundreds of things I needed to do.  I managed to keep up on my lesson plans, and my instruction in the classroom was fine, but my grading piled up and I wasn't able to do all of the extra things I needed to do for my students.  My house and relationship with my husband suffered as well.  He was used to me being home and is an insanely busy man.  I think he just expected me to continue doing all of the housework by myself.  The laundry piled up, the dust accumulated, and the dishes could have created their own colony.

    I was suffocating.  Constant stress and anxiety took over.  I know the babysitter is a wonderful mother to her own daughter, and I shouldn't have worried, but there were a few things that bothered me when I would pick up my baby.  Those tiny things were exaggerated in my mind and grew into mountains.  I just couldn't get over the fact that I wasn't doing either of my jobs well.  I wasn't able to spend time with my daughter, teach her new skills, enjoy silly moments together.  I was too freaked out about work. I also wasn't able to be the teacher I wanted to be because I was freaked out about my daughter.  I fell behind in both areas and had to make a choice.

    The best decision for our little family was for me to return to being a stay-at-home mom.  I was honest with my principal throughout; I completed my duties and stayed long enough to get through the state standardized tests.  I had accomplished most of the things I had set out to do.  Ultimately, I got the students started on a huge project, left plans to last them a few weeks, and returned home.

    The decision to leave my students was not an easy one.  I stressed about it for weeks and didn't tell them until there were only 2 days left.  I continued to teach as though nothing were changing (with exception of the last 5 minutes of my last class period).  I think I had an impact on the kids while I was there, and I don't regret going back.  It was nice to teach again, nice to challenge myself and feel needed, nice to develop relationships with students.  Yes, it was terrible leaving them, and I cried during each class period as I repeated the same news.

    I just couldn't do it.  Not here.  Not with the only babysitters being people I do not know well enough to trust caring for my child.  In a few months, we will be leaving the reservation and moving closer to our family.  I will, undoubtedly, have to find a new job.  I will also have family members available for babysitting.  Once my daughter is in the care of someone I whole heartedly trust, I'll be OK.  It will still be difficult, but at least I know my mom or mother-in-law will be the ones changing diapers, feeding the baby, and actively interacting with her.  They have vested interests in her well-being.  It will be better.  I will be happier knowing that I don't have to worry or stress.  I will be calm.  :-)

    After this insanely difficult experience, my advice for new moms who are going back to work is this:

    • Be patient.
    • Find a babysitter or childcare facility with which you are entirely comfortable.
    • When you have difficult days, talk it out with your partner or someone who will listen.  
    • Don't let anyone make you feel guilty for wanting to be with your child.
    • Give it time.
    • Ultimately, go with your gut.  :-)  You have to be comfortable with your situation, and you are the only person who can decide what is best for you.  

    I'm back.

    I haven't written a post in a very long time.  The last entry was all about me debating whether or not to go back to work.  Well... I did.  Maintaining a full time job outside of my home, in addition to the one ingrained in the natural chemistry of being a mother, proved to be rather exhausting.  It didn't warrant itself to blogging.  In a nutshell, I dropped off the face of the earth after I went back to work.

    I recently checked my stats and was surprised to see how many views my posts continued to receive in my absence.  Thank you to everyone who has Googled the key phrases and topics my blog has covered thus far.  Also, thank you to those of you who have left comments or contacted me via email.  My original intention for writing was to provide information to other new moms out there who are experiencing similar situations, and I'm glad some of you have found a little bit of support here.  I also sincerely apologize to those of you who reached out to me for additional advice or feedback while I was working.  

    I'm back, and I plan to write frequently once again.  The focus of the blog may change slightly as my daughter is moving into the toddler stage and I find myself diving deeper into the world of education.  Hopefully, someone out there in internet land will continue to find my posts useful in one way or another.

    Friday, January 7, 2011

    Debating About Going Back to Work

    My daughter is 7 months old today.  For 6 full months, I have been a stay-at-home mom.  This new career of mine has been nothing short of a roller coaster ride.  I have literally loved and hated it, but the hate generally coincided with terrible bouts of postpartum struggles.

    Somewhere around the 4th month, I began to think my postpartum anger and emotional outbursts were never going to leave.  However, in the 6th month, I started to feel like myself again.  Perhaps this is because we visited family across the country for the first time since before the baby was born.  Perhaps it is because my hormones are finally leveling out.  I don't know.  I do know, however, that I am ready to jump into something again.  I say "something" because I'm not sure what "something" is.  I want to go back to work; I want to pursue my master's degree; I want to continue staying home with the baby; I want to challenge myself again.

    The easiest place to start would be to go back to work.  I am a high school English teacher and have a position available to me.  I miss the students, and I miss feeling productive.  I'm not saying being a stay-at-home mother isn't a worthwhile job.  I have so much respect for SAHMs.  It's difficult.  I love the baby aspect of it all.  I love the time I spend with my little one and the fact that I don't miss a single movement or sound.  Being stuck in this house day in and day out is where I am struggling.  If we lived closer to family and friends, it would be easier.  We're stuck in the middle of nowhere, far away from our loved ones... far away from my sanity.  Soo... I kind of want to get back into the grind of teaching, but I feel as though the cons outweigh the pros....

    Let me sort this out....

    Pros:

    1. Seeing my students and teaching each day
    2. Paycheck
    3. Accomplishing set goals
    4. Interacting with colleagues
    5. Having to dress professionally
    6. Running around like a mad woman
    7. Problem solving 
    Cons:
    1. Being away from Emma
    2. Worrying about Emma ALL day
    3. Knowing that someone else will be responsible for catering to my daughter like only I know how 
    4. NO BABYSITTER (counts 10 times because this will be impossible unless we find someone I completely trust)
    5. I can't fit into any of my old work clothes and can't really afford to buy new ones.
    6. Emma sleeps until 7 or 8am and goes to bed by 6:30pm.  I would only have about 2-3 (awake) hours with her each day. 
    7. Interacting with colleagues (falls into both categories)
    8. All of the work I would have to do outside of the school day
    Conclusion:  The majority of my "cons" could be lumped into the first point on the list.  I would have to be away from Emma.  Ugh.  

    I don't know what I'm supposed to do.  If we could find a great babysitter, maybe this wouldn't be such a difficult decision.  

    Tuesday, January 4, 2011

    Postpartum Issues: Better In Time

    If you have found my blog because you are experiencing postpartum insomnia, depression, anger, and/or hair loss (as I've written much about these areas), I am happy to share the best "cure" I have found.

    TIME.

    I am very happy to report that after 6 months of craziness, life is finally starting to get back to whatever excuse for normal I had prior to the insanity brought on by postpartum.

    I still have some difficulty sleeping but not so much that it causes problems.  I am still opinionated and have trouble keeping thoughts to myself, but that uncontrollable anger and intense frustration are gone.  My hair is still falling out but not nearly as much as it was.  It is also growing back!  Finally!  I did have to chop it off and color it darker because it changed so much after Emma was born.  I am OK with that though.  Seeing new hair growth where bald spots once were is well worth the shorter, darker hair.

    When people would tell me to be patient a few months ago and "just give it time," I would get annoyed. I was at my last rope and needed to know how to fix my postpartum issues at that exact moment.  I did try a lot of strategies, and I'm sure all of them helped, but the biggest factor is "giving it time."  Don't lose hope, and keep trying everything you can to cope with your postpartum struggles.  Just know that it does get better in each day that passes.

    The Bond Between a Little Girl and Her Daddy

    This may sound cliche, but I was initially drawn to my husband because of his obvious "good dad" characteristics....

    We were only 18 when we first met, and I had no desire to be a mother.  I had created this image of a powerful businesswoman in a suit (who kept tennis shoes in her briefcase).  I was going to go straight into graduate school after earning my bachelor's degree... yadda, yadda, yadda.  Subconsciously, I must have been looking for a great guy who would eventually be an amazing father because that is exactly what I found.  Right away, he told me about his 4 younger brothers and sisters.  I could tell how much he cared about them by the way he spoke, but it was solidified when I visited his family for the first time.  His youngest sister was only 2 years old.  All of the kids are significantly younger than he, and he had clearly learned how to care for little ones.  I had never met a guy with such fatherly instincts.

    I was hooked.  Not having had my own dad around much, I knew having a good father for my children was an area where there would be no compromise.

    I am so thankful to have found such an awesome guy.  When Emma kicks her feet and that crooked smile spreads across her face each time her dad walks in the door, I get those warm, fuzzy feelings inside.  She loves her daddy.  They're best buddies.  She's a very lucky little girl.  :-)


    Two 6 Month Old Babies/Polar Opposites

    This particular Christmas was an exciting one.  Our family lives in Indiana; we live in Arizona, and in June, my sister and I gave birth to beautiful little girls within 3 days of each other.  This Christmas vacation was the first time we were able to introduce the babies.

    It is so incredibly interesting how 2 babies who are only 3 days apart can be so different.  My gorgeous niece has beautiful, brown skin, dark hair (parts of it very long), dark eyes, and long legs.  Our little girl has porcelain skin (a.k.a super pale), big blue eyes, blond fuzz for hair (if anything), short, stubby legs, and rolls upon rolls of chubbiness.  My niece has an old soul and knowing eyes.  She's calm, reserved, and rather independent.  Our little one is a ball of energy, gets bored easily, and remains busy all day.  Everything she touches goes straight to her mouth.  Already a bully, she pulled the niece's hair and made her cry.  The difference in cries is interesting as well.  My daughter's cry could shatter glass.  Well, maybe not, but it is loud and clear.  The niece?  Soft and muffled.

    The niece is a little sturdier on her feet (probably because of the longer legs) and sits by herself with no problem.  Emma still topples over (probably because of her chubbier torso) but is constantly on the move.  She is figuring out how to crawl and the niece is perfectly content remaining still.  The niece is quiet and introspective.  Emma is a chatterbox and tells everyone how she's feeling.  :-)

    It was fun having the girls together.  I'm excited to see how they grow and become best friends.  :-)  My point for this post, however, is to reiterate how different babies are.  Every baby develops at his or her own pace.  If you're a new mom and constantly comparing your little one to others or even to the milestone charts found all over the internet, don't obsess over it.  We're individuals from birth.  We all learn and grow in various ways and at various times.