Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Lessons Learned about Gluten Free Products

You can pretty much find almost anything you eat in a GLUTEN FREE version.

Let me caution you - Not all Gluten Free products are made the same and NOT EVERYTHING can be made successfully to be gluten free.

Here is what I learned.

  • Tate's Gluten Free Chocolate Chip cookies = good
  • Refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough I bought on day 1 = good
  • Schar's GF Ciabatta rolls - surprisingly good
  • Udi's GF White bread - perfect for PB and J and Grilled Cheese
  • Barilla Gluten Free pasta - surprisingly good in a soup - although they disintegrated which I should have anticipated - but they made my pasta fagioli very satisfying nonetheless.
  • Schar's Regular rolls = DISGUSTING - this is what I thought Gluten free products would taste like and luckily for me, I had experienced the good tasting stuff first, cause if I had to base my gluten free opinion on these rolls, I would never have made it as far as I have so easily!
  • Kind GF bars - are growing on me. I was never really a "bar" person but given my limited options it's almost become like a treat to me.
  • Amaranth - although it looks like bird food - it's very dense in the good stuff so I figured I'd try it. I have only mixed it with my GF oatmeal and quinoa breakfast bowls so far but I will say it's not awful. It's a bit crunch (I wonder if I cooked it entirely right) but it adds a bit of texture and I didn't want to spit it out when I tried it, so I'll call it a win.

Yet to try but in my house are Schar's Vanilla AND lemon wafers.

I have been very careful to not have any gluten and I have to say I feel good. I think I am sleeping better. I wake up more energized - my energy stays more consistent throughout the day and alot of my thyroid freak out symptoms are going away.

Best of all - I have WAY more patience for the kids - which was my number 1 for attempting this crazy thing anyway. Way less anxiety - no more ringing ears and my brain seems less cloudy - so as of right now I'm calling this a win.

Even though I had to pass on amazing Empanadas and Oreo cookie ice cream cake AND tea from the kids lemonade stand because it had caramel color in it. It's worth it - cause it's working.  :)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Gluten Detox

Day 6. I'm alive! 

Giving up gluten hasn't been as hard for me as I was anticipating. Granted this morning, I was super stressed out and I really wanted was an Everything Bagel with butter on it - but that craving passed quickly and it wasn't earth shattering.

I have eaten plenty of good foods the past 5 days and do not feel hungry or like I'm "missing out". I figured I would have caved because I was going to be so miserable, blah blah blah but to be honest - the thought hasn't crossed my mind at all.

So here is what I can still have that makes me HAPPY! 

COFFEE!!!!!!!!!! OK - it's a weird thing, I don't think I am actually addicted to caffeine anymore because I'm lucky if I actually finish a full cup a day - however, the ritual of having a cup of coffee in the morning is soothing to me - so I am happy that that can continue. 

I only use half an half - if you use flavored creamers - get out your phone and google it because the flavorings might have gluten in them and you might have to switch to a different creamer - luck for me - that was not a problem. 

I also get to have oatmeal. (Certified gluten free oatmeal that is) This morning it has Craisins, walnuts and maple syrup with a little bit of milk and it's REALLY good! I make a batch at the beginning of the week and store it in the fridge and have oatmeal ready to be heated for a few days.

Steak Kebobs and Zucchini - totally satisfying dinner last night and totally gluten free without having to make any swaps. I used salt, pepper and garlic - which are all gluten free - if you use pre made spice mixes, you might have swap it for a home made version without the gluten.

We always have chocolate in the house, and luckily, plain chocolate is almost always gluten free. I can't have any of the fun cones or sprinkles or lots of toppings, but I still call this a win!

BAKED GOODS - AS long as they are home made with gluten free flours and substitutes OR made from bakeries that specialize in Gluten Free - but still -  A TOTAL WIN! This will force me to control what is in our baked goods and will also mean we will eat A LOT LESS of them;)

We already tried pre-packaged Gluten free break and bake cookies and I'm going to be honest - you wouldn't have known they were "different"  (except for the price tag of course)

PIZZA - I already bought a GF crust mix. Yes, I will have to mix it and let it rise and it will be "hard" compared to the pre-made ready to go chemical filled stuff that you just take out of the fridge but it will be pizza and it will be in my belly and that makes me happy. Some places offer GF pizza too so you do have the option to eat out as well:)

Ciabatta Bread!!!!  OK- I found this at my grocery store - but I was kind of freaked out by the fact that it has a shelf life of MONTHS in it's current form. (not frozen)
But - it's freaking ciabatta and although it probably won't be AS good as what I normally eat with olive oil, tomatoes and mozarella I will TAKE IT HAPPILY once I have that first craving.

SO - in a nutshell - Gluten free really is not that bad as long as you make sure you are eating REAL FOOD and not just the pre-packaged GF stuff. Although, rest assured, I bought about 4 different kinds of cookies and crackers to try so that if I felt like I wanted something sweet or whatever - I'd have the options there that were safe for this detox.

Now - here's the bad part - pimples. Apparently my body is detoxing in the form of huge, adolescent pimples - you know, the ones that freaking HURT! Yeah - so there's that. But other than that, that is the ONLY negative to this whole detox thing. 

I don't know if it's a mental thing or what - but I will say that I am not as tired in the afternoons and I do feel like I have way more patience with my littles than I did before. (which was one of my HUGE motivating factors for this whole thing) I am not as overwhelmed, and my ears haven't rung for days. 

I'm going to keep tracking this to see if it continues and to see if any other positive things come from it. 

My skin is still REALLY dry as is my hair. But it's only been a few days so I'm eager to see what I feel like in another week! 

It feels kind of like a huge success just to know that I have been able to stay on top of this already for 6 days. Lame I know, but I'm telling you, I have no willpower - I have been known to switch the team I'm rooting for in the middle of the game because I just have no ability to commit. So for me - 6 days of having to do this alone all while keeping my family happy with their regular diet - is an accomplishment. So yay me:)

Monday, July 21, 2014

How to Start Gluten Free

So - here it is - My first 4 days of trial and error and trying to figure out how to be "Gluten Free".

  • Lesson number 1- I still don't know what gluten really is, I mean I kinda get it- but I do know this - that bastard is in EVERYTHING.
    •  I'm not exaggerating people - it's not just flour in your bread. It comes in all shapes and sizes and hidden forms and hidden places .
  • My first 2 days I went to all the grocery stores around me and checked out their specialty sections to see what was available - talk about overwhelming - but I think it was a good exercise to prepare me for food prep moving on.
  • I bought a few staples to get me started
    • New Cutting boards
    • New cooking utensils 
    • I threw out my wooden cooking spoons to avoid contamination just in case
    • Udi's Gluten Free White Bread (surprisingly I found this to be delicious) and had both a  PB & J sandwich (made with my personal peanut butter jar - it has MOMMY written all over it) AND a grilled cheese the next day
    • Tate's Glute Free Chocolate Chip cookies (note, not all Tates cookies are GF. I grabbed the double chocolate ones assuming they were GF and had to take them back for the Chocolate chip ones) These were also very good albeit - EXPENSIVE
    • Fruits and Vegetables - if you can grow it, it's gluten free so I even broke down and got celery to have with peanut butter as snacks
    • Gluten free crackers (and cheddar cheese for protein-ish) snacks
    • Pamela's GF Flour (thank you dear Anastasia for the reccomendation)
    • Kind Bars - The Dark Chocolate Chunk with Quinoa are my current go to
    • Almonds, Walnuts, Hazelnuts, raising and Ghirardlli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate to make my own trail mix (it took about 5 minutes this morning to confirm that this chocolate was in fact, Gluten Free)
    • Gluten Free Pancake Mix
    • Various types of gluten free rice (quinoa, rice based)

I survived a day at the beach with my nut/raisin mix, apples, and PB&J on gluten free bread. On the way home, my family had McDonalds and I just drank my water.(grumble) For dinner that night, we had tacos made with Gluten Free Seasoning mix and corn tortillas that were deemed Gluten Free after looking it up during my trip to the grocery store. All in all, it was a fine day.

Day 2 was a little harder because I was unusually hungry - so I went to the store and did more research and stocked up on MORE fruits and veggies.
  • Here are things I found Gluten in over the weekend that surprised me
    • Gatorade
    • Oatmeal (unless it's certified Gluten Free)
    • Oikos cucumber and dill dip
    • Onion dip
    • Some corn chips
    • Flavorings - like all flavorings (more on that later)
    • Anything that has Caramel coloring (adios Starbucks)
    • Spice mixes
    • Drink mixes (goodbye NesQuik)
    • Medicines & vitamins
    • Some flavored Ice Creams
    • Some flavored rice cakes
    • Some Microwave Popcorn
    • Things that say "What Free"
All in all, it hasn't been that bad to be honest. Yes, I have to cook more and prep more but I should be doing that anyway. My life for the next few weeks will be label reading and internet research and I will probably avoid eating out as there is no way to guarantee I won't get cross contamination (and during the first 2 months I want to make sure I can really test the Gluten Free/Thyroid connection completely so don't want to risk it) The bummer is that seriously, before I put anything in my mouth - I have to stop and google to see if it's gluten free (regular M&M's are) 

I now have to think about every single thing I eat. I was most surprised when I wanted to grab some pre-made Guacamole and pre-made veggie dips and realized I had to research some of the hard to pronounce ingredients. Boo to the fact that Gluten finds it's way into everything. I mean, Gatorade and Nesquik? REALLY?? Veggie dips made with yogurt? Sigh - it'll be plain carrots for me until I can find a way to make safe onion dip.

It's ok - it's forcing me to be in control and I am kind of excited at the prospect of eliminating all this crap from my body. I mean, the fact that there is potentially some sort of wheat in drinks and dips makes it hit home for me how UN-foody the food we eat really is.

I wish you luck is you are starting this adventure too and hope that some of my lessons will help you get started as I find it incredibly overwhelming at first. Lucky for me I have a FB family that's helping me along! Anyone have favorite snacks they'd like to add to my list - comment below of FB me:)

Also - I highly suggest you DON'T take your kids with you to the grocery store when you are trying to figure this all out at first. Although adorable - it was tough to read labels with them asking me every 5 seconds if everything they could see had gluten in it.  It was funny however to see how when things they love to eat came up in conversation - they clarified that they still can, in fact, eat gluten - therefore Oreo's and goldfish are not off limits for them. It's sweet! And so far they are pretty supportive because I'm not forcing them into it too.


Friday, July 18, 2014

I'm going Gluten Free

UGH! Those are words I thought would NEVER come out of my mouth. I have been "trying" to give up meat for years - and all it takes is someone mentioning a cheeseburger and I forget all about how much the thought of eating animals disgust me and I chow down happily. #willpowerfail

But, the last year has been hard on me. I was diagnosed with Hashimotos Thyroiditis almost 3 years ago and after a year of feeling like absolute crap all the time- I felt great for about 6 months once my medicine started to "kick in". Most doctors will tell you that if you have a thyroid problem - it's no big deal and all you have to do is take a pill for the rest of your life and you will be fine. Yay for those people. That is not the case for me. I have a full blown, miserable, multiple side effects autoimmune reaction to my Hashimotos and my body is basically attacking itself all the time. It's not pleasant and it's invisible - which makes it tricky.

You see, I don't "look" sick. You can't run tests and see what's wrong. I just feel different things all the time, hives, dry skin (I'm talkin' like Sahara desert skin that no amount of expensive face lotion tames), acne, stomach issues, weight gain and weight loss, random gnarly hives, depression, ridiculous mood swings (my poor husband), inability to think straight, confusion, anxiety, insomnia, night sweats, exhaustion no matter how much you slept. did I mention the mood swings and general just brain fog.

This disease is no joke. I had a good doctor (lucky me) who I always used to joke might die before I saw him next (he was super duper old) - well, thankfully he hasn't died - but he did retire with NO warning to me. The new doctor that took over his patients is a moron. The office he worked at is a disaster - so I thought - that's fine - I'll just find a new doctor.

This is the task of a lifetime. Doctors who know all about thyroids are few and far between. Most of them won't listen to you - or assume you are making up your symptoms - (how do you make up 6 straight weeks of visible hives??? )

To make a long story short - during one of my major thyroid freakouts (these are those fun days that group together where my body just does everything in it's power to defeat me - migraines, confusion, emotions all over the place, irritability, exhaustion, anxiety, insomnia, no appetite) I tried to find a new doctor. I ended up in tears in the office of the first one. (I had forgotten my insurance card because my brain wasn't working and they were very rude to me and refused to see me - I literally sat in my car and cried like I was 16 and my boyfriend has just broken up with me) The next one - the lady clearly had no idea what she was talking about as she asked the same questions 5 times and wasn't listening to me at all. She did take blood though and at my follow up visit she basically told me that I will eventually get thyroid cancer, but it's no big deal, but maybe I won't get it so nevermind and my medicine doesn't need to be adjusted but then again, maybe we should try taking less and that I should go see a therapist because there was nothing wrong with my bloodwork. All in about a minutes time. After that, I tried to get my prescription filled from her and she forgot who I was and how much I should be taking and it took 3 weeks for me to FINALLY get the prescription filled.

This brings me to today. I still don't feel great. I know that this is not how I'm meant to feel. I will not accept that this normal is my new normal. So - after doing initial research and  finding research that backs up the initial research and joining support groups on FB -  I have decided to suck it up and go Gluten Free. Apparently Gluten is very similar to what makes up your thyroid - so when you have the "bad" kind of Hashimotos - Gluten can make your body go insane. At this point, I decided it was at least SOMETHING that could help. Something I could do on my own and something that lots of others said have helped them immensely with all of my other autoimmune symptoms and flare ups.

So - today was day 1. Gluten Free. Here's the kicker - you can't just kind of go Gluten free - the way some "vegetarians still" eat chicken - you have to eliminate it completely so that your system doesn't get contaminated. Because it's not an immediate stomach churning, vomiting reaction - cross contamination for me would be bad. I have to get rid of this shit completely.

That means, new cutting boards, and cooking utensils for me. That means I have to watch my beauty products to see which have Gluten. (isn't it weird that gluten is in beauty products) Thanks to my wonderful FB family - I already have some amazing products in my pantry to help me deal with feeling left out or unable to snack. I have new flour, snacks, bread, about 3 pounds of nuts and 2 pounds of fresh fruit and veggies. So far, so good. It wasn't so bad. I ate all day - and didn't feel like I was really missing out.

The hard part will be contamination. Making sure I don't lick my fingers after putting my kids food on their plates. No more eating out for convenience because I run the risk of getting cross contamination at most restaurants.

Goodbye regular bread, crackers, bagels, salty snack foods, breadcrumbs, cookies, cakes, regular apple pies, oats, cous cous, flour tortillas and just about every other convenience - bad for you food out there.

Hello nuts and veggies and fruits and proteins and KIND bars and Tates gluten free cookies, and Nuthins crackers and gluten free tortilla chips, and new flours and quinoa, and seeds and gluten free pancake mix so we can still have breakfast on Sundays as a family. (good thing I like this stuff anyway and it's REAL food anyway- so super bonus)

This will be a journey. I will blog about it sporadically and let you know how I'm doing. I will be learning a lot and hope to share some of that here because I find it overwhelming just starting from scratch trying to figure out what has gluten - cause the answer is  just about everything.

Goodbye Gluten - I'm not sure if I will miss you. I'll let you know in about 45 days when I've given my body enough time to recover from the damage you might be doing to it - from what I'm reading - once that day comes when I will wake up and just feel RIGHT again - I will never look back and miss the gluten that made me feel so sick. Here's hoping that day comes sooner than later cause seriously - my willpower sucks.

Wish me luck!

P.s. I promise to try hard not to be annoying about it and will supply my own food when we are together - but please understand that this is not a joke to me. I really do need to cut it out completely - so if you get sick of me saying I can't eat that - just think about the fact that I can't eat cheesy bread, apple pie, regular cookies, bread, brownies, McDonalds French Fries, girl scout cookies and more. This is not something I am going into lightly:)

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Why I started selling Jamberry Nail Wraps

So, I got invited to a FB Jamberry party. Usually I roll my eyes at these things because I am just not that into those types of parties and I hardly ever actually use any of the things that people are selling. I usually participate and try to by at least something if it applies to me, but for the most part - I try to steer clear if I can.

BUT! One of my resolutions this year was to be less frumpy. So I have been painting my nails consistently since January and trying very hard to get into nail art because I find it fun. I have used the Sally Hansen Nail Strips before. (admittedly, I wait until they go on sale cause I'm cheap) I like them for their WOW factor because I could NEVER get any of the designs they make on my nails with regular polish. They can be fairly simple to apply if they are fresh, but they reek of nail polish (because they are real nail polish) and there is a lot of waste in the packaging. Also, the first package I bought was dried out before I even opened it (which I didn't realize until round 2) which made them VERY HARD to apply and which meant that they started chipping and peeling away immediately.

When they chip or peel, my nails were chipping and peeling with them. Also, once one started to peel, the preschooler in me took over and I would peel the rest off which damaged my nails tremendously.

So, I stuck to polish for the most part, and added the nail strips occasionally. One thing I hated about the nail strips is that once you open the package, you have to use them immediately or they are no good. Even if you store them in a ziplock baggie (I thought I had outsmarted them and did one accent nail out of a whole package, came back a week later to use the rest and they were un-usable just like the package said)

So, I had been staying away from them. But, then I got invited to this FB Jamberry party - and I went to browse the site and FELL IN LOVE.

Here is what got my attention! This design got me.

  • They are made of Nylon, not polish so they won't damage your nails and you can take them off using warm water and coconut oil - so no acetone or polish ever has to touch your hands 
  • Since they are not made of polish, there is no "drying out" or becoming unusable - so one sheet will last you until you choose to use them all
  • They come in AMAZING designs and colors - including specialty ones like Autism Awareness, Hobbies like Running and there are dots and chevrons galore!
  • They don't chip or peel (as long as you put them on right - which is SUPER SIMPLE) and they last up to 2 weeks on your nails and up to 6 weeks on toes
  • They make Mommy and Me versions for kids as little as 3. Mommy and me, I mean come on!
  • You can make your own designs as long as you follow the copyright laws and can use images and logos and have them printed onto your nail
  • Did I mention the designs? I started to look at them and they have a buy 3 get one free deal - so of course I was going to order 4 - but then I had a hard time narrowing it down to just 4 - cause I wanted to many of them.I will admit that some of the designs that I thought I didn't care for, I have started to LOVE when seeing them on real hands. Something about seeing it on a website - just doesn't do it justice. The one below, I didn't care for at first - but after watching lots of people order it and lots of people posting pictures online of it - it's quickly becoming one of my new favorites.
  • So, I decided to join and sell them because I think other people would love them too and it would be a fun way to be social, get my mani fixes and share them with others. because seriously, they are amazing!
So, now the waiting begins as I anxiously await the arrival of my consultant kit. I hope to plan a mommy night with my local friends where I can show them just how easy it is to put them on and to see if anyone else will share in my new obsession. We can skip the nail salon, open a bottle of wine  or grab a coffee and have a mani night instead:)

Do me a favor and check out some of the designs through my site and tell me what are the ones that catch your eye the most. I want to order some inventory to have on hand and I figure it would be helpful to see which ones others would be interested in aside from my own personal tastes.

If you have any interest at all, please contact me as I'd be happy to answer ANY questions you have.

Thanks in advance for your interest.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Bucket List - Flash Mob

So, I found Flash Mob of America on and had been trolling the site for awhile waiting for a flash mob that I could actually attend to pop up. Some of the ones in NYC have a 2 day set up. You rehearse one day and then come back for the actual flash mob performance.

With the kids, I found that to be too much time on a weekend to dedicate - so hadn't had the chance to actually do one. But then one popped up in Newark which is 10 minutes for me and I thought JACKPOT!

So, I signed up.  The way it works, is you register on the website and then they send you an email when it gets closer to the date of the event that includes a link to a secret video on You Tube with the choreography in it. Usually there are 2 videos, one that shows the whole dance and one that shows it broken down for learning.

Your responsibility is to watch the video and learn the choreography. This particular one was very basic and easy so it was just as easy as going to a Zumba class. Nothing fancy to do - no dance training needed:)

Then you are given a rehearsal location to go to. Our rehearsal was for 3 hours on Sunday morning and towards the middle is when they told us where the flashmob was going to be. It was at the New Jersey Devils Fan Fest event at the Prudential Center. The couple are huge Devils fans and the guy wanted to propose there. The inside joke between them was that the song (Rock your body) and part of the choreography was something the bride to be had walked in on her boyfriend dancing to when he thought no one was watching - so she apparently makes fun of him all the time about it. So, we were under the impression that she would:
 1) recognize the song
 2) recognize the dance move
3) totally freak out and be excited and jump for joy

Here's what actually happened.
1) we started dancing
2) it became TOTALLY obvious that we were dancing FOR them as they were the only ones in front of us
3) she made NO INDICATION whatsoever that she either recognized the song, or the dance
4) She did the total opposite of freak out excitedly and jump for joy
5) I'm talking total Stone face - kind of like resting bitchy face - only angrier.

I'm dead serious.

So, while we are dancing - all of us are kind of like.. uh oh - she doesn't realize, oh she hasn't figured it out yet, oh wait, I think she knows - uh oh she looks pissed..

SO, we finish and are just standing there waiting - the boyfriend is clapping - we're looking at him - FINALLY - after what felt like 10 minutes (ok it was probably like 10 seconds) He turns her around to face him and starts talking - gets down on one knee - she nods her head - then he shows her the ring and their family starts screaming and clapping and hugging.

It looked like she said yes. She did kiss him- but all in all, it was AWKWARD!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Overall, it was fun. Not as mind blowing as I had envisioned because the crowd was kind of small and our group was around 30 people so the overall effect was not overwhelming. But, the people were AMAZING. The rehearsal was fun and I'd probably do it again if one came around that I could actually attend. 

I can't help but obsess about the girls reaction though. I mean - he took the time to put lots of effort, detail and MONEY into this. (he had to pay FMA And there was a video crew and photographers there too that he paid for) So, did he really just not know her well enough to figure out that it was the exact opposite of what she wanted? (like the guys who propose on the kiss cam at sports games and the girlfriends are totally disappointed?)

But, if you love him - wouldn't you fake it and pretend to be happy and then pout later in private? Or is that worse because then you are not being honest and genuine?   If he was totally off, and thought she would love it - how did that happen?

My lessons learned are the following:
1) it's a real rehearsal - you will get sweaty, and you should dress appropriately
2) wedge shoes are NOT acceptable (my ankles still hurt and it was 2 days ago)
2) having your family come to see you makes it that much more fun!

If you're thinking of doing one and the opportunity arises - DO IT. It's fun. The people are social and the dances are easy and it's very exciting being a part of something like that.

My favorite part is the staging - once you learn the dance - the producer assigns when you will start dancing. I was brought in very early on just because of where I had been standing during rehearsal - but I kind of wish I had lingered and started later because I love the effect of thinking you are standing next to someone who is just as surprised and confused as you are watching this group of people dancing and then they start dancing too. Most of the people in this group were eager to start early so almost everyone jumped in by the second chorus - but I think the build of people slowly joining in makes it more fun.

Bucket list item - CHECK:)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Happy Wife Happy Life

I can't stop thinking about a phrase I hear ALL THE TIME. Happy Wife = Happy Life - this is usually directed at a husband and it's intended message is that he should do everything he can to make his wife happy so that his life will be happy too.

I call bullshit.

Here's why. Everyone loves being taken care of once in a while. Everyone likes nice gestures and being spoiled and getting their way. (Me too, although I try to reciprocate once in awhile)

But, sometimes we are wrong and we shouldn't be given our way in an attempt to "make us happy" because it's easier or because that's just how it should be.

If I'm wrong - tell me I'm wrong and set me straight. It might not be easy - I'll probably be a bitch about it  -  but I need it so that I can grow as a human being. (And god knows, my bitchiness needs to be curbed sometimes)

Same thing for this idea that our husbands have to shower us with things all the time. If you want flowers - buy yourself some damn flowers - why is that wrong? I thought of this as I saw one of those Humans of NY pictures and a guy was holding flowers and the interviewer asked him who they were for and he said "they are for me - I like pretty things." I thought - holy crap - rock on guy - way to not have to wait for someone else to put a smile on your face.

All of these thoughts and feelings have led me to my next goal to add on to my current ones. To make myself happy. To be responsible to me.

Why do we have this idea that someone else has to make us happy? Someone else has to "do" for us?  I'm making myself happy and I want my daughter to grow up and to be able to do the same. Don't get me wrong - I hope she finds her knight in shining armor, (or in my case - my Maine resident with an ugly green hat and a bass guitar) but until she does and even once she has found him, I want her to be able to make herself happy. I want her to be interested in things. I want her to read books for pleasure. I want her to exercise because it makes her feel good - not because she thinks she has to or even worse, because she thinks she has to so that a boy will like her.  If she is able to do these things, she will be able to bring more to the table to any relationship she is in. She will be content - maybe not all the time, but most of the time, because she will accept no less for herself and she will not wait for, or expect someone else to do it for her.

What things do you do to make yourself happy?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Fog has lifted

Man, do I feel good. I mean, seriously - I'm starting to feel human again. And like a person other than "just" their mom. I am getting back into my hobbies and am the healthiest I have ever been thanks to eating better and consistently working out.

Things are just going very well. The fog of drowning under 2 little kids demands all the time has lifted and I can breathe again. Some people never experience that fog - congratulations - I, however felt like I was walking in quicksand almost all the time.

Part of it was the addition of my immune system decided to almost shut down with an undiagnosed thyroid problem which took a FULL year of meds to start to regulate. Part of it was having 2 little munchkins who interrupt every thought, conversation  and minute of your day. Part of it was making the switch from full time stay at home mom, to full time working mom.

But, I can say this - I am back and better than ever.

I have found a way to balance the working mom thing. I don't think I'd be this happy if I worked in an office 5 days a week - working from home allows me the opportunity to capitalize on every single spare second I have to get stuff done around the house AND put in a full 8 hours of work. Laundry, groceries, cleaning, cooking -I have found a way to master getting it all done and not being too overwhelmed. I have learned to multi task in ways I never thought possible and have figured out ways to make meals ahead so all I'm doing is heating up, sticking it in the crock pot, or warming before everyone gets home.  There are still days the kids eat PB and J because I didn't get it all done and didn't plan better for dinner, but more often than not - they are at least given real, home cooked food and they eat SOME of it for lunch AND dinner. I have started putting portions aside and freezing immediately for lunches later in the week versus throwing out un-eaten leftovers later on in the week.  I have switched to glass containers for safer heating for the kids. I have mastered the art of re-filling our snack drawers with labeled foods for the kids for easy grabbing. I have figured out a decent schedule for popping laundry in and switching it at just the right time so it's ready for folding in the 20 minutes it takes my family to get home while I cook their dinner. I have also realized it is best to have ONE PRE-Cooked meal in the freezer at all times. (Baked Ziti, Lasagna, Pulled Pork, etc... ) to help with my super busy/no groceries left days. I am making it work and I know there are lots of ways I can make it all better still - but I have come a LONG WAY from where we started.

I love my house. I mean LOVE IT. We have amazing neighbors and the only thing that irks me about one of them is how they park on the street- and seriously, it could be so much worse - they could be angry drunks like our last neighbors - so if parking is our biggest issue - we're doing ok!

I feel whole again. I have things to talk about other than my kids. (although they are still the primary topic of my conversations cause they are so damn cute and everyone should know all about them of course) I feel challenged - I have allowed myself the time to read books - actual real long books and go to book club again. I have allowed myself the time to knit and crochet and get better at that craft. Laugh all you want - it's an amazing stress reliever and is insanely satisfying to know that my kids think they can request any sort of ridiculous custom made item and I will be able to make it for them. (I don't always come through - but part of the fun for me is the challenge of trying)

I am a runner. I always hated running. I mean - I walked the mile in high school because it was funny and also maybe a little because there was no way in hell I was ever going to make it any other way. My initial goal was to run a 5K with my husband who had started running and to be honest, I didn't give it too much hope. I won't lie - it sucked - A LOT at first. I cursed him out (cause obviously it's his fault) every time I tried to run for the first 3 or 4 weeks of the Couch to 5 K program I started - but then one day, it didn't suck. It was awesome and I liked it... (Yes, I questioned it too and thought for a second maybe I was having a stroke - but no, I LOVE IT NOW!!!) I can do a 5k run in the morning before logging on for work and although it might not always be pretty - it has been the main reason that I am suddenly 2 sizes smaller than I was before. It's the reason I can chase my kids for more than 2 minutes before suggesting we play something else. It's something my husband and I now have in common and although we don't get the opportunity to run together often, we do it when we can and it's a great little date.

I am eating better. I won't eliminate anything - because let's face it- I have the willpower of a 2 year old in a room full of marshmallows and cotton candy - but I have ADDED a bunch of healthier foods and options to my diet and I can feel a difference.  More veggies, chia seeds, quinoa and oatmeal, smoothies for snacks, more salads and sweet potatoes. Personally, I don't see a difference other than my clothes being smaller - but it is more often than not that someone who hasn't seen me for awhile sees me and says OMG what are you doing - you look GREAT! (which of course, initially makes me feel awesome, and then instantly makes me question how bad I looked to begin with:))

Now, unfortunately it's not all rainbows and sunshine. My thyroid might be mostly under control - but I have been plagued with a crappy immune system since Benny was born and feel like I am "sick" more often than not. Allergies, sinus infections and migraines have been common partners in my life over the last year - but I am experimenting with different remedies and approaches to keeping that all at bay.  Enter hippy chiropractor, vitamin D, Echinacea, Vitamin C and actually taking my allergy medicine EVERY DAY plus Garlic pills (no order garlic pills are a lie BTW - they totally leave a nasty garlic ODOR/taste in your mouth - but I suffer through)

I've noticed I've been drinking less coffee - which is an unintended positive side effect of all the things over the last year.

I also think a huge part of why I am feeling better is that I am social again. No more isolated new mom transplanted to New Jersey. Hello awesome new local friends and new/old facebook connections and library book club.

Seriously - the fog of having 2 little kids has lifted and while some people might take that moment of clarity and decide it's the perfect time to add a cute little baby to the mix - I am taking this Big, HUGE DEEP BREATH and filling my down time with stuff for me and my husband.. Remember him, the guy that made this whole family thing happen in the first place. Yeah - it's nice to see him again too:) I am using this new clarity to enjoy my 5 and 3 year old and all the bonuses that come with them growing older. Don't get me wrong - I get a bit teary when I think about kindergarten starting for Katie - but I also relish in her sleeping in until 7:30 and the awesome conversations we are having lately. I live for the grown up nature of some of the things that Benny comes up with and I know that right now - life is perfect. We are done. This family is complete. I am complete. I hope that you are all feeling complete too!