Thursday, March 24

Just another day in [mommy's] paradise

My little house is quiet. Both babies are napping. I find myself with that illusive treasure - time - and suddenly, I'm not sure what to do with it. Last night was similar. Josh went to basketball practice at 8:30, Greta went to bed, Joseph was sleeping, I'd finished with my shower, and there it was again - more time. I puttered around the house, tried to read, tried to interest myself in Facebook, but nothing was working. I was (dare I say?) bored. So when Greta woke up and started talking to herself in her room, I picked her up, blankets and all, grabbed a book, cuddled with her in our bed, and read to her. I missed my kids!! When she tired out, Joseph was ready to play. So I changed him and spent the rest of the evening with him, exchanging googley eyes and gurgley noises. It was the best part of my day.

I suppose I shouldn't have been so broken up with both children decided to scream for an eternity of 2 minutes in the middle of Mass this afternoon. I've been taking them to 11am Mass at one of the local nursing homes. It's a perfect time to go - my chores are done, Greta is getting bored, Joseph should be resting, and it's still too early for lunch. Greta loves it. After I told her we were going to Mass, I soon found her crying in her room, frustrated because she couldn't carry Joseph's car seat out. Ahhh! Love those moments. Yet even with them, I feel ever so slightly like I'm going into battle as I walk through the doors of that very, very quiet chapel. It would be an ideal place to go to church because both the priest and the nursing home residents can't hear much, and the sisters who work there love the kids. But why, oh why, oh why does one toddler talking to herself all through Mass sound like a car alarm going off? And why, oh why does Joseph sound like he is nursing into a microphone? Because Greta, who is normally very silent around strangers, feels quite at home in God's house and won't shut up. Joseph, who hasn't looked twice at his boobs all morning, suddenly takes on the behavior of a starving child. All that said, I've managed to deal with it, even finding it humorous enough to laugh at. But today... somehow, both children yelling at once, in a very quiet place, made me feel absolutely alone and helpless. I stuck Joseph under one arm and dragged Greta into a conveniently-placed "workroom." If I had been more collected, I'm sure Greta would have quieted down, but instead, my state of tears reduced her to even further shrieks of dismay. By the end of the episode, I found myself sobbing about how much I hated God and why did He have to make everything so difficult. I know, pathetic. I'm reverting back to the "terrible two's" behavior of "hating" anything you can transfer blame to. "God, if you want me to be here, you'd better show me and quickly. Or we are not doing this again." I suppose that is the downside of believing  God is real. Sometimes it's hard to speak respectfully in a crisis.

Well, I guess He did want us there, crying children and all. After Mass, Sister Joseph came up to us and asked if we would like to see where Anna (my sister) worked. She took us to the residents' lunch room, where we visited for about half an hour. Joseph (of course!) was all smiles and giggles and everyone loved him. Greta was completely dead-pan, but at least she waved good bye to everyone. And Mommy? Mommy realized for the upteenth time that the best way to stop feeling sorry for yourself is to do something nice for other people. Everyone seemed happier for having seen the babies and yes, we are going to do this again.

Tuesday, March 22

Thank you!

To all the friends who wrote me or commented on my "What's a mother to do" post. Once again, I am amazed and humbled by the presence and kindnesses of so many friends... many of whom I haven't met, have never had a real conversation with, or haven't talked to in years. Thank you so much for your encouragement and good advice.


Saturday, March 19


We grew up in Ohio and every summer, we put in a garden. It consisted of thousands of tomatoes, a goodly number of peppers, mounds of zucchini, squash, pumpkins, and of course, lettuce and swiss chard. So I consider myself quite capable of gardening in the temperate soil of Ohio. However, this year I am making a tentative stab at gardening in the high altitude, desert climate of New Mexico. Boy, am I out of my element! All I know with certainty is that carrots grow well in sandy soil... but I'm not even sure what you call the soil type here. At any rate, we are going to build some little raised garden beds in the sunny backyard and water the heck out of everything.

I think that by early June it will be warm enough to put plants in outside, so today we started our seeds indoors. It was fun! Greta "helped" fill the little pots with potting soil until (thank God!) it was her nap time... during which time we actually put in the seeds. Now there is a cute little garden in front of my big living room window. God help those seeds because I'm only half sure of what I'm doing.

What's a mother to do?

For the most part, I'm a happy person. Sure, I have mood swings, but what woman isn't entitled to on occasion? And what are husbands for if not to comfort their wives, pick up the slack here n' there, get yelled for no good reason, and still offer a sturdy shoulder to cry on? But lately... ugh! I hate myself some days. I do the same damn chores over and over and OVER again, take care of the babies, make meals, try to be nice to Josh.... you get the picture. But I'm this awful combination of stressed out and bored off my ass. Stressed, because I always need to do something and am needed, and bored because it's the same thing over and over. I love my kids very much and I enjoy their company between the hours of 9am and 12 noon, and 2pm and about 5pm. But the other times! I vaguely remember what it was like to just have NO ONE making demands on my time and being able to go out and do things without bring my entourage with me. Being human, my vague recollection of the pre-baby days is overly romanticized. In my more realistic moments, I remember hating the drudgery of going to work and being accountable for things I didn't give a shit about. I also remember being very jealous of women who were "living the dream" of being stay at home moms with multiple kids.

So what's my problem? Ah, if only I could answer that. I wish sometimes that I were a different person. Perhaps one of those uber maternal types who like playing with kids all day long. Or one with a little less education. Being educated isn't always a good thing because you learn how to think and once you start thinking too much about your life, you're bound to find things that don't make you happy. Or you are able to analyze your discontent and are stuck with a problem that doesn't have an answer.

The thing is, I suspect there is an answer and that I already know it. I really ought to do something with myself. Like write that god-awful thesis of mine. It's about motherhood and I'm afraid that the current state of my hormones is going to turn it into a very negative look at the subject. I could get a job. But no job really interests me enough to motivate myself to take it and then deal with all the upset routines. Another solution is that I should probably work on my spiritual life. For those of you who don't know, I'm Catholic and I take my faith pretty seriously. I know from experience that part of being a balanced, peaceful person involves giving God priority in my life. I've thought of (and tried) to work on having a more regularized family prayer time. I'm trying to make myself read spiritual books... after all, how are you supposed to love God if you don't really know anything about Him? Sigh... all these things would be very good for me. Yet "the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak." If I have any quiet time, I end up vegging on the computer, sleeping, working out, or cleaning the house. There just aren't enough baby-free hours in a day. No one ever tells you how much energy it takes to be around your kids all day long.

I hate writing posts that pose problems but no solutions. I'm afraid that this will be one of those. The thought that keeps me going is that nothing lasts forever. The kids will get older, my health will get better, I'll have more energy, the weather will get warmer, summer will be here soon, and I will not always be this tired. But God! Just get me through the immediate future.

Friday, March 18

"Despicable Me" Movie

Last night I couldn't sleep for a long time (the Irish coffee I insisted on drinking at 7pm is to blame) so I "thunked out" a few blog posts. The fact that my family and I now quote Despicable Me to each other all day long has prompted me to let you know about this AWESOME movie! It's a kids' movie, but with enough witticisms and funny lines to please the grown ups. I'm not going to turn this into a spoiler, so watch it yourself. But it was hilarious! Steve Carrell outdid himself. In fact, his performance as "Gru" is in my opinion, his best. One of my favorite aspects of the movie is that it is simply fun without that obnoxious, sugar-coated, propagandizing undertone to it. Yes, I appreciate that the environment, gay tolerance, recycling, animal rights, homeschooling and world peace are all important in their own place, but please! Not in my movies. I hate feeling like I am subtly being lectured to during what is supposed to be a kid's movie. Ice Age was like that. Horton Hears a Who was another. The list could go on. It could be that I read too much into it. But after all, I'm an English major and my job is to dig up hidden messages and read into simple implications. Still, I like to credit movie producers with at least my level of intelligence. If I can pick up on something, then I'm inclined to think that it wasn't put there by accident.

Ok, that was a minor tirade. Point being, Despicable Me is just a really fun movie that I think most families could enjoy together.

Thursday, March 17

Just an update

... to let ya'll know I'm alive and mostly well. Emphasis on "mostly." If that is even a word. We finally got hit again with our fair share of illness. I'm still getting over some mutant cold that has lasted three weeks now. THREE WEEKS! Of course, if I didn't insist on smoking through all of it, it might have gone away faster. But oh well.... In the battle between health and sanity, I always try to let sanity win out. You can care for children if you are sick, but you can't if you are crazy. And I've had more than my share of crazy days this month. Good God, what drama! We had to send my younger brother home to his parents because he was acting up again. That was an emotional ringer if ever there was one. Then my sister broke up with her fiance, who surprised us all with a visit at 1 o'clock in the morning. That was not pretty, to put it mildly. To top it off, because obviously family drama is not stressful enough, I got sick and a week later, both babies followed suit. Somewhere.... somewhere up there is a light at the end of this tunnel.

Well, this is me for the time being. Usually, I never have trouble coming up with a "topic" but that cold must have zapped a few brain cells because this is all I've got for the time being. Any ideas?

Tuesday, March 1

Exercise - My cure all for daily ills

I have been meaning to write this particular post forever! When I think about what I would like to share about my life that helps me and might help other people, exercising is the first thing that comes to mind. It's not easy to make time for it and motivate yourself to do it, but the benefits are Amazing.

It has taken me all this time to find a workout that is both feasible time-wise and at the same time, effective. Without hesitation, I highly recommend anything by Jillian Michaels. People will try to scare you away from doing her workouts. Don't let them! Sure, it's hard, but why would you want to waste precious, baby-free time on a workout that is easy and accomplishes nothing? If you are a beginner, or if you are just starting to do the JM workouts, the best DVD to start with is "The 30 Day Shred."

It is supposed to accompany a diet regiment, but the workouts are still good without the diet aspect. This DVD is broken down into 3 levels, each becoming increasingly harder. Each level is 20 minutes and includes a warm up, a cool down, and 3 sets of workouts. The first 3 minutes of the of each set are weight training (awesome for upper back, abs, shoulders, arms). The next 2 minutes are a cardio workout, and the last minute is an ab workout. Did I already say that the best part of the workout is that it takes 20 minutes... totally feasible during nap time or even while the kids are content and playing?

Another great workout DVD from JM is "No More Trouble Zones." This workout is 40 minutes long and is a strength training program. It is divided into sets of 5 minute circuits. The exercises are combine squats/lunges with arm and ab exercises. I love it because it's really hard, but doable because the intervals are so short. (Read: I don't get bored) This DVD is wonderful for total-body toning... which is why I loved it so much after having the babies. I did segments from this DVD pretty much up to the end of Joseph's pregnancy. Note: You don't want to do any workout that involves lunges after about 6 months of pregnancy because your hips are loosening and lunges will strain them. However, squats are very good to do during pregnancy as long as your OB will let you.

If cardio (think running/treadmills) is your thing, the "Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism" DVD is an incredible cardio workout. It follows the same 40 minute pattern as "No More Trouble Zones." The circuits are broken down into kick boxing, plyometric, and running-type exercises. There is also one segment that focuses on abs. The plyometric (jump training? lots of squatting and jumping) workouts are very effective for getting your heart rate up, breaking a sweat, and toning your legs like nothing else. I only do this workout twice a week and only when I feel energetic :)

Last, but not least, you need very little to do these workouts. I use either a 3 lb. or 5 lb. set of weights and an exercise mat. And of course, everyone needs a friendly toddler to sit on their stomach during the ab workouts. Make sure not to forget the toddler.

A couple things to keep in mind if you are pregnant or post-partum: I seriously do not recommend starting anything by JM if you are pregnant and if you have not done her workouts before. Also, even if you are accustomed to her workouts and are pregnant, I wouldn't do the "Banish Fat" DVD because there's too much jumping around for it to be safe.

If you are post-partum and looking for a good way to get back into shape, these DVDs are very effective.  However, keep in mind that your body needs time to heal. It's not advisable to start any kind of an exercise regiment until after 6 weeks post partum (longer if you had a C-section). As always, check with your midwife or doctor before starting to workout again. Another thing to keep in mind when working out after having a baby... if you are reasonably in shape before getting pregnant, your abdominal muscles will separate during the pregnancy to make room for the baby. These muscles will start reconnecting sometime after 6 weeks. You can tell when they're back together if you lay on your back and pull yourself up into a crunch. Place your finger directly above your belly button. If you can fit more than one finger in the space, your abs need more time to heal. If you start doing ab workouts (sit ups, crunches, etc.) before the abs reconnect, new muscles will form over the opening and your stomach will be wider than it was before you were pregnant. Long story short? Don't do crunches or sit ups until your ab muscles come back together.

Finally, do yourself a favor. If you really want to start a workout routine, pick something that you know you will enjoy and stick with. For example, I hate any workout that involves dancing or coordination. I'm just not coordinated. Yoga is too slow for me. I'm not a relaxed sort of person. If I'm not sweating and panting, I don't feel like I worked out. These DVDs are just my favorite... they might not be yours. If you are just starting to workout or haven't been that serious about it in the past or are new to JM, please, please start with "The 30 Day Shred." When you've mastered that one, move on to the other two.

Happy exercising :)