About a month ago I started to feel unsettled with my current life. Don’t get me wrong – I am GRATEFUL for the amazing life I have. My husband works insanely hard so I don’t have to work full-time. My kids are healthy, happy and fun. I am healthy, active and busy. So what the hell is my problem?
I grew up in an wonderful family where my mom not only retired from being a second-grade teacher to stay home, but also home-schooled all six of her children. That’s six kids 24/7 with a husband who was active duty military and gone more than two weeks a month (during certain assignments). She set the bar high when it comes to being a mom. None of us were drowned in a bathtub. Most of us turned out great (haha). We felt enjoyed, loved and treasured. She’s a saint. I have that same standard of excellence for myself.
And recently I began to feel like I was failing. Miserably. Days seemed longer and longer. Business trips my husband takes seemed harder and harder to manage the house alone. My kids were still happy and healthy, but I was drowning. Adult interactions were abundant but I still felt very “mom-ish.” I compared myself with other moms who had it “together.” People who couldn’t get ENOUGH of their kids 24/7. Moms who did Pinterest-y crap. Led women’s Bible studies. Got dressed in real clothes and did their hair (apparently messy buns and Lululemon doesn’t count). Grew their own veggies. Made their kids’ clothes. I wanted to burn their houses down and cut their hair off in their sleep.
So, I talked with my mom (because she’s my life coach and she’s amazing) and Josh. They both suggested I try working more.
Say what? Why.
“Because it’ll make you happier to use your brain more and feel useful to people other than toddlers.”
“You’ve had a job since you were 15. You’ll feel better.”
“You worked up to 50 hours a week before you had kids. It’s natural to feel a little lost after that.”
“Do whatever makes you a better mom.”
So, I prayed about it. I wanted to have peace with what I chose to do. I am fiercely protective of the wildlings and didn’t want to feel like I was missing anything. So, I found a balance with a workable night shift schedule two nights a week, an awesome sitter who wanted a job for the summer and an even more awesome mother-in-law who stepped in to fill gaps (she cleaned, she did laundry, played with them endlessly. my kids miss her already).
- I do my mom-thing during the day- fitness classes, park, errands, cleaning (ha), etc.
– I nap when kids nap during the day (praise sweet baby Jesus they nap for more than two hours).
– I help get them ready for bed.
– I leave at 620pm.
– I work until 5-7am (sometimes more if the shift has been horrible).
– I go home to sleeping babies who don’t really know I’ve been gone.
– I say “Good morning!” We cuddle (because Jack usually ends up in our bed at 3 am 90% of the time). I go to sleep. They eat breakfast. Josh hands off to babysitter.
– I wake up at noon and engage.
I tried this for a month and re-evaluated this week. What I realized is I’m happier.
- I’m more engaged at home. Increased attention on kids.
– On my phone less.
– I’m excited about being a mom when I’m home. I can’t wait to see them when I’m gone. I’m and emotionally present when I am home.
– My ER patients act like toddlers so they do a great job making sure I feel right at home.
I’m not happier because I work more. I’m happier because I’m more secure in myself. I realize my happiness is not based on what I do, how often I work or how comparable I am to other moms. It’s how satisfied am I in God’s love for me, His calling on my life to be a mom AND a nurse. My job is so flexible that I can do both well. I don’t have to be burnt out on one or the other. By comparing myself to other moms, I was stealing joy out of my own life and sabotaging the incredible adventure that is motherhood.
So I’ve come to the conclusion that it really doesn’t matter what you do as a mom. Whether you work outside the home or don’t. Eat organic or don’t. Have your baby at home or have your baby in a hospital with lots of good drugs. Workout obsessively or not at all. WHO CARES. It’s hard enough trying to survive, but it makes it damn near impossible if we’re all running comparathons.
Enjoy your life. Love yourself. Be gracious to yourself and to other moms (and dads). Spend more time celebrating victories and less time criticizing. We’re all in this together.
Holy cow, I can’t believe it’s been so long since my last post. Clearly, my priorities are askew. We moved. Started renovating like crazy. Ellie turned one. Still renovating. I work a lot. Still renovating. Josh travels a lot. We renovate. That’s life right now!
Our biggest project – the guest house – is almost completely done. We still have some finishing touches to do (i.e., clean paint off the floors that the painter left, clear out all the trash from the driveway, finish painting exterior, etc). When we think we’re done, we find something else to do. It’s like an endless maze of projects. Josh comes home from work, I go to my sanctuary of CrossFit, come home and put kids to bed and he starts back at his projects. We had to demolish a bathroom to run plumbing to the guest house. The bathroom is still unfinished and slightly terrifying. I picture Jigsaw from Saw chaining people to the plumbing exterior in this bathroom. We painted the entire downstairs. From a hodgepodge of awful colors, to a neutral grey throughout the entire downstairs. If you look at everything that needs to be done, it can overwhelm you to the point of wanting to give up. But if you picture one project at a time being completed, it’s seems manageable and actually feasible. Josh is good at keeping things in perspective and this will probably be the key to making this whole damn thing successful. Did I mention we have a pool? This is also excellent.
Regardless of the status of our bathroom, Josh and I are still married and our children are still alive.
Ellie turned 1. It’s weird to think that last year we were in a different house with a newborn and a 19-month-old toddler. I don’t think I’ve slept much this whole year. I blinked and Jack was potty-trained and doing 40 piece puzzles by himself. Ellie can run everywhere and is slowly, painstakingly getting teeth. She babbles, signs and says several words clearly. They’re amazing, exhausting kids.
Work is always challenging, frustrating and rewarding. ER nursing is ER nursing (amiright?). I went back to part-time hours and enjoy the adult interactions and time in the ER. However, I usually deal with people who think like toddlers, so that makes me feel right at home. “I have bruises and I think I have cancer. My grandma did.” Education continues to the bread and butter of my job, but people rarely listen to me (again, feeling right at home here).
Will post details on renovations, birthday parties and child/ER humor eventually.
This month, Ellie turned 10 months and Jack turned 2 1/2.
- LOVES music and youtube music videos: pentatonix, Daft Punk and Michael Jackson are his favorites.
– Favorite movie: Toy Story. He sleeps with a Buzz and Woody doll. Greets you by saying, “Howdy, Padnah (partner)” and “To Infinity and Beyond!” Refuses to leave them anywhere. We use Woody as a star child. “See, Jack? Woody is eating all his spinach. Woody loves to brush his teeth! Woody uses the potty to go poop.” It works like a charm!
– Has started referring to himself as “the Jack.” Ex. “Don’t touch The Jack.”
- Loves school. Every time I pick him up he talks about playing with his friends, Beau and Saxton. He is learning spanish, and loves to help with chores. He’s good at scrubbing toilets, putting dishes in the sink and picking up toys. It’s awesome. Early slave labor!
– Insists on manners. If you sneeze, he’ll immediately say “Bless you!” and expect you to say “Thank you, Jack” so he can say, “You’re welcome!” Then he’ll fake sneeze about 20x so you have to say “Bless you” and he’ll say “thank you!” and the cycle goes on and on and on. He also will shake your hand and say, “very nice to meet you!” He’ll ask you how you’re doing today, expecting to be asked in return. He always says, “I’m GRAPE! (great)”
– Loves teaching Ellie new things. He thinks it’s fun to teach her new things to sign and he loves touching her hair. He hates when she sleeps and will yell, “WAKE UP ELLIE!” when she’s asleep in the car. Thanks, brah.
-Is terrified of spiders, even fake plastic ones. Found this out the hard way. Started a therapy jar for him. #winning
-LOVES all food.
– Prefers drinking out of real cups, hates sippy cups. Don’t.You.Even.Dare.Offer.Her.One.
– Insists giving kisses, really wet sloppy ones.
– Repeats words you say: Night-Night, All-Done, Okay, Hi, etc.
– Great at playing with Jack (grabbing anything he is holding). Wants to be in his business 24/7. He’s patient with her 95% of the time.
– Already walking with assistance. SO close to walking by herself.
– Will unfold and destroy any pile of laundry you’ve folded. She thinks it’s hilarious.
– Is 99% of the time the most chill, happy, laid-back baby on the planet. The other 1%, she’s a royal diva. She’s definitely my sensitive child. Not comfortable with strangers and wants to be held by people she knows. Hates it when anyone is upset and doesn’t even like it when you scowl (oops).
To celebrate their milestones, we decided to MOVE AGAIN! yay!
Wait, what? Are you nuts? What are you smoking? Didn’t you JUST move?
Yes. Yes. Nothing good. And, yes.
Josh and I both sat down about two months ago to talk about our future – what we wanted to be doing, goals for ourselves individually and as a family, projects we wanted to do on current house, etc. I love this current house. It’s beautiful, safe, friendly, warm. It’s been loved in and prayed over by previous families. It was the perfect place to have a new baby last year – a haven. That being said, it’s freaking far from my family. My dad hates Dallas would remind me every time he drove out here just how bad 635 was and that he’d never do it again (635 is horrible and I hate it, too). My kids missed their grandparents. I missed having a life-line reasonably close by. I missed a short commute to work. Josh missed urban development, hipsters, and remodeling. When we said we’d move back to OC, Dr. Doubter got incredibly excited. I’m hoping this means he’ll move back to Texas. Also another amazing reason to move.
So, we made a huge gamble and put our house on the market the last week of February. It was under contract in 48 hours. I don’t even think it made it to Trulia or Zillow. We then found a crazy, awesome house in the OC and made an offer on that. It was another huge gamble because a developer wanted to buy the same house and flip it. I sent an email to buyers through our realtor with a family photo and they accepted our offer over the developer’s. They raised EIGHT children in this monster of a house and wanted it to go to someone else who would raise a family there and plant roots. Fast forward three weeks and we’ve undergone appraisals, inspections, more inspections and it’s finally at the end. We move on Wednesday and close Friday. HA!
House needs work. Josh gets excited about it. I get excited for about five seconds and then I remember how much work it was the first time. Luckily, we have a lot of friends and family who wants to help. And we have great imaginations. So, I’ll continue to imagine the house in a year while we are in the middle of renovations. It’s a huge house – lots of room for more kids, guests, entertaining and room for kids to grow. I will definitely blog about renovations. Our realtor thinks we need our own TV show. I agree. I’m dramatic. Josh isn’t. My kids are cute. Jack is hilarious. C’mon, HGTV!
So, I’m currently procrastinating on packing. House is 90% packed and I’m 100% over it. My family has been amazing, once again. They drop everything to watch babies and pack boxes. Even, Papa Charlie, who hates driving up here. I swear my mom is the most talented person at making something from nothing – she always makes my houses feel like homes instantly. I’m so grateful for our parents. Josh’s parents will be up soon to help with painting, remodeling, plumbing and electricity. I married into the perfect family for a task this big. Everyone is excited and encouraging – we are loved.
So, if you come over to the new house, expect a paintbrush and a bottle of wine. I’ll wine and dine you, whisper sweet nothings in your ear, do your laundry, whatever. Just come over and help. (also, jk about the laundry. I can barely do my own).
Jake, is the head coach of a CrossFit box in Arkansas. I’ve had the pleasure of taking his class, being coached by him and watching him develop into a wonderful trainer and athlete. He’s one of those annoying people who can envision himself performing a skill or moving heavy weight and actually do it. He has aspirations for making it to the Games this year, after starting CrossFit last year, and I will not be surprised when he actually makes it. His long-term goal is the Games (mine, too! HA), and I would bet he probably accomplishes that, too. Anyways, in discussing the Opens, he kept telling me to sign up and do it, just to prove to myself I can. I dragged my feet and made up excuses and he signed me up anyways. So, here I am – finished 14.2, still shaking from the scarring memory of 14.1, and about to get my trash handed to me in 14.3.
14.1 AMRAP 10 min
30 Double Unders
15 Power Snatches 55# for females
My first thought: “I finally have DU down. I can do this!”
I was prideful and the Lord humbled me.
I struggled through DU, flew through power snatches and almost made it into 4 rounds (this was my second attempt, too). It was so painful to see myself struggle that I laughed the entire time. I also stopped to tie my shoes and tell my husband how to parent at one point. Woof.
I almost quit CrossFit that night. It was demoralizing. I thought to myself, “Why do I do this to myself? There is no need to feel like this on a regular basis. What the hell!?” Then I looked at the people standing around me. CrossFit is about culture – it’s about the people around you.
The ONLY redeeming part of that WOD was being surrounded by some amazing friends who’ve become family to me these past two years. Having people rally around me and laugh along side me (mostly at me). I was definitely the “special” person performing CrossFit. And I became okay with that. Because these people genuinely care about you – they care about you performing your best. These coaches invest time in helping you reach your goals, become a better athlete and not kill yourself in the process. These members pour sweat, blood and tears along side you day after day, WOD after WOD. They power walk WODs with you when you’re 39 weeks pregnant. They bring you food after you just had a baby. They leave you drunk voicemails and come spend holidays/birthdays with you.
So, when people ask me why I’m doing the Opens, it’s because of the people. Friends and coaches who helped me get to this point. It’s because I survived a pregnancy nine months ago with an awesome group of people and this is my celebration of the strength I’ve developed since those nine months. It’s because I can carry my 37 lb toddler and 22 lb infant together at the same time and not bat an eye. I’m stronger – emotionally and physically – because of the community of CrossFit.
I will continue to perform the WODs to the best of my ability. Be proud of the gains I’ve made. Recognize areas that still need work. And cheer on the people around me who are doing the exact same thing. If you’re not doing the Opens this year because you were afraid of failure and looking stupid – join the club. All non-competitive CrossFit athletes feel this way. NEXT YEAR, someone like my brother will sign you up and you will experience the adult version of Friday Night Lights – sadly, without Tim Riggins. And you won’t regret doing it. Well, you’ll regret it for 10 minutes.
The challenge ended on Sunday. In typical fashion, I was delinquent in my blogging efforts because I was too busy telling the world I spent the last 24 days sugar-free, dairy-free and gluten-free. I lost over 10lbs. Five inches from my waist and two inches off my hips. To celebrate, I ate the icing of the cake that had been in my freezer for three weeks and promptly threw up. That’s winning right there, folks.
Questions I got asked the most on the challenge:
1) How can you do that AND breastfeed?
Simple. I didn’t take all the supplements recommended for a non-lactating individual. No herbal supplements or extra stuff. I drank Spark because I only like coffee that tastes like candy and that’s apparently bad on a sugar detox. I also took Advocare’s Catalyst, with is an amino acid builder. Both are safe while nursing. In addition, I took the same things I always take daily. Calcium, Prenatal Vitamin, Fish oil, and Probiotic. With my diet, when I noticed a drop in production I simply added in a complex carb — I ate my weight in sweet potatoes, occassionally I had brown rice and black beans (may the paleo gods not strike me with lightning).
2) How are you going to maintain?
It takes a month to make a habit, right? So, for a month I’ve been eliminating crap from my diet. Surprisingly, I don’t crave any of the stuff I was craving the first week. Dairy literally makes me have cotton-mouth and my lips itch. So, that’s been an easy elimination. I’m essentially on week four and I’ve still been eating almost exactly the same. A little more fruit, but nothing crazy. I will have a cheat meal once a week because I’m human and hate feeling deprived, but I really like the changes I’ve made to my lifestyle and I know this is a way of eating I can maintain.
3) What about your kids? What do they eat?
This always makes me laugh. Uhhhhh- they eat what I eat? Both kids love fruits and veggies and protein. Jack won’t eat bread mostly (unless it’s in the form of pizza and then it’s like crack to him). Ellie is almost nine months old, so she eats small bites of whatever I eat and she loves it. They’re not normally picky eaters, so I’m very lucky that they both love to eat whatever I give them.
4) Would you recommend this to others?
Most definitely. It’s hard for the first 10 days, but it is great to readjust your system and fix some bad habits. Like with any challenge you can make it as easy or as hard as you want, so it’s accessible to anyone. That’s what I loved about it.
5) Where’s the picture proof?
This is pretty humbling, honestly. But good for reflection and motivation to continue to change.
Still have a ways to go, but any change is good change and continued motivation. Plus, at least my hair looks good.
(She’s the perfect CrossFit partner! She hung out for 21-15-9 of dead lifts and sit-ups RX weight of 155# and I finished in 3:29. Then 5×5 back squats at 185. My coach, Kris, carried her around like a little CrossFit princess while he coached. She loved it. )
I survived the baby shower without cake. My mom asked if I could see a difference having accomplished two weeks of no sugar, refined carbs (absolutely zero-gluten) and dairy. Can you see a difference in two weeks? My clothes fit better. I sleep like a rock (this is a bad thing sometimes). My workouts feel easier. I can’t see a difference, but I can feel one.
The cravings have subsided. I did dream about Starbursts… ew. Really, subconscious brain, that’s the best you could do? I don’t feel the need to bathe in queso. I am completely realistic that this way of eating isn’t sustainable after the 24 days. It’s completely okay to have a cheat meal. It’s acceptable to eat small amounts of dairy. It’s awesome to have raw honey and fruit. I think elimination periods are great. Temporarily. People are funny about the label “Paleo” because they think it’s a trendy, legalistic, unsustainable way of living life. For some people, that’s true. For others – it’s completely life changing. I know people who had health issue after health issue until they eliminated dairy and all grains. Friends with Crohns, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis (to name JUST a few) who feel complete freedom from their disease because of eating paleo. For others, it IS trendy. It’s cool to sip the CrossFit/Paleo Kool-Aid. However, I think the whole idea behind paleo is going back to basics. Eating close to the source. Eliminating anything refined or processed. Discovering what you can tolerate and cannot and moving forward towards a healthier life. If someone told me they were trying a new way of eating to be healthy, in no way would I criticize them for being trendy or hopping on a bandwagon. Instead, I’d rally along side them. Try to learn as much as I can about being healthy. And share knowledge with people in encouraging, uplifting ways.
Guess what? I ate brown rice last night. My breastmilk supply has TANKED this week. And do you know what was so awesome? I felt completely fine after eating that brown rice AND my supply went up. So don’t paleo-rsecute (see what I did there?) people for making adjustments to their diets where needed. I’M A NURSING ATHLETE, SON.
Josh gets migraines with gluten. I get GI issues with dairy (and really fat with bread). It’s been really enlightening to look at the food in our lives and how we function without things we LOVE to eat. I jokingly (kinda) say that Josh eats to live and I live to eat. Week two has really helped me view food as fuel – hitting some nice heavy weight in CrossFit has also helped motivate me. If I don’t eat small meals throughout the day, I will chew the tire off my car. It’s been fun doing this with friends. Laughing about how silly it is to be angry about not being able to eat cake (first world probs, am I right?).
So, here I go into week three! With a much better attitude, perspective and freedom about the food I eat. I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.
I am constantly looking for ways to improve my nutrition and eating habits. I read frequently. I have many leather-bound books and my house smells of rich mahogany. (Ron Burgundy, anyone?) Anyways, one of the things I tend to be horrible at is eating consistently clean. I will do wonderful for about a week. But then, a cheat meal here, a cheat meal there. Here a cheat, there a cheat. Everywhere… You get the point – it’s all gone to hell in a hand basket. I’ve come to the realization I’d be morbidly obese if I didn’t love to workout. This is a problem. I want abs, damnit. Like, legit “run-in-a-sports-bra” abdominal muscles. The kind that make people go, “She had two babies? 19 months apart? GET OUT.”
I have 10-15 vanity pounds I’d like to lose and my child is almost a year old. I have some bad habits that need breaking. I have zero mental stamina. I needed a kick in the trash to get started. Luckily, competition is one of the best ways to get me motivated. Our gym combined the Advocare 24 Day Challenge with paleo eating (I’m modifying some of the Advocare products because I’m breastfeeding). While I’m not crazy about supplementation, I am more disciplined when I think I have things aiding my progress. “Oh, this will make me 120lbs and 5’10” by tomorrow? I’LL TAKE IT! It’s going to give me cancer? Don’t care. I’M GOING TO LOOK AND FEEL SO FABULOUS.” Please note, Advocare supplements don’t give you cancer and I am dramatic.
Last friday I went to my CrossFit box to take before photos and do the entry WOD. The two owners officiating the challenge made me take my shirt off while they took measurements of my post-pregnant belly and then shoved me towards a tripod with HUGE lights surrounding it. Under the glaring lights, I blindly stumbled for the tape line to stand on as they made me face forward and “ACT NORMAL” while they took my half-naked photos. “ACT NORMAL?!” I screamed in my head, “How is that even remotely possible when I’m trying to suck it in so you don’t realize how much pudge I actually have around my middle, while not sucking in too much so I can make my after-photos look awesome. Also, I feel like I’m a convicted felon right now.” As I was being told to “TURN TO THE LEFT” I realized my crime was my lack of discipline and my well-deserved punishment was 3+ weeks of mental bootcamp (along with humiliating photos of myself).
Well, so far I have not turned into a fire-breathing monster or put my face into a giant bowl of queso. It’s been SEVEN full days and I’ve been 99.9% paleo. I’m really proud of myself. I realize that every year since having my first baby, that my nutrition has gradually significantly improved. After Jack we began dabbling in the paleo diet, eliminating (most) fast food and cutting out soda. With Ellie, we’d almost completely removed all gluten from our diet and working on dairy. Now, I’m completely dairy-free (with the exception of the rare occasion of cheese) and gluten-free. This 24 day challenge has made me step it up even more and really eat whole foods – veggies, fruit, lean proteins. Since I’m continuing to breast-feed I’m trying to eat small meals throughout the day and chug water. I’m averaging about 64-80 oz of water a day and working out with my CrossFit Box 4x a week in addition to teaching five fitness classes a week.
The punishment for failing?
I hear they whip people with cat-o-nines while making you run continuous sprints with weighted burpee box jumps every 400 meters. That’s hell for me, at least. I’m trying to challenge myself to be more disciplined with my diet. I think that it’s incredibly important to be aware of what you put into your body; using food as fuel and power instead of comfort and celebration. I’m also deathly afraid of wasting money. So, that’s also punishment.
A cheat meal. Just kidding! But seriously I will list out the things I am currently craving (and will eventually eat one at a time):
– Bob Armstrong dip (if you’re not from Dallas it’s beef, guacamole, sour cream and pico de gallo mixed in queso – it’s freaking amazing).
– frosted cookies from Pokie O’s.
– a hamburger with french fries (the greasier the better)
– a diet coke (oh yeah, the cravings are bad, baby)
– a vanilla latte from Whole Foods (the BEST)
Also, I am hosting a baby shower this weekend AND DON’T EVEN GET TO EAT ANY CAKE. NONE OF IT. NOT EVEN THE FROSTING. Send prayers.