Tag Archives: health

How living in London is teaching me to love myself

The city of London now has over 8.6 million people who call it home. 44% of the city’s people are now of black or ethnic minority origins.* What does this mean for me? I love people-watching, and it’s AMAZING here.

I’ve always loved people-watching. I love seeing other people’s fashion choices, their hairstyles, shoes, umbrellas, hats. There’s just so much to take in!

I’ll be honest: I’m not accustomed to being around so many ethnically diverse people. I think because of this, I find them fascinating to look at. They’re all so very different – Chinese, Indian, Caribbean, African, Turkish, Eastern European, I just love looking at all of their faces and noticing the sometimes-obvious-but-sometimes-subtle differences between all of these races.

I pass dozens of people every morning on our walk to Tori’s school, then Anders and I will, once or twice a week, get coffee and a muffin at a café and just hang out. And I watch as people walk by or sit sipping their drinks. And I’ve come to this conclusion: ALL OF THEM ARE SO BEAUTIFUL.

Which leads me to my main point: LONDON IS TEACHING ME TO LOVE MYSELF, specifically my physical self.

I’ve struggled with poor body image for a long time. It’s the kind of body image that when I’m being rational, I feel fine about myself! But when I’m being irrational (who, me?) I can be overwhelmed with feelings of inadequacy, dissatisfaction and loads of self-criticism. This can vary daily. One day I’ll loathe my teeth. The next I’ll be stressing about my skin. And to be honest, I’m sick of it. I’m sick of one day feeling great, and the next day being afraid to eat a blueberry muffin because of its fat content.

I know at this point some of you are rolling your eyes. Because, in the grand scheme of things, I’ve really got nothing to worry about. But that’s not the point. The point is that I FEEL I have something to worry about. As irrational as it may be, it’s still true, and I think a lot of you can relate.

I now realize that I used to people-watch mainly as a way to critique myself. “Look at how well she wears that sweater dress. I couldn’t pull that off.” Or “Wow those jeans look amazing on her. I tried that same pair on and I looked like a mushroom.” Or “How does she look so great in that tunic and riding boots? I always look like Robin Hood.” And so on… (you guys, I’m not even joking about the Robin Hood thing.)

Perhaps it’s because I’m a bit older, or because I’ve had 6 months of truly unique people-watching, but today, as Anders and I sat in Pret and I drank a vanilla latte strong, I watched an Indian woman sitting across the café. There wasn’t anything remarkable about her, not fat or thin, not short or tall, not plain or striking, but in that moment, I truly thought she was beautiful. Then I looked at another woman, massively pregnant, with closely-cropped hair, zero makeup and clearly exhausted, and I thought she looked beautiful. And then there was the barista who called me Madame and had the clearest blue eyes amidst an otherwise plain face and I thought she was stunning. It was like all at once, everyone I looked at suddenly became beautiful just for the sake of being beautiful, not as a means to further my self-critique.

I feel like this is a huge deal. I know some people are naturally blessed with the ability to see all people as beautiful, unique beings, and they can do that without bringing it back to themselves. But clearly I’m not (or I wasn’t!) one of those people. The word selfish comes to mind. Because isn’t that what you call it when everything in your life revolves around yourself? The word selfish is usually used in relation to someone who thinks that they are better than everyone, therefore deserve to get everything they want, but really it’s just about being all-consumed with yourself, good or bad.

angelou8I’ve been selfish. And how lame is that? How exhausting. How boring, really, to constantly be comparing yourself to other people. It has blinded me from truly seeing people for who they are, and how God has created them, and has blinded me from seeing myself as I truly am, and how God created me.

I think this is a turning point for me. In a really cool, unchartered, might-screw-up-once-in-a-while-but-will-get-back-on-track kind of way. I’m so excited to start being deliberate in bettering my body image. I’m not really sure what this looks like in a tangible way. Perhaps I’ll move our full-length mirror to a place I don’t walk past as often. Or maybe I’ll stop meandering through clothing stores a bit less. I’m not sure. But I do know that this is new to me, and I’m really excited about it.

And I’m pretty sure I might not have had this experience if we hadn’t moved to London!

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. ~Psalm 139:14

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*http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-31082941

Two other great articles about the modern issue of self-image:

https://lizboltzranfeld.wordpress.com/2015/03/17/what-happens-if-we-let-fat-people-be-happy/

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/jun/10/body-image-anxiety-eva-wiseman

The worst day of the year: surviving the days with no sunlight

An [American] friend asked me recently, “So are you guys still enjoying your stay over there?” To answer in a word, YES! These last couple of months have flown by so quickly that it’s hard to believe that in a few weeks we will have been in the UK for six months. SIX MONTHS, PEOPLE. That’s a long time. And a short time. You know what I mean.

And, as is the usual, I managed to take a break from writing for, um, a “few” weeks.

To me, these last couple of months have been critical in several ways, but mainly: I’VE SURVIVED THE DARKEST MONTHS OF THE YEAR WITHOUT REGRESSING INTO MY DEPRESSION!!!! Big deal. Huge. You guys, on what I often call “the worst day of the year,” aka December 21, aka the Winter Solstice, the sun rose at 8:00am and set at 3:50pm here in London. Less than 8 hrs of sunlight. And high noon looked like 4pm because the sun is so low here.

Those of you familiar with depression know that the depths of winter can be a trying time. Lack of sunlight = lack of vitamin D and also a lack of visual brightness, both of which are clinically proven to help reduce the effects of depression. Not to mention the potential of added stress of holidays and family and after-Christmas-blues.

I’ll be brutally honest: of all the unknowns and fears and general disruption of moving our family to London, my biggest inner fear was that, even while still taking my anti-depressant, I would not be able to handle the darkness of winter again and my mind would slip back into a state of depression. I was coming from a place where there is sunshine literally 360 days a year, and all I could remember about winters in Boston was being filled with dread, discontent and a general grumpiness.

BUT. So far so good! And here are a few things I believe have contributed to my “staying afloat” these last couple of months.

  • We walk EVERYWHERE.

    We walk EVERYWHERE.

    I’ve been outside a lot. We don’t own a car here (!) so I literally walk EVERYWHERE. I make the point to walk even when I could/should take a bus or cab. And while I wish I could say it was great exercise, it’s moderate at best. BUT being outdoors during the day makes such a big difference than when I was either in school or at work all day, and it was dark when I left home and dark when I returned. My little buddy Anders and I are out and about during the day, which means that when the sun is actually shining, we’re in it.

  • I own a “light therapy” light box, an amazing gift from my mother-in-law. This one, to be exact. It is not UV rays. It’s basically just a bright lamp that you sit in front of to give your eyes the illusion of being in daylight. I use it a couple of times a week, and while it’s not an immediate mood-booster, I’m positive it has benefitted my overall mood.
  • Sunrise Alarm Clock

    Sunrise Alarm Clock

    I also use a “sunrise alarm clock.” It slowly brightens as the hour gets closer to my “awake” time, so that when I need to get out of bed, it’s not pitch black in my room. I also use one in the kids’ room! It’s been most useful, actually, for my son when I need to wake him from his naptime and it’s pretty much dark in his north-facing bedroom.

  • I’ve been pretty regular at taking my vitamin D supplements, along with fish oil (omega 3s) and my multi-vitamin.
  • I’ve been praying against my depression, and I know my close friends and family are, too. (For which I’m so very grateful!!) When I start feeling anxious or stressed, I claim these promises. We’ve also found a church we can truly worship in, yay!
  • I’m still taking 50mg of sertraline. As I’ve written before, this is not a “happy pill”. But for me it’s made a major difference in my life and has enabled me to “wake up” and literally smell the hundreds of roses that are in this lovely city of London :-)

Don’t get me wrong. There are certainly times I can feel hints of my past depression and short-temperedness, usually when I’m tired and trying to haul my stroller/”buggy” and a “soccer/football” and a few bags of groceries and two whining kids up the stairs to my flat and my darling son chooses that moment to lie on the third step throwing a tantrum because he wiped his nose with his hand and now his hand is wet… (Our poor, sweet neighbors have never once complained about our kids…!!)

But for now, for this moment, I’m doing ok. (So thanks for asking!!)

The Amazing Spica Cast That Changed Our Lives!

To say it’s been a crazy couple of months would be an understatement! In this and the next couple of posts, I will try to give you a glimpse into our recent medical, emotional, and spiritual experiences :)

I’ll start by describing the Amazing Spica Cast That Changed Our Lives!! (Insert: Dramatic announcer voice)

My son, Anders, turned two in April and has been a healthy, active little guy. Shortly after his birthday he learned to jump with both feet, which is what ultimately caused our Big Excitement.

We were having a laid-back Friday evening in early May; AJ and I had put on Mary Poppins and dragged the cushions off the couches and were watching the kids jump off the couch and onto the pillows. Pretty normal, right? Right. Until Anders jumped, landed on a pillow on his knees and didn’t get up. Little did we know it would be almost eight weeks before he took another step.

At first it didn’t seem like a big deal, the guy didn’t even cry! And I, mom-of-the-year, told him, “It’s ok, bud, get on up!” But when he didn’t, we moved him to the couch and watched as he refused to move his leg and wouldn’t let us touch it. A phone call to the doctor convinced us to let him sleep the night at home and then bring him to the ER in the morning if he was still acting this way.

Waiting in the ER at University Medical Center, Tucson.

Waiting in the ER.

Which, of course, he was. Many hours and several x-rays later, we learned that he had fractured his left femur, poor guy!! To say my heart was wrenched was an understatement! He was such a trooper, though. We were admitted overnight to prepare him for full anesthesia in the morning, when the surgeon would set the bone and administer the cast. The SPICA cast.

The moment we heard the word, we looked it up on google. Enter the thought: Our lives are going to be changed, for a very long time. A hip-spica cast fully wraps around the waist and hips and goes down the affected leg, and often the other leg as well. The pictures online are quite shocking.

Marks left from the IV attempts.

Marks left from the IV attempts.

With all of this in our minds, we watched as they tried to administer an IV on our baby boy. It took FOURTEEN tries. FOURTEEN times they poked a needle into my son. His hands, wrists, feet and ankles were covered with needle holes. And the IV ultimately ended up in his NECK.

Watching our son scream and writhe in pain and confusion until he vomited was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I’ve never felt so helpless, so torn between wanting peace for my son but knowing the pain had to be endured. It was a small help to know he probably won’t remember much, if any, of it.

Recovering from the spica cast application.

Recovering from the spica    cast application.

He came out of surgery, and it would be a full 5 weeks until we would see his little leg again. We were released that evening, mainly due to my persistence and nagging. It had gotten to the point that every time a nurse even walked past our door, Anders started crying in fear. Ugh. You guys, it was truly awful. We needed to go HOME and start our new, crazy life.

I’m so grateful for AJ’s parents, who had watched Tori for two nights. It allowed us to settle in at home and try and figure out how to deal with a two-year-old in a spica cast.

So, how DO you deal with a two-year-old in a spica cast?? We honestly had no clue. Many children who have a hip-spica have hip dysplasia, and their parents have months to research spica care. We, obviously, did not.

So in case anyone is reading this because you, like I was, are furiously searching the internet for any, ANY advice on spica cast care, here are some tips I learned based on our own experience. If you’re one of my regular readers, feel free to skip this part :) Gets kinda detailed!

The first two weeks are the hardest!!! They are stressful, emotional, and physically demanding. But once you’ve passed the two-week mark, it gets slightly easier. So hang in there!

Pain. If your child has broken a bone like mine did, expect him to be in fairly severe pain for almost the full two weeks. Keep movement limited. We were tempted to take him to birthday parties, etc, in the stroller, but followed my maternal instinct and laid VERY low at first. The best thing for healing is REST, after all! So be prepared to be home-bound for a while. It sucks, (especially if you have, say, a 4 yr old daughter as well…) but you do what you’ve got to do.

The ice pack seemed to help with the pain.

Diapering. Ugh. Terrible!!! Many people are able to tuck a diaper up the front and back of the cast, all the way to the top. We were not, because the cast was too snug, at least until the last week or so when the little guy had lost weight :( So. The first week ended in a rash. I’m pretty sure it was a combination of true diaper rash and natural blistering from the cast on his bare skin. I felt sooooo bad. At his one-week follow up, I insisted that his cast be trimmed around the waist and bottom. This helped a LOT. If you’re having difficulty diapering, I’d suggest asking the doctor to trim the cast. Also, one word that saved Anders’ bottom: MOLESKIN. Use it all around the cast that touches the diaper. Change frequently, as soon as it gets wet. Use small pieces and “butterfly” it around the edges. It really, really helps. I’d also recommend getting very soft, very absorbent diapers. Now is not the time to get cheap diapers!! We bought Pampers Swaddlers size 3, trimmed off the Velcro, and put it on backwards, wedging it up into his cast, front and back, as much as we could. We then put size 5 diapers around the entire thing, OVER the cast. At night we’d also line under his bum, (in the size 3 diaper) with a wing-less sanitary pad, ultra thin. Remember that since they are sleeping only on their backs, all urine will seep to the bottom and back of the diaper. Change them more frequently than you normally would, and asap when they poo!

Bathing. Flashback to newborn baths. Yep. He lay on the counter while we gave him a sponge bath and shampoo. He hated every second of it, but we endured.

Bathing with a spica cast.

Bathing with a spica cast.

Entertainment. LOTS of tv. I can’t even tell you how many episodes of Bubble Guppies we’ve seen. Because of the position his body was in, he couldn’t sit up straight, which really limited the activities he could do. Even coloring or puzzles were awkward. We bought him this lap tray with pockets on the sides which helped, but even that was precarious. (And easy for a grumpy guy to throw to the floor, haha). Because of his age (barely two), I had to sit with him to help with the activities. But, even still, playdough got eaten and juice was spilled and we’re still finding goldfish crumbs from his little area of the couch. It’s a messy business.

Eating. Ugh. Take an already-picky eater and make him immobile and you’ve got an almost impossible eating situation. He did not fit into his high chair, so one of us ate with him at the couch. Because of the angle in which he was lying, we often had to spoon-feed him. One tip I’d recommend is buying some tall plastic (disposable) cups in which to put his dry snacks. The taller, the better, because a shallow bowl will spill very easily when he tips it.

Beanbag chairs! A super great idea to give your child a change of scenery. That is, if your child will sit in one. We were given a bean bag chair and Anders REFUSED to sit in it until a week before the cast was removed. Oh well. At least his sister enjoyed it :)

Sleeping with a spica cast.

Sleeping with a spica cast.

Sleeping. Ugh. Awkward at best. We raised the crib to the middle level – lifting him out from the lowest level without hurting him was almost impossible. We laid him on his back (obviously) with some small blankets under his upper body to ensure the cast didn’t cut into his back. The we placed a small pillow at the foot of the crib for his casted leg to rest on (otherwise it would’ve been hanging elevated…) Try all different types of support to see which works best for your child. Definitely use the prescription AND non-prescription pain meds for the first week or so at night. After about 4 weeks Anders started rolling to his side, which was such a relief to see. He actually slept pretty well, considering the awkwardness of it. But we did set our alarm to re-dose his medicine for the first week or two. Keeping ahead of the pain is always best!

–  Transportation. We were very lucky in that Anders’ cast went down only one leg! Many spica casts are on both legs, in which the baby’s legs are very wide apart. This means that children in a spica cast often have to get either a special carseat (we could’ve borrowed one from our hospital) or a harness type of thing. Anders fit into his regular carseat (Britax Marathon), with just a few adjustments!! I was so grateful for this. He also fit in his stroller (City Mini) fine, with it reclined a little. This was a lifesaver for the last couple of weeks when he wasn’t in pain and we wanted to GET. OUT. OF. THE. HOUSE. :) I’ve read of other parents using a wagon with pillows to get their kiddos around, too.

So, there you have it. That pretty much sums of the logistical end of almost 6 weeks of our lives. I have been wanting to write about our experiences and the things I’ve learned but needed to also get the details out of the way, so now that’s done :)

I haven’t delved into the emotional and stressful parts of it! In my next post, I’ll talk about how this experience has affected my depression, my marriage, how I canceled a much-anticipated trip to Boston, how we learned that we are moving to England (!) and how we prepared ourselves to travel to Florida for a week on the beach and my brother’s wedding, potentially with a boy in a spica cast.

So tune in again, soon!

 

My Battle Plan: 7 ways I’m fighting depression

My last two posts describe my journey of acknowledging that I suffer from depression. In this post, I’d like to share with you some of the ways I’m fighting that depression. I consider these things to be part of my battle plan; they are, literally, very intentional steps and tools I use to slay the monster that constantly threatens to rise. They are best effective when being done simultaneously; to pick and choose is not an option for me – that would be the same as putting on a chestplate but ignoring the helmet. It’s truly a holistic approach.

So, without further ado, here are 7 ways I’m fighting my depression!

1. I am on an anti-depressant. Please. Don’t stop reading! I reached an all-time low when Anders was about 10 weeks old. At that point, my mind was so overcome with a dark, all-consuming and sometimes frantic cloud that I literally had trouble forming coherent sentences. (You can read more about my symptoms in my earlier post.) When I finally went to my doctor, she recommended a low-dose of sertraline, a “selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitor” (SSRI). I had mixed feelings about starting a prescription medication; didn’t that mean that I was “quitting” my fight? That I wasn’t praying enough? That I was now certifiably “crazy”?

Thankfully, I have wise people in my life to dispel those lies for me. A serotonin imbalance is just that: it’s a physical, chemical imbalance. My husband and I prayed a lot about this. I realized that my perception of God was that if I took this medicine, I’d be turning my back on him. I came to understand, through wise counsel of friends and family, that God does not view us this way! He knows that our physical bodies are FLAWED. We get sick. We get cancer. We get injured. And God has given us the ability to create medicine to help us heal. (Here’s a great article on Christians and anti-depressants.)

Sertraline is not a “happy pill.” That’s just not the way an SSRI works. But what it did do was pull the dark cloud back just enough for me to see my situation in a more objective way. I wasn’t all of a sudden “Happy! Yay! Isn’t life grand!” But I stopped feeling overwhelmed with anger. I stopped sobbing for hours. I started noticing when my daughter laughed and my son smiled.

I started to see clearly for the first time in months, and I could finally breathe.

2. I started exercising regularly. Once my medicine allowed me to come up for air, I knew it was only beginning of my journey. I started researching depression, and one of the most common ways to help fight it is to have a very regular exercise plan. Exercise has been proven to release serotonin into your brain! So we joined the local YMCA and thankfully my kids love the childcare there. :-) I try to go 4-5 times a week. This is a lot, I know, but I NEED to do it. If I go more than a few days without exercising, I notice a distinct change in my mood (yes, even while on the SSRI – again, it’s not a “happy pill”!)

The big thing for me is making the choice to JUST SHOW UP. I never regret going once I’m there!

image3. I started memorizing scripture and being more intentional with my prayers. Why? I know some of you don’t believe in God or prayers, but I do, and I hope you can read this knowing that I’m just sharing my own experience. :-) Now that I know my brain has a tendency to become depressed, I need to arm myself with the peace that comes from the Word of God. Some of you might call it “positive thoughts”, but I truly believe there is power when scripture is spoken. A sweet friend wrote out a few verses for me and I have placed them around my house in spots where I spend a lot of time (my bathroom, my kitchen counter, the laundry room, etc.). This forces me to turn my thoughts to God instead of focusing on the stress of a “To Do” list. Scripture and prayer help me feel more centered and stable, and I swear it makes my blood pressure drop :-)

For a list of my favorite verses that help encourage and empower me, visit my resources page!

4. I surround myself with supportive friends. I have talked about my great circle of friends from my church: strong, loving, non-judgmental and honest women who have been a huge part in my recovery. If you don’t have a group of friends like this (and I’m not talking about friends who just say, “oh, I’m sorry” but friends who call you specifically to say “How are you today? What can I pray for?”), then I’d sincerely encourage finding a counselor or therapist you can talk to. TALKING about your feelings sounds so cliché, but it is SO FREEING!!! I have forced my husband to feel comfortable using the word “depression.” Because, after all, if I’m living with depression, and AJ lives with me, then AJ is living with depression, too.

5. I try to get enough sleep. “Enough” of course, can vary for each individual. Right now, I have two small children. My 3 year old daughter still likes to get “help” using the potty in the middle of the night (beats having an accident!) and my son still suffers from reflux/upset tummy off-and-on. I never know if I’ll have a solid nights’ sleep or, like last night, be awake three times from 12:00-3:00am.

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If I go too long with poor sleep, I REALLY notice my mood gets terrible. This happens to anyone! And it can be especially dangerous for someone battling depression. Therefore, I do two main things to help ensure I am sleep-savvy: 1) I take naps when I feel I need one. Simple. No questions. Laundry and dishes come second to sleep. 2.) I communicate with my husband about it!! If I’m drained, I’ll ask him to be the one to get up in the night, and I’ll put in earplugs. Thankfully he falls back to sleep very quickly and is willing to help in this area.

6. I try to maintain general good health. This means eating well, which, for me means minimal carbs and wheat and focusing more on proteins and produce. (Did you know chronic depression can be a symptom of a gluten sensitivity?!) It means taking the proper vitamin supplements to ensure my body can fight diseases. It means being outside, in the sun (vitamin D can help fight depression!), and being active.image

7. I take breaks. My husband and I try to be intentional about planning regular dates, and this meant working babysitting costs into our budget. I also try to take a break from the kids and house at least once or twice a month, to go shopping or get coffee or go out with some girlfriends. This is so important because it allows you to think about things besides your “duties”! it can be so freeing to get away, even if just for a few hours.

My approach to fighting my depression is, I believe, a holistic one. I’m trying to prepare myself so that if I ever need or want to stop taking my medication, then I am fully able to do so without it being a catastrophe. And in order to do that I need to objectively and deliberately look at ALL areas of my life and adjust them accordingly.

My “battle plan” is unique to me. If you are suffering depression (any kind of depression, not just post-partum!), you need to evaluate your OWN circumstances and create a battle plan that is right for you! But I hope that I have at least given you a place to start, and have sparked some thoughts of change and hope in your life. You can overcome this! And until it is completely overcome, you CAN manage it, and you can live a life in full bloom.  :-)

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Disclaimer:

I am not a medical professional, nor do I play one on TV. The comments and opinions expressed in these articles are merely comments and opinions. Please seek professional medical advice before making any changes to the diet, exercise, or medication of yourself or your children.

Why I’m Content With “Just” Two Kids

Well, it’s official! AJ had his “procedure” on Friday, so we are done having babies. While some of you might consider this TMI, you’d be amazed at how many people ask us “are you having more?” or “when’s number three coming along?” as if there’s no way it could be a personal or sensitive subject.

"They're so cute, you should have another one!"

“They’re so cute, you should have               another one!”

It may be just my surrounding culture (read: fairly conservative southwestern suburbia), but I find that people look at me oddly when I say we’re perfectly content with our two children. One friend told me, “Aw, come on, your kids are so cute! You should have at least one more.” Right… because cuteness is a legit reason for having a child. (I’m being sarcastic here, btw.) :-)

So I thought I’d share with you our reasons for being content with our two children. [Disclaimer: This is not an invitation for arguing or disagreement. If you disagree with me, let’s just agree to disagree, yes?] So here goes:

7 Reasons We’re Content with “Only” Two Children:

1. We have two children! Many people can’t have children. I have seen two couples very close to us struggle with infertility, and my heart breaks when I think of the emotional and physical pain they have gone through. We have two children! That fact alone is a very big deal that I think some people overlook, especially those who are able to get pregnant very easily.

2. Neither my husband nor I feel that God is calling us to have more children. This is not something I say flippantly. Nor is this a decision we made flippantly. We truly believe that God is 100% okay with our decision.  [For a great article that further expresses this, please read:  http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/articles/does-the-bible-permit-birth-control. Again, let’s agree to disagree.]

3.  I did not like being pregnant. (Understatement.) I have “moderate/severe” scoliosis of the spine, which, combined with carrying my jumbo babies completely out front, led to a VERY painful pregnancy. I had regular, frequent contractions with both babies starting at 24 weeks. I was one of the 4% of all women who had 3rd degree perineal tearing, with both deliveries. And, least of all, my stomach is, no joke, COVERED with stretch marks all the way up to my rib cage. So, call me an ungrateful wuss, but I really don’t want to go through it again. :-)

4. We have a girl and a boy! I honestly think that God gave us a boy so we wouldn’t be tempted to try for a third. :-) (And, side-note: this was one of the questions the nurse asked AJ while prepping him for his “procedure” – “Do you have one of each? Because usually people want to try for both…” I mean, really!)

5. I am still struggling with depression. Again, this is not something I say flippantly. It is a very real presence in my life and, therefore, my children’s lives. It takes ALL of my strength and energy (and I rely heavily on God’s strength and energy!) to care for my children in way that won’t harm them emotionally, along with equipping myself with the tools I need to fight my own battles.

6. We would gladly consider adoption, should God place that calling in our hearts. We have a niece and nephew from Ethiopia and are so blessed by them. Watching my in-laws go through the process of adoption has definitely softened our hearts to the orphans of the world.

7. When I look at my children, I feel at peace! I am so happy with our little family. We are a tightly-knit team, and I truly am content. And I know that if God decides we should have more children, He’ll make it happen one way or another!

So, now you know! And if you think I’m crazy or selfish or un-“Christian”, well, that’s nice. But I know my God, and He knows me, and I rest my confidence in that! OK, well, I’m off to help Tori look for grasshoppers and make sure Anders doesn’t eat [too much] dirt. Have a great week! :-)

Laughter is…

…THIS: (at least, for me it is…)

So, I’m just curious… did this make you laugh? At all? I really found it funny, in an oh-my-gosh-what-the-heck-is-this-it’s-so-weird-it’s-hysterical kind of way.

I first saw Ylvis’ video at the women’s retreat I mentioned in my last post. In a room full of [mostly middle-aged] women, the dj had been playing lots of 70s and 80s hits and then, WA-PA-POW!, he started playing “The Fox” on a huge projector screen.

I started laughing pretty quickly; I think I’d be friends with the Ylvisåker brothers, I feel like we must have the same type of humor. The entire video cracks me up! Mo-o-o-o-orse!! Guardian angel!! The horse drinking champagne!! But looking around the room, most of the faces I saw were, well, confused.

imageWhen I got home, one of the first things I showed AJ was, of course, this video. He’s so gonna love it, it’s hysterical! I thought. Well… nope. Nada. A barely-there-smile was all the reaction I got from that guy. “Don’t you think it’s funny?” I asked.  “Well, um, a little, I guess. It’s just weird,” he replied, and quickly returned to the world of Angry Birds: Star Wars edition.

This is not the first time I’ve found something funny that to others was either weird or just neutral. I think it stems down to the fact that I just like to make myself laugh!  And what I laugh at is, understandably, not always what other people find funny.

But that’s ok! Having the ability to recognize what you find funny and allowing yourself to audibly and visibly LAUGH OUT LOUD is such a great skill! [Disclaimer: laughing at the expense of someone else is NOT what I’m talking about here.]

Whenever we get to spend time with my sister, AJ always makes a comment along the lines of, “Well, at least you guys can make yourselves laugh…” She and I often find the same things funny, and we’re not afraid to laugh out loud about them.  No skin off our noses if no one else finds it funny! It gave us a good bellowing laugh and that’s all that matters.

laughterAnd now that I’m a mom, I’m really enjoying learning what makes my kids laugh. For instance, when 3-year-old Tori started calling me “Auntie Sue!” at random times of the day (sometimes in public, yikes!) and snorting/snickering/giggling madly about it.  Or when then-4-month-old Anders laughed hysterically at his sister spitting her food out at the dinner table (DOUBLE yikes!).

Or when I showed Anders “The Fox” just a few days ago and HE LAUGHED AT ALL THE SAME PLACES I LAUGHED AT!!! Mom: 1. Dad: 0. :) “The Fox” is now the #10 single on iTunes, so clearly my son and I aren’t the only ones who like it.

Have you ever had that moment when you’ve found something really funny, but no one else did? Did you laugh anyway? I really hope you do, even if you think you might look silly. Just remember Victor Hugo’s eloquent insight: “Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.”

Of course, I prefer to comfort myself by remembering Lord Byron’s acute observation, “Nothing can confound a wise man more than laughter from a dunce.” Haha!

Call Me Crunchy

So… I am now a bonefide hippie. Well, me-two-years-ago would call me-now a hippie. Why? For several reasons, but mainly because I have started a love affair with coconut oil. (If you follow me on Pinterest this may not surprise you.) I have a jar of it in my bathroom cabinet and on my son’s changing table. I made my own deodorant with it and I store it in my fridge!  I cook with it! I use it as a hair conditioning treatment! I use it to fight Alzheimer’s!  I am one day going to use coconut oil to RULE THE WORLD!!!!

OK, that last part is a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the gist of my obsession. Some of you may have discovered coconut oil decades ago and are thinking, “um, DUH, Sue, get with the program!” To you I say, “Congratulations! You can stop reading now.”

But to all you other people whose children’s bottoms aren’t being wiped clean with DIY-made-with-coconut-oil wipes, read on!

Here’s the [ahem] bottom line: coconut oil is a superfood. Here are just a few of its proven health benefits:

  • coconut oil is antimicrobial, antiviral, and antifungal, thus making it a great base for ointments and wipes.
  • coconut oil contains several different types of natural medium-chain-fatty acids image(MCFAs), including one that is found in prescription medication for Alzheimer’s. These MCFAs are also known to promote weight loss.
  • coconut oil has been shown to increase metabolism
  • coconut oil’s naturally present vitamin E and antioxidant properties make it useful for treating scrapes and mild burns.
  • coconut oil has been shown to boost thyroid function, boost your immune system, promote healthy blood sugar levels and improve overall cholesterol levels. ­

These are just a few of the uses! As I mentioned before, while on a seemingly impossible quest for a natural-but-effective deodorant (I think I tried every brand Sprouts offered…), in a last-ditch-effort I made my own deodorant with coconut oil, baking soda and cornstarch. (I used this recipe). And here’s the kicker: MY HUSBAND SAYS IT’S SO EFFECTIVE THAT HE’S AGREED TO USE IT!!!!

Here’s a great list of more uses of this amazing oil by the Wellness Mama: 101 Uses for Coconut Oil. And here’s another article that goes into more detail about the health benefits of coconut oil.

If you haven’t jumped onto this bandwagon, I recommend it! I love knowing that I have replaced so many chemically-laden products (baby oil, anti-aging cream, deodorant, to name a few) in our home with this natural substance.

Do you use coconut oil? I’d love to hear about any good recipes and uses!