June 12, 2014

Drowning

I returned this morning from a two day hiatus.  It wasn't exciting or glamorous.  I basically camped out on my mom's couch for two days.  It's good to be home.  Why did I leave?

Two days ago, with a racing heart and shaking hands, I was struggling to breathe normally when I called my doctor.  I did my best not to scream at the voice on the other end of the line, I made an appointment to discuss treatment for anxiety and depression.  It doesn't make sense to me how the two go hand in hand.  It seems to me that they are opposites, but there are many things that I don't know or understand so I'm not going to stress over it.  I hadn't stepped foot in my doctor's office in over a year.  I have taken no medication.  It was time.

As a mother, I know there are many things that I do wrong.  I am always honest with my kids, though, and I know that is something I do right.  I don't sugar coat things.  They know that grown ups have struggles, that we don't have all the answers, that we're not perfect or invincible.  This was no different.  I called them all into the living room and explained that I have been having problems, I am going to see my doctor and after I'm going to visit grandma for a couple days.  Worried, they all asked if I was sick.  I told them that I was but not in a way that you can see.  They see it, though.  They know that I haven't been right.  As I went on to explain anxiety and how sickness can't always be seen, I could see the recognition on their faces.  I know that it clicked.  I could read the relief as they realized that the way I've been acting is my problem, my sickness, not something that they've done wrong.

For a year, I've been on a vitamin/herbal regimen.  I hate the idea of taking prescription drugs.  The vitamins worked.  Not as well as I would like, but they kept my head above water.  For whatever reason, I stopped taking them about a month ago.  I've been drowning for about two weeks.  I find myself walking around in circles, unable to focus on or accomplish anything.  I can't breath and my chest is tight.  I want to yell a lot.  I can't relax and it's unbearable.  I've felt it.  I know my family has felt it.  Anxiety is much easier to deal with and hide when your children are babies and toddlers.  They don't understand it and easily forget the change in your moods.  Now that my children are older, I have to worry more about how my anxiety is affecting them.  I can't put them through this.  I can't let them pay for my problems.  I've been on this roller coaster my whole life.  I've taken so many medications since I was about 20.  It's time for me to accept that this is me and fix it, even if it means taking medication for long periods of time.  My eyes are open, I can see that this isn't going to go away on it's own.

Here I am.  I'm home.  The kids wanted to know if I am all better.  No, kids, but I'm rested.  I have a prescription and hope that someday soon, I'll be at my best.



June 2, 2014

How We Rocked the Last Day of School









Summer vacation is here! 
We celebrated in a big way with decorations, balloons, goofy outfits, pizza and ice cream.
We even handed out popsicles to kids as they left school.
It was so much fun and maybe the start of a new family tradition.
They look pretty happy for kids who are about to spend the summer with no tv, don't you think?

May 21, 2014

Simplifying My Skin Care Routine


I am not a fan of my skin.  I never have been.  It's blotchy in places, I have large pores and am prone to cystic acne.  I have tried so many products to get the skin I dream of having.  None of them worked any miracles.  My solution?  Accept my flaws (this is the most important thing that I cannot stress enough), stop wasting money and cut down on the chemicals.  My skincare routine is not 100% natural, but it's fairly close.  

First, I switched out my eye makeup remover for olive oil.   It does the trick and I always have it available.  I know what's in it and it provides extra moisture to the area around my eyes.

I dissolve 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of Epsom salt in 1/4 cup water and add about 5 drops of iodine and keep it in a plastic bottle.  About 20 minutes before I wash, I swipe it on and let it dry.  It helps bring blackheads to the surface to be washed away.  You can find Epsom salt for as little as a dollar.  It's also something that I always have on hand. 

I use Dr. Bronner's to wash my face.  I use a 3oz plastic bottle and dilute it 1:1 with water. It doesn't take much to clean your face.  It's very thin and watery and easy to use too much.  Don't be tempted, though.  It only takes a couple drops.  I don't recommend using the peppermint soap.  It might be too harsh.  Try rose, almond or lavender.  If you are acne prone, you can always try the tea tree.  A 32 oz bottle of Dr. Bronner's will cost you about $17 and can be used for so many things.  It's almost always diluted when used so 32 oz goes a long way.  Much better than the $20+ I was spending on Clinique face wash.

I have also started making my own toner by mixing 1 part apple cider vinegar with 2 parts water.  The smell isn't great when putting it on, but it quickly disappears.  I love it because it is so simple, cheap and good for your skin.  Again, apple cider vinegar is something that I always have on hand.  In the summer when have an abundance of cucumbers from the garden, I make a cucumber toner. If you have a juicer, mix the juice from 1 cucumber and 1 lemon with a teaspoon of honey and keep in the refrigerator.  If you don't have a juicer, you can give the cucumber a whirl in the blender to make a puree and run it through a mesh sieve or cheesecloth.

During the day, I use a store bought moisturizer with an SPF.  At night, I use a thin layer of coconut oil.  I whip 1 cup coconut oil with 1 teaspoon of vitamin E oil in my Kitchen Aid mixer until it's light and fluffy and keep it on hand in a glass jar.

When it comes to breakouts, I spot treat blemishes with tea tree oil.  Also, once a week or if I have a large break out, I use an egg mask.  I mix 1 egg white with 2 teaspoons of lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon of honey until it's frothy.  I use a cotton ball to put it on, wait for it to dry and rinse it off.  It tightens pores and is great for acne.  If used too often, though, it can be very drying.

Since I've started this routine, I haven't had a problem with cystic acne.  I can't tell you how happy this makes me.  Even though I usually only had a couple blemishes at a time, it was still painful and ugly.  Mostly painful.  I feel for people who deal with widespread cystic acne.  I still get the occasional garden variety breakout, but it's easily treated and doesn't bother me.  I should also add that since I have made it a point to drink my 8 glasses of water a day, I no longer have a problem with dry patches of skin on my face.

I think that covers everything.  I like knowing the ingredients of the products I put on my skin.  I also like that I am saving a ton of cash!






May 20, 2014

Off

I don't know how to explain it when the feeling sneaks up on me, when that moment hits me so hard from behind, it almost knocks me over.  That moment when I am certain that I can not referee one more fight, I can not wipe one more dirty butt, I can not survive one more tantrum.  It's there, so intense one minute, then gone the next.  It's not the moment itself that bothers me.  It's the frequency.

All moms have that moment, think the thought, feel the feeling.  Every once in a while, though, it hits so often that it never seems to leave me.  It's always in the back of my mind, nagging me, making my heart ache, leaving me to question everything about myself as I try to shuffle through my day like normal.

There are questions.  What am I doing wrong?  What should I be changing?  What should I be looking for?  How do others make it look so easy?  Will I ever have peace?  There are answers.  Try spanking.  Stop sleeping with your kids.  Find a hobby.  Have a date night.  You just don't appreciate how lucky you are.

In my heart of hearts, I know the answers to my questions.  I know that what it really boils down to is the all consuming hugeness of motherhood.  It's hard to swallow sometimes.  I know that soon enough, this feeling and the difficulty will lessen.  It will be all but forgotten, tucked in the back of my heart, like the pain of childbirth.  Of course, I'll keep muddling through.  I just wish I could get more days off than off days.


May 19, 2014

In Seven(th) Heaven

Kennedy has turned 7!


She is the perfect combination of funny and sweet.  She loves to goof around and make people laugh.  Much to my dismay, she is a huge fan of toilet humor.  However, it's always delivered in a way that makes you wonder if that sweet, quiet little girl really just made a fart joke. 


She loves to make things.  She is always mixing some concoction or saving things from the trash to give them new life.  It doesn't always work out well. The most amazing dish the world has ever known or the next great invention is just beyond her reach, but she knows it won't always be.  She's patient.  She takes her time and enjoys life.  Rushing is not Kennedy's style.


Her newest goal is to figure out a pony tail so she can fix her hair.  She hasn't quite gotten it down yet so she uses bread ties and clips.  She has a loose tooth that she refuses to pull out.  It just keeps sticking farther and farther out.  It will fall out when it's ready. 

Kennedy Anne, we love you!  Thank you for bringing laughter to our family.

May 12, 2014

We Did It!

Almost 2 months ago, I wrote about running a 5K with Corrina.  That 5K was among the many things we did this weekend.  I wrote about how I wanted to get in better shape and stop making excuses, drop a few pounds and run this thing with my daughter.  Well, none of that has happened.

I thought that maybe I was just making excuses to get out of going to the gym.  I thought that if I just set my mind to it, time would magically appear.  Guess what.  It didn't.  If anything, I've had even less time.  Between my husband's work schedule, the kids' activities, the daycare hours at the gym and of course, a finicky 3 year old, it has been almost impossible for me to get to the gym.  I want to go.  I love to go.  I'm going to keep trying.  Things are starting to settle down for us a little, so maybe there will be time.

So, Saturday, we pinned on our numbers and went for it.  We had a great time and despite being overweight and grossly out of shape, I managed to make it through without passing out, having a stroke, heart attack or dying.

Girls on the Run has been really great for Corrina.  She has really enjoyed running.  I think it's something she wants to keep doing.  I want to do this with her.  Like everything else, I can only try my best. 

*Please note that I did not use the word fat to describe myself.  After the race Saturday, I posted a picture of us with the caption "the fat lady didn't die".  I was then lectured by my daughter about referring to myself as fat.  I am pretty comfortable with my weight.  I don't let being overweight define me.  I don't sit around talking about it or hating myself for it.  I'm comfortable with using the word "fat" jokingly.  If it bothers her, though, I will stop!

May 7, 2014

Field Trips, Twitchy Eye and the Duggars

Just when we thought this school year was never going to end, we have found proof that it actually will-field trips.  Field trips are fun.  I've been on 2 in the last week.  I accompanied Corrina to City Museum and Kennedy to the St. Louis Zoo.  My favorite thing about this was unexpected one on one time with my girls in places we would normally never venture without the entire family in tow.  It was a lot of fun.
Possibly the world's largest underpants

About a million years ago, when I was a kid, field trips were different.  My mom packed me a lunch, slathered me in sunscreen, handed me a $5 bill and sent me on my way as usual.  At school, we boarded a bus with our teachers and maybe 3-4 volunteer moms.  The teachers and these moms wrangled us around whatever venue, we acted like mental patients, then went home and told our parents how fun it was and how good we were.

Today, every kid is accompanied by a parent, some have both parents.  We drive ourselves, meet our kid, spend the day with them, take them back to the bus and meet them back at school.  This is a wonderful set up for parents, kids and teachers (who get a free day in a cool place).  For someone with slight social anxiety, this can be kind of hellish.
fun mirrors did not make me look much thinner. bastards.

First there is the meeting of the parents on the playground to determine ride sharing.  For someone with social anxiety, this is the equivalent of being last picked for the kickball team.  It's horrible.  There's always the chance that someone will actually offer you a ride.  It takes a while to answer this question.  You sit there with a strange look on your face while you consider all that could go wrong if you get into a car with 3 women you barely know.  After a while, you smile and decline, not realizing until later exactly how long it took to answer the question.

When you get to your venue, there is a lot of waiting around for kids to get off the bus.  This is the stuff nightmares are made of.  Sitting around in a group with all these people who are chatting and conversing because, well, they're normal people.  They form normal relationships.  Hell, they form words and even that is more than you can muster.  Every once in a while, someone will take pity on you and try to strike up a conversation.  When this happens, all you can manage is a twitchy eye and some strange noises that never quite form words but might be mistaken for a yea or an oh.

School functions are terrible for people with social anxiety.  I keep fighting the urge to run off screaming and never be seen again, though.  Showing up and having people think I'm strange, bitchy, standoffish, possibly from another planet or maybe a serial killer is much better than telling my kids that I just don't want to go.  I don't know how I got this way.  To some degree, I can see that I've always been like this, but it seems to have gotten worse when my kids started school.  Hopefully by showing up and fighting my way through, I can keep my kids from turning out this way. 

Side note:  The Duggar family was at the zoo the same day we were.  Though I was avoiding parents, I had no problem trying to hunt down Michelle Duggar and become her BFF.  However, Kennedy wouldn't let me.


May 5, 2014

Connecting

 It has been a really rough week in the Pohlman house.  My father-in-law has been in the hospital since last Saturday.  His situation seems to change almost daily.

One thing I am adamant about is being honest with the kids.  I've been giving them updates as I get them and trying to help them understand what is happening with grandpa.  It's hard for everyone.  They are so close to him, there is no way for me to hide it or sugar coat it, not that I would want to.

On top of that, we have been unbelievably busy.  It's hard to spend quality time together when everyone seems to be running in different  directions.

 
Yesterday was the most perfect day.  Even though Steve was gone, we spent the day connecting as a family.  We didn't do anything special.  We played outside, ate ice cream and read Charlotte's Web on a blanket under a tree.  We needed it.  It was one of those days that I think I'll always remember and strive to recreate.  

What would I do without these four?  They are everything.

May 2, 2014

Three is the Magic Number

Stella is 3!  She is unlike anything we've ever seen.  
 She loves to sing and dance.  She loves reading books, watching movies, playing with dollies and smiling.
 She sincerely believes her name is Baby Bear.  To her, we are a family of bears.  Mama Bear, Papa Bear, NeNe Bear (Corrina), Ken Ken Bear (Kennedy), GiGi bear (Georgia), and Baby Bear. 
She completes our family in the most perfect way!  We love you, Stella Bella!

March 25, 2014

Respect: You Get What You Give

When it comes to parenting, I've given up so many things that are considered "the norm".  I generally don't discuss parenting practices in everyday conversation for fear of backlash.   It's not disapproval that I'm afraid of.  I honestly feel that I'm doing the best I can and my decisions are not uninformed.  There are times my decisions don't feel natural.  I was not raised this way, most people I meet were not raised this way.  It has taken me quite a bit of time to accept that most of what I do is natural, it's just generations of learned behavior that makes it feel like it's not. 

Discipline is a tricky thing for parents.  There is so much pressure from everywhere to discipline our children.  If we don't, people assume that we are raising lazy, smart ass kids who feel entitled to have anything they want.  If children aren't disciplined, they will run wild, drop out of school, wear pants that sag and lead unproductive lives.  Most people will tell you that what is wrong with kids today is lack of discipline.

I don't buy it.  I hear people all the time complain about their out of control kids.  They're baffled.  "Why are they still like this?"  "I've grounded him."  "I've taken away all electronics."  "I've forbidden her to hang out with those people."  "She has missed out on parties/trips/fun."  "He doesn't even care if he gets spanked anymore, it doesn't bother him."  I'm willing to bet that most parents of out of control kids have tried to discipline them. 


I keep seeing this pop up on Facebook and it's driving me insane.  I HATE this.  Does hitting another person really bring about respect?  As an adult, if my boss or my employee is disrespectful or not doing their job right, can I smack them to fix the situation?  No.  Hitting does not result in respect.  The results are fear and lack of trust.  I do not believe that it fixes any problems.  The result is lies and sneakiness.  You only try harder not to get caught.  If spanking truly solved any problem, it would only need to be done once in each lifetime.

I don't discipline my children.  I don't believe that it really solves anything.  When Corrina was younger, I disciplined her.  We did time out, I took away TV or computer, I spanked her once.  It was a never ending cycle of anger and frustration for us both.  I realized the other day how much easier life with her is than it used to be and it started getting easier when I gave up the idea of discipline. We are happier and have a much better relationship.

I am far from perfect.  I yell too much, which is something that I'm working on.  I have swatted one of the girls on the behind in the last year.  I felt horrible after.  When we calmed down, we sat down and discussed it.  I apologized.  We talked about how everyone has limits, everyone gets frustrated and angry.  We talked about how it is never OK to hit when you're frustrated or angry.  We learned that adults and children aren't always that different.  

Does all of this mean that my children do whatever they want or have never heard the word "no"?  No.  My children are pretty well behaved and trustworthy kids that are no strangers to disappointment or the word "no".  I try not to expect more than they are capable of at their ages.  We discuss, we teach, we learn, we work things out together.

Does this mean that my children feel entitled?  I hope so.  They should feel entitled to:  make their own decisions, have their own beliefs, be themselves, make mistakes, be respected by others (including adults), dream big, test limits, learn from their mistakes and just be children.

Are there things about your parenting strategies that you hide from others?  Are there any questions I can answer about our lack of discipline?  Feel free to weigh in with your opinion.

March 6, 2014

The Time My Daughter Put Me In My Place

After giving birth to 4 children, it's true that I've let myself go.  I don't leave the house much and can usually be found in a uniform of yoga pants and too big t-shirt.  It's hard to find time to exercise.  It's true.  Finding time when I'm not expected to be doing something for someone else is difficult.  Also, my days are spent at the mercy of a 2 year old who can be tyrannical at times. 

Yes, I use my family as an excuse for my weight.  They put it on and they won't give me time to take it off.  This is something that has really come back to bite me in the ass. 

My 10 year old, Corrina,  is participating in Girls on the Run, a 10 week 5k training program that ends with...wait for it...a 5k.  This is where it gets tricky.  She asked me to run it with her.  Hello!  Have  you not seen the size of my ass? 

I had to seriously consider this.  She said it would mean a lot to her.  The moral of my story is this:  these children made me fat (kind of) and now they're going to get me in shape.  I can't tell my daughter no.  I told her that I would do my best.  If I can't do this one, I will do one with her before summer is over. 

So, I am going to make some changes and invest in a good sports bra.  I've packed on around 45 pounds in the last 8 years.  45 pounds!!!  It's really hard to believe when I see Corrina wearing clothes that I wore after she was born that I could ever fit into them. 

I love my body.  Of course I do.  It has done amazing things.  Unfortunately, some of it has to go in order to keep doing amazing things. 


ps: I honestly can not wait for a day when I can leave the house without spanx.  THAT will be truly amazing!

March 4, 2014

Mardi Gras Movie Night

Last week, I mentioned that we do movie night every once in a while and what we eat that night depends on what movie we watched.  Last weekend, we watched The Priness and the Frog in celebration of Mardi Gras.  I don't know why I love this movie so much, but it's one of my favorites.

It was easy to find Mardi Gras decorations over the weekend.  I didn't go overboard because I didn't want to spend a ton of money.  We just put up some purple, yellow and green bunting, used purple table cloths, Mardi Gras themed plates and napkins.

For a craft, I cut shapes out of cardboard that they painted and decorated with jewels, glitter and flowers.  I glued them to a dowel when they were finished.  This took them quite a while but I printed coloring pages for them to color while I cooked.






For dinner, I wanted to make a more traditional New Orlean's meal, but I have picky children.  What we ended up with was Dr. Facilier's Fried Frog Legs (spicy chicken strips), Ray's Firefly Rice, Louis's Louisiana Cornbread, Tiana's "Man-Catching" Beignets and Big Daddy Le Bouf's Mardi Gras King Cake and Mama Odie's Swamp Water to drink.  I really had a problem even suggesting the chicken was frog legs, but lack of time and imagination got the better of me.







My king cake was the ugliest thing I've ever seen.  It tasted great and looked good on the inside, but I don't think I rolled my pieces tight enough.  To top it off (literally), I colored my glaze purple to make up for my lack of purple sugar. Not a good idea.

All in all, it was a pretty good evening.  Sorry for my terribly awful pictures.  They were taken with my iPhone after I deep fried 2 of my fingers making the beignets.  I promise this is something I will remedy in the future.  Both the pictures and the frying of the fingers.

March 3, 2014

Bedtime

Oh, bedtime, that magical time of the day.  That time that, I admit, I sometimes find myself longing for the minute I wake up.  I love sleep, even if that love sometimes feels unrequited. I feel that there is this myth among mothers, though, what bedtime actually looks like.  I worry that there is an ideal that moms (especially new moms) strive for.  Even I still have fantasies of tucking all kids in bed at 7:00, saying goodnight and enjoying some time with my husband while they drift off to dreamland, not to be heard from until 7:00am.  Bedtime looks different in every house.  Here's a peak into ours.

I take 3 of our girls to bed between 6:30 and 7:00 and I stay there with them until morning.  Sometimes we read or watch some TV before falling asleep.  They get up a million times to go to the bathroom, or downstairs to bug their dad for snacks and drinks.  When they are asleep, I use my phone to read my own book or catch up on whatever show I'm behind on.  Once a week, I leave the house and my husband gets to do it.

We have a small house.  I'm sure when my husband bought it, it was listed as a 3 bedroom.  I'd maybe call it 2.5.  Our oldest daughter has her own room.  However, it is just big enough for her.  The three youngest girls share a room.  My love affair with sleep was part of the reason I slept with my last two babies from the time they were born.  We have been co-sleepers of some sort for a long time.  The only thing keeping us from sharing one family bed is my husband's sleep apnea, which he refuses to do anything about (probably so he can have a bed all to himself).  So, as of now, I sleep with the 3 youngest girls in their bedroom.  The driving force behind this is our youngest.  She's not quite 3 yet, still nurses at night and isn't quite ready to sleep on her own yet.  So, for now, Kennedy (6) and Georgia (5) sleep in bunk beds and Stella and I sleep on a mattress on the floor.

Lately, Kennedy has been having difficulty with nightmares and has been sleeping at the bottom of Stella's bed.  When this started, I had a new appreciation for a family bed, or in our case, a family room.  When I was a kid, I dreaded bed time.  I was so scared to lay in my bed with the door closed.  Every noise was some unknown monster coming to get me.  Every night, I would lay in bed and wait for my mom to turn the tv off.  When she did, I would slowly and quietly make my way out of my room, across the living room and into her bed.  This took a while because if she woke up, she would send me back to my bed.  I love that my children don't have to do that.  They don't have to be afraid of the dark because I'm right there with them.  Every time I start to doubt our nightly arrangements, someone will wake up in the middle of the night and say "mom?".  When I answer, they go back to sleep.  If my being there reassures them, I will do it until they go to college.  Ok, maybe not.

Every couple of years, our sleeping arrangement changes.  I won't always sleep with my children.  Someday soon, Stella will be big enough for her own bed and Kennedy's nightmares will stop.  I'll be back in bed with my husband and he'll have to finally address his apnea issues.  For now, though, I will cherish this time and what makes us different from other families.

What does bedtime look like at your house?  Do you get that coveted time to yourself before you go to bed?  Do you or would you sleep with your kids?

February 25, 2014

join me

It's been almost a year since I last used this space.  I honestly thought that I had given it up for good.  I can't seem to do it, though.  I like it here.  I like having this record of our life, of my thoughts and my day to day.  So, I've made the decision to keep it and to just pick up like I never left.

Feel free to jump right in with me.  Let me know what you think.  Tell me what you're doing and how you're feeling. 

Join me on facebook, twitter or instagram.

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