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Baby, Challenge, Health, These days

These Days | New Year/New Baby Edition

We’ve been absolutely spoiled by having grandparents around through the holidays, but they left yesterday and now we’re on our own until September or so – eek! It’ll be nice to settle into our real life as a family of four, but we’re definitely feeling the absence of extra hands today since I am sick as a dog, again. I need to get my insomnia under control so I’ll have an immune system up and running before Nora starts daycare in a couple of months and inevitably brings home every virus under the sun.

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Anyway, both girls are miraculously napping at the same time right now – Nora only takes a nap once every fortnight or so, but we promised her a cup of hot cocoa if she slept, and by gawd it’s working #worldsokayestparents – so I’m going to attempt to blog. I expect I’ll finish this post in, oh, five days or so. Either that or it’ll be super hurried, random, and not proofread. But at least it’s something.

Christmas was a little different this year, given the aforementioned insomnia and the fact that I constantly feel as if I’m teetering on the brink of full-blown depression. Nora was totally into it though, so I’m already looking forward to next December when I can fully enjoy her infectious wonderment. Something that added to the magic this year was that we received several millimeters of snow, which is a Pacific Northwest miracle.

These Days These Days
These Days These Days
These Days These Days

So, self-care: When I go through depressive periods, it usually centers around feelings of guilt about not being good enough, and those particular feelings are plentiful when one adds another baby to the family. Add many months of sleep deprivation to the mix, and it’s no wonder I’m up and down, up and down. But! This time around, I know that the sleepless baby period does in fact end, eventually. (However, my own pretty serious sleepless period has been going on since July, which does not seem like a phase – that terrifies me.) And Lils is six weeks(!) old now, so I assume I’ll be cleared to start running again next week at my checkup, which will add some much-needed endorphins to my body. Had I known we would be able to get pregnant so quickly this time, I would never have timed the birth and postpartum period to coincide with (a) the darkest, coldest, wettest, time of year and (b) cold and flu season…but I’m so, so glad we have Lily, and I know I’ll get through this like I always do.

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These Days These Days
These Days These Days

I’ve also started cooking healthier meals again, which should make me feel better. And I’m trying, somewhat successfully, to stop mainlining chocolate.

These Days These Days
These Days These Days

Another good (excellent, marvelous, wonderful) thing is that Lils is a pretty damn chillaxed baby, at least compared to, ehm, our previous experience. She even does that whole “falling asleep drowsy but awake” thing sometimes, which I seriously thought was just a myth perpetuated by supposed sleep experts and smug parents. Huzzah! I really do wish I could combine the confidence that comes with baby number two with the freedom that comes with only having one kid – that would be a dream. Oh, and she started smiling on New Year’s Eve, which is pretty much the best thing ever. I can’t get enough.

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These Days One Month
These Days These Days

Nora is taking her big sister duties seriously, as you can see, and is increasingly interested in Lily now that she’s getting more interactive. I’m so glad she seems to have handled this transition so well.

These Days These Days
These Days These Days

As for Wellie, he’s hanging in there even though the house is ruled by little women…he’s apparently already looking forward to Lily starting solids. Nora trained him well.

These Days These Days

Ehrmagerd, I managed to finish this just in time for Nora to wake up and demand her cocoa. Duty calls. Please send sleepy vibes my way and watch this space for more fragmented, not-at-all proofread, only-interesting-to-me-and-my-future-self blog posts in the future.

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Challenge, Health, Me, Nutritarian, Pregnancy, These days

These Days | Mojo Rising

About a month ago, everything suddenly got worse, but that was the motivation I needed to get serious about getting better. I briefly considered finding a therapist, but then I remembered that talk therapy has never really helped me before and that we would be better off investing that time in trail therapy instead. So now, a couple of times a week, JK drops me off at a local trail to literally run off some steam on a five-mile loop while he takes Nora out on a dinner date or to run errands.

They like to send me motivational photos from their adventures, which gives me a bit of FOMO but I know I need to be out there.

Autumn 2016 Autumn 2016
Autumn 2016 Autumn 2016

It’s been so, so helpful. And I feel so much better. I get to walk (and even run, when the ol’ pelvis and this bladder-hugging fetus allow) fast enough to get that endorphin rush that I just can’t achieve on my toddler-led walks. I get to zone out to a podcast or delve deep into my thoughts. I get to feel connected to the world again by observing the changing of the seasons. I even get biology lessons, like when I came across these two canoodling slugs and learned that they weren’t eating some sort of alien life form – that blue blob is a tangle of slug penises! Oh, nature.

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In addition to my solo adventures, we’ve gone on more wonderful hikes as a family. We’ve stuck mostly to the lowlands to look for chanterelles, but this past weekend we made it out into the mountains again (that one deserves a separate post)! I’m so thankful that my SPD is much mellower this time around – it’s still not at all comfortable, but it only gets really cranky if I pull a dumbass move like getting up while putting all my weight on one leg. I’m going to give myself credit for this one and claim that it’s because I lost a fair amount of weight pre-pregnancy, so there’s just less weight on my joints this time around. No matter what the reason, it means that I can hike 2000 feet of steep elevation gain, something that would have been impossible in the third trimester last time around. (Also, OMG THIRD TRIMESTER ALREADY WHERE IS THE TIME GOING.)

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Autumn 2016 Autumn 2016
Autumn 2016 Autumn 2016

I’ve also finally starting eating better, moving back to the Fuhrmanesque diet I ate this winter when I felt so good, with extra focus on cruciferous vegetables in hopes that I can get some of the antidepressant effects of sulforaphane. Bring on the cabbage!

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Autumn 2016 Autumn 2016

(Cabbage Rolls from Vegan Bowl Attack | Homemade pasta sauce with vegetables, arugula, and red lentil penne from Tolerant Foods | Mushroom Gravy Tempeh from the Green Cuisine cookbook with mashed cauliflower/potatoes, broccoli, and cabbage | ginormous serving bowl salad using the enchilada sauce from Veganomicon as the dressing)

Oh, and I switched out the contrast showers for straight-up cold showers – Ray Cronise mentioned a study that showed a five-minute cold shower could be as effective as an antidepressant. I haven’t even bothered to look up that study, because I tend to just trust whatever Ray Cronise says. It seems to be helping me sleep a little better too, so there’s that.

It’s hard to pinpoint what’s working, but something definitely is, and it’s likely a mix of all these things (plus some work I’ve done to reframe my thoughts). I expect that things will keep going up and down, but that’s normal in life – I just need to keep working on preventing the downs from going too far or staying too long, especially in light of our ginormous upcoming life change.

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Challenge, Health, Life, These days

These Days: Embracing the Mundane

(This post is going to be kind of all over the place, sort of like my brain right now.)

It’s time for a little update from the trenches – I want to share what’s helping me in case it could help someone else. I’m finally sleeping better after I started taking contrast showers again (basically switching between warm and cold water, ending on cold) and decreasing my evening liquid consumption (this really should have occurred to me sooner, but I never claimed I was very bright). JK and Nora dragged me out on a couple of walks last week, and this week I promised myself I would go for at least one every day. Crying a little bit less. Still eating way too much chocolate, because it’s really hard to not treat myself when I feel like this.

Yesterday a friend encouraged me to look closely at all the different thought processes in my head right now, all the little negative, ruminating thoughts that are causing all sorts of anxiety and general malaise. I wrote them all down, all those ugly thoughts, and it was incredibly helpful to see them listed out like that. It let me see those thoughts a bit more objectively, and come up with some concrete steps I can take that might help counteract and disprove them. Even just feeling that I have a plan has made me feel a little more confident and…more positively inclined again.

And while I can clearly see that it’s worrisome that I’ve seemingly totally lost interest in my favorite hobby, hiking (but one part of my action plan is to force myself to go out on a real hike anyway and just see what happens), the good news is that I’m still able to notice and appreciate happy little moments throughout my days. This means I haven’t quite hit full-blown depression yet, which should give me a healthy chance of getting out of this hole reasonably quickly. I’ve talked about this before, how important it is to fully take in all those little beautiful little parts of your life, and I am fully embracing that now (and hoping to crowd out those negative thoughts in the process).

This quote really resonated with me, and I think it’ll be a good one to keep in mind in the upcoming years of domesticity when our life might feel a little small but will actually be pretty damn big.

In the name of economy, of time or capital, we have outsourced to others those key activities that define the day-to-day. Don’t want to make lunch? Buy a Lunchable. Don’t want to help your kids with algebra? Hire a tutor. But what is life if not the day-to-day? Sunsets in Nicaragua and family vacations in the Canadian Rockies are spectacular, but if that’s what we’re waiting around for, what is the point of a Wednesday evening? The tasks we have decided to label mundane – as tasks! – are that which accumulate into relationships and memories. Cooking dinner or helping your kids with homework.

Unprocessed: My City-Dwelling Year of Reclaiming Real Food by Megan Kimble

In the spirit of all of this, here are some things I’m loving right now:

Nora is not a fan of napping, even when she’s in desperate need of one, but lately I’ve been able to bribe her into taking naps by promising her that she can eat a baked potato when she wakes up. She used to not even like potatoes, which made me worry that there was some sort of mixup at the hospital since this simply could not be my child, but now she loves them to the point where she’ll take a glorious 1.5 hour nap and wake up super happy, yelling “BAKED POTATOOOO” the second I walk in the door to get her. Loving this while it lasts.

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Mrs. Meyer’s Geranium cleaning products. This has been my favorite late summer/early autumn scent since I discovered them in 2009, and it gives me happy little flashbacks from seasons of yore. It makes doing the dishes feel downright delightful.

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Evenings on the deck, especially now that we’ve lined it with mosquito-repelling plants and herbs. And Nora loves eating said herbs throughout the day, which is good, because they’re basically greens, right?

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The way the Powerline Trail smells like ripe blackberries right now.

My early autumn tunes. Every year around this time, I obsessively listen to The Hunger Games: Songs From District 12 And Beyond and the Ride the Divide soundtrack, but currently I’m also playing the new Head and the Heart and Bastille singles on repeat.

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Summer 2016 Summer 2016
Summer 2016 Summer 2016

Cooking! I’ve been trying out a bunch of new recipes lately (JK and Nora were both big fans of Oh She Glows‘ African Peanut Stew), but this time of year I always come back to Daily Garnish’s Blackened Tofu and, my favorite, homemade pasta sauce. We planted our garden late this year so we don’t have any tomatoes yet, but at the Saturday market in our town, you can usually buy big bags of cosmetically challenged ‘maters that are perfect for sauces. I also just bought Vegan Bowl Attack and everything in it looks so amazing that I’m thinking of testing two recipes a week from it as a project for a little while. Thankfully Nora is really good at playing independently while I cook, either playing with her Duplo excavator and Peppa Pig figures or drawing on the little blackboard we have in the kitchen, so I can usually find time to make fuds during the day.

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Going to the market as a family outing every Saturday, loading up on juicy donut peaches and fresh flowers. Sometimes there’s live music and Nora gets to show off her dance moves. If I ask Nora “It’s Saturday, what should we do today?” she’ll say (in Norwegian) “The market! Nora in the wagon! Buy peaches tomatoes flowers! Pappa and Nora eat PIZZAAA!” and like all parents before me, I’m amazed by the fact that my baby is now a walking, talking human. She’s talking so much, stringing longer and longer sentences together every day…but my favorite words are still the ones she mispronounces, like “zimmie!” (smoothie) and “wassermomo” (watermelon).

My Born Wild mug.

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My new planner from inkWELL Press. I totally don’t need a planner since I’m a stay-at-home-mom (emphasis on the stay-at-home), but I’m finding it really helpful for keeping track of all my little goals and for jotting down random rambly thoughts and cute things Nora says. (Plus it’s just really pretty.)

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The way Nora climbs on top of me, melts into my body in the perfect cuddle, and asks me to sing to her. I don’t even mind singing the same song (she usually requests a Norwegian Christmas song) six times in a row, because it’s just snuggle perfection.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Nuff said.

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Baby movement! So much! An almost worrisome amount compared to last time, which makes me think that Little Sis won’t be a chillaxed late walker like her Big Sis.

Summer 2016 Summer 2016

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Life, The pups, These days

These Days

These days, time is flying way too fast. I feel like I’ve said this in every single post since Nora was born, but for reals, where does the time go? Also, what on earth was I doing with all of my time before??

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These Days These Days

Time probably feels like it’s moving slow as molasses for poor Basil right now. He broke his leg while jumping off the stairs down to the yard (we didn’t see it, but ugh, we heard it, and we knew immediately what had happened) and had to have surgery. Then the puncture wound (where the bone had POKED THROUGH HIS SKIN, ugh ugh ugh) became infected and he had to take five million different antibiotics and get his bandage changed at the vet’s almost every day. Now the wound has healed and his bandage is off, but we’re keeping him sedentary for a while longer to make sure the leg is healed. I held him in my arms in the car on the way to the emergency vet, and he was so stoic and brave and snuggly, calmly resting his head against my chest while I tried not to panic and not to focus on the part of his leg that was just dangling there.

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These Days These Days
These Days These Days

My parents came to visit for two weeks, and Nora loved loved loved having her grandparents around. I worked on letting others take care of her, which felt all sorts of weird and wrong at first, but I managed to let go of some control when I saw how much fun she was having. By the end of their stay, I happily spent lots of alone time scrapbooking (because I’m hooked again) and JK and I even went on two mushrooming/trail running trips sans baby.

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Speaking of scrapbooking, I’m having so much fun with it, and scrapbooking more often than I ever have before. Right now it’s all very Ali Edwards-inspired – I’m still working on putting my Week in the Life album together, and I am also making pages for this month’s Story Kit, since I was asked to be a guest storyteller! If you’re not in the scrapbooking world, you won’t know how huge this is, but Ali Edwards is the O.G. of modern scrapbooking, the Zen Master of story, and generally just one of the most inspiring people I know.

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These Days These Days
These Days These Days
These Days These Days
These Days These Days
These Days These Days

Now that the grandparents are gone, we’re back to our normal life. Currently that means lots of time outside enjoying this beautiful fall weather, lots of playing with Duplo (we got Nora a bunch of used Duplo blocks plus a new set with ducks, because she just really has a thing for ducks), and lots of Qdoba takeout, because cooking dinner is suddenly much harder now that I have a more mobile little human in the house. I am making an effort to take the running stroller out more often, because I got into Orcas 25K! Eeep.

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Europe, Norway, These days, Travel

These Days

These days, we are settling back into normalcy after five weeks of vacation. JK saved his parental leave for this summer so we could go on a grand adventure with Nora – visiting Norway (to show off lil’ Norbert to friends and family) and Italy (to attend a wedding).

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Nora experienced so many firsts! First flight (transatlantic, no less), first seven-course meal, first boat ride, first swim.

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In Italy, she visited the Dolomites, swam in the Adriatic Sea, and ate impressive amounts of pizza.

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In Norway, she stayed at my parents’ summer house, explored the outdoor playground of my childhood, and picked chanterelles almost every day.

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Back here in Seattle, she is already over her jetlag while her parents, old as the hills and apparently no longer adjusting easily, are still exhausted (I’ve been up since 2:30, ugh ugh ugh). I had grand plans for this week, but just…no. The couch is where I’m at, chugging coffee and finally catching up on Orange is the New Black. JK still has two weeks of leave left, so hopefully we’ll be back in the swing of things soon, ready to take on our normal summer here in Washington.