My big goal for 2009

I wrote about my unhappiness over this nearly a year ago and, other than some minor things, I did not do much to work on it over the past year. However, in 2009, I am swearing I will do something. I can’t keep ignoring my problems and my past and treating the people I love in a way that goes against everything I believe in. I am going to seek out a counselor/therapist/psychologist/head shrinker/whatever you want to call it and start therapy.

Yes, my big goal for 2009 is to take care of my mental and emotional health. I have shied away from seeking therapy in the last few years because I don’t want to dredge up old memories, feelings, etc. It’s so much easier to repress them and live in denial, but it’s taking it’s toll on the little people who matter the most to me – my children. I’ve also had logistical excuses issues – who will watch the kids while I saw a therapist?

But that’s it – NO more excuses. I don’t want to be that person. I know I can do better. I think that by dealing with the past rather than forgetting it I can be a better mom, a better wife, a better sister and daughter and a better friend.

It will likely be a slow process. One day at a time. One step at a time. But the important part is that the process is started. I’m ready.

And I figure by documenting it here, you all can hold me accountable. If I don’t write about my new therapist in another month or two, feel free to get on my case. 😉

What is YOUR big goal for 2009?

I want to wish you all a Happy and Healthy New Year. Thanks for sticking with me and being a part of Crunchy Domestic Goddess! 🙂

Depression hits working moms hard

Note: I wrote this nearly a week ago for BlogHer, where it is cross-posted.

The holiday season is in full force – a time that, at least in theory, should be filled with joy and happiness. But what if you find yourself having feelings that are far from those of joy and happiness? Feelings of hopelessness, agitation, guilt and even lifelessness? According to an online survey conducted by Working Mother magazine, you aren’t alone. The survey, which included responses from 500 moms, concluded that "an overwhelming 91 percent" of working moms suffered some symptoms of depression.

Suzanne Riss, editor-in-chief of Working Mother called the trend "an epidemic."

While many people are familiar with postpartum depression in the months after giving birth, Riss said, "people don’t really think about the fact that a couple of years later a lot of women are experiencing depression." And some even experience it a decade into their children’s lives.

The survey was part of an article on Working Mother about working moms and depression and includes personal stories from some moms who have experienced depression, as well as life-altering solutions.

Heather from A Mama’s Blog, who works part-time outside the home, recently wrote about her feelings of guilt when she had to miss her son’s preschool winter concert.

I have been at my job for fifteen months, and I haven’t missed anything that I felt guilty about in my boys’ lives. But that is going to change this week. Ryan’s preschool is having a winter concert later this week. The kids have been practicing their songs for a few weeks now. I hear Ryan practicing his song, and humming the tune. He sounds so cute singing it, and he is so excited. The school is having the concert at a local church, so it is a very big deal.

Except I can’t go…

I know I shouldn’t be sad- I should be thankful I have a job, and I am, but how do you balance out the grown-up responsibilities that you must fulfill with knowing you will miss your little boy singing about seven little penguins who are cold?

Laurel from Parenting Diva has dealt with depression and shares something I think most moms – working outside the home or not – can relate to, not having enough time for everything:

"I suffered from depression beginning with my pregnancy and I continued to experience it up until my oldest was about a year old. Of course I, like many others, did not go to the doctor concerning it. Perhaps this is why depression isn’t seen as the epidemic that it is.

There was the time factor. Who can take off work and has a babysitter to go to the doctor because you aren’t feeling like yourself and are feeling “down”? Then there is the “stigma” with depression. If you aren’t loving life (especially while & after having this “bundle of joy”) then something definitely must be wrong with you. And lastly, like everything else in life, you figure…eventually it will go away."

Laurel goes on to add:

I figure there are all types of depression & some probably need to be medically diagnosed and treated. But a lot of things we can take care of ourselves if we just stop, listen to our lives and create a plan. Unfortunately, like with myself, it often takes many years of living & learning as women before we wake up and ask ourselves what’s important and what we really should be doing with our lives.

A woman who goes by "Neuromom" made some good points about the results of the survey in her comment on Mommy Trackd:

I agree that depression is a big problem – especially for women and especially for mothers. However, reports like this one should be interpreted in context. First, it is critical to know the percentage of NON-working mothers who are depressed. Otherwise there is no way to assess the effect of working of depression. Second, an online survey isn’t a great way to gauge depression rates because the survey responders do not constitute a random sample. The actual percentage of working mothers suffering from depression could be higher or lower- we have no way of knowing.

I think it’s safe to say that many mothers – whether they work outside the home, at home, or are stay-at-home moms – are dealing with depression. Hopefully surveys and articles such as the one Working Mother had, combined with more women writing and talking about it, will contribute towards fighting the stigma that often accompanies depression and more women will feel OK talking about it and reaching out for help.

Additional resources:
Postpartum progress by Katherine Stone
Depression Help Center from WebMD
FAQ – Depression During and After Pregnancy from womensHeath.gov

Wii had a Merry Old iTime

The last five days have been pretty spectacular. For starters, Jody had them all off of work so we got a lot of family Slaving away in the kitchen making apple crisp 12/25/08time in and then a lot of productive house cleaning/fixing up in as well. My parents (who were here from MI) and sister were here for Christmas day. I cooked another turkey (nearly 20 lb.’er – but this time got all of the giblets out BEFORE I cooked it – Woot!) and they supplied all of the side dishes. I also made a chocolate cream pie and an apple crisp for dessert. Everything was quite tasty.

For a year when the economy has been in the crapper and talk of recession, recession, depression(?) is everywhere, we enjoyed a very plentiful Christmas present-wise and I’m very thankful for all that we have been blessed with – health, family, friends, job security, a home, etc. We might not be in our dream home, but we have a roof over our head (and although it doesn’t look that way from the pic below, clothes on our backs) and, despite my whining, that really does mean a lot.

Playin’ w/ new toys in the buff 12/25/08 Ava says, “I did,” to Grandma’s question, “Who painted this bird house?” 12/25/08 Aunt Carrie reads a new Fancy Nancy book to Ava 12/25/08

Bed head, a zit, and my sexy new iPhone!I had suspicions that Jody was getting me an iPhone for Christmas, but when I unwrapped the box and saw Google on it, I thought he was either giving me his new G1 phone that he’d just been given by Google for his Christmas bonus or he’d bought me my own. I opened the box and there was the G1. I tried to act not totally crushed happy, but I was bummed it wasn’t an iPhone. Jody told me the battery was underneath it in the box, but when I went to get it out I saw … a sexy, sleek, shiny new iPhone underneath! Squeeee!!! 🙂 Then he asked me for the iPhone and when gave it back to me and there was Rick Astley singing “Never Gonna Give You Up.” He rick-rolled me – twice, but I got my Precious iPhone so who cares! ;P

Ava and I running with the Wii Fit 12/28/08Jody also got us a family Christmas present of the Wii Fit and I have to say I am really digging it. I’ve been on it for the past three days and, while that’s not much, I haven’t tired of it yet. There’s quite a bit to it to keep it interesting and I’m looking forward to getting a regular exercise routine into my life. My body has been hinting at me that I should get in better shape so hopefully this will help me take better care of myself.

The kids and the kitchen 12/25/08The kids got a ton of books this year, a handmade wooden farm set, as well as a wooden retro play kitchen (from Costco Santa) that Jody Santa was up until 3 a.m. on Christmas Eve assembling. As for me Mrs. Claus, I she was only up until 2 a.m. wrapping presents on Christmas Eve. Whew! I also dyed about 10 new play silks that we used for wrapping “paper.” They turned out beautifully and make great toys in and of themselves.

They also got a slew of stuff from both sets of grandparents which were opened on Christmas eve – mostly books, clothes, art supplies and a few large (ahem) plastic toys – a firetruck and Easy Bake Oven.

Two days after Christmas and a full month after it had been put up, the Christmas tree and all of it’s decorations were taken down. I needed my living room back and to get the new toys into new homes. The disorganization was weighing heavily on me (AKA stressing me out!).

Two little helpers ate some of the tree decorations before they made their way outside for the birds. The cranberries I’d strung up went out for the birds but haven’t been touched yet. What the heck, birds? Not good enough for ya? 😛

Christmas tree popcorn eater AKA Ava 12/27/08 Julian, the big fish at the end of the popcorn string 12/27/08

After much cleaning (thank you, Jody) and some rearranging, I was very happy with the results of the livingroom overhaul.

Clean living room Another angle of clean living room

My plan for the next week (Jody has another several days off for New Year’s) is to continue cleaning, rearranging and organizing the house – one room at a time. I’ve been overwhelmed with clutter and disorganization for so long, but holding out with the hope that we’ll move into a bigger house and it would all magically disappear then. I’ve realized, however, that we will likely be in this house a while longer and, in an effort to make our time here more pleasant and manageable (and to save my waning sanity), it would behoove me to do whatever I need to do to make organization a priority.

I worked on the dining room a bit today and little by little, it will all get done. 🙂 I can do this!

Hope you and yours had a happy, healthy holiday and a happy return to normalcy too – as normal as life gets.

Note: If the quality of some of the pictures posted here seems lacking, that’s because it is but only because they were taken with my iPhone. 😉

Together at last – (not so) Wordless Wednesday

I’ve been wanting to get some new pictures of Ava and Julian together for a while. With Christmas right around the corner, I got my act together, cleared everything out of my dining room, transformed into a makeshift studio, and took these shots last week. When I sent them in to Costco to have them printed (not my usual printer, but an acceptable substitute especially when running short on time and cash), I didn’t expect a follow up phone call from a Costco employee asking if they were taken by a professional. I stumbled a bit before answering, “I took them.” She asked again, “You are the photographer?” And I said, “yes.” The employee said I’d have to sign a release when I came in to pick them up verifying that I took the pictures. Now I know I’m not the first person they’ve called like this and that they are only doing their job to protect copyrights, but I was flattered. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt like a professional photographer and it was a nice reminder that maybe I could go back to photography again someday – if and when I’m ready. Thank you, Costco. 😉

This one has replaced a nearly 2-year-old picture of them on our living room wall.

Ava and Julian 12/15/08

And this one accompanied many of our Christmas cards because I just love their expressions. I won’t tell you what I had to do to get such belly laughs, but I will say I was acting pretty silly.

Ava and Julian 12/15/08

Sorry for the lack of content around here these past several weeks. I’m hoping that with the new year will come new motivation to blog and I will get back into the swing of things again.

See more Wordless Wednesday posts at the original WW home and at 5 Minutes for Mom.

Bowled over – BSM

This weekend, thanks to my sister’s suggestion, the whole family went bowling. It was the first time for Ava and Julian (if you don’t count the Wii). 😉

Ava was happy to do it all by herself and, with the help of the bumpers in the gutters, bowled a pretty good game. (And yes, I think the tutu helped her game. *wink*)

Julian had a little extra help with the bowling ball stand (they didn’t have those when I was a kid) and bumpers and, of course, the moral support of his whole family. hee, hee.

We all had a lot of fun, so much that Ava said “we should go bowling every day” and asked if she could live there. 🙂
The family bowlers The fancy bowler (AKA Ava) The fancy bowler strikes a pose

The whole family gets Julian set up The littlest bowler finally cracks a smile The kids with Grandpa and Grandma

Here’s my Best Shot (Ava and I cheering for Julian’s spare!) taken by my sister Carrie, though I’m also quite fond of the picture of the one above – of all of us getting Julian set up to bowl. 🙂
Mommy and Ava cheer for Julian’s spare!

What fun did you have this past week? Be sure and check out the other Best Shots.

No Plastic Holiday Challenge check-in

Christmas is just four days away now and I’m wondering how are you all doing with the No Plastic Holiday Challenge?

I’ve been doing pretty good myself. I haven’t been able to avoid plastic completely (and I didn’t expect to), but this challenge has made me much more aware of just how much plastic is out there. I almost hyperventilated walking through Target’s toy department the other day! Seriously! Ugh.

I managed to score some handmade wooden toys for the kids at a local craft show that I’m very pleased with. I also made them felt pizzas and they are getting lots of books, in addition to a wooden play kitchen from Costco, and a few things I picked up at the thrift store. I’m also dyeing some play silks that I will use to wrap their presents and they will, of course, double as toys. Play silks are awesome for imaginative play.

I can’t discuss anybody else’s presents here since they all can read, but (gulp) some plastic is involved.

So how about you? What worked? What didn’t? Do you have any plastic-avoiding tips to share?

Giving birth can be good, ecstatic and even orgasmic

I know I just wrote about this topic last week, but I have more to share and wrote about it for BlogHer this week.

Last week, Lisa Belkin, parenting blogger at The NY Times, wrote about the upcoming 20/20 special on the film “Orgasmic Birth.” The topic apparently hit a nerve with many, many people as she quickly received more than 500 comments.

Many people, as to be expected, are skeptical.

Mir of Woulda Coulda Shoulda had the most humorous response I read to the idea.

As soon as I

1) Find a man with a 9-pound penis
and
2) Become drunk enough to let him put it inside me for thirty hours at a time

I’ll definitely see if those conditions can result in an orgasm.

But until then? Whatever, man.

Catherine, who blogs at Her Bad Mother, had similar feelings and said, “Me, personally …? I think that I’ll stick to getting my orgasms the old-fashioned way.”

The day after Lisa Belkin’s initial NY Times post she followed up with About that orgasmic birth… and went into a little more detail about the responses she received, the film and one of the women featured in the film.

I was not surprised at the number of comments that dismissed the possibility as a fairytale. I was very surprised at the number of women who wrote to say that they had experienced what the film explored. I was a little distressed at the hostility the first of these groups showed to the second. And I was somewhat surprised, and very pleased, to receive an e-mail from Tamra Larter, one of the subjects of the film, who had been following all the comments, and wanted to make a few of her own.

It’s really worth it to click over there to read what Ms. Larter had to say about the film and her birthing experience, but here’s a snippet.

“I hope people will see the film,” she wrote. “Then they will see that it is about much more than the title suggests. There are many choices and possibilities when it comes to birth.”

And she uses the word “orgasm” with conditions. “I never claimed to have a pain-free birth,” she wrote, “but laboring with my daughter was awesome and for the most part felt really good.” The actual “orgasmic experience” did not feel like the climax of sex, she says, but rather “sensations which were something different than sex, but similar enough I feel O.K. using the word orgasmic. It was a wonderful feeling.”

She also confessed that upon first hearing about the idea of orgasmic birth, she thought it was “gross,” “weird,” and “not possible,” but said it was before she had had any children and the only childbirth she had seen had been on TV.

After reading many comments and several blogs about this, I clicked over to the Orgasmic Birth web site, where I watched the trailer (again). The first time I watched it was many months ago and I felt a refresher was in order.

I admit that even with all of the birth videos I’ve watched in the past and my “crunchy” ways, it makes me shift uncomfortably in my seat to hear a woman making pleasurable sounds while in childbirth (or in any situation really). And yet, I see the whole “orgasmic birth” thing as being just a small piece of the film, and believe it is titled the way it is to grab our attention. (And it’s certainly worked, hasn’t it?) I still believe, as I wrote on my blog over a week ago, “that it does not appear they are not saying all women will have an orgasm or that an orgasm should even be the goal. I think the point is moreso that birth can be a good experience.”

Marsden Wagner, MD, who is interviewed in the film, makes an excellent point about childbirth saying, “It’s got to be like it is when you make love with someone. It’s got to be safe, secure and uninterrupted. And that is how you have an orgasmic birth.”

I do not want to turn this into a debate over home birth vs. hospital birth, but having had both types of births I will say I felt much more safe, secure and uninterrupted at home than I did in the hospital. Although I’m sure it’s possible, I think that for the most part, these “orgasmic births” are much more likely to occur in a birthing center or home environment than in the hospital.

I think the term “orgasmic birth” is subject to interpretation too and noticed that on the Orgasmic Birth site, in their call for birth stories they say, “Please share your ecstatic or orgasmic birth story with us.” I would never say that I had an orgasm while giving birth to my son, but the experience was amazingly intense and was one of the most empowering moments in my life. Does that mean it was an orgasmic birth? Maybe. Was it an ecstatic birth? I believe it was.

Ninotchka had an empowering birth experience as well and commented about it on my blog:

I can’t say that I had an orgasm while giving birth. But after birthing Elle right into my hand, I felt so triumphant and organically happy that I would certainly call that feeling “orgasmic.” It all happened so fast and we’d waited so long for that little sweetheart. It was a definite rush and I was absolutely elated.

I think giving birth will always conjure up different ideas and feelings for different people. No two births are exactly the same and I think that’s the way it should be. Innerbrat summed it all up nicely when she said, “The important thing here, as with everything regarding women’s health, is to give women the ownership of our own bodies, so we can make an informed, conscious decision about what’s best for us and our children; and the first and best way to be informed is to openly talk about the subject.”

ABC’s 20/20 special on Orgasmic Birth, which will also include segments on home birth (unassisted and midwife-attended) and long-term breastfeeding, is currently set to air Friday, Jan. 2, 2009.

Cross-posted on BlogHer.

Flashback to the 80s – Wordless Wednesday

I know, I know, this should be a wordless post, but I can’t help but comment on this one.

A former high school friend of mine recently posted this pic on Facebook. It’s from a Brownie Girl Scout weekend camping trip. I think I was 7 or 8 years old. Can you spot me? Here’s a hint: M-i-c-k-e-y M-o-u-s-e.
This picture was taken long before any of us cared about curling irons and hairspray, makeup, boys, or even how we dressed. 😉 We were young, innocent and carefree, and I love it.

Brownie Girl Scout Camp in the 1980s

See more Wordless Wednesday posts at the original WW home and at 5 Minutes for Mom.

A homemade Christmas tree (and BSM)

After writing my holiday eco-friendly crafts post, I got this insane great idea that it’d be lots of fun to make all of the decorations for our Christmas tree this year.  I was hoping to involve the kids in the crafting, but my first two attempts – with popcorn garland and cranberry garland – were not as successful as I hoped. Turns out that popcorn is fairly hard to put a needle through and I didn’t want to risk Ava poking the heck out of herself, so she and Julian ate popcorn while I threaded it. The cranberries were a little harder than I would’ve liked too so I did those myself while the kids ate them and then spat them out because they are, of course, very tart. 😉

I also made the star on the top of our tree by cutting it out of a pie tin (super sharp edges) and gluing it to a piece of black paper.

Finally this morning, I decided on a project we could work on together (at least Ava and I could and Julian could help out later) – salt dough ornaments!

Here’s the recipe that I used.

Salt Dough Ornaments

2 cups flour
1 cup salt
1 cup water
Optional: 1 tablespoon any type of oil (to make it easier to work with – thanks to Brighid for the tip)

I didn’t have enough sea salt, so I used my kosher salt (after grinding it up in the food processor a bit). It worked just as well. I think table salt is probably what they have in mind for this recipe though. 

Mix salt and flour. Add in half the water, then gradually add the remaining water. Knead until the dough is smooth, this can take up to 10 minutes.

I divided up my dough into different segments and used food coloring on some of it. 

For flat dough ornaments roll out the dough (to about 1/4 inch thickness) on baking paper, wax paper, or directly on a cookie sheet. Use cookie cutters, cut-out templates, or just use your hands.

Add details to the ornaments with a toothpick and knife.

Don’t forget to use a straw to make a hole so you can hang the ornament. (I forgot to do this on two of mine. Oops!)

Baking: Time varies based on thickness of ornament
Temperature: 325°F.
Time: 20 minutes or until dry – They should be hard to the touch, but not brown.

After they are done baking and cooling, you can paint, add glitter, spray with a clear finish, etc. We chose not to do this and let me tell you why I’m glad we didn’t.
a) because Julian decided to start tasting several of the ornaments
b) because a few, invariably, got dropped or stepped on and broke, but because they don’t have any extra stuff on them, I can just throw them into the composter. 🙂

Finally, add ribbon, yard, string, twine, etc. and your ornaments are ready to hang on the tree or give as gifts.

And now, the pictures…

Ava hard at work 12/14/08 Decorating candy cane ornaments 12/14/08 Ornaments ready to go into the oven  12/14/08

Putting yarn in our ornaments  12/14/08 Finished ornaments  12/14/08  Ava showing Julian how to hang ornaments  12/14/08

A tree on a tree  12/14/08 My little candy cane 12/14/08 Julian gets the hang of it fast  12/14/08

Ava’s happy tree 12/14/08  Last-minute rearranging before bed 12/14/08 Our homemade-decorated tree  12/14/08

I don’t know if we’ll stick with just the homemade decorations on the tree – I think we may add a handful of ornaments we’ve collected over the years – but I will say that despite the extra work involved, I really enjoy the organic-feel and personality that our tree has this year. It’s been a lot of fun. 🙂

My choice for Best Shot Monday is the one of Ava and Julian together putting the ornament on the tree (2nd row, 3rd picture). Ava was being so sweet and helpful to her little brother. It just makes me smile. You can see more Best Shots over here.