What is it with kids and poop?

After a nice relaxing time having coffee with friends, I come home to Crankles waking up from her nap. Her dad brings her down to me to nurse, and immediately I smell poop. My husband lacks a sense of smell, so he didn’t know. Then I realize she smells pretty fragrant with it, which is when I see her hands. They are brown. I want to vomit. Instead we get her cleaned up. It was in her hair and on her clothes. It was like she covered herself in poop perfume!

Her room smells like a bomb went off. A very stinky bomb. Everything is now in the wash. She is finally clean, but now the smell is stuck in my nostrils.

None of my other kids were like this as little ones. Bubby liked to try to take off his diaper but never did anything like this.

I am now trying to figure out how to get my diaper digger to stop. Honestly, I would love ideas. I think I would rather clean vomit than poop. I prefer neither. Kids are just gross…they are cute…but so freaking gross!

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My glorious diaper digger…post dig

 

Feeding a family on a budget without the headache!

Well, tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of our adventure in starting over. It wasn’t supposed to be starting completely over. It was supposed to be move where hubby could work from the office instead of the field, only he lost his job as soon as we moved here, and oh I was sick too and everything really kinda fell apart so we had to pretty much put ourselves back together again and learn a new family dynamic since hubby was in the oil patch the last several years. However, that is a run on sentence and way too hard to fit into the title! Part of this adventure this past year has been reigning in the budget. That meant taking a serious look at our grocery spending as well.

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Feeding a family on a budget does not need to stress you out! Photo by Pixabay

Feeding five people, one of which is a teenager now and another is my husband who eats a lot, is a challenge to budget. We are a pretty active homeschooling family so that can be a challenge too because I don’t always have a lot of time for meal prep. Over the last year, I have worked on reigning in the excess spending. We now have a $400 a month grocery budget for our family of five. This budget includes all our food and also diapers, wipes, toiletries, feminine products, trash bags, paper towels, and cleaning supplies. All of that fits into our  $400 a month budget. No one goes hungry. We eat healthy meals, and I am gonna tell you all some things you can do to trim the fat on your budget too.

One of the first things we trimmed from our budget was convenience dinners…ie boxed dinners and pre-packaged snacks. I found that I could make my own macaroni and cheese for less than the boxed kind, and it was better for us. I started a list of staples that I always had on hand. That way if the day got away from me, and my meal planning went to heck, I could grab a few things and make something good quickly. Here are my staples:

  • beans. I always have black beans on hand
  • frozen veggies. You can always throw them in a casserole.
  • tomatoes: In the summer, I use fresh because the grocery has specials, I have them growing in my backyard, or someone just gives them to me. In the winter, I used canned tomatoes.
  • rice. Use what you like. We like Basmati.
  • Macaroni or pasta. Again, use the kind you like…whether it is plain, whole grain, gluten-free. Just keep it on hand.
  • Cheese. I always have three kinds of cheeses on hand. Buy it on sale. Buy it in a block, or buy it in a bag. It comes in handy.
  • A variety of fruits and veggies. You can refer back to frozen if you wish, or when you are at the supermarket, get what is on sale. I keep squash, zucchini, peppers, baby carrots, apples, avocados, and bananas on hand all the time.
  • eggs. Get some to hard-boil and some for cooking.
  • a creative mind. You will see what I mean in a moment.

Start by making a grocery list every week. Here, our grocery ads come on Tuesdays. The prices are for that Wednesday to the next Tuesday. Check to see where you can find the most deals, but in the end realize you will only be hitting up one or two grocery stores in a week. It really is not practical to chase every deal unless all those stores are right next to each other. To be honest, I do not hit most of them up anymore, unless it is really good. I found a local chain that has THE best prices on produce and great prices on meat. I also go to Aldi. I usually go to Aldi first and then the other place to fill in the gaps. Since I have gotten to know the local chain, I know the prices on most of the produce and meats, and there is not much fluctuation. At Aldi, some meats and produce change weekly. There are times that Aldi has the better deal on everything that week, and so I never make it to the local chain supermarket.

I mentioned Aldi a lot there in the last paragraph. No, I am not advertising for them. However, they are making leaps and bounds where I live to be a great place to shop. When I was a kid, my mom used to shop there, but it was never a place where you could get everything. NOW…I get my diapers, wipes, meats, and staples there. They have a great gluten-free section at my Aldi. I cannot have meats with nitrates, and they have sausage and lunchmeat without them. AND, it is cheaper than most other places. We eat yogurt, fruit, veggies,nuts, cheese, and homemade snacks. It is easy to obtain them there for a lot less. So, with that in mind, you might want to check out your local Aldi. With that being said…

Make a grocery list, and stick to your list. Whether you go to Aldi, Walmart, Target, Giant, Costco, or any other place, you will blow your budget if you do not stick to your list. Do not get into the mindset of overbuying because you may end up with a pantry of unused food. Do not get into the mindset of, “Well this is on sale…I just got to get it!” You will overspend. If you are going somewhere that sells things other than food, put the other merchandise you need on your list. If it is not on the list, don’t buy it.

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Photo by Jeshoots (PEXELS)

I plan about five to six of my dinners a week. For breakfasts and lunches, we have cereal, fruit, veggies, waffles, bread, peanut butter and jelly, and leftovers to choose from for those meals. I usually keep tortilla chips and popcorn to make for when we have the munchies. We cook our popcorn in a pot or use a popcorn maker. The tortilla chips are more of a staple at this point because I use them as a snack, for taco salad, as a garnish, with my southwestern rice dish. It is all about being creative. While I plan my meals, sometimes, I have days where I am just too tired or maybe I forgot to take the meat out of the freezer. That is when the staples really come in handy. I might grab some beans, avocado, cheese, tomatoes, and rice…throw it together…and there is dinner in a half an hour or less! The kids are happy. I am happy. We are full, and we did not need to call out for pizza.

Planning your meals and reigning in the budget does not happen overnight. You need to tweak it a bit before you find what works for you and your family. I will say that we eat better, and I am actually enjoying cooking a whole lot more. I hope you found these tips helpful. Remember sharing is caring, and I would also love to hear from you in the comments below.

Taking time for yourself

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As a homeschool mom, blogger, and former party planner, I used to run myself ragged. In fact, I am pretty sure that my lifestyle choices helped with everything that sent me to the hospital last summer. Since then, I have been trying to put things back together in a way that I am not overly stressed, like I used to be.

Like most moms, I want to be a great mom. I used to think that I could just do everything after the kids went to bed or when the baby took a nap. It really did not work so well. I just ended up being overly tired, and as for working while Crankles napped, well there were too many other things to do during that time, like homeschooling with the kids or housework to keep me from having time for me or for the things I really wanted to do, like blogging. (That is probably a big run on sentence there. You may diagram it at your convenience to see for yourself.)

Anyways, I was looking at our daily schedule. It is kind of a rough draft for our daily lives…or more of a way to say, “Hey, you’re bored! Check what the schedule says.” It really works for that. However, I realized even with that, I am excluded from that schedule. Then I would get frustrated because while I wanted to blog or read an occasional book or something, I could not do so because there was no time for me in the schedule. With my husband now being home and not on the road, I wanted to keep nighttime for us because time with my spouse is important, especially when he has been more or less out in the oil patch for seven years. That left me staying up really late and then being a grumpy mommy in the morning because I have a toddler. It means I get up in the middle of the night sometimes still, and I wake when she wakes to nurse (because I still do that too).

I chose something that works for all of us and doesn’t require me to sacrifice sleep. The kids do better at doing school work in the afternoon, so the morning is playtime. All three can play, watch educational videos, enjoy the backyard. During that morning time, I can drink a hot cup of coffee, get anything organized that day for school work, make phone calls, pay bills, or write blog posts. I don’t get every morning as we do have a few days a week that we are out the door by 10am, but it is nice to be able to count on those days so that I can start doing the things I need to do without sacrificing time with my husband or time I should be sleeping.

It seems to work for us. As it is, it is late afternoon, and the kids have finished with schoolwork. They decided to go back outside, so here I am writing. However, I had this post in my head this morning. I am caught up on other things as well, and I am in a fairly good mood because I am not stressed out.

Putting too much into our schedules does not do us any good, but it is not great for our kids either. Happy mommies homeschool better. We are more cheerful, and our kids benefit from having all of us instead of burned out versions of us.

I know it is difficult to balance life. However, it is something in which we need to be more mindful. How do you stay balanced? How do you take time for yourself?

I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below or feel free to start a conversation on Facebook!

Coming up for Air

Living the past few years the way I have, I would have to say without a doubt, that the worst the universe could do to you after having a rainbow baby would be to grant you with postpartum depression. You get something that you so desperately want, and then your body turns against you making it so that you do not enjoy life or that little person you so desperately wanted.

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I had PPD with my oldest daughter, but I did not think I would have it with Miss Crankles. She was my rainbow, this joy we waited for so long. A lot happened in a short amount of time after having her, and I felt like all the happiness had been sucked out of my body. On top of that, she had colic, and with a husband that was out in the oil patch, I did not get much relief to sleep. I felt like it was a cruel joke. On top of that, there are still many people that do not understand PPD at all! They think you are faking it or flaking out. They talk about you behind your back in hushed tones thinking it will never get back to you, but inevitably it all does. It makes one feel so much worse and so useless. I struggled so much that first year to keep my shit together and get the big kids to the places they needed to be for their activities. I struggled to keep going on little to no sleep for days on end. When my husband ended up on a stint that lasted two months, I just wanted to crawl into a hole and die. It sucked. It was not how it was supposed to be. I felt cheated.

Ending up in the hospital last summer, only to discover it was related to the Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) I received years ago felt like the grande finale to the shit show that was my life. One of the medications they gave me post-visit was a low dosage of an anti-depressant to help prevent the migraines I kept having. It also should have helped with the depression. Mostly, it just made me feel numb and extremely unproductive. We moved, and it while it was the right thing for my family, I was an emotional wreck. I lost friends. My kids lost friends. My kids were excited about their new surroundings but sad at the same time. My husband lost his job. It felt like the universe was giving my family the finger.

The part they don’t tell you about taking an antidepressant, no matter what the reason or dosage you have, is that they are a pain in the ass to stop taking. Even on a low dosage and gentle, slow weaning, I ended up with ALL the side effects you can have. It was glorious I tell ya. The moment you start to have energy again, you get brain zaps and feel like a bumbling idiot. The effects can last weeks or sometimes months. It is brutal. I have spent the last 6 weeks feeling energetic, then followed by being so tired I could sleep for days. Then just for shits and giggles, I get to feeling like I have PMS on crack. I am not saying that one should never take anti-depressants by the way, just to be clear. Some of us need them. Some of us need talk therapy. Some of us need both. However, I am saying that the side effects when taking them and coming off them should be discussed better.The problem is that people don’t talk about it, and if you experience any of this, some people either think you are nuts or that you must be making it all up so they want to condemn you and tell EVERYONE THEY KNOW how horrible you are or that your kids are going to end up in therapy some day.

Funny thing about my kids, they think I am awesome. They do not think I am a failure.They know I have been run through the mill, and they love me, imperfections and all. So many times in the past year or two, I have thought that my PPD and TBI have gotten the best of me. However, my kids think I am doing just fine. They know Mommy has been really hurt, and they know that I am getting better. I am. It is baby steps, but I am. It is hard though. I have hurt for a long time. I keep trying to find things to give me focus on off days, like play with the kids, sitting out on the patio and watching Sissy swing on the tree swing her dad made her. Sometimes, it is talking to my son about computers. (He is a little obsessed.) Other times, it is sitting in the chair with my toddler at my breast while she holds onto me. She is a happy child, despite being called Miss Crankles. While I feel I failed sometimes because things did not go the way I wanted, she is happy. If I really was THAT much of a failure, she would not be a happy child, and neither would my other kids for that matter.

As mamas, we beat ourselves up so much about the job we do as parents. We let society, family members, and the people around us tell us how we are screwing it all up and let us know that we are all just horrible at what we are doing. That is when we need to find our tribe. We need to find those people that are not only honest with themselves, but honest about themselves with others. Those are the people we should seek. Those are the people that will truly let you know if you are mucking it up or if you are just a human being trying hard to be the best mama you can.

It has been hard this past year, but I have definitely found my tribe here. The funny thing has been that I have been pretty honest in where I am with my life when meeting them. I pretty much have met my tribe by being like, “Hi, I am Lesa. I am a hot mess. Do you still wanna be my friend?” Then I find out even the moms that seem so perfect have a hot mess side too because we are ALL hot messes one way or another. However, we are all bonded in that we want our kids to grow up and become awesome adults.

My youngest turns two in about a month, and I finally feel like I am coming up for air after feeling for so long like I am drowning. It has been a long, hard road. If you are on this road too, know it gets better. Reach out to your tribe. Find help. Don’t go it alone. Know that you are awesome and doing the best that you can!

Do you have anything to add about your experience with PPD or have just come by to say hi? If so, please feel free to comment below.

 

When it’s unfair…

Three years ago, around this time, I mourned the fact that my due date had passed from my first baby I had lost. A month before that, I lost my second pregnancy. Somewhere around that time three years ago, I briefly lost my mind too. I actually got to a point that I no longer wanted to be here because the pain in my heart was too great for me to bear. I eventually got through, and I started to live a bit more after that. However, when my missed due date had come and gone and a friend who had the same due date and a sister-in-law who also had the same due date had their babies, I couldn’t help but feel that it was all a little unfair because the babies I carried for a time in my womb would never be in this world for me to enjoy. It wasn’t like I wished ill of my friend or my sister-in-law, it was more of a twinge of jealousy in seeing them with their bundles of joy. All the dreams I had for my babies would never come to pass. The hardest thing about life sometimes is that it is extremely unfair.

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The theme of unfairness came into my life again after Miss Crankles was born. By the time she was two months old, I had postpartum depression. It, and lack of sleep, robbed me of the joy I should have felt when she was so little. It is one of the big reasons that I have decided to continue with extended breastfeeding. It helped me gain back the bonding time I felt I lacked from being distant when PPD was at its worst. I couldn’t help but feel at the time that someone in the universe was laughing at me because it seemed like a cruel joke. I finally got what I wanted, but my body and hormones were seriously out of whack making me not be able to enjoy the little person that I almost lost my sanity trying to get.

When you are struggling with fertility, whether it is your for your first child or in my case third, life can seem very unfair. It is not like you hate the friend whose husband just has to look at them to get pregnant, but you wonder why that can’t happen to you. I used to think that I must be severely flawed. Maybe I was not a good enough mom, and so God didn’t want me to be in charge of another human being. I know it is rubbish since the news is full of stories of people being completely awful excuses for human beings, and those people have babies. However, sometimes, it is easy to go into that dark place and think the fault must lie within you because you feel you need some sort of an explanation. Not to mention, sometimes people are assholes and tell you things like this because it makes them feel better about themselves. Whatever the reason you think negative like this, know it is not your fault. Life is just shitty sometimes.

In my story, I did get my baby in the end, and now we are a family of five. However, if we try again, I don’t know if we would have a happy ending this time. Some people never do. I wish I could be full of inspiration and say, “Keep going Tiger! You will get there.” I feel like the biggest Debbie Downer to say that you might not. Life is never as easy as they make it sound in the story books. Then of course, there are those who say that God has a plan. I really hate that line, like I loathe it. Saying that God has a plan does not make the pain of loss or trying and not having a baby any better. Also, saying that really does not make God sound like a good being. Please people of Earth stop saying this. Period. Remove it from things that come out of your mouth.

I have a friend who has been trying for a long time to have a baby, and it just is not happening. The more I think about it, the more that I just wish I could punch something for her. She is this beautiful soul, the kind that takes you and holds you and tries to make the world less ugly for you when you need it the most. I know that part for a fact because she has done that for me so much in the past. If there is one person deserving beyond a shadow of a doubt to be a mother, it is she. Thinking of my own experiences, I wish there was something I could say to make it any better, and I can’t. So I am not gonna try, and I am not going to try with any of my readers to sugar coat it for you. It sucks. If you want to be angry about it, you can. If you just want to move on, you can. If you find yourself sitting in a park wishfully thinking you had a munchkin running around the play area with the rest of the kids, you can. The only thing I will say is to take care of yourself and to be gentle with yourself. Don’t blame yourself for it is not your fault. Stay busy. Stay active. If you fall apart, carefully put yourself back together again. Infertility and secondary infertility are hard pills to swallow.

My biggest way of coping the last few years from everything that has happened… secondary infertility, multiple loss, pregnancy, ppd, and moving has been writing. I don’t always share everything I write, but sometimes just getting my thoughts on paper helps me to organize my life better. Walking has also been therapeutic too.

You may be wondering why I have even bothered to write any of this since it seems pretty gloom and doom. I write this for one reason, and one reason only: Three years ago, I almost gave up. Do you know what that means? I not only wanted to give up and end it all for myself, but I wanted to not exist for my other two kids and husband who love me very much. I love them too, but the pain was so great. I felt like I was consumed by it. I share all of this because yes, life is unfair, but I don’t want anyone to be consumed by its unfairness like I did. Talk to someone, vent, punch a punching bag, find a hobby…anything just to get focus back. It won’t give you what you want at the time, but it will help you get through the day.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to comment below or you can always send me a message. I do respond! Take care and remember to be gentle to yourself!

 

 

Taking back the stories

I have sat down so many times over the last several months to write, only to come up with nothing. Sure, I have posted here and there. Yes, my health problems, which also created brain fog, had a bit to do with everything. However, my biggest problems was that I came to terms that before I really took a break from the blog, I was starting to feel like a sell out.

I started this blog to promote my business. I don’t really have a business anymore, but I do have a lot of parenting stories to tell. I also have three kids at very different places in their lives which makes for an interesting story as well.

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It is hard to get your story seen sometimes, and there are SO MANY social media outlets now, more than when I first started. It is easy to get caught up in the social media aspect of blogging to the point that the story you want to tell starts to feel like a chore after you schedule everything and post to each and every social media outlet in hopes that someday your blogging efforts will be noticed. For me, it has taken the joy out of writing, and I don’t want that because then I don’t want to write which defeats the purpose of having a blog. It also undoes all the work I have put into this little slice of the blogosphere over the years.

I had a nice talk with a fellow blogger and then another one with my main contributor. While I would love to make money with this blog, my priority here is telling a story and sharing my blog in ways that are manageable to me. While some bloggers can manage hitting up all social media outlets, and I commend them because I know they work really hard. I love them for that. However, I cannot do that right now.

So I ask of you, my dear readers, if something I write, or something my contributors write, speaks to you, please pass it along to your friends. For now, I will be here writing my stories and hoping that some of you can relate to them!

 

Recitals, Activities, and Managing Balance

One of the issues that homeschooling parents face is the dilemma over what extracurriculars to allow our children to participate. Sometimes things sound like fun, but then we get going and burn out halfway through the year because we are over-scheduled. I think the balance issue stems from the stigma that our children do not get enough socialization. For my family and most of my homeschooling friends, this is such a non-issue because we have so many things to choose from in way of co-ops, sports, and clubs that it is hard to figure out which ones our kids really want to choose.

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My big kids are dancers. Sissy started at age 2 in a Mommy and Me class, and Bubby started at age five. Dance has a way of taking over our lives…especially in the late spring with pictures, costume fittings, and dress rehearsals leading up to recital. This year has been especially challenging because my kids are attending different dance studios. Each studio is excellent and provides the kids what they need right now. However, the initial scheduling was a bit tricky, and it sometimes makes for an extra cranky Miss Crankles. Luckily, the recitals took place on different weeks, and the nice thing for the big kids was that they got to sit in the audience and watch each other perform. However, in order to make it all work, we scaled back on a few clubs this year. They attended a homeschool theater class this year and started at a new co-op. Sissy took an extra homeschool combination dance class for the first part of the school year, and I enrolled Miss Crankles in a play class so that she didn’t get lost in the shadows of the big kids. I told the kids that to keep us from burning out, especially since we just moved and have still been exploring the area, I wanted to keep it to one activity per day. This worked rather well because we could fit our school work into the day easily and still have time to have playdates with friends or play at home or the park.

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Getting through the last few weeks of recital rehearsals, pictures, and recital itself has been a challenge. Add the fact that I still have some anxiety issues probably didn’t help matters any. However, we all got through it. Crankles’ schedule was disrupted some, so we are taking this week to get her back on track and rest from everything. While co-op and some of the other activities are over for the summer, I am not eager to start scheduling things for the summer. The big kids will be taking some dance classes later in the summer, but for the rest of this month, we are taking the month off from activities to focus on being a family, catching up on schoolwork, and organizing the house a bit since we still haven’t finished going through everything from the move (yeah I know it has been 9 months).

The balance issue is a huge deal for me because I have been unbalanced in the past. I get caught up in the whole notion that I shouldn’t be idle. I have a hard time saying no, so I end up volunteering for things or letting the kids do this activity or that workshop. Before I know it, I am burned out, and so are the kids. One of the joys about homeschooling should be a focus on play time. Kids really need to be able to play. If I allow my kids or myself to get caught up in involvement in too many activities, then we don’t have time for play or to explore and imagine. This year that I have taken off from blogging, volunteering, party planning, and everything else has really shown me that I have been missing out on enjoying those activities with the kids. The past few years, I have been feeling old, and with good reason. I have been over-scheduled and not enjoying much of anything. I don’t want to be that unbalanced anymore, and I don’t want to push that lifestyle on the kids either. I want the kids to know that while we have responsibilities, we need to have balance to our lives and enjoy them.

So while I resist the urge to put the kids in lots of camps this summer and try not to let them overdo it with their activities during the rest of the year, I know that I am also allowing the kids to have time to be kids. Balance lets us be able to enjoy the activities in which we participate, and it gives us time to be able to focus on being a family and enjoy playtime and our studies too!