Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Sick Season

The last couple weeks have had some tough moments. Matt, Steve, and I have all been sick once or more during this time period. Ugh. Is there anything worse than having a sick child, especially a little one that doesn't know what is happening?

Second to one's child being sick is being sick oneself while needing to care for said child. That was me yesterday. I have been warding off a cold for awhile now, having just enough symptoms to make me annoyed but nothing so serious as to warrant Steve staying home while I rest in bed. Yesterday, while playing with Matt, I started to feel worse. I rested my head on the couch armrest for a bit, and when I lifted it up, I felt so nauseous I thought I was going to pass out.

I called Steve and asked him to come home. It was a little before 4pm, so at least he'd only miss an hour of work. He came home, I went to bed and stayed there a few hours. I had fever chills and a headache and felt like I needed to vomit but couldn't. I finally was sick and felt well enough to join my family downstairs. Luckily, Matt loves playing with Steve so much that he took it well when I couldn't play with him. He's so irresistible when he says, "Mom, play with me?"

Our normal bedtime routine is for me to help Matt brush his teeth while Steve gets his bedroom ready (window and curtains closed, bed cleared of any toys, etc.). We read a book or two together followed by prayers. Matt then says good night to Steve, and he and I read one more book. I then tell him one of three stories; Three Bears, Three Pigs, or Jack and the Beanstalk; and then sing a few songs to him. By this time, he's usually quite calm but still awake. I put him in his crib and give him lots of kisses. I even let him stall a bit with some of his cuteness before I say a final good night, I love you, and leave the room.

Steve has put him to bed before, but always when I'm away from home. Last night, he tried to do it but Matt knew I was home and wouldn't calm down. Steve brought him downstairs for us to read one story and to say prayers. I sang him the two songs I always sing last and kissed him good night. Steve put him to bed but Matt cried and cried and cried. It was soooo sad. So, I woman-up'ed and went into his room and did our bedtime rituals, feeling like I was going to either faint or puke at any minute. God blessed me with strength to make it through and by the time I made it back downstairs, Matt was asleep. There's just something about Mama, I guess. *smile*

Fortunately, Matt's cold is coming to an end. Whatever I had managed to work its way out of my system around 5:30am after a sleepless last. I feel weak and tired today but better than I've felt for a couple weeks. Steve is also feeling good. We've been sick more often than we've been since having Matt and I realized why last night. I take Matt to the gym's daycare!!

Usually, Matt and I stay at home and are fairly isolated except for the weekly trip to the grocery store and family gatherings. Last Fall and Winter, I attended church without him, so he didn't go to nursery. I know parents take their kids to the gym and to church nursery even when their kids are sick. Not every parent (I don't) but there are some. Matt has never really been exposed like he is now, so he's getting sick more and sharing it with good old Mom and Dad. It's going to be a rougher sick season that we've had in the past, but I think it's going to be a good thing in the long run. I've worried a little about Matt being isolated. Going to the gym and to nursery isn't only just helping him socially, but probably also giving his immune system a healthy workout.

Remind me of that when we're sick next time. I have a feeling it's going to be a long sick season.

Julie :)

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Going back to work

I'm going back to work!

Last night, I skimmed through my next Relief Society lesson. For those of you who are LDS, it's lesson 21 from the President Benson manual. I only read roughly half of it and what I took away from it was the importance of work and the blessing received by working.

I've been suffering from a bit of depression lately...okay, for awhile. Nothing too serious but it's been annoying. I get sad for no reason, have mood swings, and am ornery more than usual. I've wondered if I have postpartum depression - can you have PPD two years after giving birth???

Some of the blessings President Benson mentioned: independence, industry, thrift, self respect, vigorous health, praiseworthy achievement, a clear conscience, and refreshing sleep. Sounds great to me! So, I decided to go back to work to see if that will dispel my depression. Heck, it can't make it worse, right?

I told this to Steve this morning over breakfast. He raised one eyebrow (okay, I'm not sure he can actually do that, but if he can, he did) quizzically and asked where I was going to work.

I dramatically swept my arm in an arc encompassing our house, "Here".

Last night, I decided that if I was my boss, I'd fire me. I've really slacked off lately. I'm obviously not the only one who has noticed...not only is my upcoming lesson about work but our Enrichment night was about, among other things, cleaning and organizing our homes!! Try telling me that the Man Upstairs isn't trying to tell me to get back to work.

Using an example given at Enrichment, I've created a weekly chore chart for myself the is totally do-able. Each day consists of two or three tasks that should only take 30-45 minutes, total, to complete (excluding laundry which makes up for its length by its ease). Some days, I even give myself flexibility to choose a project that is a one-time or once-in-awhile chore instead of a weekly chore - cleaning out a closet or cleaning behind the stove, etc.

The lady who taught the house cleaning lesson at Enrichment said something that really struck me. She said that if you love your house, you'll take care of it. I do love my house. It's my home and has felt like my home from the moment we finished unpacking. I don't take care of it, not the way it should be, I mostly just keep it from getting too bad. That's not enough and it's going to change.

Saturdays are bathroom cleaning days, so this morning I woke up and cleaned both upstairs bathrooms. It would have been easy to not do it, since we were invited to play with family, but I did it quickly (but well) and it feels sooo good to have them clean.

I have a testimony of prophets and believe that by following their counsel, I can receive all the promised blessings. I believe that as I follow President Benson's inspired admonition to work, that I will be blessed with self-respect, sleep, good health, a clear conscience, and hopefully relief from the depression I'm struggling under. Even if the depression is caused by untreated PPD or even a chemical unbalance (its hereditary in my family), working can do only good things for me. I know I will be blessed, my family will be blessed...both physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Julie :)

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Saturday at the zoo

Steve and I both enjoy zoos and aquariums. Our first date was to the aquarium in Sandy, UT. Ever since, whenever we travel somewhere with a zoo or aquarium, we make sure to go.

I've been wanting to take Matt back to the Hogle Zoo since I think he was too young to appreciate it when we went last year. So, Steve and I picked this weekend to go up. Boy, we were sure glad that Salt Lake didn't get the rain Cedar did yesterday so we could have good weather at the zoo. That said, if it had rained, we planned on going to the aquarium as a backup plan. Fortunately, the weather cooperated and was absolutely beautiful - mildly warm but just cloudy enough to keep from being hot.

We invited my sister-in-law Rachel and her two boys to go with us. My brother is out of town for work or else he would have been invited too, of course. Her youngest is only a few months older than Matt and they play really well together. Her oldest is 7 and also plays well with Matt, who looks up to him a lot. I was really glad they came to the zoo with us.

We started by going on the train. In our experience, the train gets busier as the day goes on, so we always try to get to the zoo close to when it opens and then head right for the train. It has changed a bit since last year - the train now goes around the new Safari wildlife section before going to the mining camp and also has new wild horses. Matt loves trains but was not excited about being on one. He cried a few moments before it started up and I thought I was going to have to get off with him. Thankfully, I was able to calm him down, and once it started, he relaxed and enjoyed himself.

Steve and Matt in the front, Tim and Robbie (L to R) in the back
Just before the train started, so Matt isn't very happy.
After the train ride, we walked around the zoo, naturally. Steve and I had debated about bringing our little stroller for Matt. He's a good walker but when he doesn't want to walk, he wants me, and only me, to carry him. It wears me out. However, when we went for a family walk last week with the stroller, he didn't want to ride in it but to push it. He's a horrible driver. In the end, we took the stroller and had mixed success. He rode in it at times but then it was a bit of a pain to have to keep taking him out of it to lift him up to see the animals. I still ended up carrying him quite a bit. Oh well. At least I'm getting stronger and it's getting easier to carry him...usually.

I don't know if I have a favorite exhibit, but Matt seemed to love the seals and sea lions the most. To my surprise, the inside enclosure for the seals, sea lions, and polar bear was practically empty. Usually, it's packed with people. There were a good number of people at the zoo, but it certainly wasn't a busy day, which we liked. Matt wanted to stay and watch the seals and seal lions for a long time and was kind of irritated when we made him leave. It was also fun to see the lions, which are a new addition to Hogle Zoo. And, since the weather was cooler, a lot of the big cats were up and about instead of sleeping like they usually do in the summer heat, so we were able to see most of them in action.

Okay, so I do have a favorite attraction, but it's not the animals. It's the carousel! Whenever we go somewhere with a carousel, I have to ride it. Steve has always been very gracious about going on them with me even though he doesn't love them like I do. Matt isn't a lover of them either...at least, not yet! My boy is definitely timid when it comes to moving things. I figure he just needs more exposure to carousels and will someday enjoy them as much as me. Or not and will be big enough to refuse to go on them. Then he and Steve can wait for me while I ride. This time, I rode on a hippopotamus, my favorite wild animal. Steve and Matt rode on a bench. Matt refused to ride on an animal, even with me, but he did fine on the bench.

Matt and Steve on the bench before the ride.
Rachel, Tim, and Robbie are behind.

It was a fun morning at the zoo. I had hoped all the walking, sun, and fun would wear Matt out and he would sleep in the car on the 45-minute ride back to Rachel's house, but he didn't. Nor did he take a nap back at the house. Nope, he chose to fall asleep in the car 30 minutes before we arrived back in Salt Lake to go to dinner with some friends of ours that were recently stationed back at Hill AFB. So, he was a grumpy Gus for awhile until he remembered how much he likes the two boys (one teenager and the other a preteen) who are so good with Matt. Then we had fun eating and walking around downtown Salt Lake - with me carrying Matt most of the time. *smile*

When we arrived back at Rachel's, the boys were still awake, waiting for us. Robbie had wanted to play a video game with me and had been disappointed we were gone so long. So, I played Mario Brothers with him for awhile (I'm awful at it) then everyone played around until we finally got the boys to bed. Matt didn't fall asleep until 10pm! Of course, that didn't mean he slept in this morning. Instead, he was awake around 5:30 due to a developing head cold. Poor guy. Fortunately, he didn't sleep in the car on the ride back to Cedar and is having a really good nap even as I type this post.

We had a fun weekend. I'm always grateful for the wonderful people we have in our lives. We are certainly blessed with good friends and family.

Julie :)

Matt and Tim playing with the "water ball" near the zoo entrance.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Tender Mercy

Earlier today, a friend brought her two boys for a playdate with Matt. I think everyone had a good time, even though there were a few hiccups because Matt needs to learn how to share his toys.

At one point, I told Sarah a little story about my mom and the tender mercies of the Lord in the situation. Well, after they had left, I thought about what a tender mercy it was to have had that playdate with her and her boys.

Sarah is moving across the country, and I'm equal parts excited for her, jealous of the new adventure she gets to have, and sad that I won't be able to see her for a long time. It's not like we've been living in the same town...not for several years now...but there were always times we were able to get together, even if months separated those times.

Her oldest son is my son's first non-family friend and will always hold a special place in my heart because of that. We have a picture of them laying side by side when they were just a few months old (he's older than Matt by 3 months) that is super cute. I think they'd be bestest friends if they ever lived close enough to spend enough time together.

Anyhoo, it was a balm to my lately mildly-troubled soul to spend time with Sarah today. She's a mom that is in similar circumstances as me; a stay-at home mom with young kids, my age, having been single and childless for a significant part of her adult life. It's funny, but those things make a difference. She can relate to what I'm feeling in a way others haven't been able to because her experiences have been similar. Talking to her, letting out my emotions and feelings, felt good. I hate to say it, but I felt validated for feeling how I do sometimes. (Steve and I mock the contestants on Chopped when they say they're competing in order to feel validated.) Staying at home is my choice, and I make it again practically every day, especially when a job at SUU opens up that piques my interest, but it's hard for me. My brain isn't 100% sure why it's hard, but I struggle with it sometimes. Talking to Sarah, she understood how I felt, understood why I felt that way, and made me feel okay for feeling that way. She even gave me insights as to why that I hadn't even realized.

We talked about lots of stuff, and I could have kept talking to her for hours and hours, like we used to when we were younger and single, but our boys were tired, cranky, and in serious need of naps, so I had to say goodbye. I just hope she realizes how much I love her and how much good being with her did me today.

You know, I don't always love new technology and how it affects human interaction and communication (ugh Facebook!), but I am so thankful for email and blogs and texts and long distance phone calls that will allow me to communicate with her, as well as other friends and family that I love and who don't live close to.

Heck, though, I may start writing letters!

Julie :)
Matt and Daniel - October 2015
How cute that they both wore orange today!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Making Bread

There are few things that make me feel more like the woman I want to be than making bread.

Both my grandmothers made bread and I aspire to be more like them in almost every way. My grandma Norine's rolls were heavenly, and she made the sacramental bread for her church every week for decades. The members of her congregation were blessed indeed to be able to partake of her bread instead of store-bought bread.

I've only recently taken to baking. For many, many years, cooking was more my thing. Cooking doesn't require the same exactness as baking; it's more forgiving and easier for me to experiment. When I was pregnant, I started baking cookies and became addicted. I'd have lost my baby weight a lot faster if I hadn't started to bake. It's not just about eating the cookies; baking is a sort of therapy for me.

Bread is tough for me. I had tried a few times in the past but never produced anything edible. As I've watched more cooking shows and read various recipes, I've gotten better. I make pretty darn good rolls, although not as heavenly as my grandma's. My mom once told me she has Grandma's recipe for rolls...I really need to get that from her! I can also make a really fine artisanal loaf that is super easy and has only failed once; I misread the new measuring spoons and put in 1 1/2 tbs instead of 1 1/2 tsp. Seriously, who doesn't label their tablespoon with a T??? I caught the mistake and was able to remove a lot of the excess salt but not enough. It was still edible but just barely and only when dunked in a lot of soup.

Sandwich bread has been trickier. With every recipe I've tried, white and whole wheat alike, the resulting bread has been quite tasty but not really very good for sandwiches. Store bought bread has a soft texture that makes biting into a sandwich so satisfying. Have I eaten store bought bread so much that I've lost the appreciation for homemade sandwich bread? Or, have I just not found the right recipe? I'm really hoping it's the latter.

Do you have a good sandwich bread recipe that I can try?

Julie :)

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Going to the gym

I fought going to a gym for a long, long time. I always have said that I prefer to exercise outside, which is true. It's so much easier to walk out one's own front door and head for a nice walk or bike ride. Easier, cheaper, nice fresh air...it's perfect.

That was before I had my son. I didn't mind walking in freezing cold, snow, rain, or near darkness (in the summer I used to walk late in the evening when it was cooler), but I discovered that I do not like taking my son out in those conditions, even as he got older. Last winter, we would go for walks around the block when it wasn't too cold or snowy. I enjoyed them a lot but burned about 10 calories. This summer, we started walking the same time Steve left for work, about 7:45am. This worked for a long time, but Matt stopped enjoying being in a stroller and would fight to get out and walk. I thought about waking up earlier to walk Sadie before Matt woke up but struggled to get out of bed. I considered walking in the evenings after Matt went to bed but decided against it because it's the only little bit of time that Steve and I have together.

So, I decided to join the local gym that has a day care. I worried a little about leaving Matt at the day care because he wasn't doing so hot at church nursery. I didn't want to be sweating on the treadmill while my son was miserable and making the day care worker miserable as well. Mostly, I worried about paying good money for the gym and then never going because I have always hated working out at the gym.

To be fair, "always" happened a long time ago...close to 15 years ago. I was mid-twenties and either approaching 300 lbs or had just passed that marker. I felt intimidated and uncomfortable working out with all those gorgeous men and women who had perfect bodies. I didn't know what to do with the weights and tried to figure out the machines. I hated it and stopped going, even though I had paid for a full year.

This time, I took Steve with me when I signed up. I knew I wouldn't let myself be talked into anything if he was around. He has been very supportive of my gym membership, even though it's money we could use else where. He was even supportive when I told him I wanted a personal trainer for 6 months. Talk about expensive! Worth it, though. I like having someone show me how to use the machines and how to do free weight exercises. I feel like I belong in the weights area because I'm doing what my trainer told me to do. She pushes me just the right amount and not more. I like the little tips she gives that makes my workouts more productive and less harmful on joints...like tilting my pelvis upward while doing crunches.

Matt still clings to me when I drop him off at day care, but I've learned to sit him by Shondi, the grandma-like day care worker, and he'll be fine. She says that after I leave, he's just fine and plays hard. I know it's true because he's always having a grand 'ol time when I pick him up. I think it's good for him to have regular times to play with other kids. It's even helped him at church nursery. He's so much easier to leave there and the workers have told me he's great as soon as I leave. Having Matt in the day care at the gym keeps me going regularly. I sign him up a week in advance for Monday through Friday and am too lazy to call and cancel it on days I'd rather stay home, so I end up going. I haven't missed a day in over two months!

I know it's good for me to have a little me-time every day. Doing something for myself that makes me feel healthier and happier. It's a refreshing break that helps me get through the morning, which has always seemed to drag on forever until Steve gets home for lunch. Plus, I'm definitely seeing results, slowly. I have only lost 3 pounds (after initially gaining 5, which is common when one starts weight training) in two months, but I've lost inches off my waist, arms, chest, hips, and thighs! My clothes that were starting to be tight are loosening up again. I have more energy and feel really good. And, I don't worry at all about being older and chubbier than most of the people in there. That's one thing I love about aging; my confidence and comfort in my own skin is so much greater than when I was in my twenties. I don't care that I wear my ratty work-out clothes with no makeup and my hair looking crazy while many more (ridiculously so) are wearing cute outfits with their hair done and full face of makeup. To each their own.

The gym is like church, it's for everyone and everyone is at different places in their life. It's for those of us who are trying to reach weight loss goals and it's for others who are already pretty darn fit but who have other goals their trying to reach or are just working on maintaining.

So, I'm quite enjoying going to the gym. I miss walking in the mornings, but now that the weather is cooling off a bit, we'll start going for family walks in the evenings after dinner. And, Matt and I will be able to walk around the block (or longer since he's becoming a really good walker, just like his mom and grandma Susan). It will be good to just have fun walks and to not worry about how I'm going to get in my exercise.