Friday, December 20, 2013

The Truth Behind My Blues

I've given a lot of thought about if I wanted to blog about this, ultimately deciding that I should just in case someone out there stumbles upon it and it helps them in some way some how.

It's amazing what can change over the course of a year.  Last year I was secretly suffering with depression and anxiety.  Lots of anxiety.  This was something I had only discussed with a select few (my husband, one friend who I knew could relate to my struggles, and my doctor who, sadly,  probably made things worse).  There were plenty of days when I would cry uncontrollably for hours, often without any particular reason.  I felt guilty on the days I spent sobbing while my son just wanted to play.  I would have rather spent the time making crafts with him or encouraging him to make the most of his big imagination.  I often worried that he was missing out because of me.  Not only would he see his mommy crying but I also started to withdraw from social outings such as play dates.  On the really bad days, my husband would sneak out of work for an hour to come home and help me calm down.  He often asked why I was so sad.  This was always a hard question because the truth was I didn't know.  I couldn't tell him why.  I felt alone.  I felt sad.  I didn't know what I was going to do.  On days I wasn't plagued with the sadness I was often overwhelmed with anxiety.  Simple things such as going to the store or taking my son out to play with his friends would usually leave me in a state of panic.  It seemed like it was never going to end but slowly I managed to take control over the depression and learned to deal with the anxiety.  I no longer feel uncontrollably sad and overwhelmed with anxiety. 
When the depression and anxiety first got really bad I mentioned it to my doctor.  I suppose I thought she would somehow be able to help.  I was wrong.  She wrote me a prescription for anxiety medicine and sent me on my way.  I was disappointed by this as I had told her I was not interested in having to take a medication on a daily basis.  I did end up taking her prescription for a couple months.  In many ways it made me feel worse.  I had gained weight partly as a side effect of this medication and I felt guilty taking a medication I knew I didn't want.  In a follow up appointment I once again had mentioned to her I didn't want to be on a medication.  She didn't listen to my concerns and once again sent me on my way.  Against her professional medical advise, I stopped taking the medication on my own.  (this is not recommended by doctors.... I am by no means a medical professional so don't take medical advise from me, always talk to your doctor.) Once I was done taking it the guilt went away but this was only one step for me taking back control.  
By this time I had felt I lost most of my friends.  I had stopped being social and they hadn't seemed to notice so in my depressed state of mind they had given up on me.  Of course this made me sad and I often worried that this had caused my son to loose his friends as well.  Luckily, there were a few of his friends that we continued to have playtime with.  I am forever grateful for these friends even though they also had no idea what I was struggling with.  As much as I wanted to discuss my depression and anxiety with them I couldn't.  As I mentioned before, I could never give a reason behind being so sad.  After all, I had plenty to be happy about..... my loving husband, our beautiful son. We were all healthy and always had a roof over our head with food in the fridge.  I knew that there were plenty of others who were struggling with real problems.  My problem was just all in my head and I felt no one would understand and no one would care.
As the winter started to turn to spring I turned to the outdoors.  I believe this was one of the most beneficial things to help with my recovery (if that's what you'd like to call it).  Eco-therapy.  It sounds fancy but really it's basically just going outdoors.  I started spending hours outdoors often hiking through the woods with my son.  This became my favorite activity and I started taking my son on adventure hikes as often as possible.  We would wonder aimlessly through the trails appreciating the beauty of nature and enjoying the fresh air.  We would play games, sing songs, and look for wildlife.  We would walk slowly, stopping frequently to play in the dirt or so I could photograph flowers, insects, or birds.  Photographing nature also became therapeutic for me.  Nature is beautiful and I fell in love with it.  I started to notice the days filled with anxiety became fewer and fewer.  The uncontrollable crying seemed to have stopped as well.  My husband was no longer coming home during the day to comfort me which was good because he had a video game deadline fast approaching.  Slowly things were getting better.
 The gym became my happy place.  This was the one place I could go to be alone.  I would work off any frustration I had and sweat out the bad feelings I was having.  It's true what they say about endorphins.  You will feel great at the end of a good workout.  Although I wasn't making it to the gym as often as I would have liked it was still great knowing I had a place I could escape to.  The gym has since become a larger part of my life.  I continue to workout on a regular basis and have even been working with a personal trainer so that I can become stronger.  For me, going to the gym is not about the number on a scale.  It's about becoming stronger; both physically and emotionally, getting to know the limitations of my own body and learning how to push those limits.  But it's also about having a place to go where I can focus on myself.  This was important because I had gotten to a place where I focused all my energy on others, mostly my son, and forgot that I also need to focus on myself. 
By the end of the summer I felt good.  I can't remember the last time I felt overwhelmed with anxiety and panicking seems like a thing of the past.  I know that I could very easily fall back into the same depression and anxiety that took control of me last year so this year I am trying hard to avoid it.  I focus my energy on where it needs to be and take things one day at a time.  I started working part time at the gym (talk about convenient) which has also been helpful.  I forgot what it felt like to go to work.  I forgot what it felt like to be told "job well done".  I forgot what it was like to be around adults and not just kids.  I've also recently started to socialize a little more.  I have agreed to take over as organizer for our local parents' group.  I am nervous about this because of how socially withdrawn I became and fear that my anxiety might come back.  But I'm also excited.  I'm excited to become more social again even if sometimes I know I will come off as being awkward.  I've decided to let my awkwardness become slightly charming rather than something that makes me want to run and hide under a rock.  I feel good about the future.  I strongly believe that I am in greater control of myself.  While last year was hard for me I am glad that I went through it.  I needed to go through the pain so that I could become stronger and I could shine brighter.  I like to think my dark days are over and am optimistic about my future.                                            

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Good Morning

I woke up early this morning to a quiet house. I took the opportunity to enjoy a calming and awaken session of morning yoga. Something my body needed after spending the last 12 hours laying in bed thanks to a migraine.

I remembered a pin I saw on Pintrest with morning yoga poses.  The link doesn't seem to work but you can see enough from the picture: 

 Good morning yoga sequence.
Now that my body feels more relaxed I'm going to enjoy a large glass of water followed by my morning coffee.  What a great way to start my Saturday!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

I seemed to have forgotten how much I enjoy baking and getting ready for the holidays.  I was reminded of that after I spent 3 days in the kitchen preparing for this year's Thanksgiving.  I did a lot of baking this year.  I may have gone overboard with the cookies but I figured why not?

I made cut-out sugar cookies and spritz sugar cookies. 

Trying to be festive I attempted to use the pumpkin shaped template for the spritz cookies. Without the orange frosting and chocolate stems it was hard to tell these were pumpkins. 

I used a leaf shaped cookie cutter and piped melted chocolate over the sugar cookies.  I had planned on using red, orange, and yellows but I didn't have anything to make the coloring.  I'll have to restock my supplies in time for Christmas!

With my special little helper I was able to make our pumpkin pie.  I just used the recipe on the Libby's canned pumpkin but had fun with Mason while he made the pie.

Little helpers are the best at stirring and pouring in the ingredients.

His hair is out of control as usual. :-)

After we mixed together the pie filling, we attempted to make a decorative pie crust.

I cut out leaf shaped pieces of pie crust and used a tooth pick to create the veins in the leaves.

Then I placed the leaves around the pie's edge.  I couldn't figure out how to stop them from sinking into the pie filling.  This is only the 2nd time I have ever made a pie.   

I piped the words using extra melted chocolate from when I had decorated the cookies.
I love it just based on the memory Mason and I made while baking this pie together.  He was so helpful and really had a great time helping his mommy. 

I also put together some cookies based on something I'm sure we've all seen on Pintrest before.  I had all of the ingredients so I figured I might as well make them.  They are festive, really cute, and easy to put together.

I made the turkey and the Pilgrim hats using store bought chocolate covered cookies and mini Reese's cups.  I used melted chocolate in a piping bag as the glue to hold everything together.

I hope everyone enjoys their Thanksgiving Day and had as much fun preparing as we did!

Monday, November 11, 2013

My Baby is 3!

It seems like we just threw Mason's car party and now it was time to throw him another birthday party!  This year we seemed to be busier than usual and I didn't have time to throw him such a big party so we opted for him inviting a few of his favorite friends over for a small birthday party.  He's been really into monster trucks (we watch Monster Jam once a day..... it's actually on now as I type this) so we threw him a monster truck party. 
I put up some balloons and streamers.... not as much DIY party decor as last time but Mason still loved his party.  I did make a Monster Jam birthday cake.  This was probably the easiest birthday cake I've made him.  He wanted chocolate cake and I used chocolate frosting and graham cracker crumbs to create the mud/dirt for the monster truck course.  I rolled one of his monster trucks along the sides of the cake to make the monster truck tire tracks.  (let the frosting set a little before trying to make the tire tracks otherwise the frosting will be too sticky and just stick to the tires.)

His obsession with monster trucks has turned us all into Monster Jam fans.  We know the names of all the trucks and even some of the drivers.  Mason has developed a large collection of Monster Jam truck toys (thanks for spoiling him grandparents and his daddy) and my mom also made him a large monster truck quilt complete with a road to race his monster trucks on. 

He loves his blanket "grandma made me this!" and it is perfect for playing monster trucks while we are spending the day at an autoX event or even just playing at home in our living room.  I love watching him play Monster Jam, he acts as the announcer racing his trucks and even putting on freestyle shows.  He takes turns with his trucks as they preform tricks, donuts, jumps, and his favorite: "oh!!! he's upside down! Max D is upside down!!!"  We're planning on taking him to a Monster Jam show in a few months and I can't wait to see how excited he gets to see the trucks up close and hopefully meet his favorite drivers.  I'll have to make him his first autograph book.
So as another year passes, Happy Birthday to my baby boy!  Technically, he's not a baby anymore but he will forever be my sweet little baby boy.  These last 3 years have been amazing and I love watching him learning, growing, and playing.  I'm looking forward to all the wild adventures that are yet to come! 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

On the Road Again.....

There's something about the open road that I just love.  The changing scenery, the passing cars, you never know what you'll come across on a road trip. 

It usually works out that once a year I take a road trip to Ohio with my mom, my grandma, and of course Mason.  We've been taking this road trip to see family in Ohio since I was a child. 

One of our favorite things to do on this trip is visit the Homer Laughlin factory warehouse in West Virginia.  This is the factory where they make Fiesta Dinnerware.  It may seem silly to get excited over dishes but I love that Fiesta is made in the USA, durable, fun and colorful.  Most of my dishes were purchased at the factory warehouse during various trips we've made there over the years.  

While you can purchase Fiesta at department stores, it's more fun to purchase Fiesta at the factory warehouse (plus you'll save a lot of money).  In the back room you will find large bins stacked full of dishes in different colors and each bin usually containing a different style of dinnerware.  These dishes are the dishes that turned out a little less than perfect so they could not be packaged and shipped off to the department stores.  As you search through the bins of dishes you have to carefully look over each piece as they usually have small defects.  I guess that's the fun part, finding the best dish in the stack is often like finding a buried treasure. 
If you are going to be making your first trip to the Fiesta factory warehouse here a some tips:
The factory is located on the river so the view from the parking lot is beautiful.  They offer a factory tour (something we've never taken; maybe next time) so you'll have to check their website for hours.  Take notice to their gardens, scattered full of broken dishes.  I've heard Mondays are the best days to go because they restock the warehouse bins in the mornings.  They don't have shopping carts, just milk crates.  We usually end up filling up multiple milk crates with our finds.  Make sure you give yourself enough time to search for the best dishes.  If you are bringing children just keep in mind this is a store full of breakable dishes.  This last time we went, I forgot Mason's stroller.  Luckily, he was good and we were able to make it out of there without breaking anything.  We were there about 2 hours so towards the end you can imagine a 2 year old would start to get fidgety, luckily my aunt was able to distract him with snacks from the vending machine.  (He was delighted to get chocolate!) 

Our dishes are mismatched but each one was hand picked.  These are my finds from this trip.  I was wanting some more red Fiesta and lucked out that they happened to have a lot of red serving dishes the day we went.  Who knows what we'll find next time.  I was happy with these finds and when I priced checked everything to online prices I had saved myself over $200.  Can't complain about that!      

Thursday, September 12, 2013

"Chocolate Cheese Pizza, Peasse!!!"

When Mason first requested "chocolate cheese pizza" I thought it was kind of weird and it took me a minute to realise he wasn't requesting "chocolate cheese pizza" but rather Chuck-E-Cheese pizza.  In the beginning of summer we made an impromptu late-night trip to Chuck-E-Cheese (by late night I mean we arrived there around 8pm..... think toddler late-night).  My husband had been wanting to take Mason there for awhile now and I had finally caved.  I have vague memories of going to Chuck-E-Cheese as a kid and I've heard some not so good things about it from fellow parents.  My expectations were not that high which may have been key for having a successful Chuck-E-Cheese visit. 

If you haven't been to Chuck-E-Cheese in a while just know that it's not the same Chuck-E-Cheese from our childhood.  Chuck-E has gone a little modern and seems to be trying a little too hard to be "cool".  Mason's face lit up every time the Chuck-E puppet preformed on stage and he was even more delighted when the "real" Chuck-E came out and walked around. 

I was glad that there were games that Mason could play.  He had a blast running around with his tokens and playing all the games.  And of course you can't forget about cashing in your tickets to get an awesome prize!

Mason picked out a Chuck-E-Cheese semi truck which he still plays with on a regular basis. 
Our Chuck-E-Cheese outing ended up costing about the same amount we would have spent on dinner out at another restaurant.  Yeah, the food wasn't great but I wasn't expecting anything better than frozen or concession stand pizza.  I would make the trip again because it was well worth it to see my boys having so much fun together.  Although that's not to say I'm not glad that our nearest Chuck-E-Cheese is an hour away making it a rare trip.  Darn. ;-)