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Books I Read in October

Frozen Charlotte Alex Bell ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Book review frozen Charlotte

Perfect October book! Creepy and chilly. Sometimes YA can be trite and overdone, and there admittedly was a little of that in here. I loved the setting, Sophie, the fact that you didn’t know who or what to believe. Classic clean horror.

Fall of Giants by Ken Follett ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Book review fall of giants

Another phenomenal epic by one of my favorite authors. I didn’t give it 5 stars only because of personal reasons. I was getting so bogged down and it felt so depressing-it IS about a war and the characters’ five specific families and how they intersect with different aspects of WWI and each other. I had to take a long break in the middle to give my emotions a rest, but it wasn’t that difficult to pick it back up again thanks to Follett’s skilled plot lines.

I learned more from this single volume about WWI than in school. I love how Follett can take fictional characters and seamlessly weave them into real historical figures and events. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and the many story lines seemed complicated and hard to follow at first, but Follett makes everything so impactful and intriguing it helps to keep track of everyone.

I kind of picked up this book on a whim, not realizing it is the first of a trilogy or how long it would be, but I am definitely glad I did!

The Humans Matt Haig ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Book review the humans

I was laughing out loud from page 1 (or possibly page 2). Light hearted and entertaining, The Humans is also quite serious. I found myself wanting to read bits out loud to passers by and memorize segments to better integrate them into my real life. I’m still reeling from all the subsequent thoughts swirling in my mind. The alien perspective of humans was rich and heart warming. What really matters after all? The question we all ask ourselves and truly, already know the answer to, is explored beautifully. As long as you don’t mind on the surface, gratuitous, but oddly necessary F-bombs, read this book.

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things Brynn Greenwood. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Book review all the ugly and wonderful things

So many emotions continurally resound long after I stayed up late to find out what happened to our brave Wavy. Ugly and Wonderful is an apt title; as it is love story in an unusual way-a beautiful rendering of a horrible childhood. Prose I want to keep reading, honestly raw, the compassion and character development, and even the different points of view make this a book I really loved.

I gave it four stars instead of five because since it IS so blunt in its descriptions of the life Wavy grew up in and lived, it couldn’t be recommended to all readers.

Breakdown B.A. Paris ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

What a ride!

I loved Cass. I had my suspicions from the beginning which were justified of what was really happening to her, but I was still thrown for a loop. I was drawn into the story right away and wondered what I would do in the same situations. It’s a beautiful thing when I can relate to a protagonist so thoroughly. The energy in this book never stopped, even when all Cass was doing was sleeping.

It’s sad that books take so long to write when I want to devour good ones, like this one, in a single setting.

I need B.A. Paris to start writing faster because she’s my new favorite author.

The Rules of Magic Alice Hoffman ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

“Rules were never the point. It was finding out who you were meant to be.”

Once again Alice Hoffman delights in her poetic writing and crafting of a beautiful love story. Or, shall I say, several love stories. It would be hard to write a prequel to an iconic story, but of course she managed with aplomb. You love the Owenses, even when you think they’re screwing up their lives.

The Wife Between Us Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Book review the wife between us

This book started out with a lot of potential-it’s hard to write what my experience was without giving away too much, but I’ll try. I was about 1/3 done when came across an Instagram review which told me what I had already assumed to be true, was actually the big twist. To put it a different way-I didn’t “get” the shocker at all because what I had thought to be true actually was true, but apparently most people think something different than I did.

Obviously that plot twist failed for me. I was still interested in the book though-I was loving the voice of the reader in the audio book, and I was still curious about how it would all turn out. I was impressed with the strength of the protagonist-she defined real courage to me. Even though she was terrified and sometimes opted to almost wallow in it and her depression, just like I would likely do, she still chose to do the hard, hard thing and face her fears.

I only gave it three stars though because there was a lot of repetition for which I couldn’t figure out a purpose. The extra twists toward the end seemed really contrived, the Epilogue especially! There was a subplot which happened in college that honestly didn’t seem to contribute to the story at all.

This book is above a shrug and a “meh” but you won’t miss anything if you don’t read it.


The Dinner by Herman Koch ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Book review the dinner

** teensy spoiler alert **

 I hated this book and at the same time couldn’t put it down! The entire book takes place at dinner, which seems like it would be quite boring. Paul, however is an adroit storyteller. I begin to feel the same towards his brother as he does, and think Paul is the good guy. And then you learn more. This story line was intense and intriguing and despite having no action, except in flashbacks, it kept me riveted. It was so negative though, that despite how badly I wanted to tear through it, I didn’t have the stomach for it.

The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Book review the last Mrs Parrish

I didn’t really enjoy the first half of the book because I hated the protagonist so much. Then when the protagonist changed halfway through, having just read The Wife Between Us, I knew almost exactly what was going to happen. I was really happy with the ending and how everything wrapped up. I enjoyed the book and it was well written.

Thank you to these wonderful Instagrammers for their pictures. Since I almost exclusively read library books, my pictures aren’t as perfect .

Which book do you want to add to your To Be Read list?

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I have ADHD.

I have ADHD

It’s been almost a year since my ADHD diagnosis.

I don’t pretend to be an expert on ADHD. I try to read a couple of articles a day on the topic to learn more about myself, the functionality of my brain, and a couple of my children. In fact, I was reading an article the other day that I didn’t relate to at all. As I was sharing this with my therapist, I chuckled, “Maybe I don’t actually have ADHD.”

Looking at me warmly and seriously, she dimpled and rebutted, “No. You definitely do.”

It’s been an interesting journey, being diagnosed in my 40s. I used to be one of those people who erroneously believed ADHD was one of those catch all diagnoses used to medicate little boys who shouldn’t be sitting still all day long in a classroom anyway. I still do think that it’s overdiagnosed and overmedicated, but studies back up my belief that ADHD veritably is a real thing. I’m learning to accept that my brain really does work differently than the other 96% of the population.

Unquestionably, being diagnosed with ADHD has given me a lot of freedom, and the ability to give myself more grace. I used to wonder why I couldn’t seem to get my act together or manage life in a way that other people seemed to be able to, or why this way of working appeared impossible for me, when it came so easily to others. I used to berate myself for these perceived lacks. Now I can say to myself, “My brain doesn’t work that way, but I can think of ways to succeed in the ways my brain does work.”

It helps me understand why I approach life the way I do.

Knowing I have ADHD lets me accept how I am, to know that I might do it differently, and to feel positive that my way works too.

It’s harder, because we don’t live in a world that is designed for my way of thinking, but I now can realize that, and accommodate myself.

I can look at all the gifts that come with having ADHD, and be thankful that I know now why I function the way I do.

This is part of a series Jessica is writing for October, ADHD Awareness Month. What questions would you like to have her answer?

photo by Giraffe Photography

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Under control book find rest

GIVEAWAY and Guest Post: Get the True Rest Your Soul Needs

by Jennifer Dukes Lee

I know how this noisy world can get in the way of me hearing God’s still, small voice. So, in the past few years, I’ve been intentional about quieting the outer noise in my life.

Trying to rest as I read “It’s All Under Control” and keep the chiddlers corralled at the park

My biggest challenge is silencing the inner chatter.

 

I know the value of resting in Jesus, but it’s like my brain won’t stop moving in fifteen different directions. Corralling my thoughts is like herding a nursery full of fork-toting toddlers who just learned how to walk and are weeble-wobbling their way toward electrical outlets on opposite sides of the room.

 

Take, for instance, one of the places where I go to escape the noise: my bathtub. I’ll toss a bath bomb in the water and sink into the warmth. There’s no TV. No iPhone. Yet even here, my mind is running on high gear. I often receive some of my best writing inspiration in the bathtub, which is why my friend Cheri gave me a set of child’s bathtub crayons. (Yes, part of my latest book,

 was written on the walls of my tub.) So while it might look like I am resting, I’m actually still working.

 

God is reminding me that my brain needs rest as much as my body does. I loosen my mind by simply dwelling with him: “Abide in me, and I in you” (John 15:4).

If I have a lot of noise around me—even in the form of the silent iPhone scroll—I can’t hear God.

 

My friend Lindsay Sterchi, mom of twin toddlers, learned the hard way what happens when she doesn’t get the rest she needs. She told me, “Without rest, I’m not very fun to be around— just ask my kids and husband. I get irritable way too quickly. I lose perspective on the bigger picture of life, and the little things seem bigger than they really are. I get in this fog where I’m going through the motions of life but not really living intentionally.”

 

The answer for her: finding rest in small pockets of time each day. “Rest means that when the kids nap, or after they’ve gone to bed, I’m not going to zone out on TV or scroll through social media, which might seem restful but ends up being draining.” Instead, she does something that feels life-giving—without feeling guilty. Her escapes: reading a book, journaling, or simply being still, alone with God and her thoughts.

 

Maybe your escape is Netflix, and if that’s the case, you do you. But make sure it gives you life instead of draining your energy.

It’s All Under Control here at the splash pad (until the 8 year old careens into a stone wall at full speed)

No matter what: make rest a priority. It’s vital.

 

Resting in God serves two purposes: First, rest allows you to intentionally connect with God. God wants to meet with you, not simply to give you the day’s marching orders. He wants to be with you because he likes you.

 

Second, rest calms the noise around you so you can hear God’s clear direction.

 

Here are a few ideas to incorporate more rest into your life.

Instead of scrolling, go strolling. Everybody has time for rest. How can I be so sure? Because that’s the time we use to check social media. Put down your iPhone for the fifteen minutes you would’ve spent on Instagram and take a walk instead.

 

Don’t let your “yes” encroach on your rest. If you say yes to something new, evaluate everything else on your list to see what might have to go. Refuse to put rest on the altar of sacrifice.

 

Let your work assignments flow from soul realignments. If “everybody is looking for us,” our souls and agendas need realignment so we can hear clear directions from God.

 

Protect the freed-up time you have already created. God prunes all of us, but achievers try to immediately fill those pruned spaces. Protect the space that God created for you. Downtime is okay; in fact, it will make you more productive in the work you were designed to do.

Jennifer Dukes Lee is the wife of an Iowa farmer, mom to two girls, and an author. She loves queso and singing too loudly to songs with great harmony. Once upon a time, she didn’t believe in Jesus. Now, He’s her CEO. Jennifer’s newest book, It’s All Under Control, and a companion Bible study, are releasing today! This is a book for every woman who is hanging on tight and trying to get each day right―yet finding that life often feels out of control and chaotic.

Adapted from It’s All under Control: A Journey of Letting Go, Hanging On, and Finding a Peace You Almost Forgot Was Possible by Jennifer Dukes Lee, releasing this fall from Tyndale House Publishers.

This post contains affiliate links 🙂

Farm Fresh Jessica here —>I’m so excited to be a part of a huge giveaway to celebrate the release of It’s All Under Control! Jennifer and her publisher, Tyndale, are giving away 50 copies of the book in celebration of its release! Enter below to win. Giveaway ends September 30. Winners will be notified by Tyndale House Publishers. Email subscribers can click here to enter.  Let me know if you win!

It’s All Under Control 50 Book Giveaway

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A Keto Journey

Six pregnancies. Nursing for at least a dozen years. Middle age. Life.

It can all play havoc on your body and your health.

I’ve experimented with several different eating styles and exercise programs over the years. From Weight Watchers to Yoli to juicing to the Whole 30, I’ve done them all. I’ve gotten back into pre-pregnancy pants sizes every time. Then last year, my beloved mother-in-law suddenly died. Between that shock and loss and grief, combined with cleaning out and selling her house, depression, a rocky relationship, and homeschooling my sixlets and just life in general, I put on more stress weight than I was comfortable with.

Instagram led me to the Keto lifestyle and I read the book, aptly names Keto. Unless you’re super interested in the science, don’t bother. I was motivated to just get started however, and I did.

The first month I was super dedicated to 20 carbs a day. I was definitely in ketosis, not hungry, feeling good. Then “vacation” (quotes intentional) happened and some home disasters and it’s been hard to be strict again. I happened to be wearing the same outfit yesterday as the day I took my starting pictures, and I was curious if there’s been any change.

I’m pleased that there has been and am motivated to buckle down again.

Keto has been easier to stick to than other plans because it’s not a lot of work. I’m not hungry or constantly thinking about food. Technically, I can eat anything I want as long as I keep it under 20 carbs a day and try to have high fat. I find I HAVE to drink a good amount of water to feel good, which is good for me. I stick to real food and Stevia. I don’t bake much now that I’m Keto, but I do feast my eyes on instagram accounts who do! 😁

I downloaded an app called Carb Manager that really helps me, because of COURSE I think I’m eating fewer carbs than I really am. If I enter my food right after I eat it, I can really tell where I am and what I should eat next. I stay on plan much better when I do that.

It’s not complicated. Juicing took hours and was really expensive. Yoli was confusing (protein day? not protein day? how much on each day?! I don’t even know!) and was really expensive. The weight watching was ridiculous with their promotion of low fat everything and points and who has time to go to meetings anyway? (Disclaimer: that was 9 years ago; they’ve probably updated to more real food.) The Whole 30 was too stringent and rule oriented for my brain and personality.

Lots of people are doing Keto these days and it’s easy to find information and recipes on Pinterest or wherever. A couple of my favorite resources are Bacon and Butter and the cookbooks by Maria Emmerich.

I don’t have a specific goal, other than to feel good and confident, and be able to zip my regular pants.

Have you tried Keto? What do you think?

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The Overwhelm Of Mothering

Sunday.

I’m 💯% overwhelmed most of the time.

Waking up to a toddler loudly whinging because it’s not dark anymore and her hot cocoa is too hot and she wants to get dressed but not that one while simultaneously needing to pee and pour my first cuppa and take the dog out. Overwhelm.

Trying to read your Bible with people climbing in or near you and teasing the dog and each other and even knowing that God is close to those with young it feels like failing. Overwhelm

Going through a huge gift of clothes with the boys to decide what we will keep and what we will bless to others while the little girls are simultaneously touching everything and fighting about the fact F wants the same kind of cereal as E. Overwhelm.

Keeping this person on track of loading the dishwasher while simultaneously administering directions to five other people who keep popping into the frame like whack-a-mole. Overwhelm.

Giving Father’s Day presents while simultaneously trying to keep someone from opening the other one and noticing the spilled coffee and the random bits scattered around. Overwhelm.

Cleaning up breakfast while simultaneously assigning this person to make sure that person is clean and that person has shoes and answering questions. Overwhelm.

Thrift shopping for summer dresses for the teen while keeping the toddler from unloading shelves and making a towering stack of chairs to climb up and touch the huge inflatable hanging from the ceiling and repeatedly saying no to the millions and millions of requests from the kindergartener. Overwhelm.

Trying to make potato packets for the grill while trying to remember to find or buy more aluminum foil and delegating sunscreen and help tying shoes and thousands more “needs”. Overwhelm.

Attempting to explain your sense of scarcity and inadequacy to your partner and he responds with more and louder negativity basically berating the kids for “never doing anything!” which isn’t at all what you’re saying and now you feel like you need to rise to their defense and you want to point out all the responsibilities and things you keep track of that he doesn’t help with at all but you don’t and it’s just pointless. Overwhelm.

Sunset Mississippi River overwhelm motherhood moms mothering unseen invisible workload difficult mental health toddler with kittens

Wanting to have a Super Soaker fight with your kids and as you change into your swimsuit one kid is crying about something that is huge to him and two other kids follow you into your closet dripping wet and impatiently hurrying you along and the water fight isn’t fun at all because one kid keeps squirting people in the face and they cry and there are clothes and towels and toys all over the yard and it just is one more thing you’ll have to clean up or make them clean up. Overwhelm.

Feeling guilty because you had an overnight trip to Galena with your bestie and were gone all day three days ago and you had an overnight birthday party with your daughter and her three besties and your three besties and were gone all day yesterday, and even with these much needed respites, you still can’t manage this life you really want to love. Overwhelm.

Sunset Mississippi River overwhelm motherhood moms mothering unseen invisible workload difficult mental health

I don’t know how to make it easier-but there are a few things I try.

Bible.

Knowing God is for me and equipping me.

Exercise.

Positive affirmations.

Laughter every day.

Reading.

Outdoor time.

Lots of kisses and rough housing, especially when I don’t feel like it.

Vodka. (Sometimes.)

Hand-lettering.

Looking at breathtaking photos on Pinterest or Instagram.

Connecting with friends.

Hiding in my room.

Motivational YouTubers.

What helps you when you’re overwhelmed?

Knowing you’re not alone!

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honest review of Hollar dollar store on line dollar tree

Hollar: An Honest Review

This is not a sponsored post, I was just impressed! I will however,  get a small kickback in credit  if you order after clicking through on any of the Hollar links in this post, and you can too, just for signing up for a free account at Hollar!

Have you heard of Hollar?  Hollar is an online dollar store. If you know me at all, you know I love a good deal. I heard about Hollar  on Youtube and decided to try it. If you order more than $25, you get free shipping, and they have sales that are always changing.

My order came in 8 days. Here’s what I thought:

Fizzy Baby helped me open everything in the appealing bright orange box.

hollar review dollar store online

I ordered a set of melamine plates for $2 each. I love them. We’ve been using them non stop and they are holding up better than our Corelle wear, and bring joy to my eyes every time I look at them.

hollar review dollar store online

I really felt like Gerta needed this squeaky dog toy  in the shape of a banana split, which was only $1. How wrong I was! The squeaker was so loud, it scared the pants off of her, and drove me nuts. I ended up binning it .

hollar review dollar store online

I hate the feel the of my feet in flats without socks, but I love the look. I’ve been wearing these “old lady” no show socks with my flats, and thought I had found the best deal at Ross, for a little over a dollar a pair. But no! I got EIGHT pairs on Hollar for $4. They are  more slippery than my other ones, but they stay on better.

hollar review dollar store online no show socks with flats

We only had one dryer ball left but I didn’t want to “invest” in another set of the reusable dryer balls, if I didn’t have to. However with only a $1 investment for two balls, I didn’t mind at all! They work great!

hollar review dollar store online reusable dryer balls

I use these scrubby pads on all the things in my kitchen and bathroom, from stuck on toothpaste and peanut butter and jelly on the counters, to burnt on crud on the stove, to congealed oatmeal in the bottom of the pan. This pack of 8 was $1. They don’t last as long as the brand name ones I usually use, but don’t scratch the surfaces and clean as well.

hollar review dollar store online scrubbing pad scouring

I use my wooden utensils to the point of death, until they are cracked and probably hazardous. Desperately in need of replacements, I scooped up all 6 for $3. I love the colorful handles too!

hollar review dollar store online wooden spoon bamboo kitchen utensils

Needing nonslip hangars for some of my dresses and kimonos, I thought I would replace some of my beautiful, matching wooden hangars for these beautiful, matching  rose ones. I LOVE them! The slim design keeps my clothes together and they aren’t as noisy as the wooden ones, and nothing falls off! I nabbed this steal in packs of 18 for $5.

hollar review dollar store online flocked hangars Both the app and the website are well designed and work in consort with each other. If you are on your phone and add some things to your cart, it stays in your cart on the computer. I add things until I get up to that $25 free shipping limit.

I’m not going to abandon The  Dollar Tree completely, but Hollar is definitely getting some of my business! If you like saving money and scoring good deals, and shopping in your pajamas after the kids are in bed, then Hollar is absolutely for you!

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easy refrigerator organization that works

Easy Refrigerator Organization (that actually works)!

This post contains affiliate links which, by you clicking through, give me a little fun money at no cost to you. Thanks!

Food. We all need it. We all buy it. Most of us have a refrigerator. Most of us end up throwing away unidentified science experiments at some point(and in my case, literal science experiments). I hate wasting food. I hate searching for the mayonnaise or garlic buried deep in the back of the fridge. Ain’t nobody got time for dat! After looking for years for the best, easy refrigerator organization system that actually works, I finally found success!

Because I have the goal of bringing up independent productive people, I try to teach them responsibility early. I attempt to put organizational systems in place which support that independence. If I want my 3 year old to be able to access her own cheese sticks and applesauce pouches, and get her own cup of water, I need to have organization techniques which support that. I have tried numerous methods of refrigerator organizations and none of them have stuck. I tried this particular one over a month ago, and with many people using the fridge hourly, it’s still in place. This easy refrigerator organization is definitely a win for our busy family, and I know it will work for you!

Here’s what I did.

LABEL THE SHELVES AND COMPARTMENTS

Labeling the wall with a dry erase marker has worked better than anything I’ve tried. I saw this hack on a Rachel Ray clip. The dry erase marker did leave residue behind in my fridge, so I put packing tape where I wanted the labels and wrote on that.

easy kitchen refrigerator fridge organization cheap clever food organize

easy kitchen refrigerator fridge organization cheap clever food organize

USE A LAZY SUSAN

I used a lazy Susan in my fridge. I’ve had one for a while, but it was never clear to the other users what should be on it. Since we apparently have a kajillion open containers of pickles and relish, all of them are placed on the lazy Susan.

easy kitchen refrigerator fridge organization cheap clever food organize

INVEST IN A FEW CLEAR ORGANIZERS

I got a couple clear containers from Amazon in which to put our lunch meat and cheese.

easy kitchen refrigerator fridge organization cheap clever food organize
Jam=mead, apparently. 🙂

As you can see, it’s not perfect, because being able to find some ingredient quickly just isn’t a priority to the rest of my family. It’s  a whole lot better than it was, and I can keep it cleaner and clearer than before because now I remember my system too. I’d love to know what works for you to keep your fridge organized.

This post contains affiliate links which, by you clicking through, give me a little fun money at no cost to you. Thanks!

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What I Learned on my First Writing Retreat

What I Learned on my First Writing Retreat

A few weeks ago, the Handsome Husband and I went on a no kids trip to Washington DC. Never having been there before, I thought I could tour the sites in the morning, and then have my afternoons free to write blog posts and read all the delicious books, while he was in meetings.

Oh what I fool I was!

Washington DC is an incredible city. I didn’t realize the depth and breadth of the museum situation, nor the magnitude of all the historical sites. I toured my little heart out until I literally crashed one afternoon into my bed with a blaring headache from all the stimulation and noise and people.

Clearly, I did not open my computer even once.

I was lamenting to one of my besties, and saying that maybe we could get an airbnb for a night or two. In our city, whole apartments are really cheap. She could work on her master’s class and I could write.

To my delight, she thought this was a magnificent plan and offered up her family’s cabin, on a bluff above the Mississippi about a ninety minute drive away.

We went out for a nice dinner Friday night, stopped at the store for mostly healthy grub to keep us fueled all weekend and arrived around nine pm. We watched a movie (well, to be honest I fell asleep halfway through) and woke around eight to a gorgeous snowstorm.

Completely, slowly, and calmly, for the first time in forever, I read my Bible, brainstormed, and posted on social media until about ten. I wrote pretty much all day until about seven pm. We had pizza, lemon crumble and Moscow mules for dinner and stayed up way too late.

Sunday morning, I woke up gloriously tardy, read my Bible, a book, and attended church on-line. I thought I could do a webinar on growing your blog’s reach, but my phone’s internet connection was too spotty.

I wrote eight blog articles as well as the amazingly productive brainstorming session, before we had to clean up and head for home around four pm.

Feeling accomplished, I can’t wait to schedule my next writing retreat!

I learned a lot about what I loved, who I am, and what I’ll do differently next time.

Even with no kids around, I’m highly distractable.

I get preoccupied by ducks and herons. I’m startled by the chiming clock and the thumping furnace. Even with no wi-fi at the cabin, I still wanted to check my social media accounts quite frequently. I was able to put it off until after I would finish an article, and use my social time as a break. Having to wait on a slower cell signal helped me not want to do it as readily as I do at home. I would definitely suggest finding someplace with little to no internet if you really want to get some writing done.

I like to exercise.

At home, I start my day with a jump/jog/walk on my rebounder nearly every day. It really helps wake my brain up. We were here during a blizzard, but next time, I’ll plan to go for a walk in the mornings.

I can get a lot done with a body double.

Having Karen working in the same room as me on her class work helped me stay on task immensely. In the ADHD world, they call that having a “body double”. Another person here with me who doesn’t even have to be encouraging me or saying anything to me assists me to keep my focus on my goal. She served as a physical anchor for me to keep coming back to the tasks I wanted to do. Karen, just by being present, also provided a kind of calm reflection of how I wanted to be, which helped me absorb the message of “I am working. I am focused. I can accomplish this.

I over pack.

On Saturday, I got up and wore what I’d slept in all day. I didn’t really need to bring separate outfits for each day. I brought my pillow, but I forgot to bring it into the house with me. I didn’t want to go out and get it in the blizzard and found I still got two great nights of sleep without it.

And I still don’t have what I need.

Luckily Karen was prepared with extra phone chargers and ear buds. My kiddo found the list of blog ideas that I had left at home and snapped a picture of it to send to me. I will try to make sure I have those with me next time.

If given free rein, I drink way too much coffee.

At home, I make my coffee with half teeccino so it has half the acid and half the caffeine in the mornings and switch to all decaf by noon. I like to have something warm to drink all day. Karen likes fully caffeinated coffee all day. I kept pace with my usual though, and then couldn’t fall asleep until past two a.m. Next time, I’ll make sure I stick with my regular regimen.

I buy too much food.

We had less than 48 hours in which we needed to feed ourselves at the cabin, but I bought enough for several days. I guess some part of me is afraid of starvation, or at the very least, not having just the perfect snack I am craving on hand. Still though, it was nice to have whatever I wanted to eat nearby, and to have a good selection of healthful foods along with the treats we brought. Since we stopped at Aldi, it was still really reasonable. I would probably buy too much food for future retreats too.

I can just write.

Usually, I do the entire process at once: write the article, revise and edit, find the photos, make a picture graphic, add links, and schedule or post it. Doing it this way seemed much more efficient. I liked doing a batch of articles all at once. Then from home, doing the other steps in another session will be a lot faster. I will definitely try to stick to this method.

My first writing retreat was definitely a hit. I would like to do this on a regular basis. Have you ever made a retreat for yourself to get some goals accomplished? What are your recommendations for success?

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Depressed mOM WITH DEPRESSION day in the life

A Day in the Life of a Mom with Depression

6:00 Eyes pop open and brain sizzles. Realize that the two-year-old is still asleep and you don’t have a headache, for the first time in two or three weeks. Try to go back to sleep but your brain is on now and you can’t. Try to get out of bed. Lay there. Your neck and shoulders hurt so much you can barely move your head.

7:00 Get up and find coffee. You are so achey you hobble down the stairs like an 85 year old. You know you’re not sick and that it isn’t from too much exercise. The boys are ready to get on the bus and just want their snuggles and love. You just want to be left alone, but you do give the hugs and kisses. Realize that you have some time completely alone and you take advantage of it and read your Bible. Sneak in a little creative verse drawing.

8:00 Decide to work out for the first time in several days. Can’t get the TV to turn on. Try to watch videos to entertain you on your phone. But it’s just not working and you keep getting distracted and get off the trampoline several times to clean this or pick that up and put that away. Grab another cup of coffee. The little girls are up now. Kevin comes in the house briefly and fixes the TV by unplugging it and plugging it back in. Your foggy brain couldn’t come up with that solution. You hug and kiss him in thanks but he’s in a rush and you feel brushed off.

9:00 You feel like you’re moving through a field of molasses in a swamp. Sometimes it feels like you are a swamp walker all the time.  Everything takes such a colossal effort.  The big girls are up and the boys are back home. You homeschool, and you keep thinking that you’ll do school  with the kids but you also want to see if you can get some more walking in and watch motivational videos which improve your mood.  You can’t get them motivated to do their work when you can’t get motivated yourself.  They get their own breakfasts and watch YouTube while you keep walking on the rebounder. Put on some educational videos at least.

10:00 Check your planner and remember that your daughter’s orchestra concert is tonight. Cry, because doing something in the evening seems like it is way too overwhelming. The husband is telling you someone is going to come over and consult about the floor you’re hoping to put in, and you know the piano teacher will be here soon so you get dressed and put on some make up. You play with your two-year-old and watch her laugh, but feel apathetic. You wish you could be so carefree.

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11:00 The kids’ piano teacher arrives and you walk the dog down to the barn to find your son. It’s a beautiful sunny day and you want to stay outside but the wind is too windy and the wind chimes are to chime-y and the sun is too shiny. You go back inside.  Time passes and you don’t even know what you did.

12:00 Now it is lunchtime and you realize you had meant to go down and get hamburger out of the freezer to thaw several times and never actually made it happen. Let the kids make their own sandwiches. Do some reading and Marco Polo with some friends. Want to support them and what they’re going through. It’s very hard because you don’t have any emotional strength for yourself.

1:00 It is time to take oldest to orchestra. You cry because Finnella cries and tries getting in the car. You go and get your nails done so they look pretty because feeling pretty makes you feel better. And they are pretty,  but it doesn’t really help. You’re reading a book about a recovering drug addict who is in jail and it’s hard even feel any empathy with her and you know your problems aren’t even that big but they seem insurmountable.

2:00 You get home and take a picture of your crabapple trees because three of the four of them aren’t blooming and it really bugs you, as in, you think about the not blooming trees on a regular basis. Bugs you like,  it comes up at random times in your mind, “Why aren’t they blooming?! Why do all the other trees look so good!?”  And you want to post to gardening experts about what you should do.

You try to think of solutions for the things that really bother you because you know it’s not normal thinking. But you can’t help it, and actually finding a gardening forum is overwhelming and several days later it’s still not done.day in the life with depression depressed mental health mom mother mental illnessYou see your puppy lying still in the yard. She doesn’t get up when the car drives into the lane. Suddenly you worry that she’s dead, she’s really dead. What would you do if she was dead?? You feel your heart racing and you start sweating, and you’re breathing rapidly and you can’t think of anything else but if she’s dead and so you start to walk over to her and she lifts her head  and runs excitedly over to you. You thank God she’s not dead and you know that it’s crazy to even have thought that she’s dead, and that logically it’s nearly an impossibility but you can’t help it. You snuggle her for a while.

3:00 The kids are all playing out back and you watch them through the deck doors for a while and marvel at their wonderful creativity even know they’re doing some things they’re really not supposed to be doing, like playing with the fire escape ladder. You don’t have the energy to make them take the ladder back upstairs and have a sneaking suspicion that it will be in that tree all summer, but you can’t even care. You are just glad they are leaving you alone.

You have gotten the new patches for the ceiling in the mail so you apply one.

You go out to the yard to try to get some vitamin D.

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When the kids discover that you’re home, you really can’t handle them climbing around on you so you go sit in the living room and they wander off to play outside some more. When the two-year-old comes to ask you to read to her you do, but you are so exhausted that you just fall asleep. You literally just fall asleep on the couch without meaning to.

5:00 The next thing you know your 13-year-old is telling you that it is time to leave for her orchestra concert and asking if you can please do her hair. You do a  pull through braid, very loose  and beautiful. But she doesn’t think it’s fancy enough and doesn’t think that there is enough time to fix it again and she make up. You feel defeated. No one can understand how hard it was to just make yourself braid that incredible child’s hair.

You actually did remember to have someone get the meat out of the freezer. But now there  is no time to make dinner. The kids have to fend for themselves again. Brielle has offered to stay home with Finnella (2) and Elivette (5) so you let her despite your misgivings because it would be a lot easier to not have to deal with the little girls during the concert.

You notice that the spackle on the ceiling is dry so you start to do that, even though it’s nearly time to leave.  You just think you would have enough time while Aviana finishes her make up. She’s annoyed by this idea, because it’s really a foolish move to try and spread spackle smoothly on the ceiling when you have a deadline of walking out the door in a couple of minutes. Your brain just doesn’t do logical sometimes a lot of the time.

6:00 You’ve arrived on time at the concert and save seats for Aviana’s (and your) friends , and the husband and Cadrian (9) who are coming. Denton (7) plays a game on the Kindle and you try to read your book on your Kindle app on the phone. It’s super hard to concentrate because you worry you will miss the people you’re saving seats for. Your legs are aching like crazy and your whole body feels out of control and heavy and fuzzy. You can’t just sit still and enjoy reading.

7:00 The concert is four different orchestras and your daughter gets two recognition certificates. You’re really proud of her, and want to enjoy the remainder of concert, but you also really want to leave. It’s hard to keep in your seat, but it helps to have the boys asking questions and feeling restless too, because helping them behave appropriately and encouraging them, helps you.

9:00 You discover that Kevin has stopped at McDonald’s because he didn’t get supper. You didn’t get supper either. You could have stopped for food too, but chose to get home instead. After getting the boys in bed and talking with Brielle and Aviana, you have some time to talk with Kevin, for the first time in several weeks.

In spite of feeling grumpy towards him, you’re working at flirting with your husband and talking with him about vacation plans and ideas. And everything seems to be going really well when he says some snide things to you. Whether unintentional, or intentional,  you say “You don’t need to make fun of me like that,” when he tries to drive a point home several ways. Then he gets offended and suddenly you’re in a fight, and you’re comparing him to Donald Trump, and he stamps out of the room. Now you’re alone again.

10:00 You apologize for the Donald Trump comment and then sit on the couch scrolling and watching Intervention. You like Intervention because they’re worse off than you are, you know you don’t want to self medicate like they do, and  you do want to learn how to handle your emotions in a healthy way, and learn better coping skills,  and almost all of the episodes are a story of redemption.

1:00 a.m. You take your vitamins and medicine,  go to bed and watch it some more until your eyes are heavy enough and your brain is numb enough to finally sleep. You average between 5 and 6 hours of sleep when the depression is bad. And it’s been bad lately.

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