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Musings on The Whole 30

Tomorrow August 1, on my 41st birthday, I start the  Whole 30. 2016 has been a year of change. I’ve been battling to change my eating habits, and my lifestyle, and never ever go back to having chronic headaches several times a week and being bedridden  with migraines for a quarter or even third of my life! 
When I juiced the month of April, I saw amazing benefits in my energy and mental clarity among other things, and have not ever descended back into eating an entire row of brownies or eating spoonful after spoonful of cookie dough. I’m still off caffeine. I don’t have severe sugar cravings every afternoon and need to rummage for chocolate. But I’m gradually getting headaches back again, and my energy isn’t as high and that near constant irritability that used to plague me when I was sick is rearing its ugly head. 
Juicing was really good for me in that I didn’t have to eat real food and the temptation of all the not healthful food choices was essentially eliminated. But it was really time consuming, expensive and not sustainable. When I was finishing that month of my juice fast feeling wonderful and looking better to boot, a couple of my friends suggested the Whole 30 as kind of a where to go from here next step. 
I eagerly got the books from the library and immediately decided it would be impossible to not eat sugar or bread.  And cheese. They want me to eliminate cheese! It was too strict and regimented for my personality. 
But then my doctor suggested that going gluten free might be really beneficial for me, and told me it appears that my gut still needs a lot of work and that my liver is working too hard and I should do another cleanse. And then a good friend told me she’s been diagnosed with thyroid issues and was going to start the Whole 30 a bit before the time I’d been hesitantly considering it. And then another one of our friends was going to do it with her in solidarity at first but then discovered all the ways it would benefit her family. And then another friend told me she’d join me on the second wave, and give up gluten and sugar.And another friend and fellow cheese lover said she’s eliminating dairy. 
So here I am. I had my cup of Teeccino this morning without French vanilla creamer. I didn’t have a bit of any of the kids’s cookies or Italian ices. Today, so far, has been Whole 30 compliant. 
Kevin and I are going out on a dinner and movie date tonight so I’ll see if I can keep up the momentum, but I like to be able to tell myself I don’t have to, as I’m starting officially tomorrow. 
I’m going to cook for the family lots of on plan meals, and also have separate food for myself when the kids are having sandwiches or something. 
Kevin supports me in that he’ll eat his evening ice cream in the office instead of next to me on the couch. When I was listing off all the veggies we needed to pick up at the store, he said, “And I need chocolate and beer.”
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Goodwill Stylist aka The Un Stitch Fix

I’ve done a couple of Stitch Fixes and loved the idea of it, but it was super hard for my frugal self to swallow the price point. I’ve been saying for months I needed a stylist who would thrift shop for me and today I was able to do it myself!! 
I am WAY more excited about these finds than I was even about my Stitch Fix. 
This dress is from Banana Republic. It cost $4.88. It is my favorite color and fits pretty well. I love how the cut is vintage-y.  I can’t nurse in it, but I can wear it to an event where I wouldn’t need to take Fizzy Baby along. 
The shoes are Born and the most expensive thing I bought. They were $12.88.
This top is St. John’s Bay and the flower has sparkles and a little 3D effect with chiffon detailing.

The capris are Nine West. I’ve been wanting a pair like them for ages, even though I’ve seen memes about how no one should decorate their bum. I don’t care. I love them.

This tank I got today and the unicorn leggings. Everyone needs unicorn leggings.

Here is a better picture of the j. jill tank. I paired it with a mega comfy polka dotted pencil skirt from Old Navy. Leggings, tank, and skirt were all $2.88.

I also got a pair of capris from The Gap and an American Eagle skirt short enough that NO one should be wearing it. I plan to cut the lace off the skirt and cut the capris into shorts to trim the legs with the lace. 
Additionally, I found a VS nightie with tags, 4 dresses/outfits each for Finnella and Elivette, jeans and a few shirts for Brielle, an Iowa State jersey and sweatshirt for Cadrian, another pair of unicorn leggings, a tunic, a maxi dress and a couple pairs of pajamas for Aviana. 
Total cost was LESS than my last Stitch Fix (which was 3 items). 
Even if it takes more time, it’s settled.  I’m going to stick with my Goodwill stylist. 
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Stitch Fix #2

Stitch Fix is my favorite. I did my first Fix six months ago and liked all the items I received. I felt so pampered. Retail shopping is something I rarely, if ever, do and Stitch Fix fits nicely into my life. 
You fill out a form to let them know what you like, about your lifestyle, and preferences in color and items. Having a fashion Pinterest board is helpful so your stylist can get an idea of what your tastes are. (Here’s mine: http://pin.it/KfI3CjD
I was excited that I got two referral bonuses to use ($25 each) and in addition if you keep all five items they choose for you, you get 25% off! 
It costs $20 as a styling fee, but if you keep an item, you get it taken off your order. These items averaged $30 after the discounts. 
Now with the basics out of the way here’s what I got:
Elaine Ikat Print Pocket Front Knit Tee
I would never have picked out either the color or the pattern, but I really like it. It’s extraordinarily soft and will dress up if I want. The light color is more of a light blue than is showing in the picture.
Banzai Twist Detail Top

This is a dressier fabric that I would worry about spilling on or the kids goobering, so this is strictly a going out of the house shirt. I don’t own anything green either, so I am surprised how much I like it. The twisty neck is a fun detail, and I could still wear a necklace with it. 
Montgomery Cross Front Top

This is a knit fabric, also incredibly soft and, I think, quite flattering and nursing friendly

Halle Printed Flare Skirt

I really love this skirt. It’s got a vintage feel in both feel and pattern. I have one almost like it with polka dots. It has the unfortunate flaw of being a bit too snug and not having an elastic waist. Since having all these kiddos, I am all about the elastic waist. I may alter it so it’s more comfortable, because it is definitely not an all day item as is. 

Sam Hi-Lo Short Sleeve Tee

This shirt, again, is amazingly comfortable and so soft! I’m quite tactile so that matters to me quite a lot. It is a good basic piece and a lot higher quality than what I am used to wearing. 
However, it is not very forgiving. Here is what it looks like with the wrong pants and wrong bra.

If I keep all five items, the discount basically lets me get 1 1/2 of them for free. And as an added incentive, I don’t have to go to the post office! 
 What do you think? Would you keep them all? I need to decide by Saturday. (You have five days to decide, I just couldn’t get the pictures taken and the post done right away.)
If you decide you want to try Stitch Fix, I’d be honored if you went through my link: https://www.stitchfix.com/referral/6383365
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Stitch Fix and more

Baby Girl, Sweet Fizzy Baby, is six months old now.

 I am starting to feel like I can do this thing, this mothering six souls thing. I am not crying every day any more and I am laughing. It feels wonderful to laugh again.

One thing that really helped is the Handsome Husband and I went on a short impromptu vacation to Las Vegas of all places. We went with another couple which just made it even better. The laughter! The being a person, not just a mom! The space in my brain!

Finnella and me waiting to go up in the High Roller

The Farmer, Finnella and Me at Hoover Dam

Just some farmers checkin’ out the big city.

I’ve also been having a hard time because I am still wearing maternity jeans and leggings all the time. I realize I’m 40 now and this is baby #6. I know that appearance isn’t everything. I know my heart and love and compassion matter more. I know all that, and yet it still bothers me that I went from my high school size pre-pregnancy to not even being able to fit into my “fat clothes” now, six months later.

I heard about Stitch Fix and thought it might help my self view a little bit to have some nicer things to put on this amazingly capable, mama strong body. I decided to join Stitch Fix because I never have time to shop for myself. I’m only just now leaving the baby with her dada for any length of time. Stitch Fix is an on line stylist/personal shopper. You fill out a detailed profile for yourself, noting what styles you like and any details you think would be pertinent, such as needing access to be able to breast feed, or a preference for no holey pants.

I also like that it’s completely free to join and there is no commitment. I signed up to just try one fix, although you can do it monthly if you want to. There is a $20 styling fee that you only have to pay if you don’t keep anything from your order. If you keep all five of the items they send, you get a 25% discount. Since I’m almost exclusively a Goodwill shopper, the prices are definitely high for me. I hardly have anything in my closet I bought new.

I got my first Fix on Tuesday, unfortunately when I was sick in bed and couldn’t even bring myself to open the box. I tried on the items yesterday and decided to keep all five because the discount was equivalent to getting one of the shirts free. One interesting thing about my Fix was that I wouldn’t have even tried on most of these items if I were in the store and saw them on the rack.

This is a navy asymmetrical cardigan and infinity scarf. The cardigan makes me appear to have a waist 🙂 and the pop of pink in the scarf matches almost everything in my closet and keeps me warm.

This is a grey crochet inset shirt. The fabric is “nicer” than what I usually wear (nearly always tee shirt fabric). The cut isn’t super flattering but  I really like the details and the fancy feel of the fabric.

This is a charcoal extraordinarily soft tee shirt. Business up front, party in the back! It’s perfect for accessorizing with something, perhaps a bold necklace or a scarf.

I wasn’t too keen on a tank top in my December Fix, but I thought maybe I could wear it under a jacket or cardigan and I would be warm enough. My sister-in-law does this all the time, so maybe it will work for me too. Nevertheless, I can wear it in the summer because I love the scalloped hem, the gathering at the yoke, and the button detail in the back.

If Stitch Fix is something you would like to try, I’d love it if you used my referral link!
https://www.stitchfix.com/referral/6383365

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Finnella Blessing 29 days old

My sweet little Finnella will be one month old tomorrow! I am having a hard time believing that little statistic as far as she is concerned. 
As for me, I am definitely feeling more like a human and less like a blubbering ball of  baby fat and boobage. I even briefly considered going for an energetic walk this morning. Then I thought better of it and had a second cup of coffee. 
Intellectually and creatively,  I am bouncing back as well. I still can’t be counted on to remember things like feeding other people’s cats or who is taking Aviana to piano, but I finished up all my reading and study guide for my upcoming Birth Boot Camp Instructor training and yesterday Brielle and I painted these:
Nursing is going MUCH better. In fact, on Sunday, she nursed in the wrap while I walked around grocery shopping. That felt pretty monumental. I can read while she nursed now and have read a couple of pretty good books this month. You should find me on GoodReads! I am thankful nursing has stopped requiring all of my concentration. 
I handle being with the kids by myself pretty well. If the big girls have done their jobs, and are just sitting there reading, I pass off Finnella to them. It seems like a win-win :). Today a friend needed some help and so she brought her two boys over, and I had eight kiddos here! It worked out in my favor though because I can be a broken record with my own boys, “go outside. Go outside. Go. OUT. Side!” But when they have friends here, they will play out there unbidden for days.
Finnella doesn’t really do much to report, just the baby basics: eat, exit what she ate, cry, sleep, repeat. She did make it all the way into town today without crying, not all the way to our destination, but still, progress. She recognizes me; if she is crying in somone else’s arms, when I take her she almost always quiets immediately–at least momentarily. 
I think the other children have adjusted now, at least for the most part. We are finding our new normal, and it is good.

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Things I’m Afraid I’ll Never Again Have

I’ve been a mama now for 10 1/2 years…expecting our sixth little Farm Fresh Blessing. I should be used it by now…and yet sometimes I’m afraid.

I’m afraid I’ll never have a house clean for longer than twenty minutes.

I’m afraid things will always move around seemingly of their own accord. I’ll forever be finding hairbrushes on the floor and never knowing what happened to my orange handled scissors and my flour sifters will always be taken out to the sandbox.

I’m afraid…

I’ll always wake up to the sound of people fighting.

I’ll never go a day without someone crying.

Mopping will only happen because someone spilled something.

Someone will always be touching/pushing on/grabbing at/pulling on/poking at/sitting on/kicking (from the inside) me.

I’ll forever have to listen to petty squabbles–because how else should one handle it when someone is reading the book someone else checked out from the library?

I’ll never again have an uninterrupted thought.

I will be repeating myself ad nauseum for the rest of my life. I will be repeating myself ad nauseum for the rest of my life. ISAID, I will be repeating myself ad nauseum for the rest of my life.

I will constantly have to think about what we need when we leave the house; will this outing coincide with a hunger time, do I need snacks, do I have extra bundies/diapers/outfits/wipes, does everyone have shoes, does everyone have a coat, do we need waters? Et cetera, et cetera.

Someone will always be peeking in on me in the shower.

Someone will always be bluntly commenting about my body.

I will forever feel crowded.

I’ll have to listen to other people screaming for the rest of my life.

I will always be stepping over small socks strewn in a swath of other disembodied and discarded clothing, toys and sundry other household items.

I will never be able to do just ONE load of laundry.

People will be making their birthday wish lists nine months in advance and talking about them in great detail every single day… forever.

No one will ever again say to me “I wuv you so mutz, Mama.”

I will never ever be woken up at the crack of dawn by someone asking permission to open my curtains, “betuz I just wanted to share the sunrise wif you, Mama.”

No one will ever again fold their long limbs into my lap saying, “I just need a snuggle.”

I won’t have anyone to rock and breathe.

No one will ever again come banging into the house leaving the door ajar smelling of fresh air and little boy.

There will be no one to enthusiastically make me a cup of coffee.
I won’t have any adorable tiny

bodies to clothe in handmade
creations.

I won’t need to teach or correct or corral or remind or reprimand.
I’m afraid because these days are so long and so arduous and so
tedious and so challenging and then one day, these days will be gone.

My job will be completed.
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Smack Dab in the Lap of Imperfection

7:20 a.m. Hear someone crying. Get up.
Find sweatshirt and sweatpants and robe. Come downstairs barefoot. It’s one degree outside and the floor in the bathroom feels about the same. Feel annoyed with Elivette for pulling on my sweat pant strings and untying them while I’m trying to pee. Feel guilty that I’m annoyed, especially since I did get to stay in bed past seven.

Denton gets hit in the face with a light saber while I’m trying to navigate the whole coffee and creamer and right side up cup ordeal with half open eyes and I feel guilty about looking in the refrigerator for the creamer while halfheartedly comforting him.

Sit in my comfy chair by the corn stove with toddler on the left and preschooler on the right arms of my chair. Elivette snuggles into my chest and asks to nurse. This child who hasn’t nursed since November still asks me nearly every single day. Shot of guilt for weaning her when *I* was ready and not when she was ready.

Read several books to Elivette while I ignore the boys upstairs bothering their older sisters who are still in bed. She and I have lots of giggles about the pictures and faces in her book. Wonder if I should interfere with the situation upstairs. Wonder if I were a “better mom” if they would still torment and tease. Wonder if my kids are normal or if there is too much yelling in this home and that is why they yell. Feel guilty.

She starts pulling on my hoodie strings and kind of choking me. I put her on the floor where she cries. I let her climb back up when she starts “smooshing baby” and pushing uncomfortably on my belly. I put her down again and she cries again and I feel like a heartless mom who doesn’t just sacrifice herself for her toddler but I must maintain boundaries and take care of myself too which feels like an impossible task.

The kids want to listen to a CD only we can’t find the cord to the CD player. After looking in several places, I pirate the cord from my camera charger which miraculously fits. Wonder if we would still have all the lost things if I were better at organizing and teaching the kids how to put away their things. Feel guilty. Denton starts screaming and slamming doors because Cadrian is the one who gets to hold the CD and put it in the player.

Cadrian finally goes to begin unloading the dishwasher after having been asked roughly thirty times. Denton comes out of the keeping room and begins pulling on the CD player and making the CD skip and yanking on the camera cord, which makes me feel angry and anxious that my camera cord will get ruined and the library CD will get ruined. After asking him to stop several times and gently pushing his hands away and moving his whole little body away, he will not be altered in his destructive course. I not so gently push him away and bodily pick him up and plop him on the couch in the keeping room and shut the door. Feel on the verge of tears that I’ve already had a temper fit and it’s not even an hour into my day.

Loudly remind Cadrian to finish his job for the umpteenth time. Loudly remind Elivette to take her sippy cup to the kitchen for the umpteenth time. Try to read a couple articles in my Holistic Parenting magazine which are about the importance of real food which I then translate into my being a ‘bad mom’ because all I’ve fed Fizzy Baby is a couple cups of coffee and a cookie and we’re going to have frozen breakfast pizza for breakfast.

Change Elivette’s stinky pants the smell of which makes me internally puke a bit. Feel guilty that I didn’t take her diaper off earlier so she would have gone in the potty and that the wipes are so cold and that taking care of her basic needs makes me want to retch.

Now Elivette and Denton are fighting over pulling up the antenna on the CD player. Cadrian is playing with the BopIt in the other room. The girls are chatty and overwhelming me with questions and comments and anecdotes.

Brielle is writing a story she intends to submit to PBSKids about a little girl whose parents are so mean they don’t let her watch X or R rated movies or drink alcoholic beverages, not even margaritas. Wonder if the PBS people will think WE watch X movies and wonder how she even knows what that is, and if I should make her change it or just ignore it and wonder why I even care what these strangers think when I know we don’t do anything “wrong” but then again it’s appearances that seem to matter and…what if?

******************************

Until I wrote this out, I didn’t even realize how much of my day is punctured with guilt. I don’t know where this comes from–other than the Enemy who wants to steal my joy.

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Potatoes and Poetry

I check out books of poetry

because I think
I want to be the kind of person

who reads poetry
and to use
my brain for more than
deciding dinner
and conciliating sibling squabbles
and three weeks later 
I find the books of poetry 
unread and forgotten.
As I pare potatoes
with a knife,
because the potato peeler has
gone missing
along with the remote control
a library book by Roald Dahl
most of the magnetic alphabet
and the waist I had when
I met my husband, 
I think
about the poetry I used to read
and the poetry I used to write
and I look down into the 
oceanic eyes of the 
tiny toddler 
clinging to my legs
as she gazes up at me
willing me
to pick her up
and nuzzle her downy hair
and breathe in the scent of 
innocent potential
and I know
my life is poetry.
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Time for a change

I’m a whole different person.
The morning after I cut it, Denton came out of his room and stared at me. He made a sleepy bee line to Dada and stared some more. Then he finally says, in that indescribably sweet little voice of his, “Mama? You name Mama?”

I was just tired of it. My hair is VERY heavy and I feel so much freer now. I was finding myself getting annoyed with my sweet baby for grabbing and pulling it all the time, not to mention it huuuurrt!

So, I just started whacking at it. And it turned out pretty ok.

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Plans for me

I have been wanting to be a midwife for a long time. I even seriously thought about changing my major in college a couple of semesters before student teaching to nursing!

I’ve never gotten very far with this, what with getting a job in my field to get out of debt, then getting married and having babies of my own…

But it’s always been there. My sister tells me the first thing I said to her when she came to visit after having Brielle was, “I had to have an epidural! How am I ever going to be a midwife when I can’t even birth naturally?!”

An opportunity arose to take a midwife’s assistant class with an acquaintance of mine. As a super special bonus, a couple of my favorite people were already signed up. It took a while to get Kevin to see the wisdom of attending this class. He initially was adamant that it was not the right time in our lives and I needed to make our family our priority. It was hard for him to be at peace with my making this commitment and buying the books but he came around a couple days before the deadline to sign up.

All systems go.

And every time I thought, as I would go about my day, “Oh! I need to sign up for the class!” My Holy Spirit would whisper, “Be still and know that I am God.” or ” Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

So I waited. The next day. And the day of the deadline. Talking things over with my sweet Father, knowing He would come around to see things my way.

And now, here it is three days past the deadline. I’m not signed up for the class. I feel so dejected. I feel like it’s a chance I won’t have again. I feel like I’ll never be anything else than what I am right now.

I’ve been complaining about it too. And I hear my sweet Father say, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

And so I wait.

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