Monday, September 26, 2011

One Thing At a Time

It seems like I've had a problem with anxiety my whole life. I worry about everything. School, work, money, children. The list goes on and on. I'd blow little problems way out of proportion and dwell on them for hours. It would interfere with my appetite and my sleep schedule. I would literally get sick to my stomach.

I don't think I can help worrying. It is in my nature. But over time, I began to identify things that made my worrying snowball into full out anxiety attacks. I've made remarkable progress these last few years. I almost can't remember my last anxiety attack.

The first thing I noticed was that caffeine and I do not get along. It makes my heart pound and I feel jittery. That feeling would blend with any worries that I had and I couldn't separate the two. So I stopped drinking all caffeinated beverages. The only caffeine I ingest is in dark chocolate, which I adore. I have to have it in very small portions though.

Every once in a while I'll crave a Coke in a glass with ice. It reminds me of summers with my grandparents, when we'd have one as a treat after a hot day at the zoo. But every time I start to drink one, I just feel horrible. I get about half way through and have to stop. I like the memory of them more than the actual taste.

Now that my body has been pretty much caffeine free for years, I notice the effect that sugar has on it. If I have too much sugar, I start to feel the same way that caffeine used to make me feel. So I try to cut back on that too.

I also discovered that exercise helps, A LOT. It just isn't possible for me to worry when I am out running. I'm so focused on breathing and putting one foot in front of the other, that it just isn't possible for my body to take off on it's jittery, heart hammering roller coaster. Yesterday, I noticed that my heart was starting to pound and the first thing that popped into my head was that I needed to go for a run. I knew that running would instantly take the edge off.

A new thing that I know I need to work on is multi-tasking. It seems like a good thing. You can get so much more done if you multi-task. But it drives me nuts. I get myself all worked up. I start to feel panicky if something interrupts me, which my children almost always do. I noticed myself getting irritable with Ada when she would ask for attention. I need to try to focus on one thing at a time. When I'm playing legos with Ada, I need to focus on her and her alone. When I'm doing the dishes, I need to let my mind be calm and not dwell on all the things that I need to do next.

This is going to be hard for me. For example, as I'm writing this, I'm also simmering carrots for Joe's baby food and trying to entertain my kids at the same time. At least I am aware of what I'm doing. Now I just need to focus on making myself stop.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Alone Time

I went to the movie theater by myself the other day, and believe me, it was done under protest.

My husband works for a new company and he has to put in a lot of hours right now. Therefore I get to put in a lot of hours. I stay at home with my two year old daughter and 6 month old son. Having no help during the week can be exhausting.


Also, we moved recently. We've only lived in this area for six months. I have always been slow to make new friends, so I spend a lot of time alone with the kids during the week. Sometimes I feel starved for an adult conversation. I have been known to go a whole week without leaving the house, unless you include the neighborhood walks I take with the kids. 

I definitely look forward to the weekends and a lighter work load. Nick is a wonderful father and we split the duties when he is home, that way we can both have a little bit of a break.

On Sunday, Nick noticed that I was a little frazzled. He suggested that I go to a movie. I shot that idea down, since there was nothing I wanted to see. I'd rather sit on the couch and read a book or watch a movie with Nick. I didn't want to go out by myself. I just didn't have the energy. But Nick wouldn't give up. We had a little bit of an argument about it and I finally gave in.

My son, Joe, doesn't take a bottle. So I fed him his last meal at 6:30. I then left Nick to put the kids to bed. I was definitely dragging my feet. I went to a nearby movie theater that is located inside a mall. The mall is mostly empty now, so it is kind of eerie in there. I purchased my ticket to see "Rise of the Apes". It sounded like a super dumb movie, but the show time fit my schedule. I was way too tired to stay out late.

I walked into the empty movie theater and picked out a seat. I moved around a couple of times until I found the perfect one. I then read a book in order to pass the time until the movie started. Finally the lights dimmed and the previews started. Looking around, I realized I was the only one in the theater. It was the weirdest feeling.

It was great! Zero distractions. No coughing. No overly loud laughter. No rustling plastic as someone took five minutes to open a bag of candy.  And to top it off, the movie was excellent. I haven't had that much fun at the movies in a long time.


So I guess a thank you is in order. Thank you, Nick, for forcing me out of the house kicking and screaming. Thank you for being such a wonderful husband and father. Thank you for understanding that I need to take time to be an adult and to just breathe. Thank you for knowing what I needed when I didn't. I promise, I'll try to not fight it so hard next time.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Summer Isn't Over Yet!

The air is dryer with a decided nip to it. The green leaves are slowly fading and turning crisp on the edges. The wind has picked up and the mosquitoes have disappeared from my back yard. It is starting to feel like autumn. This time of year I start to get excited for sweatshirts, football, apples, squash, pumpkins, and roasting marshmallows over a camp fire. Somebody slow me down! Summer isn't over yet.

No matter what season I am in, I always yearn for the next one. Except maybe winter. Snow is pretty and all, but I hate the bitter cold that comes with it. During the heat of the summer, I yearn for fall. During the dreary cold of winter, I can't wait for spring to arrive. I don't know why I can't just slow down and enjoy the present.

So in a bid to do just that, I am going to enjoy every summer day until September 22nd, which is the first day of  Autumn this year. I don't care if we get an early freeze, I am doing summer things for the next 11 days.  I'm not going to eat so much as a single apple.

Today I made a peach cobbler. Peach season is grinding to a halt, but you may still be able to find some fresh ones for super cheap. One of the highlights of my summer were the farm fresh local peaches sold for ninety-nine cents a pound at the store a few blocks from my house. I ate them plain, put them on pancakes, oatmeal, made freezer jam, and now a cobbler.

I had trouble finding a recipe that I liked. I wanted one that was fast and easy. Oh yeah, and delicious. Can't forget that. I browsed the internet and couldn't find one that caught my fancy. Instead, I found one that had a deliciously easy cake topping, but you were supposed to fold raspberries into it. Someone described it as a "buckle" in the reviews. What the heck is a buckle? Guess I'll have to make one of those next. Okay, I'm getting off topic. My point is, I combined two recipes to fit the ingredients I had on hand and the amount of time I wanted to put into it. Here it is:

Ingredients

Topping
     4 cups flour
     2 cups sugar
     5 teaspoons baking powder
     1 teaspoon salt
     6 tbsp. butter, melted
     1 1/3 cup milk
     2 beaten eggs

Combine dry ingredients in large bowl. Combine wet ingredients and mix into the dry ingredients. Voila. That's it.

Peach Filling
     6 or 7 fresh peaches sliced
     2 tsp lemon juice
     1/4 cup sugar
     1/4 cup brown sugar
     1 tsp cinnamon
     1/4 tsp ground nutmeg.

Combine dry ingredients. Sprinkle lemon juice on peaches. Add dry mixture and toss peaches to coat. Also, most people peel their peaches, but I didn't want to spend the time or have the hassle of that. To be honest, I didn't even notice when I ate the cobbler. It tasted wonderful and I forgot all about the skins. So save yourself some aggravation and skip the peeling process.

Butter a 9x13 baking dish. Spread peaches over the bottom. Spoon batter over the top. It doesn't have to look pretty, and if there are holes, great! The peach juice will bubble up through them.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour. At this point you'll have to check on it every 10 minutes to see if it is done in the center. All ovens are different and mine took about an hour and a half of total bake time. When it was done, it was golden brown and crispy on top.

Now this makes A LOT of cobbler. Nick claims it is the best peach cobbler he has ever eaten. To be fair though, he is the least picky eater I have ever met and easily pleased. I was still very flattered though.

I hope you enjoy the rest of summer, as well as some peach cobbler!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Love of a Dog

Some of my favorite childhood memories include dogs. We lived in the country and spent our summer days hiking through the woods, horse back riding, or wading in the creek, always with a dog or two trailing us. When I married, I knew I wanted dogs to be part of my children's lives. Childhood just doesn't seem complete without a dog.

We have two dogs, both mutts from the pound. They are wonderful. Annie is a bird dog mix and Ender is some sort of strange looking terrier. We were told poodle, but I very much doubt that. We adopted each of them as puppies before we had children.

Knowing we were going to have children one day soon, Nick and I wanted to make sure our dogs would be gentle. We both wanted to be able to trust them with our babies. So Nick worked with them. Teaching them their manners. It wasn't anything fancy. Just the basics. Sit and lay down. No jumping. Heel. He also played with their food as they ate, sometimes taking it directly out of their mouths. He knew that a toddler would think dog food was fun to play with and he wanted to make sure they wouldn't bite little fingers. When he gave them treats, he would hold onto the end and make the dogs nibble it out of his fingers.

Nick also rolled them over on their backs and tugged on their ears and tail. He never hurt them, but he wanted them to get used to being handled all over.

Our dogs definitely aren't the best trained, but I think they are trained perfectly for children. Annie especially loves our kids. When they were tiny babies, she would lay by their bouncer and lick their toes, making them giggle. If Joe is crying in his crib, Annie whimpers and lays outside his door. Now that Ada is two, Annie and Ada can get into trouble together. Ada tries to ride Annie like a horsey. They tumble in the grass and play fetch. On walks, Ada holds Annie's leash and Annie stays right by her side.

I'm glad we can show Ada the joys of having animals in her life and teach her to love and care for them. I've never had a moments worry that our dogs would hurt our children. I think that if you get a puppy and train it right, they can be a wonderful addition to a child's life. They certainly were to mine.