Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween from Little Red Riding Hood!
She'd turn around and smile for the camera but she's trying to decide which house to go to next...

Garden Update: The End of October

We planted our fall/winter garden on October 1st. It looked like this...
 Our peppers looked like this:
Now, as October comes to a close, our garden looks like this:
It's hard to see but we added four little broccoli plants. They're not very big yet but everything has been growing like crazy. It will never cease to amaze me. I feel like I can see the plants getting bigger every day. The zucchini and yellow squash have little squashes growing already! The tomato is covered in blossoms.

Our peppers are growing too:
 Aren't they wonderful?
I'm very happy with our little garden. Our weather is starting to get just a bit cooler and I think the garden likes it. We're enjoying it too. I say cooler but it's really not cold yet.

We have friends who had the first snow of the season this past weekend. It's hard to believe we're growing a garden while they are shoveling snow! 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Good Week

Last Monday I thought the world might end. It didn't.

Tuesday morning was better and I tried to keep that momentum throughout the week.

These are the things I think made it a good week:

L. and I got out of the house every day.
We went out as a family and spent time with friends.
I ran five days this week for a total of 18 miles.

I showered every day.
I emailed/talked on the phone with good friends every day.

We had some long nights and early mornings (L. was up at 5:15am three days in a row) and there was a lot of other random stuff going on for us this week. Nonetheless I felt better able to deal with it all than I would have last week. L. and I walked to the park every morning. This helped make nap time easier. I put running on the treadmill at the top of my list while L. napped. A few days I even fit in my shower before she woke up. I didn't always dry my hair but I felt refreshed.

And it all helped. I know part of this weeks goodness was the inevitable upswing after a low point with my anxiety. But I'm hoping it's more than that. I'm hoping I can make next week a good one too.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

You Are Not Alone

On Monday I checked my email and read the message: "You are not alone."

I needed to hear that. Especially this past Monday.

I signed up for the "Daily Hope" messages at Postpartum Progress months ago and even though the inspirational messages come every day, I rarely read them anymore. It's been a while since I decided it was safe to say I was through my post-partum depression. Since I quit working over a year ago I've felt like my anxiety was pretty well in check. Monday I realized I wasn't quite as "in control" as I thought I was. I guess that's why I opened the email. I'm glad I did.

Anxiety isn't always a rational thing. It's damn sneaky.

I've been pretty anxious for the last few months. I've been hiding it well, trying to pretend it's not there, hoping it will go away. I've been trying to take good care of myself. I'm running, I'm showering, I'm eating, I'm gardening, I'm baking, I'm finger painting, I'm getting us out of the house...but then something triggers the anxiety and I fall apart a little.

Monday I hit bottom. I couldn't hide it anymore and J. noticed. We talked. I cried. I verbalized my feelings for the first time in months. I cried some more.

And I think I've reached a turning point. I'm not alone. I just needed a reminder. Monday all I could think about was the negative--all the difficult, stressful, worrisome things in my life.

But there are so many good things. I have J. and he's pretty freaking amazing. I have L. and she's amazing too. I have a wonderful extended family. I have friends. I have incredible friends. I have friends here and I have friends back home. I have people I can call no matter what. And they are such understanding, loving, nonjudgmental, supportive, encouraging, strong women...it's a bit overwhelming.

I'm so glad I'm not alone.

Wordless Wednesday

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Life Well Lived: Looking My Best

I have a confession to make. As part of the Life Well Lived blogger panel, I really hoped they wouldn't ask me a question about style or makeup. I've never considered these strong points of mine.

Of course, the first question they posed to me was, "Fall is right around the corner. What are the Autumn colors and must haves in makeup?"

Hhhmmmm. Autumn colors? Must haves in makeup? Is it really October already? Yikes. 

But, when I think about it for more than thirty seconds, how I look is connected to how I feel. Generally I feel better when I look better. Regardless of my emotions and self-esteem, this remains the truth. I've struggled with this a lot since becoming a mom. More times than not showering and fixing my hair get knocked to the bottom of the priority list. Makeup tends to get bumped off the list entirely.

I've been working really hard on improving my self-care lately. I've been running regularly which means I absolutely have to make time to shower and I've been finding odd moments to blow dry my hair. It makes me feel clean and put together. And if I feel put together physically, my brain feels more organized and I tend to be better at getting everything else done. I'm definitely a more productive person when I feel (and look) my best.

Fall tends to be a productive time of year for me. I love fall. I love this time of year. It makes me want to wear a thick sweater and cuddle with my family under a big fuzzy blanket with a good book and a mug of hot apple cider. Or take a walk and crunch all the leaves on the ground. Or pick out pumpkins at the pumpkin patch. I want to sew costumes and make Christmas presents. It makes me want to bake and fill the house with warm, cozy smells...and I can't relax or cook or do anything else if the house is messy, so fall motivates me to be on top of things.

Granted it's still in the high 80s here but we did have a few days last week when it dipped down into the 70s. I know fall is close at hand.  I know it's fall almost everywhere else. I'm living vicariously through the rest of the country.

Anyhow, back to the question. Autumn colors and makeup must haves. Like I said, lately I've been happy with a shower and, since the shower part has been happening more regularly, I've found myself with a few moments to actually put on makeup. I have mixed feelings about makeup. I don't want to equate looking my best with wearing makeup. I know I don't have to wear makeup to look my best. I don't want to feel like I need to wear makeup. I'm sure I'm going to be repeating that to my daughter like a broken record as soon as she's old enough to understand.

But I enjoy wearing a little makeup.

I think of it a bit like getting dressed up for a fancy party. It's not essential, but it can be fun.  Okay, obviously getting dressed is essential for the party but you don't have to dress up. Right?

Right. Since fall makes me think of cozy sweaters and long walks outdoors, heavy makeup doesn't really fit the bill in my opinion. For me fall is about connecting with the earth and the seasons and my family. It's about enjoying every minute outside before we hunker down for the winter (again, I know this isn't really applicable in our current location but these feelings are deeply ingrained and not easily discarded...regardless of how warm it is outside).

Consequently, I go for a light, natural look when I get the chance to put on makeup. I'm a big fan of tinted moisturizer with SPF (seriously, I love to multitask) and a little mascara. Add a little lip gloss and I'm done. It takes only a minute and I feel like I've accomplished something spectacular. I know it's silly but I never thought I'd see the day when I listed putting on mascara and lip gloss as accomplishing something. But since it's become such a rare occurrence and it makes me feel good, I enjoy it and consider it an accomplishment. Taking care of myself is an accomplishment some days.

That's my opinion. Want to hear what the Life Well Lived expert has to say about all this? Read her advise here. (OMG! She mentioned me!)

What do you think? What are the Autumn colors and must haves in makeup? What makes you look and feel your best? Leave a comment and join the conversation!

And if you click here, you can enter to win a $250 Visa gift certificate in the Life Well Lived Sweepstakes. Happy Sunday!   

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Getting Out Is Good for Me

L. and I were up a lot last night. We're in that unavoidable adjustment period that comes after out of town over the weekend. We were only gone two nights visiting family but I've realized it doesn't make a difference. We could be gone one night or fourteen but we still have to adjust to being home again.

So we were up a lot last night. I woke up feeling like I wanted to crawl under my bed. I seriously considered it. 

But I didn't. I got up. I got dressed. L. and I drove J. to work and we went to a birthday party.

I'm so glad we got out of the house. I'm glad I had a chance to chat with friends and L. had fun running around with hers.

She went down for a nap as soon as we got home. I took the opportunity to run on the treadmill.

I feel better. It was good for my soul.

I hope you do something nice for yourself today.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Fall/Winter Garden Two Weeks Later

It's been almost two weeks since we planted our garden and nothing has died! I'm really excited about this.

The tomato plant has grown several inches. I know it's hard to see in this picture but it really has.
 
So has the zucchini. The yellow squash isn't doing quite as well but it's still alive. Can you see the blossoms?
 
The peppers all have blossoms too.
We've had some rain this week and that was such a blessing. I can tell the garden and our yard LOVED it. I feel like I can see it growing.  L. enjoyed the rain too. We had two days of puddle splashing fun! It's fun to play in the rain when it's still 80 degrees outside.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Writer's Block

I sat down today intending to write a post about how judgmental parents are of one another. This topic has really been nagging at me but I can't get it down on paper. Every time I try to write about it I get overwhelmed by my own personal hypocrisy and I stop. Admitting that I'm just as judgmental and competitive as everyone else doesn't make me any better. It probably makes me worse because I recognize what I consider a fault and can't seem to stop.
 
I've been tired, irritable, anxious, and a little anti-social lately. I've been struggling to post anything because I can't seem to get my real thoughts on paper. I just get anxious about what I want to write and worry that I'll regret posting something later on. So I don't post anything or I post about things completely unrelated to what is going on in my head.

But lately that's been annoying me too. As I just mentioned, I've been generally irritable lately and I'm irritated that I can't write anything of substance. I'm sick of feeling like the only thing I can talk about is feeling tired and irritable.

I figure I'll write the next thing that pops into my head just to get going.

I made bread this morning. I thought a house filled with the smell of baking bread on a rainy fall morning would be really nice. But I forgot to add the yeast. The bread sucked.

And that brings me back to being tired and irritable. It's a vicious cycle.

At some point I'll finish the post about how judgmental people can be and you'll all know what a hypocrite I am. Until then, I'll blame everything, including the failed loaf of bread, on being tired.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Despite My Best Intentions...

Sometimes, despite my very best intentions, things don't go how I would like them to go. Yup, sometimes the universe decides it has other plans for me.

Most of the time I'm pretty good at accepting what comes along. Other times I'm not. This weekend would fall into the "not" category.

I worked really hard last week. I got caught up on laundry and dishes. L. took naps. We had three play dates. The house got vacuumed. We made play dough and bubbles and painted pictures. We were feeling more settled into our regular routine, caught up from all our travels, and almost sleeping through the night.

I was really proud of myself. I was so on top of things. The sink was empty of dirty dishes, the house felt clean...I was totally ready for a relaxing weekend.

Perhaps my pride was my downfall.

The universe decided I would spend the weekend cleaning my house again, and again, and again, desperately trying to get rid of the skunk smell. 

Instead of relaxing this weekend I spent most of Saturday and Sunday and a lot of Monday doing more laundry, shampooing carpets, and washing the dog. Over and over and over. 

I admit I was jealous Saturday morning when J. got to go to work and I deal with the skunk smell. I admit I almost cried when, after a short outing Saturday afternoon, we came home to a still stinky house.

J. had to leave again and I got to stay and clean again.

Saturday night I dreamed we were all being poisoned by toxic fumes.

I was still irritated Sunday.

Thank goodness for my mother-in-law. She watched L. while I cleaned the carpets and saved my sanity by taking us out of the house for the afternoon.

The house smelled a bit better Sunday night. I think cleaning the carpet did the trick. We kept the house open with the fans on all day yesterday as well. Luckily it wasn't too hot. The universe was being merciful.

Today I've really tried to make myself relax. I'm still pretty irritable. L. was cranky today too and I can't help but think she's just mirroring me. That makes me feel even more awesome.

But I've been trying to let it go. I've been trying to focus on good things. L. and I have been trying to do stuff that makes us happy. She painted with brushes and I made lemon curd for the first time with lemons from our tree. I think I know what I'm going to be giving for holidays gifts this year...
It's super yummy. Now I have to make something to eat with it. Any suggestions?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Skunked

Yesterday I had all kinds of fun ideas about what I was going to write on my blog on a relaxing Saturday morning.

But my plans got skunked. Literally.

L. woke up at 4am (just for a minute) and after she fell back asleep I let our dog outside to pee. Standard procedure really.

When I let him back in it took me about thirty seconds to realize something was wrong. He had been sprayed by a skunk. And while I was figuring out what had happened (this is a new experience for me) he smeared himself all over me, the floor, and the bed trying to get the smell off.

It wasn't effective.

Consequently, J. and I got a nice, early, 4am start to the day. A dog washing, floor washing, sheet washing, clothes washing, person washing, odor eliminating kind of day.

I'm not a fan of skunks.

Tips for getting rid of the skunk smell are currently being accepted.

I'll write about fun stuff tomorrow.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Fall/Winter Garden

This is a whole new experience for me. I've NEVER planted a garden in October. It seems like a crazy thing to do. But last year my mother-in-law was picking tomatoes after Christmas... 

So when we stopped at the nursery last Saturday and I saw all the vegetable starts for $1.99 I figured we might as well give it a try.

I couldn't resist.

I didn't get a whole lot though. I wanted to see how things did with the drought and the ants before investing much.

Here's what I bought:
One well developed pequin pepper (a native of South Texas)
One zucchini
One yellow crooked neck squash
One rainbow chard
One big cherry tomato
L. and I came straight home and planted them. I spaced everything out so that we can add more plants later if we want. There are ants in the garden but so far they are not leaf cutter ants. I'll be trying to get rid of them naturally nonetheless as they still damage the plants...just not as quickly. 

Here is our new pepper plant (in the blue pot) along with the ones we planted earlier in the summer:
Like our Spring/Summer garden, we're not planting enough to impact our grocery shopping...just enough to have fun digging in the dirt, watching the plants grow, and enjoy eating whatever we end up with!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The End of the Spring/Summer Garden

I decided that before I start talking about my Fall/Winter garden, I should update everyone on my Spring/Summer garden.

This was our garden on April 20th. Everything was thriving despite our battles with the leaf cutter ants:
I took this picture when the tomatoes started coming around in May.
This was one of the last pictures I took of the whole garden on May 28th. My squash plants had already died. I'm still not sure what happened. They just shriveled up. The tomatoes did really well through the end of June. You can see in the picture I have them tied up to the roof in order to keep them from falling over. Then it got so hot they started cooking on the vine. They were literally bursting open.
I harvested our carrots near the end of June, not long before I pulled out all the tomato plants.
After that I was left with my two little nasturtiums and a watermelon vine. I had started the watermelon inside and it really struggled. I decided to put it in the ground and see what happened. It grew and flowered but never set any fruit.
Our pepper plants surprised me though. In case you've forgotten I planted them in pots with the rest of our plants in March. They died in May and we replaced them. The new plants didn't really grow much all summer. Then all of the sudden in August they bloomed and we had peppers. They are teeny-tiny red hot chiles.

The ants came back in August and completely stripped my nasturtium plants overnight. There was literally nothing left. I was too depressed to take photos. In retrospect it was kind of funny it happened so fast. I pulled them out and the watermelon as well (since it wasn't doing anything and it was starting to shrivel from the heat. Too many consecutive days of 100+ temperatures and no rain was too much for our plants). I lost a bunch of flowers too.

But we planted a few Lantana bushes and they've done really well. They are native to South Texas and thrive in the heat with little water.
All in all, our garden was a learning experience. We ended up with some radishes, tomatoes, carrots, and peppers. We were able to add peppery nasturtium blossoms to our salads throughout the summer. For a short period of time we had a wonderful crop of yellow crooked neck squash. Obviously, we didn't grow enough to store up for winter (or really even impact our grocery store and farmer's market purchases) but I've learned more than I ever wanted to know about ants and L. had fun every single time we watered the garden and picked tomatoes.

We'll definitely be planting a garden again...

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