Saturday, March 26, 2011

Lazy Day

Today has been one of those super lazy days where you basically wake up whenever baby does, roll out of bed, and just kind of hang out. We made a late morning trek up an hour North to pick up my stepdaughter, Tory, and brought her back to Kansas City. And we've basically just been blissing out all day with the whole crew finally together again! Munching on snacks, dancing in the kitchen to Pandora, watching art films and Antique Roadshow and the Flying Nun show with Sally Fields, playing games with Evie and trying to make her laugh her super funny little laugh so we can get a peek of that tooth.

We've had a weird dip in temperature with some light flurries (people, it's almost APRIL!), so no parks this weekend. But sometimes all you really need for a good time to is to be trapped inside with people you really really like.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Sometimes a Nap Makes All the Difference

Took off work early to finish some notes from home. Cuddled my girl, took a long steamy bath, re-read The Power of Now,  and grabbed an hour and a half nap.

I'm feeling much more centered today. Thanks for listening. You guys rock.

Picture by Jen Flanagan of Image Market Photography

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

So, We Meet Again

Picture from scienceblogs
 I'm probably being far too candid, but I feel like sharing honestly about yourself is important for growth. This isn't a cheery post, so I apologize in advance if reading blogs is what you do to unwind at the end of the day and you're looking for a cute picture or a laugh. This post is about depression, so enter at your own risk ;)

In my 7+ year journey to become a therapist (yes, it takes forever. 4 years of undergrad followed by 3 years of full-time grad school + a state board exam + 3000 post-graduate hours + my additional play therapy certification process. What was I thinking!?), I've had lots of time for self-analysis. Plenty of "self-reflection" papers, examination of transference and counter-transference (defined by one teacher as "when you mix up a client's 'stuff' with you own 'stuff'"), and deep thinking ;) I should have it all figured out, right?

Anyone who's ever taken a psych class (or even better, a psychopathology class) has probably walked away thinking they have every mental illness in the DSM. From personality disorders, to adult ADHD, to hypochondriasis, there's something for everyone.

You start asking yourself things like: Who AM I anyways? Why am I the way that I am? Is it my parents' fault? My weird overly-religious upbringing? Does everyone feel this way? Am I a freak? etc.

Those of you who know me well know that I have done some pretty crappy things in my life--times when I've blown off friends, talked crap, cheated, lied, flashed a car (j/k). Hopefully, you also think I'm an alright gal who's just trying to do the best I can.What I have definitely learned in all my soul-searching is that I have some problems and I want to be better.

A few years ago (while in grad school), I had a bit of a breakdown. I became seriously depressed for the first time in my life. Everything was going well for me--I had a good job at a great financial company, I was attending grad school to work towards my dream job, I was living with my fiance (now husband). But I lost it. It started with anxiety. About everything. I felt anxious in school about saying the wrong thing, saying too much, not saying enough. I worried about my homework and my papers, what my teachers thought of me, if I was slacking at work, what Scott must think of me, what my friends and family were thinking. Every day was like that. I started nervously picking at the skin around my fingernails until they bled. I wasn't sleeping at night. I started gaining weight at a rapid pace (up until this time I had always been a healthy weight for my height). I cried every morning on my drive to work. I started thinking, even fantasizing about cutting myself. Things were not okay. I put off getting some much needed help for months, because I thought I could fix it on my own. I was wrong. I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and major depression, single episode. I was placed on medication that made me black out and vomit. I called in to work a bunch.

I needed time to heal. I went to therapy, got on a much lower dose of meds, and started taking more time for myself. Eventually, under the doctor's care, I weaned myself off my medication (thank GOODNESS), and was feeling awesome. I got preganant with Ev shortly thereafter. Pregnancy was probably my happiest time. My hormones were finally right or something. I was happy. Like, right down to the core of my being in a way I had never felt before. Following Ev's birth, I was delighted to find that in the midst of her colic and difficulties and no sleep, I still felt great. Elated even. No post-partum here.

Then just within the past couple of months, I feel like it's been creeping back on. Somewhere between the lack of sleep and the zero alone time and the stress of work and full time mommyhood and the isolation of being a new mom, I started feeling that same dark anxiety. So, we meet again. Only this time, I'm better equiped to handle it and although I'd really prefer to stay med-free, I plan to explore some natural healing methods like herbs, meditation, and yoga. Same problem, different answer.

Have any of you ever been depressed? Super anxious? Anybody have good natural solutions that help them?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

My Birth Playlist

I was just reading a post on one of my favorite sites of all time, OffBeat Mama, about birth playlists, and I thought it would be fun to share my birth playlist with you all.

Let me start off by saying that if I had known I'd be in labor for 17 hours, I probably would have selected more songs ;). Hindsight being 20/20 and all, there are lots of artists who didn't make the list that I probably would have loved to have heard.

 For my big day, I didn't know what to expect. I knew I would likely be in huge amounts of pain and I wasn't sure what musical stylings I'd be up for. I chose some of the songs because they are very sentimental to me, and others simply because I love the artist and I knew it would be a soothing presence for me....a huge portion of my playlist was comprised of Cat Power songs because she's been with me for so long through the ups and downs, and there's something so still and powerful about her voice--like the rush of a little brook. SO here goes:

Cat Power-Where is My Love
Cat Power-Maybe Not
Cat Power-Half of You
Cat Power-Colors and the Kids
Cat Power-The Greatest
Cat Power-She's Got You
Cat Power-Lost Someone
Ray LaMontagne-Let it Be Me
Ray LaMontagne- A Falling Through
Ray LaMontagne-Sarah
Quiet Company-Red and Gold
Radiohead-All I Need
Jewel-Angel Standing By
Azure Ray-Sleep
Maria Taylor-My Favorite Love
Patti Griffin-Burgundy Shoes
Patty Griffin-Up to The Mountain
Patty Griffin-Heavenly Day
Wilco-My Darling

I guess I was looking for songs with a quiet energy or a warm feeling to carry me through this difficult test of mind and body. All in all, there were times in the birthing process when the songs were more important than I can even say, and other times when I completely tuned them out or even requested that the music be shut off. Because music is so much at the core of who I am as a person and how I express myself, the songs on that list will be forever ingrained in my heart and mind.

After Everleigh was born, we played these 2 songs over and over: "Heavenly Day" by Patti Griffith and "My Darling" by Wilco and cried because we are huge babies.

"Oh Heavenly day
All the clouds blew away
Got no trouble today
With anyone
The smile on your face
I live only to see
It's enough for me baby
It's enough for me
Oh heavenly day
Heavenly day
Heavenly day
Tomorrow may rain with sorrow
Here's a little time we can borrow
Forget all our troubles in these moments so few
Oh we can right now the only thing that all that we really have to do
Is have ourselves a heavenly day
Lay here and watch the trees sway
Oh can't see no other way
No way
No way
Heavenly day heavenly day heavenly day
No one on my shoulder
Bringing me fears
Got no clouds up above me
Bringing me tears
Got nothing to tell you
I got nothing much to say
Only I'm glad to be here with you
On this heavenly heavenly heavenly heavenly heavenly day
Oh all the troubles gone away
Oh for awhile anyway
For awhile anyway
Heavenly day
Heavenly day
Heavenly day
Heavenly day
Heavenly day
Oh heavenly day"

"Go back to sleep now

My darlin
And I'll keep all the bad dreams away
Breathe now, think sweet things
And I'll think of all the right words to say
Because we made you
My darlin
With the love in each of our hearts
We were a family, my darlin
Right from the start
Grow up now
My darlin
Please don't you grow up too fast
And be sure, darlin
To make all the good times last
Because we made you
My darlin
With the love in each of our hearts
We were a family, my darlin
Right from the start"

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Everleigh's First Parade

Today Scott had school, but Evie and I headed out to the big Kansas City Saint Patrick's Day parade with Grandpa (my dad).  It was a blast! Everleigh was probably more excited about the huge crowd full of colorful characters, babies, and little kids than anything else, but she got to see her first marching band, giant cow, leprechaun, and float :) She practiced her pointing skills, and passed out in her Baby Bjorn out of sheer exhaustion about half way through. All in all, I'd say it was a great day.

My lucky charm

Everleigh and Grandpa

Going, going, gone

People, We've Got a Tooth!

It's true. Everleigh's little mouth finally decided to hop to it and pop out a little tiny baby tooth. She's been acting like she's teething for, oh, 6 months or so now and we had almost given up and started looking for baby dentures (jk) when out of the blue, today Scott was giving her a drink out of his glass cup and heard a "CLINK". Right away he felt it and sure enough, my girl has got a tooth!

Of course you cannot SEE this tooth because she keeps it under lock and key, but it's there :)

Not one to dwell on accomplishments for more than a minute, she also decided to start walking this week! Although it's still touch and go, she can now walk 4 or 5 steps at a time completely unassisted. Of course, she does NOT take requests so don't even think about it ;) We'll post video soon!

Hope you're all having a great St. Patties! I took the day off work to get my car fixed and take little E down to the big midtown parade! And yes, she is wearing a super duper adorable outfit to's a hint of things to come...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Family/Baby Photo Session

We finally got ourselves a family picture! Curtesy of our lovely friend and photog go-to, Jennifer Flanagan of Image Market Photography.

Some shots below that Jen was kind enough to forward to me!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sneaking Time

As many of you know, time becomes a precious, precious jewel when you become a mom. And while you usually want to spend all your free time with your child, there are occasions which you will wish you had just a moment for yourself. Going in the bathroom and shutting the door no longer guarantees this time. Going to bed certainly makes no promises. The commute to work might count if I lived more than 38 seconds away from my job. Sigh. I come home from work every day for lunch to nurse Ev and say hi to the hubby or grandpa (on days he's here with Ev). Frankly, there have MAYBE been a total of 3 times ever, including today, since the day she was born when I did not see her over lunch.

So today, when I found myself with a 2 hour break between clients in the middle of the day, a stone's throw away from my empty house (Everleigh's out with Grandpa today), I couldn't resist myself. I headed home giggling like a school girl. Ate my lunch, blogged and read my dashboard, flipped through some Counseling Today magazines, and (gasp) took a BUBBLE BATH. Steamy hot and as a long as I wanted, pumped and watched Dennis the Menice. It was awesome.

I spent the majority of that time eyeing Ev's toys and missing her. But I was so glad to have a little bit of ME time. After all, I deserve it :)

I still think it's funny how "wrong" it felt to sneak this time....I felt like I was in on a secret. Hooray for long lunches!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Evie in her PJ's

The Land of the Sand

As some of you know, I'm currently pursuing my post-graduate certification in Play Therapy as I work on becoming a full-fledged therapist (my adolescent dream career!).  Play therapy has already taught me so much about children, about myself, and about the resiliency of the human spirit.

This weekend I had class Friday night and all day Saturday, which is admittedly kind of a drag after working all week. But the class was SandTray, and I came away from it absolutely in love with this process. Sand tray therapy basically stems from the Jungian theory that we all have the ability to heal ourselves by triggering our internal "self-healing" archetype. Jung also promoted the powers of the unconscious, and believed that by using abstraction--dreams, figurines in sand, art--we could freely express the things we were not even consciously aware of. Enter the 21st centuries take--sand tray.

Sand tray therapy can be used for work with children, adolescents, adults, couples, pretty much anyone. The basic premise is that you take a tray of sand and make a picture in it using a variety of figurines. The tray can be directive "make a picture of what hope means to you" or nondirective, "make a picture of your world". 

I just thought it was amazing to see the process unfold. There were things I saw in my tray that I wasn't aware of, and other things that I knew were high or low points. The trays are very open to interpretation, but often reveal things to the creator as well as the therapist. 

Wow. So awesome. I'm excited to have the opportunity to integrate this technique into my work with clients in the future. It may sound a little mumbo-jumbo, but don't discount it until you've made your own tray. 

Plus, who couldn't use a little break to play in the sand?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Mean Girls

I was listening yesterday to an NPR story about moms who have voluntarily given up custody of their young children, not because they were destitute or addicts, but simply because they realized motherhood was not for them. They had other goals and aspirations, and being a full-time mom did not fit into that picture. So, they opted to grant full or primary custody to the fathers. Many of these women expressed that their biggest fear in all this was what others would say or think of them.

It really got ME thinking, and my first inclination was to pass judgment. I mean, they CHOSE to have children, right? Didn't they feel the love and connection to their children that I feel for my daughter? How could they do this? And where do the children's feelings fit in this picture?

Then, my more awesome self was like, "why am I passing judgement on these women who I don't even know?" Every day fathers give up or lose custody of their children and very rarely do we judge them. Some dads probably breathe a huge sigh of relief while others might be devastated. Was I that hung up on gender role stereotypes that I wasn't thinking rationally?

I don't pretend to have the answers. I know I could never opt out of full time parenthood in order to explore more career options, have more "me" time, etc. But I don't want to be one of the mean girls either.

I guess I just thought about my initial reaction, and realized that I was one of the people they feared: a mean girl passing judgment based on what I would or would not have done.

Why are women so hard on each other anyways? Breastfeeding vs. bottle, unmedicated birth vs. epidural, sleep training vs. co-sleeping, working moms vs. stay at home moms. Can't we all just get along? Do we have to whisper about each other behind closed doors and cluck our tongues in disapproval? Aren't we all just trying to be happy and find our path? While this story presented a radical example, the core underlying factor remains true.

I guess it starts with each of us choosing to support each other through the process of womanhood and motherhood and agreeing to disagree sometimes. I guess for my part, it starts with me.

"Why can't we be friends, why can't we be friends"

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Mommy's Little Jazz Man

Lately Everleigh has been testing out the limits of her voice, and in true Kansas City fashion, she's chosen to go jazz with it. I'm serious! This kid doesn't goo goo gaga around. Instead she growls with more of a deep throated raspy zibba zabba scat. It's pretty great.

I just wanted to write a little diddy about my baby jazz man, Ev Harper.

I love how she look all like, "what? me? nothing to see here!"

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Dear Everleigh (9 Months!)

Photo by Jen Flanagan of Image Market Photography
Dear Everleigh,

My dear, you are nine months old today and more lovely and fun and action-packed than ever before! You have seemingly boundless amounts of energy, love and positivity and I am blown away every day by how much I love you.

Here's what you're up to now:

You love to eat (you can blame me for this trait). You love new flavors and textures and you just love trying to eat things you totally should not eat, like onions or coffee or trail mix. Good thing Mommy and Daddy have your back. Your favorite foods right now are sweet potatoes, oranges (eaten through your handy little mesh snacker thing), and your freeze-dried yogurt bites. Oh and water, juice, milk, anything we will let you drink from your sippy cup or from our big cups.

You are really into throwing things on the floor--taking the toys out of your toy chest one by one and throwing them on the floor, taking the remotes off the coffee table and throwing them on the floor, removing your too-big clothes from your storage bin and throwing them on the floor, taking clean clothes out of teh dryer and throwing them on the floor. It's a good game ;) and you're loving it.

You also regularly demand that Daddy (or me, or whoever but Daddy is your biggest sucker) walk you around and around and around the house by holding your hands while you walk. Truthfully, you could do it on your own, but if someone lets go you cry like you are personally insulted (all while standing perfectly on your own). You are a HAIR away from taking steps on your own, and I'm so excited for you! I keep thinking in wonder about how quickly you're growing, and how one year ago you were in my big swollen belly and now you're talking, crawling, enjoying strawberries. It's truly amazing.

You love something your Dad and I created called "Everleigh Sandwich", which is when one of us is holding you and we call out "Everleigh Sandwich!" and then hug you up from both sides. You always laugh and smile and hug back and it's pretty great to know you feel how much we love you.

I want you to know how much I love you and how deeply you've changed the way I view myself. You are so cool and sweet and I am already excited about all the awesome fun we're going to have in just a short time! This summer you'll be walking and running even, and we can play at the park and go swimming and have all kinds of new adventures.

Here's to you, Everleigh-Weverly (your Dad's newest nickname for you) and all the possibilities you represent.

Love, love, and more love,


Thursday, March 3, 2011

My How Time Flies!!!

I cannot believe it is Thursday already and I haven't blogged in ages. I'm sorry for you regular readers...I know it's a drag to check someone's blog and there's no change day after day. I am solemnly vowing to attempt to do right by you, but please know I may fail.

It seems like days go by really slowly but the weeks fly fly fly. Do you ever feel that way? I lie awake in bed at night, and in my sheer exhaustion I think of all kinds of cool, witty, and fun things to blog about. Then when I wake up, my mind is blank and I'm rushing here and there.

Here's a little nugget. I work with the severely mentally ill population. It is never dull. Since beginning work a few months back, I've really gotten some critical style advice from some clients.

I've been asked why my nose is crooked, and informed that getting a nose job and fake nails with a design on it would really improve my look. I've also been told that I look like a baby, and like a doll but chubby.

These things are probably all true (besides the nails design thing..I'm just not feeling it). In case you haven't seen enough pictures of me to notice, I have a pretty unique nose (thanks DAD), and you know, I've seen slimmer days. At first, I thought it was pretty awesome and funny to get this feedback from the overly candid. But today, I skipped the bagel and had a protein shake, and at lunch I ordered salad. Sometimes you just have to hear it from someone who's not trying to sugar coat the situation for you. I love my husband, but he's smart enough to chime in with things like, "I love your curves" and "you just had a BABY for goodness sake" uh...9 months ago. I think it stops being a valid excuse somewhere around NOW ;) It was nice while it lasted though.

Anyways, I'm deliriously tired while writing this due to Everleigh's new amazing ability to wake herself every 2 hours throughout the night crying. I just might lose it without a little REM sleep :) which I will hopefully get tonight after indulging in "good TV night" (Community, 30 Rock, and a little Parks and Rec = happy Thursdays!)

PS: I almost forgot!!! I totally chopped my hair yesterday in the cut I have been contemplating for months! It's super cute, but I'm still getting used to it. It's pretty fun, and it still looks girly in the in the front but a little more hip in the back. Yay for that new haircut feeling!