Tagged Mary

Practical suggestions for mindful living.

Mindful Living

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Practical suggestions for mindful living.I know I’m not the only one lying awake at night thinking of our hurting world. I hold my babies tighter not sure of their future and what it might look like. I say this with a compassionate attitude towards those that are truly suffering. I’ve been feeling empathy pains and aches for those people whose lives have been shattered and live in fear on a daily basis.   In order to keep moving forward, I choose to focus on the moment and pay attention to what’s in front of me.  “Be present,” said Ms. Lei, J’s teacher during her Empathy Parenting workshop a month ago.  She gave an example of when we treat ourselves to a cup of coffee. Often we are instantly pulled in six different directions, breaking the silence, and missing it’s greatness.

“When you are in the now,” she said, “you will be aware of every last sip.”

Every.last.sip.

What a wonderful idea and journey we could all take through life. She shared with us the children’s daily routine of circle time at the beginning of each day. By asking each child to “come into the circle and feel your breath,” she’s inviting them to be present and practice mindfulness.

I challenge us all to begin to live our lives this way. When a friend shares with you her struggle over her child’s behavior, put aside your to-do lists and personal struggles. Be in the moment. Practice empathy friendship. This could just be undivided conversation and a hug or offering to babysit. If your child is struggling to put on his shoes and your arms are full of library books, purse, water bottle, and you’re halfway out the door. Stop. Put everything down (you can huff and puff in your head, if it helps) and help him through the struggle. If your partner seems tense from work (and if you two can grab a moment alone) lend an ear to those struggles, even if you have no idea what their job entails.

Mother Teresa said “small things, done in great love, bring joy and peace.” This is absolutely true. Tuck that note into your kids lunchbox. It might just be the lift they need to get through a tough day of middle school. Pick up dinner for a family of five,  just because. Practice random acts of kindness. I can say with absolute certainty that the reward will be two fold. You get to make someone’s day but the joy in giving will be all yours.

In addition to mindful living, recognizing what we’re grateful for can also lift our spirits.

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10 Small Things That Make My Day Brighter

10 Small Things That Make My Day Brighter

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Life has gotten so much busier since Jack started half-day school, 5 days a week. I truly thought life would breathe a little easier once the school year began. Although I laugh every day at my naiveté, we couldn’t be happier with the decision to send him to our small, heartfelt Montessori school. He runs right into class every day.  It makes me so proud to see him loving this new part of his life but I have to admit that I’ve felt a wave of emotions these last several weeks. My little boy is in school! Our long days together have come to an end. Sniff. Sniff. Etc. Etc.

Need a pick me up? Check out these ideas for appreciating the moment.

In times of big change and big emotions I like to take a step back, take a deep breath, and look around at all the little things that make my day brighter. The following is a list (with helpful links) of my ten favorite things of the moment.

  1. I purchased this bento box from Zulily.com nearly two years ago in anticipation of making school lunches. Am I the only one who can’t pass on a good deal?  I thought it would be a great way to eliminate Ziploc bags and even more fun to get creative with food. Boy, was that an understatement.  I’ve had a total blast (most mornings) making food fun for little dude. Sliced cheddar in the shape of tiny teddy bears was a big hit.
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  2. If you want to give yourself a kick in the pants, GET A FIT BIT. The holidays are coming up. Make sure to get your letter to Santa in the mail now.
  3. After Pops gets Jack to school in the morning, it’s an absolute treat when his sister graces me with an extra hour of slumber because that means I can have my favorite breakfast-of-the-moment in solitude. There is no better start to the day than with a bowl of blueberry oatmeal and a piping hot cup of coffee.
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  4. On the days that I’m thrown in the driver seat full throttle I turn to my new friend The Complete Cookie. These little vegan, kosher nutritional gems are conveniently perforated into two servings. For a full cookie it’s 16 g protein and 6 g of fiber. They have many delicious flavors but at this moment peanut butter cookie is my favorite.
  5. Two books that I would highly recommend…
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    Mom’s One Line a Day: A Five-Year Memory Book. This is one of those grab in a fire things for me. It is so wonderful to look back on my babies’ lives and see what they were doing each day and how they’ve changed. This is a wonderful gift you could give to new parents. There have been many days when Albert has picked up the pen and taken over too. I love that this book is chocked full of love and so much pride. What a treasure!
  6.  Small Victories (Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace) by Anne Lamott. She is such a breath of fresh air. I laugh, cry, and ponder when I read her books.
  7. Tortilla wraps have become a bit of an obsession for me. I’m especially fond of the big spinach ones by Mission that only set me back 210 calories. The following is a quick list of what I’ve put in wraps lately; Spring mix, spinach, artichoke hearts, cherry tomatoes, smoked Gouda cheese spread, black beans, crab cake, tuna salad, Trader Joe’s roasted eggplant dip (2 tbsp 30 calories), hummus, peppers, cucumbers, pasta salad, cannellini beans, edamame, etc. The list goes on and on. The key to a healthy, happy wrap is portion control with a variety of fillings. So yummy and for someone who gets in a rut with meals, perfect.
  8.  When I saw these Saucony tennies (found here on Amazon) on the sale rack at Nordstrom ($25!!!) I knew they were coming home with me.  My Emmaline has a teeny tiny fondness for all things shoes. I blame it on her Nana and her turquoise sequined house shoes that E has been after since birth. My Mom informed me recently that those slippers have been bequeathed to my sweet daughter. For now, she will have to slum it in these wee things.
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  9. IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye Concealer & Hello Light Liquid Brightener. These early mornings aren’t doing my under eye area any favors. I picked this up at Ulta for half off during their recent 21 days of beauty. A Beauty Blender sponge works really great with this product.
  10. Radio Flyer Ultimate Wagon. This contraption was a well thought out purchase for us. Sadly we have not taken it to an amusement park or major outdoor excursion yet, but those times they are a coming. We have been enjoying this as a way to wind down our evening taking a nice stroll after dinner and before we settle in to the night time routine. It’s easy enough for big boy to pull when he feels inclined and handles like a dream. Cup holders and a pouch that fits a good sized picnic are also a plus.

I would love to hear about all the little happy things that bring joy to your lives, especially on those slumpy days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Insufficient Glandular Tissue - When Breastfeeding Doesn't Go As Planned

When Breastfeeding Doesn’t Go As Planned

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This is the first of I don’t know how many posts to tell my breastfeeding story. I don’t know if it’s that long or if it is going to take me that long to get it all out and emotionally relive it all again.

Insufficient Glandular Tissue - When Breastfeeding Doesn't Go As Planned

When my first was born, I had no idea of the learning curve that comes with breastfeeding. Babies can cry a lot when rooting and trying to latch. The latch. The frustrating, seemingly never ending, unbelievably rewarding latch. I thought he would swim to my boob and lay there happily. Um no. He was MOST irritated and he didn’t even have the chapped nipples to prove it. A friend of mine (who is also a doula) said to me “this is normal” after observing me giving two day old babe a breakfast meal. Or at least I thought I was giving two day old babe a breakfast meal. It was more like a 100 calorie snack. As far as everything looked, though, I was right on track to exclusively breastfeeding.

If I had a dozen babies I believe that every single one would be inflicted with jaundice. On day three we had to turn around and rush baby boy back to the NICU after a follow-up blood test proved his levels were elevated. Our new family bubble of bliss had been popped. Nothing and no one would get us back to that warm feeling we had felt just hours before.

Breastfeeding

A huge blessing for us was being allowed to room in for our son’s brief stay. Every 3 hours I was allowed to offer him my breast for 10 minutes followed by a long cycle at the breast pump. I was feeling really terrible with a cough and I hadn’t slept since I first went into labor. I initially attributed my low milk supply to lack of sleep, feeling under the weather, and our new “home.” Anything, but my broken breasts.

Lactation consultants would say to me “sometimes it just doesn’t happen…” with lingering looks toward the door. One “sweet” lady in particular said something that hit a nerve and has stuck with me since my first child, but only clicked with my second. “You don’t have the right breasts for breastfeeding,” she said. Immediately my loyal sister piped up “she has similar breasts as mine and I was able to breastfeed all three of my babies.” Her quip gave me a little bit of hope but I was also internally digesting this statement, comparing her breasts to mine, sixth grade thoughts all over again. Although our breasts are similar, they aren’t identical. And what I’ve learned is; even if our breasts appeared identical that wouldn’t necessarily mean we would both be able to exclusively breastfeed our babies. Some breasts just don’t produce (enough) milk but I didn’t learn this until years later.

After our return from the NICU I was supplementing with formula because otherwise he would have been a very hungry hippo.

(There is photographic evidence of this, that I was THIS CLOSE to posting, of me naked from the waist up, my head wrapped up in a towel with the supplemental feeding system clipped to it and the baby boy trying like heck to get a decent meal. My husband ran interference with this and rightfully so, by asking me if I was OK with the “POSSIBILITY OF BECOMING A MEME?”)

I was told by people and the internet that THIS (formula feeding) was the reason I wasn’t producing more milk, even though I was pumping after every feeding, sometimes for 30 minutes.
To make matters worse, when I was five weeks into life with our first I was diagnosed with pneumonia. The pneumonia would be my latest excuse for my low supply. The toll it took on me was devastating. I ended up spending a number of days in the hospital, all the while continuously pumping on a regular schedule. I was pumping around the clock and for such long times I’m surprised my nipples even survived. Because of very heavy drugs, I had to pump and dump.

Breast Feeding Blues
Photo Credit: www.someecards.com

I was a complete mess. A woman crying while pumping both breasts to the rhythmic beat of the Medela “Pump in Style” has got to be one of the saddest sights ever. My dear husband was there all the while with all the right things to say and even then I COULD NOT GET OVER THE SADNESS. I had a healthy baby boy (that I couldn’t breastfeed.) I had a beautiful baby boy (that I couldn’t breastfeed.) I had to give him formula?

During my pregnancy the idea of feeding my baby formula was so far from my mind. I would have turned up my nose if you told me it would become our lives. He needed that Enfamil to thrive and survive. HE COULDN’T get what he needed from me. This was a big, scratchy, debilitating pill to swallow.

To be continued…

 

This is a great bucket list for before you turn 30

My Bucket List: 30 Before 30

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This is a great bucket list for before you turn 30

This list was before two kids. This list was before I had real deal responsibilities, like making and cleaning up after 3 squares a day and making sure my oldest doesn’t torture my youngest, or something equally as fun. This was a list of my dreams and many of them easily obtainable. It was written in 2011, when I was 29. I am now 33. See list briefly, judge me on tardiness, dock me for incompletion, and meet me back at this point.

Life happens. Or shit happens, depending on whether you are a glass half-full or empty-type-of-person. We get going in the monotony of our day to day that we forget our dreams or ideas of how to make our lives more happy, challenging, and full. Isn’t that our purpose on this earth? To take care of ourselves and others, have some fun, hone some skillz, and honor and remember those we love? I think so.

I have put this out there to start a conversation.  I am interested to hear what’s on your list. I may or may not steal some ideas for my new one: 40 before 40. I *think* I have enough time.

What do you want to do before you turn 30?

30 before 30 List

  1. Join an group-intellectual, emotional, giving etc-Joined a women’s group nearly 3 years ago. Love those awesome ladies!
  2. Habitat for Humanity- helped out with the TPUMC 2015 Mission trip just this past week. Great fun.
  3. Successfully grow a garden-Summer 2015 The basil and dill is eeking along…time will tell.
  4. Make a cleaning schedule and stick to it- Tried this a few years back, was way too ambitious and failed miserably.
  5. Create a piece of art worth “professionally” framing
  6. Open a flower shop- bahahaha Yeah, no. Uh Uh. I’m doing good to do events out of my mother’s house on frequent trips to San Antonio. I can see this (maybe) way down the line once the littles are in school full time.
  7. Big Brothers Big Sisters-has evolved to Drive a Senior September 2015
  8. Cultivate a new group of friends
  9. Regularly attend yoga…I’ve realized this is just not me. I am looking forward to Kundalini Yoga in a park on our upcoming San Francisco trip. Random yoga is more my style.
  10. New York City- Christmas 2016???
  11. Landscape (design) the front and back yard
  12. Grief counselling- Since I wrote this list I’ve lost someone (again) who was very dear to me. Do we ever really work through the pain of losing someone special? I feel as though I might be numb or desensitized to death. Need help with this one.
  13. Wear a bikini (tankini?)-Realistic goal?
  14. Volunteer at the Majestic and San Pedro playhouse DID IT back in 2007. Great fun and got to see nearly an entire show for “free.” I feel I won’t go down this road again until I’m 70.
  15. Start and maintain a book a week reading schedule-need this
  16. Take a radio voice class
  17. Have a fondue party-I think my neighbor Chris could make me do this one.
  18. Attend a book binding class
  19. Attend the gym regularly- my fairly recently acquired FitBit is pushing me towards this one.
  20. Learn how to apply eye makeup correctly 2014/2015 In 2014 I discovered the genius that is YouTube. Yeah, I know, I’m a late bloomer. Also, I still suck at eye liner.
  21. Know how to use all of our electronics-this will probably be on the list at 50
  22. Maintain a small email inbox-organize- My friend Andria just helped me begin this process by showing me a nifty thing called “the swipe”  Thanks Andria!
  23. Camping at Big Bend- anyone have any tips for camping with kiddos?
  24. Befriend the elderly- Drive a senior September 2015
  25. Attend a hat making class- really
  26. Invite Chavez family for a backyard bbq-some of the best neighbors of all time. One of those families you want to adopt you or at least have you over for delicious coffee bread and a good chat. Will make this happen one day.
  27. Get rid of all unwanted furniture- DID IT August 2014 before our move from Frisco to Pflugerville Best.Feeling.Ever.
  28. Go swimming in that cave pool- see clipping in travel scrap book or click here. This is an easily obtainable goal now that “that cave pool” is just south of where we reside. Waiting for school to start and the crowds to die down before reaching this one.
  29. Marathon-for Cindy and my dad- I just ran for the first time a few weeks ago. It hurt like hell. This goal may be eons away.
  30. Walk dogs daily

Herb Garden

Extras

Sand, seal, and install gardening/bar sink- this was a giant sink unit we pulled out of our 1920’s kitchen..sat under the carport and eventually was stolen by metal pickers. Heartbreak!

Keep poop out of yard- haha

Take a glass blowing class

Take a dance class-master it!- For those that know me, take a moment to laugh.

Form a habit of completion- Says it all.

Yes. You can have success with a Pinterest idea! Try this easy Ice Painting Project with your toddler!

Embrace the Mess: Ice Painting with Your Toddler

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Yes. You can have success with a Pinterest idea! Try this easy Ice Painting Project with your toddler!It’s finally summer, which means I’m compiling a “summertime bucket list.” I get really excited to pen lists chocked full of fun, family-friendly activities. The very idea of having a place to reference is inspiration enough to create one. If you are like me then you have already scoured Pinterest in search of even more ideas to add to “Summer 2015.” Reality will hijack this list somewhere between Go Camping and Bake Pretzels from Scratch, but for now let’s fulfill those big summer dreams.

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Ice painting is at the top of our list this week. Grab some food dye, water, ice cube trays, and watercolor paper. Mix your paint (put some water and many, many drops of food coloring) the day before you plan on using it. Don’t even mention this to your children. Do it in the dark of the night and then just like magic it will be ready to go in the morning. How does she do it all?? The answer is, always in the dark of the night.

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Step 1
Pop ice paint out of ice cube trays

Step 2
Sit back and watch your kiddo go to town.

Notes: Am I the only one who thinks painted kids are cute? Yes? Oh ok. Dress accordingly.

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Get Zen with Orchids

Need Zen? Get an Orchid Plant.

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I went through a ridiculous amount of self-doubt in writing this short piece. “What parent has time to stop everything and arrange an orchid plant?! This is dumb!” and so forth. I came full circle in my thoughts and arrived at my original conclusion when I remembered the dog had exploded poop everywhere just hours earlier.

Get Zen with OrchidsWe all need an orchid plant. We all need a place for our eyes to land when cleaning said poop. Or something to care for that won’t speak to you in “that” tone. Orchids can also be feisty but you needn’t be afraid. The kids were having a particularly whiny day when we arranged our orchids. We were partly to blame for teaching them to whine in the first place and maybe we didn’t have lunch on the table at the “right” time. Did I mention dog poop? We finally did feed the children (not dog poop). Then we packed their whiny selves in the car and hit the road for Trader Joe’s (cheapest shop I’ve found for orchids), silently cursing the lack of a TJ’s in north Austin.

Orchid DIY SuppliesIn order to arrange your own orchid plant and to carve out a little Zen in your life, you will need something resembling the following:

  • An orchid plant (important if you like to follow rules)
  • A container for your plant (nice to dress up your new friend)
  • String, twine, raffia, thread etc. (very important if you want to step it up)
  • Moss or other pretty filler (people will be asking what florist arranged your orchids) Found at your floral wholesaler or craft store.
  • Smooth rocks (Stop it! You are so Zen.)
  • Sticks or blooming branches (Who are you?! You are the kind of parent that goes for nature walks looking for branches to completely transform your life via orchid plant.)

 

Ok, so now that you’ve taken a week to garner the supplies, you’re ready to begin!

 

  1. Orchid DIY Action ShotPull the orchid out of the ceramic pot it came in all the while keeping the plant in it’s thin, clear plastic container (yes, you could take it out of that also but not necessary) Place in a vessel of your choosing. Use any old rock to keep it in place. One rock on each side of the plant should do just fine.
  2. Trim your found blooming branch to an appropriate height, keeping in mind the curve of the orchid stem and curve of the branch.
  3. Remove wooden stakes and butterfly clips carefully. Do not lose your cool when it looks like you’ve ruined your beautiful plant.
  4. Push the stick or branch down in the existing holes and use butterfly clips to hold it in place.
  5. Remove clips and use twine or something of the like to secure the blooming branch to each of the orchid stems. I used a bit of green thread finished off with a tiny clump of moss. Your older child could help you with this step.
  6. Get your kids involved by letting them add moss around the leaves of the potted plant. This will be messy. You’ve been warned.
  7. Add a few rocks.
  8. Lastly, have your kiddo carefully wipe down each leaf of the plant.

Place your plant in an east facing window. Give it a tepid soak once a week and you’re done. Also, please see the American Orchid Society for actual tips and useful knowledge on how to keep your plant alive and help it thrive.

Obvious notes.

The orchid is the main star. All of the other is just filler. If anything, go to the store and buy yourself a plant that will make you happy.

Less obvious notes.

Orchid  Zen Finished DIY ProjectChoose a plant that has several blooms and many buds; you are giving yourself the gift of prolonged beauty. You are also telling yourself that you can and will keep this plant alive.

The blooming branch will not be blooming for long. In fact, the flowers will shrivel up fairly soon after being clipped. If the decaying process is as fascinating and beautiful to you as it is to me, then you will enjoy this aspect of your newly dressed plant. You may want to redress your orchid as you see fit. If you have no time for stem dressing, then leave the original stakes in there and just spiff it up with some moss and rocks and call it done.

I know I’ve asked a lot here. I’ve asked you to care for one.more.thing. But really, what’s one more thing? Something fresh, and not of the diaper variety, is such an indulgence around here.

We could all use a little more pretty.