Dear Me of 7 Years Ago

Welcome to the June 2015 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Talking to Yourself

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written letters to themselves. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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Dear Me of 7 Years Ago,

You don’t know it, but you’re about to get knocked up. I know that the timing isn’t quite right. I know that it’s all going to get very scary and overwhelming very quickly. But I’m here to tell you that it’ll all be alright. It’ll be more than alright.

Your heart is going to implode. And what will be left in the wreckage will be a new, better heart. One that holds infinitely more love, patience, and meaning. As you take this new, beautiful of baby in your arms, you will break. The you you’ve always known will cease to exist because there just couldn’t possibly have been a you without this person. You have a new sun to revolve around. And it will happen again and again. And even with lack of existence, implosions, and revolving around more than one sun, it’ll somehow make sense.

You’ll find yourself. The person you were always meant to be. You’ll find new passions, you’ll get new perspective, your priorities will change. You’ll figure out what really matters in your life and let everything else fall away. You’ll be a different person than you would have been had these little people never come into your life. You’ll be better.

I’m not saying it’ll be perfect. There will be hard times. Oh believe me, I know the hard times. Sometimes all the time will be a hard time. That’s okay. Having just read a letter from myself another 7 years from now, I can tell you it’ll be hard then too. But it’s more than just hard. Parenting will challenge you in ways that cause you to grow. Parenting will teach you that you can do hard things.

So me, get ready for a whirlwind. Your life is going to be flipped upside down and it’s going to be amazing. You’ll never regret it for a second.

Love,
Me

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Dear Me. — Meegs at A New Day writes to her decade-younger self offering a good reminder of how far she’s come, and she addresses some fears she wishes future her could assuage.
  • Reflecting on Motherhood with Parental Intelligence: A Letter to Myself — Laurie Hollman, Ph.D. at Parental Intelligence writes about raising her two loving, empathic sons with Parental Intelligence and finding they have become industrious, accomplished young men with warm social relationships.
  • A Letter to MyselfThe Barefoot Mama writes to herself in the moments around the birth of her daughter.
  • A Letter to Myself — Holly at Leaves of Lavender offers a missive to herself in the past… three years in the past, to be precise, when her little one was only four months old.
  • Dear me: Nothing will go the way you’ve planned — Lauren at Hobo Mama gets real with her just-starting-parenting self and tells it to her straight.
  • A Letter to the Mama Whom I Will Become — Erin from And Now, for Something Completely Different writes a letter to the Mama whom she will one day be, filled with musings on the past, present, and future.
  • Dear Me of 7 Years Ago — Lactating Girl at The Adventures of Lactating Girl writes to her pre-baby self telling her about the whirlwind she’s about to enter called parenting.
  • Talking to My 18 Year Old SelfHannahandHorn talks to herself as she is just entering college.
  • Dear highly sensitive soulMarija Smits tells a younger version of herself that motherhood will bring unexpected benefits – one of them being the realization that she is a highly sensitive person.
  • Talking to myself: Dear Pre StoneageparentStoneageparent enlightens her pre-pregnant self about the amazing transformations life has in store for her after having two children
  • Dear Me: I love you. — Dionna at Code Name: Mama wrote herself a few little reminders to help her be at peace with who she is in the moment. That may give her the greatest chance of being at peace in the future, too.
  • My best advice to the new mama I was 8 years ago — Tat at Mum in Search shares the one thing she wishes she’d figured out earlier in a letter to her 8-years-ago self (that’s when her first baby was 6 moths old).
  • A Letter to Myself — Bibi at The Conscious Doer sends a letter back in time eight years to her darkest moment post partum.
  • To me, with love — Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama makes peace with her past and projects what a future her will need to hear.
  • To Myself on the Last Day — Rachael at The Variegated Life tells her panicked last-day-before-motherhood self not to worry.

Peanut Butter Green Smoothie

Gotta get those greens in these kids!

Gotta get those greens in these kids!

Today I’m sharing with you one of my favorite recipes from the Super Healthy Kids meal plan: Peanut Butter Green Smoothies! My whole family loves them and they keep us full which has always been an issue with smoothies in the past. And they’re healthy!

Peanut Butter Green Smoothies

2 cups – almond milk, unsweetened
1 teaspoon – cinnamon
2 scoops – vanilla protein powder
2 medium – banana
2 cups – spinach, raw
4 tablespoons – peanut butter, all-natural

Directions: Toss all ingredients into blender and blend until smooth. Add ice if a thicker consistency is desired. Serve immediately.

So there you go! I hope you all try this smoothie. And don’t forget to enter the giveaway for a free year of Super Healthy Kids meal plans! The giveaway ends this Wednesday and there are shockingly few entries! If you’ve already entered, find some other way to enter! You can enter many, many different ways! If you haven’t entered yet and the website is still down when you see this (they’re having a bit of a technical issue), go ahead and skip the first mandatory entry.

Emergency Bags

As I was, once again, pulling something out of an emergency bag in my car tonight, it occurred to me that I’ve never shared this on the blog. We’ve been using them for years, so I’m honestly not sure where I originally got the idea. I have a feeling. It stems from my “ah an earthquake is coming!” phase of crazy that I went through postpartum with Twig. Not saying planning for a natural disaster is crazy, just that I was a little bit obsessively crazy postpartum and for a bit I fixated on that.

Anyway. So emergency bags. I can’t even count the amount of times that these things have been used. I tend to bring too many things when we leave the house, yet there’s still always times that I’ve forgotten something. I guess that’s just life when you have three tiny people to manage out the door! And when I forget something, something that would normally really suck to forget, it’s no big deal. I have emergency bags!

What’s in them? For the bigger kids (one for each) it’s:

  • Pants
  • Shirts
  • Undies (multiple pairs)
  • Socks
  • Sweater
  • Pjs
  • Blanket (though these aren’t actually in the bag, we just keep them in the car for when they get cold)

For the baby, all of the above plus:

  • Diapers (just a few)
  • Blankets
  • Burp rags (for younger babies)
  • Baby carrier (my least favorite sling, better than nothing)

I make sure they’re the right size and weather appropriate when I switch clothes over for new seasons or sizes. Like I said, these things get used like crazy. And I usually stock them with the less-than-ideal outfits (a hazard of hand-me-downs) so it’s not like the clothes are missed.

I also keep a general emergency bag with stuff for everyone in the family and a few things for specifically my husband and myself:

  • Water bottles (I try to avoid using these so they’re available for a true emergency)
  • Pullover (that either of us could wear)
  • Receiving blankets (great for messes)
  • Shirt for my husband
  • Shirt and cardigan for me
  • Grocery bags (great for holding dirty clothes)
  • Huge ziplock bags (for puking, right on top)

And that’s it! It seems like a lot, but really it doesn’t take up much space. It worked well when we were in a car and even better now that we’re in the van. They fit perfectly right under the seats!

Do you keep emergency bags in your car? Feel free to add to my lists if you think I’ve missed something!

Loving Where I Am Now

I’ve been having a lot of house envy lately. Owning your own home is kind of a double-edged sword. My space and my decisions, but also my repairs and my maintenance. I feel like this sways more towards the bad side at times when the house is old and therefore the repairs are generally more frequent and more epic. So for a few months there, I spent a lot of time looking at other houses on the internet pining after one. Quite frankly, all it did was make me feel depressed about where we’re at now, which is at least a few years off from buying a new home.

So I decided that I was done with it. I decided that I needed to stop wishing for the future and live in the present. I also decided that if I can plan pretty creative things for birthday parties, I can do something for my house too. And worst case scenario I can always paint over it if it’s a wreck.

We have this awkward raised spot in our hallway that I’m guessing covers the mechanism for the doorbell or something of that nature. When we moved in I immediately decided that something cool needed to go there. Rather than it being an eyesore that sticks out, it could be a piece of art. So I painted it dark blue (the same color as the trim) to emphasize it rather than hide it, but that’s as far as I got. I was convinced for a long time that I would find something I could put there, but that never panned out because it was such an awkward size (something like 2 feet by 4.5 inches). Then I thought I would pay my brilliant artist friend to do calligraphy magic on it, but I never worked it into the budget. Finally, I decided why can’t I do it? Sure, I’m not an artist, but I’m getting better. And to me, it just made sense to do it myself with my own two hands.

“I want to do it properly… Not by magic.” – Harry Potter

So I set about doing it. Really, I’m not a naturally artistic person, as far as I consider things. I’m a copier, and I’m okay with that. I can alter things just enough to make them my own, but largely I need someone else’s idea to get started. So first I found a quote that I love that could also fit in a relatively small space. Next, I found someone else’s work online that I liked for how to draw it. I cut a piece of paper that was the correct size and started going about drawing out the quote as close to the original as I could, making it work in the space I had. Then I cut out the outline of my lettering with a craft knife and used the figure to trace it onto the wall. A friend suggested that I use Sharpie paint markers, which I did, and it turned out great. Here’s my end result. And here’s to loving where I am today instead of dwelling on where I’ll be tomorrow.

Super Healthy Kids Meal Planning Membership Review

One of our lunches. Easy, healthy, and surprisingly delicious.

Y’all know me, I don’t often pay someone to do something that I can do myself. Meal planning is most certainly something I can do myself, I’ve done so in the past. But the issue with doing that myself is that it never gets done. So I would plan things out with the best of intentions for a couple of weeks, then it would fall to the wayside. So why not try a service that plans it all for me? Especially one that’s made for kids to like it and to be “super healthy”? Let’s do this!

So I contacted the ladies at Super Healthy Kids, a website I’ve been following for years and love, to ask if I could do a review of their meal planning service. They graciously obliged and I was able to try out their service for three whole months! It’s been three months of some downs and definitely lots of ups and I’m excited to report that not only did we like it, but we’ve decided to continue with the service on our own dime. Even my husband agrees! And isn’t that the true show of a good reviewed product, buying it myself?

Let’s get on with the actual review.

So keeping in mind that it was all resolved in the end, there was a bit of a learning curve. I think 3 months billed at a time is perfect because I may have given up after one month if it was an option. Really what it all boils down to is someone else is planning everything. I had to find ways to make it our own. First off, I had to re-arrange the meals. Being a family of five with three of those being small (and therefore not eating a ton, though the oldest is starting to), I had to add two leftovers nights a week. Then I add a third every week for Sundays, which are often spent with family. This encompasses both the times that we need to eat the extras from other nights as well as the times that we decide to get pizza or something else not made at home.

Bunny pancakes!

The other thing I did to mitigate the over-abundance of food was to edit the meals to the correct size. My husband often takes leftovers to work or goes out with co-workers, so he only eats a couple of the lunches that I make a week. Then some of the meals are made with serving sizes of 6, which we’ll never be able to make it through, so I edit those totals down. For now, I print off the recipes (which I found out is my preferred way of doing it anyway) and manually going through and editing totals. Amy assured me that they’re working on putting in the function that edits it for you, so I’ll be on the lookout for that in the future.

The other big learning curve was the price. I’m not talking about the $24 every three months for the service, but rather how much I was spending at the grocery store each month. To be fair, I was spending a very low amount at the store each month in comparison to others I’ve talked to about it. Generally about $300/month, not including WIC and frozen meat we have from the farm (which we don’t use a ton of because it’s mostly the stuff we don’t use much at this point). Adding in that our country is in a sad state where crap processed food is cheaper than fresh fruits and veggies, we by definition had to spend more to eat healthier. In the beginning, we were spending a LOT more though. More like $500-600 a month. With the things I mentioned above and some smart shopping (substituting things I already had in my cupboards for things I’d have to buy, though I’ve had to do that less and less as I’ve used stuff up), I got it down to around $400 a month, which is definitely livable. And we stopped eating out as much, so things are balancing out really well.

Not every meal is a hit (really, they aren’t when I pull new recipes off the internet either), but I was surprised at how much we really did like the recipes. We tried things we wouldn’t have normally. New fruits and veggies, new ways of eating things, all sorts of new. And I actually liked probably about 90% of it. The kids are probably more like 70%, but there’s always enough of the familiar that they still eat what they need and they’re always at least trying the new things. And I’ve noticed that with time as they get used to it that they’re complaining less. The biggest thing I think they’re happy about is the abundance of fresh produce. They both LOVE fruits and veggies, so having them at every single meal makes them crazy happy. Often it’s something simple like orange slices and cucumbers on the side. All the meals are simple to make.

Something really unexpected to me as been how good it is for me to eat these foods. I’ve been working on losing weight for the past about 4 months and starting this meal plan is when I really started to shed the weight. I’ll write more on this later, but I’ve lost about 15 lbs so far and I’ve had treats nearly every day (yeah, probably shouldn’t do that). This meal plan is leaving me that wiggle room and it’s worked out really great for me. And I feel great every day, never hungry, and I can tell I’m eating healthier because I just *feel* better. Super healthy kids and super healthy mama!

Do you want to be super healthy too!? Well, you can right now with 25% off (expires July 1st)! Just use the code claire25 when you sign up! And one lucky reader will win a one year subscription!

First off, make sure to leave a comment for each entrySo if the item you accomplish says 2 entries, leave two comments! I try my best to check through and make sure everyone gets all the entries they should, but I’m not perfect! Make sure to get credit where credit’s due!

Mandatory first entry: Go to the Super Healthy Kids blog and check it out! Leave a comment here telling me which recipe you’re going to try! Be sure to use an email you can be contacted at in case you win!

1 entry: follow me on Twitter. If you already follow, you still get an entry!

1 entryfollow Super Healthy Kids on Twitter. If you already follow, you still get an entry!

1 entry: Tweet about this giveaway (leave a link to the tweet in the comment). You can tweet about this giveaway once every day for an entry. That’s up to 15 entries just from tweeting!

1 entry: follow me on Pinterest. If you already follow, you still get an entry!

1 entry: follow Super Healthy Kids on Pinterest. If you already follow, you still get an entry!

1 entry: become a fan of The Adventures of Lactating Girl on Facebook. If you’re already a fan, you still get an entry!

1 entry: become a fan of Super Healthy Kids on Facebook. If you’re already a fan, you still get an entry!

1 entry: Write a post on your Facebook page about this giveaway! Make sure you link to The Adventures of Lactating Girl on Facebook and Super Healthy Kids on Facebook in the post and leave a comment here each time you do it. You can do it once per day! That’s up to 15 entries!

1 entry: follow Super Healthy Kids on Instagram. If you already follow, you still get an entry!

1 entry: follow Super Healthy Kids on Google+. If you already follow, you still get an entry!

2 entries (don’t forget to comment twice!): follow this blog by email (or other following mechanism of your choosing).  If you already follow, you still get an entry!

2 entries: sign up for the Super Healthy Kids newsletter (just scroll down a bit to the “Join Our Newsletter” section). If you already get the newsletter, you still get an entry!

The winner will be chosen on Wednesday, June 10th at 5PM Mountain Standard Time by random. The winner will be emailed and must respond to the email within 48 hours or a new winner will be chosen. Good luck everyone!

Newsletter – March 2015

Hi You Three!

March was another great month. Lots of time outside, lots of fun inside, and we even got our Lagoon season passes at the end of the month. We had a week-long spring break from Peanut’s school, so we got to just hang out and do whatever we wanted every day. It made me really look forward to summer. Of course this month was Peanut’s birthday and we celebrated by going out to her birthday dinners, the Natural History Museum of Utah, and watching Harry Potter all day (a girl after my own heart).

Writing your name for the first time.

Twig, you’re turning into a real person. Three is a hard age, but it’s also a cool age. You’re just making leaps and bounds in that little head of yours and I see how much you’re changing every day. You’re leaving toddlerhood behind and becoming a kid. One day this month when I was unbuckling your car seat I realized that you had an eyelash that had fallen out. I got it on my finger and told you to make a wish, then we pressed our fingers together to see who got their wish (whoever gets the eyelash). I didn’t really expect you to get it, but when I asked what you had wished for, you said a Daniel Tiger movie. That’s a real wish! You got it the eyelash by the way, so better get on that PBS. Another good example is when we were saying goodnight one night and I said something along the lines of “I love you to the moon.” We were going back and forth saying different places that we love each other to, then you said “I love you to my nose.” and started to laugh. You actually got that it would be funny. And it was funny!

 You’re making even more strides with letters. I decided to try it out just to see if you could and it turns out you can match most of the capitalized letters to their lowercase counterparts. You also love it when I read to you. You’ve always loved reading, but it’s a whole new level. I’m pretty sure that we could read all day every day and you’d be happy. You do get a bit bored when Peanut and I read chapter books, but you still listen along and want me to read them to both of you, just while you’re sometimes wandering off to do different things. And lastly, you nighttime potty trained this month. I expected it to be a big hassle of constantly changing wet sheets, but you’ve been good from the start. I think you’ve only had a full on accident (and a few wake-up-mid-pee accidents) once in the month you’ve been diaper-free at night.

Your poor nose.

Banana, you’re really zooming now. You spent the last part of last month in the “aww, he’s crawling!” stage and starting off this month with “How did you get to the dog water that fast again?!” You are getting into everything. You would think that three kids in our house would be pretty baby-proofed, but you’re still finding plenty to get that I don’t particularly want you to have. A downside to your newfound ability to crawl is that you keep falling on your face. Your poor nose actually got a blood blister (or something of that sort) that popped and it looked so sore. It never seemed to bother you though. And I’ve figured out that I have to get your pjs off immediately when you wake up so you don’t trip all over them. You still fall over quite a bit, but not as much.

Pulling yourself to stand at the bottom of the stairs.

One of your favorite things is to make noises with your mouth. I don’t know why, but one day you were getting upset and I started bouncing my hand on your mouth to make “ub-bub-bub-bub” noises. You loved it! So much so that you started doing it with your own hand too. It’s really cute. Here’s a video.

Peanut, you spent this whole month telling people that your birthday was coming up, then once it passed you told them how many days ago it was. You also told everyone who would listen that you were having a “My Neighbor Totoro/Kiki’s Delivery Service/Spirited Away/Ponyo” birthday party. You’re still loving Studio Ghibli. Honestly, we all love them.

You also have a newfound love of climbing trees.

This month you’ve started doing something that really excites me–reading for pleasure. You spend most of your quite time these days reading Elephant and Piggie books (your absolute favorite). Of course you still love it when we read to you (currently mama is reading you Matilda and dad is reading you The Hobbit), but it’s just so cool that you want to read all by yourself too. You’ll even read books to Twig sometimes, which I can tell is just the start of an awesome reading relationship.

Love you three!

Mama