2014: How’d it go?

 

 

IMG_2476

Yep, that picture pretty much sums up my feelings on the subject….

 

Sometimes I almost feel a rebellious impulse to not go through the goal-setting process of an approaching New Year. Then I remember how habitual I am by nature and I know that I will never change and improve unless I make a planned and persistent effort to do so. So here we go with my first phase.

Reflection Time! I usually do this every 3-4 months to see how I’m doing, where I need to revise things and perhaps be more specific or realistic in my expectations. The end of the year I like to take a whole look at the year though and see how I’ve done with my goals.

This year, like most;), did not go exactly as planned but I think I did make significant progress in many of my goals. If you’d like to see a detailed outline of my 2014 goals you can see the  post on my 2014 Life Cleanse Outline.

The good. I think I did a fairly good job with the health and fitness part of my goals at the beginning of the year. I did my Food Cleanse and also had cleaned  up my diet to the point that I felt I was eating the right things and in the right way for my body. Also, I had a fitness routine that was challenging and got to the point that I felt I was back into the physical shape I wanted to be at, actually I surpassed my expectations in this aspect.

More good. I do feel I made considerable progress with my emotional and spiritual goals. I did become better at studying and feel I have improved my relationship with my Heavenly Father. I now have moved my devotional time to mornings too which has made a significant difference in my day as a whole. I also feel that I came to several conclusions and realizations about myself as I strived to find the “roots” to my vices. I believe this will help me significantly as I make new goals for the upcoming year.

The bad. I did not do as well with my record keeping as I would have liked. This is so important for me as I’ve noticed I make progress more quickly, consistently, and permanently when I’m journaling that progress. I tended just to write when I was struggling, more as a way to vent. While not bad in and of itself, I did not usually write my solutions or progress in the struggles. The majority of my reasoning for keeping a journal is for my descendants and I don’t want to seem like a pessimist!

More bad. I also did not progress much in breaking my habit of going until I can’t go anymore. I know that this is a major stumbling block to my stress levels and thus the atmosphere in our home. I am just TOO task oriented in general and do not stop to smell the roses and enjoy the moments as I need to.

The downright ugly. As I mentioned earlier, I did a good job with my health and fitness “at the beginning of the year.” Basically by the end July you would never have known I even cared about such things! I tried really hard to stay faithful to my cleaner eating habits but as the morning sickness ensued I realized that my stomach just cannot handle the same foods when pregnant as they can normally. It took me until I was throwing up blood to realize that I just have to listen to my body and readjust. Unfortunately, I’ve taken up some pretty bad eating habits that I’ll have to straighten out again this year.

More ugly. I don’t know that I’ve ever done so little exercise during a pregnancy. I also don’t remember ever being this consistently exhausted in my previous pregnancies. Not to mention my varicose veins that rival my Grandmother’s (no joke, I checked when we visited in October) Yes, I usually take a 2-4 month break from anything routine or challenging during my sickest months, but I usually pick things back up and get back into a low-impact regular exercise routine by the end of my pregnancies. I have done some exercise and I of course have 4 young children to go and do with and for so I’m not sedentary but Wow….I am feeling the out-of-shape-ness coming on strong. I know this will make it more difficult to get back into a routine, I’m just hoping that underneath the layer of blubber I still have the muscle tone I worked so hard for at the beginning of the year.

Another thing I’ve realized during this reflection time is that when outlining my goals I separate them into my own, family, couple, and homeschooling. I think this year I’m going to still do that but see how I can integrate them more so as to better synthesize the process and hopefully make more progress that way.

So that’s where I stand at the end of this year. I’m in the process of re-evaluating and will post my goals for the upcoming year soon! In the meantime I hope you are all enjoying the festivities and spending some quality time with loved ones!

Stay tuned:)

 

 

Pregnancy: Let’s Get Real

IMG_1703

Real Life: Wearing my hubby’s clothes, hair not done, no make-up…Nope, I can only do two things today; homeschool while trying to keep my cookies down…

I really admire optimistic people. You know those really sunny, smiley, eternally happy people that find the silver lining in everything and don’t seem to even feel or see anything negative. I love to be around people like that, they are inspiring and really just make your day. I want to be like that so I try to surround myself with what I want to become.

However, I’m not there yet. I wouldn’t say I’m a pessimist, but I’m very realistic. I can see the positive, but I don’t ignore the negative. I also need realistic people in my life, I want someone that is going to tell me how it is, or will be. Someone that will give it to me straight. I want to know what to REALLY expect.

So with that said, these next few posts on pregnancy are going to be realistic. They are my experiences, I am not a doctor nor expert in any way. I have had 8 pregnancies in the last 10 ½ years and am just about to complete my 5th full-term pregnancy in January. Every person and every body is different so I really don’t think anyone has the same kind of pregnancy as some one else. Furthermore, in my experience every pregnancy is different, though you may have some things that are similar with each one.

So let’s get real.

1.) Morning Sickness:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           -First of all I have NO idea why it is called MORNING sickness. For me it is all day and all night sickness. Morning is worst because my blood sugar is low and I’m so tired. Evenings are more indigestion issues. I generally start to feel queasy at conception and get to the “constantly” sick point at around 6-8 weeks and it goes to more infrequent spurts of sickness around 25-30 weeks, but I have had stomach issues for the entire 9 months for each pregnancy.

2.) Energy:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              -For me, the tiredness is worse when the morning sickness is worse and then again toward the end. Not sure if it’s because I’m busier with each subsequent pregnancy and have less time to rest, but it seems that with each pregnancy I have had to battle the fatigue more. I also have a very hard time sleeping in general when I’m pregnant. In the beginning my stomach issues are the biggest hurdle, I can usually only sleep on my left side or I throw up. As the baby gets heavier my sciatica and tail-bone decide to wake me up in pain. The last couple of months I have really bad insomnia and though I’m incredibly tired I have a horrible time going and staying asleep, probably because by this time my mind is working MUCH more than my body is able to keep up so I get a bit frustrated and then anxiety kicks in. After the morning sickness is not constant I do find that I can get by with more normal amounts of sleep, but I still have to lay down to rest my back and veins for a bit during the day. I have had the “nesting” phase kick in with each pregnancy 2-3 weeks before delivery in differing phases. Sometimes it’s just enough to motivate me to get prepared for the baby while other times my husband has woken up at all hours of the night to find me scrubbing the top of the refrigerator (true story)!

3.) Body Changes:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 -You could get breast augmentation or you could get pregnant. Seriously, the girls GROW! My first pregnancy I went from a small C-cup to a very full E-cup….I didn’t even know until then that an E-cup existed! My poor first born trying to breast feed…you try latching on to a beach ball! Thankfully with my subsequent pregnancies I’ve gone only up to a DD-cup, but since it’s still quite the leap and my upper back and neck definitely feel the strain. Also, by my second pregnancy the ladies shrunk down to a full C-cup generally by month 4 postpartum.

-I’m nearly 6ft tall and just generally a large person. I also carry my babies low and to the back. Thus, I don’t even look pregnant until I’m about 5-6months. I’ve been told by dozens of people that this is a wonderful thing. While I’m sure there are benefits, the cons I’ve had to deal with are sciatica, tail-bone displacement, varicose veins, and back labor. Also, though comparatively speaking my tummy doesn’t get “out there” I’ve had abdominal separation (diastasis recti) with each pregnancy, and it’s never knitted back together completely after the last three, though I have gotten close. My hips and ribs also always have grown as the baby pushes away at my insides, sometimes getting up to 4 inches wider. Thankfully they’ve gone back to position by month 5 postpartum, at the latest.

-As for weight gain, I have always lost weight (between 10-15 lbs) during the first trimester and usually don’t hit my pre-pregnancy weight again until about 5 months along. But don’t you worry! I do PLENTY of catching up in those last 4 months;) I’m not huge on weighing myself, I don’t even own a scale on purpose cause I get too obsessive. So I’m never real sure what my exact pre-pregnancy weight is but I’ve gained anywhere from 19 lbs with my second pregnancy to this pregnancy I’m currently at 44 pounds at 37 weeks! Yikes! I usually lose a few pounds at the end but suffice it to say I’ve got my work cut out for me after this one;)

-In the first trimester I generally have problems with body regulations. I don’t urinate often cause I’m vomiting up the liquids and/or not able to tolerate them, then due to lack of hydration I am generally constipated. I also am generally very cold during the first trimester and have a hard time regulating my body temperature. I get faint easily and often get headaches due to hydration issues. By the last trimester I generally just feel out of control of my body. I’m hot then cold. Gas is coming out both ends without warning. My bowels can’t decide whether to speed up or slow down. If I drink anything, or laugh, or cough, or pick up my toddler, or sit down or get up to fast, or go over bumps in the car, I have to pee. During two of my pregnancies I’ve had some swelling in my hands and feet/ankles, they’ve also been the ones in which I’ve gained the most weight, so go figure. Though I’ve always been able to keep my wedding ring on the entire time, every pregnancy either due to swelling and/or my feet actually widening, I’ve had shoes that I have to wait ‘til about 4-5 months postpartum to fit into again.

-Obviously, having a little baby inside of you is going to create some discomfort. Though the babies movements are thrilling and interesting on one hand, having someone kick your bladder, suffocate your lungs, press on your intestines and push your spine and ribs apart can be a bit disconcerting at times. I’ve found that personality tends to drive the types and frequency of movements. My more active and exuberant children have been that way even in the womb. My “dancer” today would hear one note of music in the womb and start “dancing”. Interestingly, my two children that have had the hardest time with sibling rivalry were that way from the beginning, if my toddler sat on my lap and the baby could feel her she would push at her until she moved. Thankfully, I’ve come to the point of acceptance for the most part and thankfully my last couple babies haven’t been the kick-boxers my first couple wereJ

4.) Emotions

-Generally speaking I’m a wreck when I’m pregnant. I cry over EVERYTHING. I over-react over EVERYTHING. I’m also much more “needy”, feeling lonely more easily and not liking to do things by myself. I get stressed and overwhelmed more easily. I generally hit some “blues” during all of my pregnancies, mostly due to overwhelm I think, but with two of my pregnancies I’ve had quite the battle with prenatal (antenatal) depression which seems to dissipate after the birth. I also get a bit of a “head-trip” when I really start gaining weight and my belly starts to grow. I like to be fit and seeing my body look more like the Michelin Man kind of makes me feel a little insecure, even downright ugly at times. Overall it’s a roller-coaster, I’m happy, then sad, then angry, then anxious….up and down and all around. Honestly, it’s just REALLY annoying.

5.) Spirituality

– Though incredibly related to emotions, I’m putting a separate category for this because it is truly a life changing experience. Honestly, I detest pregnancy in every other aspect other than this one. I would guess that I’ve had an overall feeling of deeper and more intense spiritual experiences during pregnancy largely because I am so intimately connected with another living spirit. Those that would argue that the fetus is not technically human, nor spiritually aware have never felt the immediate difference one feels even during the first trimester of pregnancy. There is definitely another spirit with you. With each of my pregnancies I have felt not only a presence but a definite personality and being with me. It is truly an amazing experience and it’s no surprise that when your baby is finally born it’s as if you’ve always had them in your life. God is truly wise.

Like I mentioned at the beginning, this is more just to “tell it like it is”, from my experience. In my following posts on pregnancy I’ll deal more with tips and advice. And still further posts on labor and postpartum.

Stay tuned:)

The Blessings of Disappointment

Image  We found out that we were expecting our second child while visiting my husband’s family in Africa. I fainted on the beach!  

 Have you ever heard that song, “Sometimes I Thank God for Unanswered Prayers?” by Garth Brooks? Are you like me and seem to have this little scenario of how things are SUPPOSED to go and what is SUPPOSED to happen in your life? Is it just me or does NOTHING EVER go the way you pictured and then you get peeved and moody and maybe even a little pouty? The last few years when I go through these moments I usually end up laughing at myself because I KNOW I AM NOT THE ONE IN CHARGE. Then I reflect and see how if it had gone my way I would have missed out on A LOT of personal growth.

When we first got married, Marvel and I had a five year plan that included building our own home in rural Idaho, both of us finishing our second degrees, him moving forward in his steady and stable job, me moving forward with my teaching in public schools, and various other goals that mostly involved our own personal growth.

Instead, we had our first child six days after our 1st anniversary, he finished his second degree while I BARELY finished my first, and then he got an opportunity to move his career into an international scene. It wasn’t OUR plan, but we felt almost as if we were being led by angels. Once we gave up OUR plans everything fell into place and we moved forward into an experience that continues to teach and stretch us beyond anything OUR plans had imagined.

Another example was when we set up our “family plan” of having our children with two years between each one. After Engineer was born, we used no forms of birth control. 2 ½ years later we looked at each other and our one child and thought, is this it? I became almost obsessed with the idea that I needed to be pregnant and felt like I had done something wrong.

When I finally poured out my heart to my Heavenly Father and felt his assurances that HIS plan would be best, I let go. Fiesta was born a little over a year later and looking back I can see how HIS plan was indeed the best and I was able to grow and help Engineer get a head-start on academic skills that he has to work harder on than most, to master. It was during this time that we decided to homeschool.

Then there are smaller examples. This past week we had a family vacation planned. It was highly anticipated because we have been saving up for it and waiting for my Mom and Step-Dad to come visit so we could all go together. We had the place, the dates, the activities and the excitement all ready to go.

Well, then our van broke down, we fixed it and decided on a shorter trip. The van broke down ¾ of the way there, at night. BUT, we broke down in a town (not in the middle of a Mexican highway where towns are scattered like those in Montana). We broke down RIGHT IN FRONT AND 10 MINUTES BEFORE CLOSING TIME of a mechanic’s shop. There was a nearby safe hotel and restaurant and a bus station to take us the rest of the way to the beach while the car was fixed. There were about a MILLION inconveniences and I still feel like I’m recuperating from our “vacation” but you know what? We were safe, the kids still had a great time (mom doesn’t let me jump on my bed but the hotel bed…hahaha), we still got to see the ocean, and both Marvel and I had plenty of time to catch up with my parents. PLUS, since we had to shorten the trip Marvel and I got back in time to fix some emergencies with his business and an ESL program we help with, that could have become disastrous in our absence. I don’t believe in coincidences.

All I’m saying is that God is OUR FATHER. He ALWAYS watches out for us and guides us. Is it easy? I know that my life, even with the change in plans is a walk in the park compared to many. I needed to write this to remind MYSELF that MY PLANS aren’t always what’s best for me and my family. So, maybe MY PLAN of by now already having been in the full throws of my “Life Cleanse” for 2014 isn’t the best for me….I’m guessing that because now my kids all came down with the stomach flu in the middle of the night….;)