First Grade

SUPER excited for back to school night!

SUPER excited for back to school night!

Sonja and her first grade teacher.

Sonja and her first grade teacher.

First day of first grade!

First day of first grade!

Today is the second day of first grade for Sonja. We had a great time last week going to back-to-school night. We met her teacher, found Sonja’s desk and locker, and most importantly Sonja got to see some of the friends she missed all summer.

By Monday night Sonja was convinced that first grade was going to be horrible. She wasn’t going to have any friends and no way would her first grade teacher be as wonderful as her Kindergarten teacher! Seriously, there were a lot of tears, emotions, and reassurance from me that everything would be fine. The cloud hung over us literally and figuratively as Sonja got ready for school yesterday. She was still convinced she was going to hate it and it was actually raining outside which complicated my plans for getting adorable photos of my first grader.

But of course, just as I predicted (because I am wise mother right?), first grade is the best thing ever. It’s super fun. Her friends are awesome. And her teacher is really nice.

I totally get Sonja’s nervousness before starting a new school year. And I did my best to let her feel all the feelings and cry it out. But at some point I had to just tell her to go to bed because it was clear I wasn’t helping her feel better. I’m so glad she shook off her worries and enjoyed herself. I’m pretty sure I need to do a lot more of that myself!

But this isn’t about me! This is about Sonja and she is loving first grade.

What a Strange Summer it’s Been

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We all know I’ve struggled with some pretty big anxiety issues after the birth of my babies. Actually I don’t know how “big” my issues are compared to other people with mental illness but they feel big to me. Do I want to harm myself? No. Have I ever thought about the fact that if medication and therapy can’t tame the anxiety, I don’t know if I can live that way? Yes. But lucky for me, I’ve always found the right dose and the anxiety has subsided. That’s where I was in April. I was almost off my anti depressant when I wrote this post for Real Moms. I thought my mental health issues were behind me and I was going to get on with the rest of my life.

Well, I am so silly. And stupid. And naive, maybe. Three weeks after I took my last dose of anti depressant I had a crippling panic attack. And it didn’t go away. It just hung on there in the back of my mind making my hands sweat and keeping me on edge at all times. A week later I was back on the anti depressant. Eight weeks later and I am finally on a dose that’s working for me.

This summer has been spent close to home with a lot of hours alone in my bed. I’ve managed to drag myself into the office most days. But I’ve been so foggy and anxious and nervous… This mental health crisis came on quickly and in the grand scheme of things has resolved itself quickly. Right now I’m in a tentative state where the constant anxiety/panic is mostly gone. But some nights I don’t sleep well and some days I don’t eat much and then my palms start sweating and my brain tells me that the world is going to harm me and I should be on high alert. I hate that feeling more than anything. Seriously, I hate it and I can’t always control it. But I’m working on it. I see the psychiatrist monthly and the therapist every couple of weeks. Those two are amazing. Yes, they tell me things I already know and the same things that my friends/family tell me but it helps to see them.

You know, I’ve always equated my anxiety issues with motherhood and post-partum depression. But this is obviously not PPD, my youngest child is almost two. This is just me. For some reason that’s hard for me to embrace. But I have no problem embracing my asthma or my allergies or my poor eyesight. It’s not like I’d ever try to make it through a day without my glasses. So why do I care if I need to be on this medication to keep my brain working right? It really doesn’t matter. That’s one of my things I’m working on.

I’ve also realized lately that I’ve had these issues for so long. I can think back to high school and specific moments when I was probably having some social anxiety and I just thought I had a stomach flu or I was sick. I don’t think I needed to be medicated then. Everyone has anxiety when they are teenagers. And post college I went through a phase where I felt nauseous and dizzy all the time. After several doctor appointments and blood work it was determined my calcium levels were high and I should eat more protein. In hindsight, I realize I was having anxiety. Maybe not full blown panic attacks, but definitely some pretty good anxiety that would keep me from doing things.

I haven’t blogged on here or on Real Moms in forever. And this is highly personal. But I don’t really care who knows what’s up with me. This is me. And I am fine. Or I am going to be soon. Part of me wanted to write all this down while I’m still close to it. Maybe to help future Mel in case I have to fight to get my brain healthy again someday. I have to thank my family, my friends, and my co-workers for bearing with me once again as I battle through this. I love all of them so much. And I am so lucky to be surrounded by such open minded people. What do people without a support system do? Or people who are too scared to say they have a sick brain? How do they do this? I have no idea. If you ever need an ear to listen, get a hold of me people. I owe the universe many hugs. As they say at Walgreen’s, “Be Well.”

 

Six

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How did my baby get to be six?

Sonja turned six last Sunday. We had a wild weekend with family, friends, food, and the all important cake! Seriously three different versions of cake to be exact: cake for school, cake for the family party, and finally I gave up and stopped baking and bought a cake at Sam’s for the friends party.

Six looks good on Sonja. She cut her hair into a cute little bob. She’s tall and slim but not too skinny and maintains her totally wacky fashion sense. She loves to run and play and shake her booty to make her friends laugh. But she also loves to learn and she absorbs things like a sponge. (I think all kids this age do, but having never had my own six-year-old, it’s something to behold.) She is turning into a great reader. And yesterday during her free choice period at school she drew a story. I love that she does stuff like that. I don’t know what I did during free choice in Kindergarten. I remember one time I stole a sheep from the play farm and I had to take it back to my teacher and apologize. So I’m thinking I wasn’t as productive as my own daughter.

As for me, I feel older. I feel sort of wiser. I feel like I survived the baby/toddler years and we’re entering a new phase. I feel like it’s that phase I’ve been waiting for where my kid sort of likes me until she hates me as a teenager. And I think, how have I been a mother for six years? There are few things short of breathing I’ve done for six years in my life. And despite feeling wiser when dealing with my second child, I don’t know that I’ve improved at mothering over the last six years. It all changes too much to get really good at it.

Now that Sonja is six we are finally, actually, going to implement a chore chart of some kind. She is more than capable of helping around the house. We also plan to give her a small (VERY small) allowance and start teaching her how to spend, save, and donate. We’ll see how that goes. I picture her buying a lot of My Little Pony crap and candy bars. But that’s ok right? It’s her money now.

So, Happy Birthday Sonja Begonia! You are my favorite oldest daughter.

 

Filling Up My Freezer

It’s no secret that the Ostmos struggle to put dinner on the table every night. Not in a financial way. (Thank goodness!) But in an “OMG-I-just-got-home-from-work-and-there-are-three-hungry-people-staring-at-me” sort of way. Also, at least a couple nights a week there is somewhere we need to be by 6:30 or 7:00 for extracurricular activities. And the baby needs to be in bed by 7:00-ish. And me, being the tired woman I am, usually throw a frozen pizza in the oven or an Eggo in the toaster.

I pinned a whole bunch of crock pot recipes to my “food” board on Pinterest. Then I started reading about slow cookers and freezing meals and I pinned more recipes. Then I went through what I had pinned and combined it with crock pot recipes I know my family likes  and printed a stack of recipes.

From there I made a massive grocery list. Then Sonja and I hit Fareway and my favorite place Aldi to get the cheapest food possible. I think I spent about $250 but that included other household stuff we needed like allergy medicine and beer. You know, the essentials.

When I returned home from my epic shopping trip, (seriously, I’ve never purchased so much meat at one time in my life), I laid out all my recipes I had printed and then sorted the groceries to go with each recipe. My kitchen table looked like this for about 24 hours:

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And here’s my counter with all the MEATS and frozen veggies! (They didn’t sit out for 24 hours but I photographed them before putting them in the fridge) And yes, I did buy 18 chicken breasts:

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When I finally had time on Saturday afternoon I just went recipe by recipe and made each one and took it to my freezer in the basement. It took me about five hours. My feet were killing me and every single mixing bowl, spatula, and frying pan I own were dirty. I had to (gasp!) wash some dishes by hand because the dishwasher was so full.

I managed to make 13 meals. (I put a crock pot lasagna in for dinner on Saturday night.) Two of the recipes I split into two meals because it looked like a TON of food. So now we’ll see if I can remember to thaw things and start the crock pot before I leave for work.

Here are all the recipes I made:

Cool Ranch Chicken (I’m going to shred it and make it into tacos for dinner tonight.)

Crock Pot Sloppy Joes (I split this into two meals since it used two pounds of beef. My family never eat that much in one meal.)

Crock Pot Stuffed Peppers

Pot Roast (Kevin’s favorite)

Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili (I have made this recipe a bunch of times and we L-O-V-E, love it! I split this into two meals as well because it makes a lot of food.)

From this site I made Savory Pepper Steak and Apple BBQ Pork Tenderloin

Spicy Hamburger Goulash (I don’t love goulash but Kevin and Sonja do. I think I could have split this into two meals as well, it really filled up the freezer bag.)

And finally, (if you’re actually still reading…), from this site I made Slow-Cooker Chicken Broccoli Alfredo and Slow-Cooker Chicken Teryaki (which both recipes say to split it into 2 bags for two meals but I made each into one meal because I didn’t read that part until I was finished. Duh. I guess we’ll have a lot of leftovers on those nights.)

If you’re keeping track, that’s 12 meals. And hopefully leftovers to make it more like 24 meals. I am most definitely not writing this post to let you know how well organized I am and what a kitchen genius I am. In fact, I’m pretty much the opposite. But it’s nice to know that dinner will be mostly made when I get home from work a couple nights a week.

Next time I do this, I will wear shoes! My feet were killing me after cooking and working in the kitchen for so long. I think I will do all my chopping, then all my browning of meats, and then all the opening of cans, etc… next time. I think it might go faster that way. And I will send my family away for the time I need to cook. I love them, but it really slowed me down to help with Mario Kart and snacks and milk and all those things kids need. Even with my husband helping me, the children somehow find me and want me to do things for them. Finally, we have an upright freezer in our basement but all these freezer bags would have fit in the freezer that goes with my side-by-side refrigerator so you do not need an extra deep freeze to do something like this.

Stay warm everyone!

Six Months

This chubby baby is 6 months old today! Time is going by too fast. She has two bottom teeth. She can roll from her back to her tummy and can almost sit up by herself. She loves eating oatmeal, apples, and carrots. She likes playing with her feet. She continues to be super laid back and cheerful. We just love her to death.

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Three Months Old

Camille was three months old on Tuesday. She makes me smile and warms my heart. She has a funny little smile. She likes to “talk” with her big sister. She occasionally rolls over. She quickly gets furious if she’s hungry and we’re not quick enough with her milk. She loves being held by anyone. Mostly she’s pretty easy going. I need the growing to slow down!

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First Christmas

We went to see Santa at Westdale Mall on Saturday night. Both girls did great! No one cried and Sonja even told Santa what she wanted in a voice he was able to hear and understand. Sometimes she gets quiet and mumbly when she’s nervous. Why doesn’t Santa pass out candy canes anymore? Now you just get a coloring book. Healthier I suppose but not nearly as fun in my opinion!

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First Thanksgiving

We celebrated Camille’s first Turkey Day in Mt. Vernon. We ate too much and had a great time. Camille had plenty of people to snuggle her and Sonja had Tara, Billy, and Grandpa Joe to play with. And Kev and I had time to sit quietly with no one bugging us. So thankful for that. Ha!

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