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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Friendship & Family .... Why do our relationships differ as soon as we become a mom?

I have a confession: I am not always a great friend. In fact, there have been many times where I have been a sh*tty friend. 

me & our friend Ali!

I have attempted to comfort myself in some way by telling myself, "well, you were just too busy being such an amazing mom that you didn't have time to be a great friend". Ha! That didn't work too well on the days I also felt like a sh*tty mom! I have had days where I feel overwhelmed... like I can barely make it to the store, let alone to lunch or a playdate! 

Then there's the added financial piece. To make a friend-date now involves a sitter, the cost of the actual outing/meal, and the gas to get there! Many times I felt I had everything else worked out and then the day would come and I just didn't have the money to get there!

Subsequently, I felt like my friends (some who have kids, and some who don't) just didn't understand. I let them down... again. Recently though, I have a different "respect" for those times in my life. In hindsight, my almost disabling feelings of being overwhelmed was at least in part due to my postpartum depression.     As a family, we have had a busy (for lack of a more dramatic word) 4 years. We got engaged, moved in together, married, moved again, settled in to mixed family life with Sissy and Spiderman, then had two more children (babies A and B), and moved again into our current, beautiful, huge condo! 

Hubby has his business off the ground, he is working so incredibly hard so that I can be home with our kids. I have officially transitioned from working FT to being a SAHM and feel like I finally (and I mean, FINALLY) have time to devote to volunteering, reading, and putting effort (like true, real, honest EFFORT) into our family, our marriage, and my friends. We have instituted Family Appreciation Night , my hubby and I are participating in the Rachel Wojo Read Your Bible in a Year Challenge together, and I am making a conscious effort to pay attention and be "present" for my friends and extended family. 

These years have also taught me how to say "no". Sometimes, as a mom especially (but you don't have to be a mom to relate to this statement) you just can't do everything. That's right: You. Can't. Do. Everything. And honestly, you let less people down if you're honest. The timing doesn't work with nap time, you don't have the money, you just know you won't get to it, or you just don't want to! 

Believe me: There will come a time when you DO HAVE TIME. or you ARE ABLE. THEN you can help, check in, meet for lunch, etc. Until then, just relax. Enjoy your kids. If you feel too overwhelmed to enjoy them (because I was there too) then take the time to figure them out. Stay in your jammies all day and study them. Look them in the eye, pay attention to their every move, play with them, find out what brings them joy. In doing this, you will find joy. It will take effort. Relationships; whether it be with your children, your husband, your mother, your in laws, or your friends take effort. And I will repeat for emphasis: true, honest, whole-hearted effort.

You need to be accountable, forgiving, loving, patient, and focused. You will not always get it right. But the glory is, we are all a work in progress. "Life is journey, not a destination" -Ralph Waldo Emerson.

What are your "tips" for maintaining healthy relationships? Friendship or otherwise... 


Monday, January 21, 2013

What I'm Reading NOW

Want to read along with me? Here's what I am reading right NOW: 

So yes, I finished Heaven is for Real in literally one day; 4 kids and all! It was SUCH an incredible book! I highly recommend it! 

In one night I am already over half way through the book! It is SO good! Enjoy!! 

What book are you reading right now??

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

What I'm Reading NOW: Heaven is For Real

Want to read along with me?? Here's what I'm reading right NOW: 

Want your child to read along too? 


Crafty Mama: "Pinspired" Projects Edition

 I figured I should share some of my recent projects in hopes that they might assist you in later quick, budget friendly recipes or gift ideas! I shared some of my Thanksgiving recipes and craft ideas HERE.

Here is the NNM Holiday Gift Guide from 2012: 

The last few years we have taken to making homemade gifts for our family. Last year we re used our milk bottles to house our easy granola

The year before that we made heart felt individual ornaments 

Holiday Gift Guide 2012 

This year, the kids made snowflake ornaments out of Popsicle sticks. Somehow, I failed to get a picture of our finished product; but they were like the ones you made in school that looked like this: 

photo credit: mama jenn blog

We used pipe cleaners as the ornament hanger and used permanent markers to write our names on the back. 

My sister is getting married this year, and her and her fiance love Crate & Barrel. I was able to score a setting for 4 from a local yard sale site on Facebook a few months back. The lady I bought it from threw in some extra place mats, so I used those and some inexpensive, washable fabric paint (which was used for multiple gifts as you'll see) to personalize them for my parents and the in laws. 

place mat and fabric paint

For hubby, who is an avid poker player, I decided this idea from Pinterest was perfect! I just used a hole punch and a pipe cleaner to tie them all together. Total cost? A $2 deck of cards ;) and a WHOLE LOT OF LOVE <3 

For the older kids; Spiderman, Baby A, and my niece Phia, I used the kids crayon stubs to make crayon disks. I got the idea and instructions HERE  

After baking at 250 degrees for about 20 minutes, they were done! The "gift bags" were leftover from the $2 pack of red paper lunch bags we got to make our advent bags. I also grabbed a coloring book for each child from the $1 bin at Target

Birthdays 2013: 

Hubby's gift was inspired by this PIN  

Walk a Little Slower Daddy

I was able to get a 2pk canvas for $7.99 at Michaels' Craft Store, and then we just used the fabric paint we had on hand, a permanent marker, and leftover raffia from our holiday ornament wrapping. 

And now I have another canvas left to use for a later project! 

Sissy's gift was inspired by this PIN  

make up magnet board

We scored a baking dish and some magnets at the same craft store, and just used super glue and the same fabric paint at home. Spiderman saw the little wooden accents, which we just super glued on, for $0.49 each in the scrapbook section! 

And finally, recipe FUN: 

Today we made our own bread to have with just a family size can of tomato soup for dinner... 

crusty whole wheat bread , easy!

I'd say it was a success! ;) I only altered the recipe by using whole wheat flour in lieu of white flour. I think next time I'll use a less grainy flour, like almond flour though to make the bread a bit less dense. 

We had flour in the pantry, and always have sea salt; so total cost? $1.99 packet of yeast. Result? An entire loaf of bread which fed 4 of us for dinner, 2 slices each! <3 

Last night I also used up some ripe bananas, but realized I had no loaf pan- so improvised and used this recipe to make muffins. What I liked about it is that it uses honey and applesauce instead of sugar and oil! 

Mine look dark because, again, I use whole wheat flour. They are good, but dense due to the whole wheat flour and the applesauce. Total cost? NOTHING because I was using up stuff we had! <3 Perfect. 

What are some of your favorite budget friendly, easy projects??? Food or otherwise?? 

Find NNM on Pinterest @mymackey

Featured Guest Post: Empress of Drac

 Attachment v Free Range Parenting: Which is Better for Your Troubled Teen?
written by

Agnes Embile Jimenez

Troubled teens are troubled for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, the teens are just trying to assert their independence and break away from the hold of the parents. Sometimes, the issues are more than behavioral and the teen is unable to control their impulses -- leading to bad decisions.

There has been some discussion on the techniques that should be used to guide these teenagers. Should the teens be given their own independence to deal with the situation? Should parents take a calm approach?

What does a parenting style have to do with how we treat troubled teens? Which parenting style is better for the child?

First, it's important to understand each of the type of parenting styles that we are comparing. Parents that practice attachment parenting are often searching for cues in the behavior of the teen, in their non-verbal and verbal signs, to provide support. Parenting with attachment parenting in mind means providing support for the child emotionally, communicating feelings with the child and having a close relationship where issues are often discussed in great lengths. 

Sissy (for the record, NOT a troubled teen) ;) and daddy <3

Parents that choose attachment parenting are likely going to be less inclined to send their children off to boarding schools to teach independence, as they are more likely to prefer a more hands-on approach in dealing with them.

Parents that have chosen more of a free range parenting approach aren't any less attentive to their children’s issues -- however, these parents may be more inclined to choose boarding schools for education (so that their children will learn to become more independent). Free range parenting techniques encourage teens to find their own independence while being accountable for their actions. Parents that have chosen this type of parenting are adamant on raising children that are capable of finding their way in the world, without their constant supervision. 

When it comes down to it -- which approach is going to be more effective for parents dealing with troubled teens? Parents should consider their own teenager and which responses have worked better in the past, as well as the personality of the teen. Parents might have to try a few different techniques when it comes to dealing with behavioral issues. There is no blanket solution; parents are going to have to experiment with what parenting style works best for their children, and their entire family.

Need some HELP with your troubled teen? 

Click HERE for a PDF of some resources available, or visit Focus on the Family directly.  

Want MORE info from Empress of Drac? 

CONNECT with her HERE: 

Be sure to let her know NNM sent you! Now, Comment below, we want to know how YOU have handled or are handling your teenager(s)?? Which form of parenting works best for you? DO you have favorite resources that might help other mamas reading today? 

Monday, January 7, 2013

My Experience with Postpartum Depression, and My Plea to You

I figured since I haven't done a particularly informative post in a while, it was time to do one. I have several friends having babies and that are currently pregnant, so I thought now might be a poignant time to share about topic that has historically been swept under the rug. Postpartum depression.

from Google

Not all women who suffer from PPD are having suicidal thoughts, or feeling as though they want to hurt their babies. It is my opinion that this is how the description comes across from medical professionals and anyone with lesser symptoms can have the unfortunate result of being brushed off as merely sleep deprived, or adjusting to a newborn.

Women caring for their first born are particularly vulnerable as they have nothing to compare their feelings to. Life with a newborn IS hard. Trying to adjust to finding your own new definition and role as a mother, adjusting your relationship with your partner or spouse, and finding time for daily necessities like taking the dog out, doing groceries, or even showering all become a delicate balance.

me with baby Spiderman on his 1st day home after 7 days in the NICU
My own experience with PPD was a sneaky one. I, like many others, chalked my feelings up to sleep deprivation and a failing relationship with my then-boyfriend. Spiderman had some initial complications,
and so it was my assumption that those, in conjunction with regular adjustment, and financial struggles had led to my feelings of complete (as in true, pure) exhaustion and feeling overwhelmed.

Almost a year after Spiderman's birth, I finally sought help and was officially diagnosed with PPD by a therapist. That began a probably additional six month recovery period, during which time I experienced the ultimate demise of my relationship with Spidermans' dad, and then began my journey as a single mom.

Move ahead several years to the pregnancy and birth of Baby A: Now knowing what postpartum recovery was like, I began preparations for PPD about 7 months into my pregnancy. My OB/GYN started me on some medication so that it would have time to "get into my system" by the time Baby A was born.

I also prepped by taking appropriate time off from work, which I had not done with Spiderman. I made arrangements for help at home, stocked the freezer with frozen Amy's meals and the pantry with easy to grab bottled water and Odwalla bars. This time, I also had the blessing of the all time greatest PPD preventative: a supportive husband <3

baby A's birthday!
We made a plan for care and support at home, we lined up my therapist and lactation consultant, and made additional post natal appointments with my OB/GYN and the visiting nurse.

Despite the preparation, I still suffered from PPD. The feelings of being completely (I'm talking utterly, totally, completely) overwhelmed were rampant, I felt as though I couldn't take care of myself, what little energy I had was focused at my colicky infant (so much for preparation!) and my now 3 year old!

Add to the colic and PPD recovery from a C section, an ongoing custody dispute, and a near failure to thrive diagnosis... and I was a mess! [One of these days, I'll post Baby A's full birth story] However, my preparedness did not go to waste. In fact, it was what saved me! I had the full support of my fabulous hubby, family, and friends. I did my best to remain hydrated and the frozen meals and protein bars were my savior! (along with coffee... lots and lots of coffee) :)

I did my best to NOT try and be supermom. For weeks I did nothing but stay inside and do nothing but snuggle, nurse, soothe and repeat. We spent time just myself, her and Spiderman watching movies, reading stories, and sitting on our front lawn with new library books chillin by the sandbox and the kiddie pool. I had family take Spiderman off to the park or the beach while we attended our multitude of appointments to the lactation department, pediatrician, OB/GYN, chiropractor, and local WIC office.

Baby A and Spiderman, still at the hospital 

jaundiced baby A and her auntie Amber, out with mommy on a trip to Target to get some nursing essentials ;)

baby A and tired hubby <3

One of my all time favorite posts about postpartum recovery is THIS one from The Leaky Boob.

Several months after Baby A's birth we had our miscarriage. As with any miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal loss; we suffered emotionally. I felt like I had done something wrong, like it was my fault. Thankfully, I was still on a low dose of anti depressants and still seeing my therapist, and I had begun attending church shortly before that, and found solace there and ironically online; particularly via Unspoken Grief.

In October of 2011, just 3 months after Baby A turned 1 year old, we found out we were pregnant with Baby B <3 She was a bit of a surprise ;) so I was still on a higher dose of medication from the miscarriage. Consulting with my OB/GYN, PCP, and therapist it was decided I should remain on the medication and just wean down to the lowest effective dose during the pregnancy.

We prepped a bit differently for the birth of Baby B, as she was to be a VBA2C, but nonetheless we prepped for her birth... and the ensuing PPD.

Baby B is now 7 months old, and I have to say this postpartum period has been my "happiest". I would venture to even say I'm not sure I even "have" PPD this time. My anxiety has been heightened for sure, now a complete SAHM of 4 kids; I now suffer from insomnia and am inevitably irritable. Besides that however, I would say I have "adjusted" far better this time around.  Despite her immune deficiency and low weight, baby B is a happy girl, which makes ME a happy mama!

Baby B

Call it experience.
Call it divine intervention.
Call it what you will, but here is my plea to you...

My plea to all "new" moms... that means YOU.. that means YOU with the brand new 1st born, that means YOU that has only angel babies, that means YOU that just gave birth to baby # 5....

* take care of yourself, you just had a baby
     this means eat food, drink water, sleep/nap, and SIT DOWN. 
* sleep in the knowledge and peace that your baby is with God, or nap when your baby naps
     laundry can wait 
     dishes can wait 
     do NOT plan to COOK meals. buy some nice, less preservative ridden frozen varieties or have friends and family bring you food ;) 
    make things easy to grab so you can eat or hydrate while you nurse or bottle nurse 
 * baby wear. NO LIE, it makes all the difference for BOTH mom and baby. You are hands free and still snuggling, and baby is SO. much. calmer. 
* shower, you will feel amazing ;) 

     the old addage: "It takes a village to raise a child" is TRUE. If you don't have a supportive or present spouse/partner and your family is too far away and your friends are too busy... find a mom's group- every hospital has one. Find a church if you don't already have one- you'll be glad you did. Try a few if you're not sure what you're looking for. 

    many communities also offer free or drop in mommy-and-me yoga classes, which can be a great networking opportunity that will also improve your health! <3 

     you can find support online as well, and many give you links or contacts to local support groups. Some of my favorites are; 

* take as much time as you can to SIT, NURSE, ENJOY. It goes by too fast. I know it doesn't seem like it now, but it does. I assure you. 


What has your experience in birthing and postpartum recovery been?? What resources have you found that have helped you the most and might help other moms? 



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