I could do better

I was always the last child, and of course I never felt like I ever measured up to any of my sisters. But this is not really about them, I just don’t feel like I measure up in general. I am constantly comparing myself to other people, their accomplishments and their lives.

story

I need to stop! I am working at my life, I am growing up and finding my way!

I am trying so hard to please everyone else that I am literally driving myself insane. I don’t know when it became so important to me to please other people, and I don’t really care.
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I need to live for me. I need to live for my life.

People are sometimes very judgmental and very decided about how you should live, and the outcome of your life.
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I don’t think about other people’s lives like that. I think about if they are happy, I think about if they are good people to me and I think about how they treat others.

But here is the thing – the blame cannot and should not be placed on anyone else but myself. I let people’s judgements creep into my brain, I let their thoughts and feelings take me over, and then they become my own. I am to blame for this.

yourownterms

As Mommy has always said to me, “You are very sensitive.” And it is true, I am. I am sensitive to other people’s feelings and thoughts, and I tend to neglect my own.

So I have made a decision.

Instead of going through life thinking that I could do, or have done better, I am going to do my best for me, for me and for Joe.

I am learning, so I know I will still sometimes slip and think about what other people want for my life before I think about what I want, but I am going to do better.

Tis-better-to-live-your-own

I am me and I am odd, and I am just beginning.

~ Andreah

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Banana bread baking bonanza!

There are certain foods, desserts, breads, dishes that invoke memories. Some of childhood, others of your fiance and one of his friends making banana bread in your oven and almost starting a fire because the two of them have never baked before and therefore were not aware that banana BREAD rises (Needless to say, the mix ran over the side, and all over the bottom of my oven. Thank GOODNESS for self-cleaning ovens! That being said it was some pretty amazing banana bread). I couldn’t tell you what provoked them to bake, but now whenever I have bananas left over from the bunch, I remember the smoke…the horrible smell…my smoking oven… and how good that banana bread was.  If you ask Cody, bananas should only be bought to turn old and to then be put in the freezer to await the great baking of banana bread. So I thought I would share with you the adventure that our latest batch of bananas took.

There are some key components to making anything… first, it’s always more fun if you have people to bake with – I enlisted my sisters (duh) except Dee, as that trip would be ridiculous to just make banana bread and then have her go home…so we thought of her in spirit!

Toni arrived late…shockingly enough…but she came with about 20 bananas, and there is this thing called unconditional love!

Better late then never ...

Better late then never …

You can’t stay mad at that face – she was in charge of taking pictures for this extravaganza

First we peeled our bananas – we doubled our recipe, this way one pan would have chocolate chips…dark chocolate chips…and the other plain Jane for Cody who is lactose intolerant.

They look gross... but it will taste GREAT!

They look gross… but it will taste GREAT!

They look more slimy than normal because they were still slightly frozen.

We added our eggs, our oil, and the sugar

Banana, Eggs, Oil, Sugar ...

Banana, eggs, oil, sugar…

Combine your ingredients so they are still lumpy.  When I combined them, I used a fork and mushed the banana chunks a bit because they were still a little frozen.

Mushy and chunky!

Mushy and chunky!

In a separate bowl, add your dry ingredients, other than the sugar which was previously added with your banana and oil mixture – flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt cinnamon and nutmeg – and combine them together.

"No honey's no jam's .... just  dry" Ingredients that is

“No honeys, no jams, just dry”…ingredients that is!

I should tell you that at this point you should ensure that your “photographer” isn’t taking selfies…and that they are PAYING ATTENTION!

PAY ATTENTION!

PAY ATTENTION!

You are going to pour the wet ingredients into the dry! Normally it’s the other way around – banana bread can be a sneaky bitch!

Look at that action shot!

Look at that action shot!

Stir your wet and dry together just to combine them – you want this mixture to still be lumpy like pancake batter.

Lumpy yummy-ness!

Lumpy yummy-ness!

Toni and Julia at this point were delusional with giddiness – and constantly taking pictures of themselves, instead of the master pieces we were making!

Our resident baker and resident picture taker!

Our resident baker and resident picture-taker!

Back to business – grease two (because we doubled the recipe)  bread pans so your delicious-ness will sliddddeee right out!

We used butter ... mmmmm butter!

We used butter…mmmmm butter!

Pour your mixture into both pans about halfway. If you fill them to the brim then they will over flow, and make the biggest smokiest mess EVER! So half way… (Editor’s note: if you just make a single batch, put all of the batter in one pan. It’ll be fine. I promise. And if it’s not, just offer the firemen some banana bread. They’ll LOVE it.)

Half way! Take heed!  Half  Way

Half way! Take heed!
Half
Way

 

They looked SO Yummy!!!

They are going to be so yummy!

We added a 1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips to one of our pans, and mixed it without disturbing the mojo of the mixture!

Adding our sweetness!

Adding our sweetness!

Pop those bad boys into the oven and let them cook to delicious perfection!

Two buns in the oven!

Two buns in the oven!

Let them bake for 55-60 minutes, which is just enough time to plan a little something something! Which you should stay tuned for a little later on this year!

Shhhh it's an EXCITING secret!!!!!

Shhhh it’s an EXCITING secret!!!!!

Okay, so 60 minutes have passed, the secret has been planned and now it’s time to take out those delicious treats we made!

Yum yum yum!

Yum yum yum!

I would suggest eating it warm – the chocolate chips are ooey and gooey, the top is crispy and there is nothing like a fresh out of the oven treat! YUM. Pair it with a cup of coffee and you have yourself pure morning bliss!

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And enjoy!

~ Jacqui

Yummy Banana Bread

  • Servings: 16/1 loaf
  • Difficulty: easy-peasy
  • Print

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
2 beaten eggs
5 very ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup chocolate chips or walnuts (optional)

Directions

Grease loaf pan with butter. Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine all dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre. Set aside. Combine the rest of the ingredients, minus the chocolate chips or walnuts, in a medium bowl and mix until blended. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir until just moistened (batter should be lumpy). Fold in chocolate chips or walnuts. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes until a wooden toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan. Enjoy!

Adapted from Better Home and Gardens Best Banana Bread Recipe

Trying to understand

A few weeks ago, I came across this:

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I have seen this quote or some iteration of it a few times before, but for whatever reason this time, it struck a chord with me.

It really got me thinking about the quality of the conversations I have with the people that matter.

Was I actually understanding what was being said, or was I busy thinking of  what to say next?

More importantly, in this go-go-go world, was I scared of the idea of not knowing what to say right away and pausing to really consume what was being said or shared with me?

I noticed it wasn’t just me that struggled with this concept of mulling over what was really being said, digging deeper and trying first to understand, secondly to converse.

I noticed it even more when a disagreement was brewing.

That got me thinking of how many arguments could have been avoided if this piece of wisdom was practiced more frequently. How many sorries could have been saved from having to be said?

Could relationships have been saved or outcomes changed? Could a friend’s call for help have been heard sooner? Could my circle of incredible friends and family feel more connected? Could Michael and I thrive even more?

The answer is most definitely.

I feel it’s part of this need I have to slow life down more lately, to take a step back and truly enjoy it.

I’m going to try the same with my conversations until it becomes second nature. I am guaranteed to not always agree, but I can at the very least take that step back and try to understand first.

~ Toni

Expect the unexpected

I had a plan for this week’s blog post – a recap of the date night Ben and I had Friday, complete with pictures. And then, Sophie happened. She put our BlackBerry into a bucket of water. On the BlackBerry, all the pictures from our date night…bye, bye pictures…bye, bye blog post.

Prognosis? I hope it'll be okay.

BlackBerry hospital made of rice. Prognosis? I hope it’ll be okay.

Don’t worry. Sophie’s still alive.

I was more distressed by the fact that Lillian had pooped in our backyard. There are few things as disconcerting as watching your three-year old dropping something brown out of her bathing suit bottoms. I asked what she was doing and it didn’t get any better. She answered, “I put the poop on the ground.” Great. What poop? From where? Did you pick it up? Is it yours? GAH.

I should have known not to expect things to go as planned…the day hadn’t gone as planned. We were supposed to go to a family gathering at our Aunt and Uncle’s, but due to the fun weather forecast (rainy and cold) it was postponed until an August date. Because of that, Ben was able to go help a dear friend move and I got to spend all day with CRAZY, phone-ruining, lawn-pooping children.

Ben came home to me losing it with Sophie because she was berating me over dinner. She wanted hamburgers, I couldn’t find the ones she was talking about, it was getting late, I needed her to eat and she was mad that I was making her eat homemade beef stew over mashed potatoes instead of her beloved hamburgers (also homemade). Isaac had been sobbing at my feet while I finished making dinner and Lillian had been running around dragging blankets, balloons, and various plastic (read: SHARP) toys through the kitchen the whole time I was trying to accomplish food prep. I was done. Cooked.

Earlier in the afternoon, the southwestern sisters had made plans to go for dinner together in lieu of seeing each other at Aunt and Uncle’s house. I was SO excited. SO ready to get out of the house, eat dinner I didn’t make, dirty dishes I didn’t have to clean, and not be around tiny tyrants anymore.

I know...I know...I did this to myself. I KNOW.

I know…I know…I did this to myself. I KNOW.

And then…this happened…

SERIOUSLY?!

SERIOUSLY?!

I decided I should probably be responsible and NOT abandon my family just for some grown-up time. So I ate the delicious stew and mashed potatoes with my tiny army (and Ben! He came home! He came home!). It was yummy and I was resigned.

But then…the tornado warnings ended. So I called (because no texting for me! The BlackBerry is in RICE, remember?) Toni, and she, Jacqui and I went out for coffee and dessert. We sat on the covered patio of Brown Dog Coffee Shoppe (SO AMAZING), overlooking and overhanging the river, watching the lightening show and listening to the torrential rain (or as Toni called it, her very own WATERFALL!). Decaf coffee, cheesecake and apple fritters, and sister therapy. All in all, a not-too-shabby end to the day.

I know as a parent I’m supposed to be the queen of dealing with the unexpected, of rolling with the punches and putting up with the randomness that goes hand-in-hand with having babies, but some days, maybe even just one day, I would love for the expected to happen…for the plan to go smoothly…for that to be the surprise…not the waterlogged cell phone or the poop on the lawn. Just for one day.

*UPDATE – The BlackBerry LIVES!!! It’s ALIVE!!!! It’s a MIRACLE!!! 😉

~ Julia

Guest post – To Sophie, my mother’s namesake

Julia’s mother-in-law and the Sisterhood’s second mother, Dianne, joins us again as a guest blogger. Check out her first post here

I miss my mom, some days more than others. It sneaks up on me when I least expect it. In the summer I think of her more than in the winter, her birthday was August 12.

I remember as a child listening to my mom. She was number five of 22. The reason that my grandparents stopped at 21? My Uncle Bernard was just a baby when my grandfather passed away. My mom was part of the first baby boomer generation; she was born in 1918, just after WWI. She was made of stuff you just don’t see these days. Her childhood was harsh, her life as an adult was no easier. She was beyond tenacious; she was stubborn. Sophie may have inherited this gene.

Mom talked about when my grandma gave birth to her twin boys. Born in the field, they were premature and too young to survive past a few days. They were kept warm in baking pans on the door of the wood stove. My mom talked about my Uncle Romeo and how he and my Aunt Yvonne had tied up all their siblings one Saturday morning while my grandparents went to market. Life in northern Ontario was an adventure, to say the least.

These were the easy stories to tell. She didn’t speak often about her relationship with her parents. My mom was outspoken; my sister inherited that gene. I guess Mom voiced her opinion one too many times for the liking of my grandmother and they parted ways. I didn’t see much of my aunts, uncles, cousins or grandmother growing up.

Following Malvina`s funeral, the Labine daughters

My mother and aunts after my grandmother’s funeral. Mom is third from the right. 1967

 

My uncles after my grandmother’s funeral. 1967

My uncles after my grandmother’s funeral. 1967

When my grandmother passed away I was 10 years old, the last of nine children for my mother. Through a series of circumstances, Mom was not allowed to raise her first five children. She was a divorced woman at a time when that was not popular. There was no Social Services safety net at the time. Mom had a Grade 6 education, not quite enough to financially support her brood. The bias of the time dictated that she was unfit. This judgement caused her to lose custody of her children.

After Mom married Dad, they had us four. I like to think Mom kept having children until she achieved perfection. Both my parents were married twice, but I couldn’t tell you much about my father and his first family as my parents separated when I was two.

What I do know for certain is that WWII was over, I was a baby boomer like my mom, the family birth rate had dropped by over 50% and we had become urban dwellers. We were sophisticated! Milk came in glass bottles and Aunt May’s Bakery delivered bread in a plastic bag right to your door.

Christmas 1961. I’m the cute one with the baby.

Christmas 1961. I’m the cute one with the baby.

My mom was the sergeant major in our army. She taught my sister and I that we didn’t really need to work hard in school, some day we would fall in love with a man and he would take care of us for the rest of our lives. RIGHT, because that worked so well for her.

She also taught us girls how to sew, cook and put away preserves. Today, I am thankful to know how to do these things. It has helped me leave my mark here. Everyone I know appreciates NanaJam.

Mom had old, outdated standards, as far as I was concerned. My brothers didn’t need to help in the garden, or to learn how to vacuum; that was women’s work. They joined air cadets, went to summer camp and skipped painting the house.

She fought hard for us and taught us a work ethic that carried us through our adult years. I remember my oldest brother was followed home by some rough kids. Mom met them in the back yard and hopped the fence to where they were. Angry words were exchanged, the police were called and the other kids left. We were a tight family.

Through time, we grew up and moved away. We found our careers, married and raised children. We have watched each other grow older. Mom passed away in 2005. She was 86 years old. If you look closely, you will find parts of my mother in each one of us.

Each of us is given a set of tools, things that will help us through life. We gather these tools when we are young, hone the blades as adults and use them throughout our lives. I look at the toolbox I have and compare it to my mom’s. Ben once said that my mom only had a flat screwdriver and a hammer in her toolbox, and that someone had broken the handle on her screwdriver.

I look at all she accomplished in her life and tried to imagine the battles she had fought. It’s true she was not educated, never owned property and died as poor as a church mouse. She used to say “It’s not a sin to be poor, just inconvenient all the time.” When asked what kind of car she drove she used to say she was the Lone Ranger without a horse. She never expected anyone to carry her, she only asked for fair treatment from a system that was learning compassion. She led by example and never expected anyone to do something she wasn’t willing to do herself.

One of the greatest things mom taught me was that family was first. Work is a means to an end. It is the way we support ourselves. Mom would say things like “You can love money all you want, but it will never love you back.” Friends are great, but in the end it is family that will see you through.

As I preside over my mini-dynasty, I hope that I have learned enough from my mom to be worthy of this position. It is with great joy when I look at my grandchildren and know that they will grow up with weird uncles, crazy aunts, goofy cousins and a Nana.

Mom was a storyteller. My sister says I have inherited that gene. When we gather as family for a BBQ or a birthday, to celebrate each other or just because, let’s remember to tell the stories that keep the past alive and help us remember where we came from.

~ Dianne

If you’d like to write a guest post and join in the Weather Vane Sisterhood fun, email us at weathervanesisterhood at gmail dot com. We’d love to have you!

An adventure for Joe

So, I had an adventure this past weekend.

I didn’t even come up with the adventure, and wasn’t planning on going, but this adventure was for Joe.

Joe’s dream is to be a mechanic. He loves working with anything that has an engine. Loves it, even when he hates it. This past weekend we went to a car show, called the RPM Show.

Joe’s boss had an actual booth at the show, which was awesome, even if it didn’t turn out how we wanted it to, we still got the good name of the shop out there, and still had some amazing moments from the weekend.

Let me explain a little bit about car shows, or rather this car show. It had a swap meet, where you bring parts, tires, or really anything at all and you sell your goods; it had a classic car show, which of course is filled with cars you didn’t even know still existed; and a performance by Count of Count’s Kustoms, and his band, Count’s 77.

One of the biggest draws for people, especially in the area I live, is of course the classic cars. They are so beautiful, and the sounds of the engines revving gets everyone’s blood pumping. It was basically just a weekend of excitement.

Now, I loved being there, for two reasons:

1. Joe really wanted to go, and he really wanted me to come too.
2. Joe’s boss’ car.

Joe’s boss has a custom classic 1969 Camaro. It is BEAUTIFUL. He took this already beautiful machine and made it better. I seriously cannot get over this car. It is an awesome colour…

Seriously!

Seriously!

…the pinstripes going down the side are perfection…

Beautiful Pin-striping!

Beautiful pin striping!

… and the sound of the engine? AMAZING.

Hell, I’m going to show you.

It's Just BEAUTIFUL!

It’s just BEAUTIFUL!

See what I’m talking about?

It was an interesting weekend with some new adventures and experiences, of course there was some not so fun stuff in between, but me and Joe had a blast, and we want to go to another show really soon. After all, I am all about the adventures!

~ Andreah

Trying to stop the madness AND plan a wedding!

When a woman prepares for the the birth of their child, they call it nesting. Setting up the nursery, stocking up the closet with clothes, and generally preparing to welcome their bundle of joy.

As I sit here and write, I wonder if there is the equivalent term for a woman who is planning their wedding?

I only ask as I am slowly sinking into the tulle, colours, dresses, and lace. I am preparing for the big day and I am slowly going crazy. Cody and I want our guests not to have to worry – we both are not froufrou people – however when we discuss the wedding, we have two VERY different views.

The discussion of music and entertainment was brought up. I asked Cody if he knew any DJ’s. I love the feeling a good DJ gives a wedding or event – they feed off your energy, play requests and just help with the atmosphere. When I asked him, Cody’s response was not a shock (he is pretty easygoing) – make a good playlist full of songs we love, plug an iPod into a dock, and the party will be  rocking all night long

I calmly folded my hands, swallowed the laugh I wanted to burst out in, and muffled the “ARE YOU KIDDING?” I explained my point of view, and asked Cody if he could take on the finding of an affordable DJ.  I get where he is coming from, but when he said that I heard a list of things to be done.

  • Need to get an iPod dock loud enough to play for every one to hear
  • Need to make playlist, a good playlist, full of songs that everyone will like
  • Need to remember the iPod dock and iPod on the day of the wedding aside from all the other things I will have to remember
  • What if someone wants to request a song? You stop the music, and then there is that awkward quiet?

My first response was a little dramatic, and not needed at all – to the love of my life and simplest Cody, it’s less expensive and easier than finding a DJ.  To me it is one more thing to do.

I have noticed a pattern – this is my response to a lot of planning details. When something does not go my way, I simply want to scream and throw a tantrum. I fear that the Bridezilla is coming out in me and I am trying OH SO HARD to muffle her! Tell her to calm down! CALM DOWN!

Aside from the crazy, as you could tell I have started the planning and the excitement in my stomach is building! Every chance I get I talk about our wedding and it sends my heart aflutter! (I had it checked, it’s just a feeling, my heart is fine MOM!)

We have some of the big things taken care of, including our BEAUTIFUL venue! A friend’s family home has a beautiful barn on the property. We are so lucky that they offered it to us to hold our nuptials, and we are forever thankful to Cindy and Dave!

Our Beautiful Venue <3

Our beautiful venue ❤

Our wedding planning, if anything, has shown me so far how loved Cody and I are! My oldest sister and one of the most amazing women I know, Julia, is designing and creating our invitations! I love her I love her I love her! Below is a a little glimpse of what she has started to plan for us. SHE IS CREATIVE!

A Little sneak peak!

A little sneak peak!

I am also channeling my creative side and finding unique ways of bringing some country chic into our wedding – if you didn’t get the theme we were going for!

Some Decor Options!

Some decor options!

I promise to post more photos and keep you updated on my crazy! I know I am not alone in the crazy – but someone has to let their freak flag fly!

~ Jacqui

Birthday love: 2 on the 25th

I love this week in July.

I love it because two of the most remarkable women in my life are celebrating their birthdays this Friday.

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That being said, it’s only natural that I should write a mushy, full of sap post in honour of these incredible blessings I’m so lucky to have – you’ve been warned.

Tania – a very long time ago, a time before Michael and rings and bridesmaid duty, you and I determined through a series of events and discoveries that we were probably the loves of each others lives. Since then, you and I refer to each other as just that.

Love of my life – I have watched you grow, change, love and learn. You have taught me what true class and grace is. You have also taught me what a backbone is and more importantly when and how to use it. You have been there for my very first firsts, laughed with me at the funny ones and held my hand through the worst of them – you have never failed me. You are my ride-or-die chick.

I hope this beautiful year ahead of you brings you more joy than you know what to do with. I hope your heart is always full and I hope you know just how much you mean to me. Happy, happy birthday my beautiful friend! I’m so very looking forward to this weekend of celebrating you!

Chantelle, Tania and I celebrating last year

Chantelle, Tania and I celebrating last year

M – God blessed me with you as a bonus to loving your dad. That’s the coolest gift I’ve ever received and I am so thankful I hit the jack pot in bonus love. Your brilliance was and is hard to hide and I knew from our first few encounters that you are a very special person with a very big heart.

You are destined for great things and it makes me so proud to say you are my family. You have taught me so much about life and helped me grow an incredible amount as a person. I am so grateful to call you my daughter and even more so my friend. You mean the world to me, beauty.

I hope on this birthday – besides soaking in the Southern sun – you can feel how loved, wanted and celebrated you are. Happy, happy birthday our beautiful girl. I hope this year is incredible for you in every way possible. (P.S. I miss you and want sushi. Come home now?)

M and I <3

M and I ❤

I’m so very lucky.

~ Toni

How I’m doing

It’s been quite a few months since I came out as suffering from a postpartum mood disorder (PPMD/PPD) and I was thinking it might be a good idea to let you know how I’m doing.

I am doing really, really well.

In terms of the PPMD/PPD, I’m completely recovered. I don’t have a foggy brain anymore, I’m not anxious and overwhelmed anymore, I’m not flying off the handle with blind rage anymore. I’m controlled. I’m confident in my parenting. I’m taking care of myself. And I am actually thriving as a person, instead of drowning.

I am doing really, really well.

Of course, there was no magic pill or instant cure, there was no lightbulb moment that changed everything, but there was hard work and lots of help. And I wanted to share with you what fueled my success this time.

I stayed medicated. This is controversial, in that I was medicated all throughout my pregnancy with Isaac and even bumped my medication up at the end of my pregnancy. It’s controversial because it means Isaac went through withdrawal when he was born and was at a tiny (read: minuscule) risk for birth defects. But the risk of me committing suicide or hurting myself or my babies or landing myself into a mental hospital were all severely high if I had stopped taking my medication. I have been medicated since after Lillian was born and still am to this day. Will I be medicated for the rest of my life? I have no idea, but at this point it’s working and that’s all that matters.

I asked for help. It’s tough admitting you don’t have it all together. It’s even harder when you did have it together at the beginning and now it’s starting to crumble months after your baby is born. Especially because up until my confession in February, I had been the poster girl for what to do when you have a history of mental illness and you want more children. I encapsulated my placenta and took it as prescribed (no, really). I stayed medicated. I put supports in place for the first six weeks after birth to ensure I healed properly from my scheduled C-section. I got rest. I didn’t act like a hero. My house fell into even further disarray and I was okay with it. I did everything RIGHTAnd yet, everything still fell apart. Asking for help was eating humble pie and accepting that even though we do everything the way we’re “supposed to,” things can still fall spectacularly apart. But I did it. I asked for help. I called my therapist and got an appointment that week. I was told by Toni and Jacqui that I would be getting help from Toni, and I accepted it. Let the leaning and the healing begin.

I remembered what I had learned. I joked when I got to therapy that I was going for my PhD in PPD…that I had been here twice before, that this was my third time, and by the time this was done I would be set for life. Full of PPD knowledge. You know, it turned out to be true. I remembered what I needed to do. I remembered the importance of self-care and how vital it was to my past recovery. I remembered that sleep was a key component to getting through the day in one piece. I remembered that I had to take things one excruciating step at a time, not rush through or jump from step 1 to step 74398574. I remembered that it was a journey full of peaks and valleys. I remembered that the Julia that I remembered from before babies, before the first two rounds of PPD, before the miscarriage, before this moment would come back, that she wasn’t lost for good, that she still existed. And I remembered I had to trust the process, not jump ship just because it wasn’t working. My therapist told me that this would be my shortest journey through PPD. The first round was seven months with no help. The second round was five months with medication and therapy. This round was just shy of four months. She was right. My quickest yet. PhD in the BAG!

I exercised my tushy off. No, literally. I’m 30 pounds lighter than when I started this journey. Exercising, whether bootcamp with my sisters, hiking at ridiculous o’clock, or finding my zen in running, became an integral part of my recovery. It’s no wonder – exercise gives you endorphins; endorphins make you happy; happy people just don’t shoot their husbands.

Or maybe it’s something more like this (although I will argue that the above is COMPLETELY valid):

Exercise-is-better-than-antidepressants

I feel it when I don’t exercise – the anxiety, the irritability, the brain that won’t shut up, the anger that’s bubbling far too close to the surface. And I feel it when I do – the power that exists in me, the calm that comes from achieving something so simple yet hard, the brain break because all I can do is concentrate on my breathing when I run alone, or the friend/sister-therapy that comes from running with others. It is the thing that is gluing me together. It has replaced chocolate and mindless eating. It has replaced napping and hiding. It is the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. Period.

I am kind to myself. There are bad days. There are days when I feel like I’m not a great mom…or maybe not even a good mom. There are days when I feel like there’s no way I’ll ever be able to accomplish all the things I need to do…days when Isaac is screaming and Lillian is pooping on the floor and Sophie is late for school and we haven’t even left yet. These are the days I practice being kind to myself, not shaming myself. I don’t berate me for not having it all together (i.e. no poop, no screaming, on time school kid). I don’t sit there and fume and fight with the babies who only dig their heels in more when you rush them. I don’t let it ruin the whole day. I accept my fate in that moment (we are going to be late). I remind myself that no one is dying, that this is by far not the worst situation, that I’m normal and this is nuts and it’s hard because it’s hard, not because I’m failing.

Life is hard. Not because we're doing it wrong, just because it's hard.

Glennon Doyle Melton (Way-back-play-back because I LOVE this quote so much.)

I have a village. There is no supporting cast as important as the village that helps you raise your babies. It is the thing that we turn to when we have a question, want perspective, or need an ear to just listen and then respond with, “I get it. You’re not alone.” In one of my earliest therapy sessions, my counselor said that I needed to create a village for myself, that without it I would be eternally lost. And she’s right. My village is HUGE and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Shout-outs go to The Mothers, both Ben’s and mine, for loving us and our babies, for providing second homes and soft places to land when things get out of hand, for hugging and listening and never judging. Props over to my sisters, my soulmates, the people that God saw fit to put in my permanent family, especially my nanny Toni, my dopelanger-in-spirit Jacqui, and Kim, my sister-in-broken-brainedness. To my dear broken brain friends, both past and present, thank you for never letting me feel crazy…but rather, helping me feel normal. To my kindred spirit Laura, for crafting with me, praying for me, and listening to me – love you! And to the ladies of the drop-off brigade – Heather, Bethany, Andrea, Michele, and Danika – without you holding Lillian’s hands, being second moms to Sophie, sharing in the school experience, this anxiety-ridden gal would have no friends at school. Thank you thank you thank you.

I have Ben. Beyond the village, you also need a good man in a storm. Ben is that good man. He watched me sob on the couch as I worried they would take away our babies and lock me up when I confessed to the third bout of PPD. He held me and told me we’d do whatever it took to get better. He never left me, even when I was being an asshole to him (PPD brings out the worst in people). He never blamed me, even though I felt like every crappy moment was my fault (I own the brain, ergo…). He has never stopped loving me, even when I made it impossible for him to love me. He let me run. He gave me time to regroup. He’s taken 50% of the night feeds since the 7-week mark. He is awesome. And to top it all off – he’s a great dad to our crazy kids. To the moms who are fighting this alone, I don’t know how you’re doing it. You are my heroes, because this is hard and hellish with a partner…without one, you must be made of steel or something. Seriously. I bow to you.

To the moms who are still fighting – don’t lose hope. I got my PhD. I survived my third round. I’m a confident, well-adjusted (most days) mom of three kids. I am still here, better, stronger, more vivid than I was before, and you will be too. Promise.

Babies and Mama

~ Julia

 

Sisterhood Spotlight: Julia Nunes

So I have a huge love of music, and I know my sisters do too. And of course, we do not have the exact same taste of music – we each, like our personalities, are unique.

I want to share something with you, or rather someone.

One of my all time favourite singers is Julia Nunes. She is short, she is wonderful, and she makes the best music.

I have even gotten to meet this wonderful eclectic artist twice (yes it was twice in one day, but it counts!).

First meeting!!!! (Photo Curtesy of a random stranger, using Elena's Camera)

First meeting!!!! (Photo Curtesy of a random stranger, using Elena’s Camera)

 

Later on that evening, and yes, Julia Nunes is grabbing my head. (Photo Curtesy of Elena)

Later on that evening, and yes, Julia Nunes is grabbing my head. (Photo Curtesy of Elena)

I was introduced to her by one of my best friends Elena. I walked by her room one day when we lived together and she was singing along to her, and I was pretty much hooked on Julia Nunes from then on.

I wanted to introduce you to her so that you know how wonderfully weird she is, and hopefully get to love her like I do!

From songs about pizza to songs that make you less and more nostalgic all at once…

… she writes amazing, catchy songs that just make you smile, dance, and belt it out in the car.

I want to share her with you, and I want you to show her love and the proper adoration, because everyone deserves to know how wonderful they are!

~ Andreah