An Update After an Extended Hiatus

Hey y’all! I’ve missed blogging something fierce. My hiatus was fully unintentional. We had a lot going on and then even more going on and now we’re finally settled. I hope. Really, how settled can you be with kids?

We moved from our home in Woodbury to a house in Stillwater that I’m absolutely obsessed with. It’s nothing fancy but for some reason when I’m here, I actually feel like I’m home. It’s like I’ve lived here my whole life.

I’ve recently become employed as an at home team member with Target. It’s an amazing opportunity and I’m loving the flexibility that it gives me. I’m also still working part time for Walgreen’s as a pharmacy tech. I haven’t worked full time in about five years. It’s a change of pace – sometimes welcome, other times not.

Mr. B is focusing a lot more on his health lately and it’s definitely showing. He looks amazing and his mood is improving as well.

G started preschool again. He’s attending full time four days a week and is loving it. He gets to ride the bus and has his own locker. I definitely feel a little sad that he’s growing up so fast.

O is in daycare now. There are times where I get this nagging feeling of guilt that I’m not giving him the same experiences with me that G had of staying home with me. But I feel like he’s doing well and learning so much while he’s there.

D started the 5th grade this year and today is the first day that he’ll be playing trumpet. I’m hopeful that he finds something that he loves other than basketball but we’ll see how that goes.

B is in middle school now and started playing tackle football for his school. He seems to absolutely love it and I’m excited to go see a game of his this weekend.

I’ve been working a lot on personal development. Trying to learn how to do things that I should have learned years ago. Being better at budgeting. Knowing ways to cope with my anxiety. Being more organized and less of a procrastinator. It’s a long road ahead of me but I’ve set goals to have this all figured out completely in one calendar year. Prayers that it sticks.

I think that’s a pretty good, basic update of what’s going on in our lives. My plan is to get up and write something every morning. I may have to have prompts. I might just be able to write from my heart. Either way, it’s a goal of mine to start writing more because it’s so therapeutic for me.

Thanks for reading! Hope to see you again soon.

 

 

BADassboyMOM

Today is the reason I started a blog to begin with. Today is one of those days where you feel like the walls are closing in, like only your nose is above water and you can’t tread for much longer. Today is a day where you question your actual parenting abilities and whether or not the universe played a cruel joke on you by making you a parent to begin with.

Ok. Ok. I’m being just a little bit dramatic now.

My life is full of appointments and running and not enough structure or activities.

How do I become a more hands on mom, when that’s just not my personality?

I want to be the mom that enjoys playing with her children and getting on their level. I want to be the mom that has a structured schedule and sticks to it. The mom that can totally homeschool. But I feel like I’ve reached into my soul and can’t find that mom.

I feel like I’m failing.

I let my kids run wild and free but expect them to follow the rules I have in place as well. But it feels like 80% of the time they don’t listen to anything I say. As we speak, O is hanging half way out of his crib while I sit in the room trying to get him to sleep.

Trust me. I know I’m not the only one dealing with these struggles. I know that we’re all in this together and that other moms out there are probably feeling like failures too.

Some days, I can handle it. But days like today, where they won’t do anything I ask of them and in general act like tiny little mom destroying @$$3$… It’s hard to feel like I’m nailing this thing called momming. I know that there are other things in my life that are contributing to my state of mental health but man it would be nice if the kids could tell that and help rather than hinder.

I really don’t know what I’m hoping to get out of this post other than just venting. Maybe it’s just being able to get part of my struggles actually out into the universe instead of holding all this weight because it can become a burden.

Are any of you like me? Wanting to be the mom who does it all but not seeming to be able to get there? Have you got it figured out? Or at least enough to help me get it kind of figured out?

I know I’m doing some things right, I really do. I just wish it were easier more often. Ya know?

Diagnosis: Life is Short, Stay Awake for It.

I recently received my Secret Santa gift, a bit belated. It was a coffee mug from Caribou that says, “life is short stay awake for it.” How fitting.

It’s been a week since I received the results to my sleep study. I’ve been researching and trying to process the information I received and my formal diagnosis.

Hypersomnia with Cataplexy.

What exactly does this mean? I’m tired. A lot. Specifically I suffer from excessive daytime sleepiness. It also means that with extreme emotions, including stress, I have episodes where I have total muscle loss and collapse but am still awake and fully aware of what is going on but am unable to move or speak.

To come up with this diagnosis I had to participate in an overnight sleep study followed by a daytime sleep study. They determine your diagnosis based on the time it takes for you to enter REM sleep. During the daytime sleep study you are asked to try to nap on 5 different occasions spaced two hours apart. People that suffer from hypersomnia will be able to fall asleep for at least 3 of the naps – I fell asleep for all of them. People with narcolepsy are able to fall asleep within 5 minutes – I fell asleep within 3 minutes each time. People with narcolepsy however will be able to enter REM sleep during those naps, which I didn’t do. The problem is, I fall into a grey area because I’m on Zoloft which inhibits people from entering REM sleep as quickly as they might otherwise. So although a diagnosis of narcolepsy seems fitting for me because of the cataplexy, since I didn’t enter REM sleep they didn’t formally diagnose me as so.

I also had interesting findings regarding sleep apnea. I still don’t fully understand what the results mean, only that I had extremely normal numbers for one finding and elevated numbers for another finding. So we’ll be trying a CPAP machine to see if it helps at all with my hypersomnia symptoms.

I asked my doctor if it would be beneficial for me to try redoing the sleep study if I went off Zoloft but it turns out that they they treat hypersomnia and narcolepsy the same. I’ve been prescribed a medication that should help promote wakefulness and combat the symptoms of hypersomnia.

Symptoms of hypersomnia, from the Alaska Sleep Clinic are:

  • Excessive sleep. 10 or more hours of nighttime sleep plus daytime naps. Not uncommon for sufferers to sleep in excess of 16 hours in a day.
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Difficulty waking from sleep (even long sleep) even with the aid of multiple alarms, lights, and help from other people.
  • Sleep inertia/drunkenness. An impaired physiological state after awakening, which usually involves confusion, disorientation, and poor coordination.The transition from sleep to wakefulness can be long and difficult to manage. Often, it is easier to return to sleep than to wake up.
  • Taking long, unrefreshing naps. While naps can be taken for several hours, they rarely alleviate sleepiness, and waking from them is often followed by sleep drunkenness.
  • Cognitive dysfunction. This includes memory problems, automatic behavior, and difficulties with concentration and attention

I’m still not sure what all of this means in relation to my life and how it will continue to affect me. I’m really hoping that with medication and continuing to try to practice good sleep hygiene that I won’t feel completely exhausted all the time, like I do now.

I think one of the hardest things about this diagnosis is that people just don’t understand that this disorder isn’t just being tired. “I’m tired all of the time too, maybe I have a sleeping disorder.” Maybe they do, but the level of tiredness I experience interferes with my every day life. It makes my energy levels low throughout the day. It makes driving extremely difficult. And being this tired all of the time is just hard. The level of caffeine that I consume in a day is probably dangerous. I’m praying that the medication that was prescribed will help. I’m sure it will be one of those things where I will have to try multiple medications before I find one that works for me.

But for now, at least I have answers. And that’s somewhere to start. Have a question about my new diagnosis? Feel free to ask me and I’ll answer what I can based on the research I’ve done and what my doctors have told me.

Eating Out With Toddlers

Maybe it’s just my kids – they are crazy – but eating out with kids is like being subjected to the tenth level of hell. I recently embarked on a lunch date with not one, not two, but FOUR toddlers and it was literally one of the worst mistakes I’ve ever made. It doesn’t help that the service was quite slow – although we had an awesome server.

They wiggle and jiggle and yell. They fight over crayons and coloring sheets. They slide under the table and try to escape the booth. Drinks don’t distract longer than a few seconds. They bother the people sitting in the booth next to ours. They completely forget what an inside voice is.

O finds it particularly funny to try to crawl under the table and through our interlocked legs that we have used to form a half-assed gate. He will run to whatever corner of the restaurant seems most appealing, all while smiling and laughing and catching the eye of every person over the age of 55. Why don’t I strap him into a highchair? Mostly because he finds a way to escape the seat belt EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Ugh.

You finally get to a point where you just succumb to the fact that this has become an adventure in parenting rather than a nice meal. O has apparently dropped a piece of fruit on the ground because he comes back up from below the table eating it. I have officially given up.

“So that’s happening. Floor food for the win apparently.”

Did we survive? Sure. Because that’s what you do when you have toddlers. You survive. We had to pull the van up and load the kids up two at a time. One of left to deal with the aftermath and the payment.

The worst part is, I’ll end up doing it again? Why do I subject myself to the tortures of eating out with toddlers? Well, it probably has to do with the fact that if I don’t take them out to eat, they’ll never learn how to act in public. But, man, what a shitty age for my kids and eating out.

Update On My Fainting

I haven’t posted again in awhile regarding my health issues and I’ve had a number of people ask me how things are going.

I’ve fainted twice in two months. Definitely a decrease. It’ll have been a full month in a few days here and I’m trying not to jinx it but we’ll see how my streak continues.

Yesterday I went to a consultation at the Sleep Institute to see if my issues could be related to a sleep disorder. The doctor I saw believes I may have narcolepsy with cataplexy and is looking to perform a sleep study in 3 weeks. I will stay overnight and part of the next day to test my overnight sleep as well as my ability to nap. Such a strange thing. In the mean time he did give me a diagnosis of hypersomnia with cataplexy. He believes that he’ll be able to help me with my symptoms and come up with not only a diagnosis but a treatment plan.

I’ve always been able to sleep for as long as I can remember. I’ve never had an issue with falling asleep. In fact I can nap multiple times a day with no problem if I don’t have an abundant amount of caffeine in a day. Apparently, the ability to sleep most of the day away on any given day is a bit out of the ordinary. I drink copious amounts of caffeine to keep me from falling asleep during the day or while driving. So the hypersomnia seems to be a match. There just might be something more to this.

I may actually have some solid answers within the next month. I honestly couldn’t be more anxious and relieved at the same time. I still wonder if we’ll actually find the answers to get me through these symptoms. The doctor seems to be very confident that we will.

Stay tuned for the follow-up.

The Kindness of Strangers

Today has been a day. Not a good day, not a bad, just a day. The kids had been fighting me on everything from breakfast, to getting dressed, to buckling their own seat belts.

After dropping G off at speech, I thought, let’s go run an errand. I have 45 minutes to walk around and grab the few little things I need. Which undoubtedly turned into me grabbing a few things I didn’t need.

I was wrapping up my shopping trip and inserted my card into the reader to pay. It wouldn’t read my card. Tried and tried. Then tried swiping my card. Still a no go. So I thought, why  not try the ATM. Nope. Now usually I have another card that I can use. Today though, while shopping, I dropped said card and hadn’t realized it. I was waiting patiently to see if there was a way to try my transaction at a different terminal when a woman I have never seen before in my life offered to pay for my purchase. I was dumbfounded. She said she had kids and knew what it was like and didn’t want me to have to go back out into the cold. I was in complete and utter shock. I thanked her repeatedly and yet forgot to ask her contact info so that I could pay her back. Ugh. I’ve been blessed on more than one occasion and can say that it is still just as shocking every time a stranger does something out of the kindness of their hearts – and it shouldn’t as I’ve done similar things for people in the past.

Sometimes people are just genuinely good people putting genuine good out into the world.

So today, at some point, I’m going to pay it forward. And not just with a coffee in the Starbucks drive-thru. Give me some ideas! What would be a good way to repay this good deed so that it doesn’t just stop with me?

Organized Chaos

So awhile back I posted my blog Cinde-who? about how I go about keeping my house in a more organized chaos. I’ve updated my cleaning list recently and prettied it up a bit.

I found that with my health issues, I had let my home fall to the way side. Not really the smartest way to go in order to keep my chaos manageable. My fainting spells seem to becoming less frequent and thus more manageable. Because of that, I decided it was time to whip out the old trusty cleaning list and start making my home a little more manageable as well.

Each day, I complete all the tasks on the daily cleaning list and then follow it up by completing the corresponding days tasks on the weekly cleaning list. I’ve created multiple cleaning lists over the years and with the help of one of my number one besties, I combined her list and my lists to create one master list, using her formatting.

You can snag your free copy of this cleaning list – here – so that you can tweak it to work for your home.

I know that most of the items on this list are no brainers. Wipe the counters. Sweep the floor. Take out the trash. But for me having the list to cross off seems to hold me accountable for the items I should be doing.

Another thing that I’m beginning to implement in my home is a chore/routine chart for my little ones and an earn it chore chart for my bigs. I scoured the internet for a photo chore chart that was easy to use, functional and actually looked good. What I found after a long time of searching was that I loved the one I found on the blog A Mother Far From Home. They cost a minimal amount and all I had to do was print them off. I’m sure that I could have found some on Amazon to use that were already printed, cut and laminated but why not support fellow mom bloggers instead? Am I right?

I created both a chore chart and a daily task chart for Gabe – Oliver will be using this bit by bit as he understands as well. I attached it to a magnetic board and glued magnets to the back of task cards to make it almost like a game. As the tasks get completed we match the cards to each task.

For the older kids the work for pay chore chart that I found on Living Well Spending Less seemed like the easiest route to go. I bought a decent looking cork board, some clips to attach chores and money to and hung it up. If the kids want to earn money, they choose a chore and once complete they can take the corresponding cash. Win, win.

As far as chores go, I looked up numerous “age appropriate chore lists” on the internet and found a handful for both the littles and the bigs. For the littles, I pay them a dollar per year old. So Gabe earns $3/week and Oliver earns $1/week. The older boys can earn as much as they want depending on what chores they decide they want to do. Their rooms must be in order and their beds made before completing any of the “for pay” items and each item must be mom/dad approved before being paid.

For the little ones:

put dirty clothes down laundry chute
match clean socks
sort silverware
put toys away
clean doorknobs

For the big kids:

mow the lawn – $5
shovel the sidewalk – $4
take out trash – $1
wash laundry – $2
clean bathroom – $3
de-clutter toy room – $1
put dishes away – $2
walk the dogs – $2
vacuum/sweep a room – $1
babysit siblings – $5

So far, Gabe seems to love having some structure and asks what’s next a lot. Still waiting to see what the boys end up doing with their chart. I’ll keep you posted. How do you think this could work for you?

Mom of Many Survival Tips

As a mom of four, I’m often asked how I manage my brood and stay sane. A. I am far from sane and 2. There are far more people with the same if not more children that handle it much better than myself. I’ve been complimented on my ability to be so relaxed… don’t worry, my give a shit is just a little lower than it probably should be. But after so many kids you start to realize what you actually need to worry about and what you can let go.
Here are my go-to’s to getting through as a mom of many.

1. Let it go.

This is not an ode to the ever famous Disney movie. There are so many little things that will stack up and topple down… you can choose to pick up the mess or let it knock you down too. You have to decide not to let little shit get to you. Realize that your home is never going to be perfect, your life is never going to be perfect, you are never going to be perfect and your kids are never going to be perfect. Once you realize this, you can get through any of your hard days.

2. Let the kids be kids.

They’re going to fight. They’re going to fall. They’re going to get hurt. If there isn’t blood, take a deep breath and let them do their thing. If something is really wrong, they’ll come to you. Brush them off, check them out, give them a hug and send them off to keep playing.

3. Have the big kids help.

Luckily I have a big gap between my older and youngers. But older kids – no matter the age difference – are going to help the little ones. Let them. Why not take advantage of it and lift some of the weight off of your shoulders.

4. And on that note – everyone should be helping out.

Give age appropriate chores to your whole brood. You shouldn’t be doing everything on your own. It makes you become resentful. Even if all your kid does is throw his diaper in the trash, pick up their own clothes or clear their plate… it helps.

5. Feed them.

As long as your kids are fed and you’re trying your best to get them something healthy at every meal, you’re doing it right. Your life doesn’t have to be 100% organic. Hell, I let my kids eat day old apples and cookies off the ground. Know why? It isn’t worth the fight and the tears and the screaming. Sanity mama, sanity.

6. Weather appropriate is what matters.

Eventually you’re going to let go of the need for your kids to be matchy matchy and perfectly dressed. It is so much easier. Let them be creative and dress themselves. If its weather appropriate, its appropriate. If your kids are anything like mine, they should probably have a wardrobe change at least once a day. But if you’re really like me, it won’t happen until bedtime/bathtime.

7. Screen time saves lives.

We’ve all heard the studies on screen time. And we all know the mom who doesn’t allow any and the mom who lets it happen whenever. I’m a firm middle of the ground mom. Sometimes I need that movie/tablet to help wrangle these kids into submission so that my sanity doesn’t fly out of the window. Sometimes, you have to do, what you have to do.

I’m a firm proponent of surviving parenthood. To me that means you do whatever it takes to get through your day. Some days you’ll have it all together and other days you’ll want to hide in your closet with a pint of ice cream and a bottle of wine and just cry. As a mom though, you don’t really get to do the second option. So instead, follow my little rules for survival. Let it go. Breathe. Try your best to raise your kids in a nurturing environment and if shit hits the fan and is filled with temper tantrums, fussiness and just plain old meltdowns … throw on the television, sneak a candy bar and BREATHE.

4 Years of Marriage

Today is our 4 year wedding anniversary. It has been four years filled with lots of highs and lots of lows, yet here we stand, together still.

Our wedding story is super untraditional. We originally planned to elope in Vegas. We were going to go down for my birthday and get married on October 10, 2014. We began planning a reception that would take place back here in Minnesota in January. We booked a venue, I bought my dress, things were going smooth. Then I found out I was pregnant with G. Vegas plans were cancelled and we changed our would be reception in to a full blown ceremony.

We planned an entire wedding in a four month time span. Cake, photographer, food, flowers, DJ… the whole thing. It was a whirlwind.

The day of the wedding, I decided we would wait to see each other until the ceremony. No sneak peak. No hiding behind a door to say hello. Full on first time seeing each other was at the ceremony. What. A. Mistake. I balled like a baby when I saw my husband for the first time. He had cut his long hair off and was standing at the front of the room ready to promise a future together forever.

My mother-in-law officiated the wedding and I wrote the entire ceremony, including the vows. It was truly beautiful. Towards the end we did a sand ceremony in place of a traditional unity candle. Mr. B, myself and B and D each poured sand into a picture frame and then we announced the gender of G and what his name would be. A surprise for everyone in attendance.

Nothing about our relationship or our family has been traditional. Nothing ever goes as planned. Even on the day of the wedding there were hiccups. But somehow we always manage to work through them. Our relationship is far from perfect. If someone asked me for marriage advice, I’d likely direct them to the nearest couples counselor rather than defer to any sage advice I may have. I do know that we have a love that will never die and through the highs and lows we call on that love to get us through.

We don’t always make time for each other, we don’t always do the little things they recommend. But there is one thing that we do follow. We choose each other. Every. Single. Day. We continue to choose each other. Some days other things might come first… like the kids, work, writing, the need for time alone. But we still make the conscious decision to be with the other person forever.

I also rely heavily on my relationship with God to help shape my relationship with my hubby. Cliche to some but my relationship with God has gotten me through some dark times and continues to do so. I firmly believe that God keeps our relationship strong.

After nearly eight years together, four of which we’ve spent married, we’ve added two kids to the mix and spend every day choosing this life over and over again. I know that the future won’t promise a life of ease but I also know that if we continue to embrace our love and choose this life that we can get through anything the world throws our way.