Tag Archives: mental health

Langsam, Bitte

Ever since we found out we were moving to Germany, my husband and I started working on learning German.  (We have been using Duolingo – a free app and Rosetta Stone -just in case anyone is interested in learning a language).

In German, “Langsam, bitte” means: Slowly please.

This has been my mantra the past few days…ever since I took my son for his 9 month check up.  Which, by the way, it’s like I blinked and he’s already 9 months old.  How did that happen?

At the doctor’s office, I began filling out the standard questionnaire.  You know, the one where they ask about fine motor skills, communication, etc.

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As I sat there, with the pink clipboard in my lap, the pen in my hand, and my son smiling up at me from his car seat, I realized something.

I couldn’t answer many of the questions.

Does he look for an object if you cover it up?  I don’t know.  I’ve never tried that.

Does he use his thumb and forefinger to grab something?  I think…maybe…I’m not sure…

Does he pick up a small object with one hand?  Um…..

Does he toss a toy back and forth between his hands?  Well…I’ve never seen him do that…

Does he say words like “ma”, “ba”, “ga”?

That last one…that last question…it was like a punch in the gut…the one where I thought to myself “I can’t believe I haven’t noticed that he isn’t doing this”.

Until I read that question…until the doctor mentioned that he had some concerns about his communication skills…I had not noticed that he is so quiet.

Talk about feeling like a crap mother.

The doctor assured me that there’s no need to worry YET.  After all, he was born a month early but it is something that we need to keep an eye on.

Holy.  Shit.

It’s not so much about me being worried that he will have problems communicating (and if he does he will just get speech therapy).

It’s the fact that I haven’t been paying ATTENTION.

It’s the fact that I have been running in twenty different directions, trying to do EVERYTHING – trying to exercise daily, to eat perfectly clean, to cook healthy dinners, to get the kids signed up for after school activities, to volunteer in my daughter’s classroom, to go see the sights, to meet friends, to do laundry, to read to the kids, to get them to bed at a decent time, to finish unpacking the house, to work (I work from home, auditing charts), to go on a date with my husband, to find decent babysitters for the kids, to learn the language, to learn the socially acceptable ways to behave in a German village, to navigate the German grocery stores…I could go on and on and on.

After that doctor’s appointment I realized I need to slow WAY down.  I need to STOP worrying about the next thing that needs to be done and just PLAY with my kids at the park.  Just sing to my baby and read him books.  Hold him and take time to sit at the table and feed him, instead of shoving a cracker in his hand as we run out the door to the next activity.

stop

All that matters is that we are healthy.  We are together.  And I will figure this all out…eventually.

Langsam, bitte.

Slowly, please.

In a world where we want everything YESTERDAY, remember that life is PRECIOUS.  Life is fleeting.  Life is NOT guaranteed.

The little moments are TRULY what matter the most.

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As a side note, one of the things that has helped me slow down is the Crockpot!  I throw dinner in there in the morning and it’s ready in the afternoon.  Instead of spending time in the kitchen after my daughter gets off the bus, I can spend time playing with my kids.

In case you find that you need to slow down as well, I wanted to share a few crockpot recipes from my current online accountability group that have been a hit here at my house!

Pumpkin 3 Bean Chili

Serves: 6

INGREDIENTS:

o 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

o 1 cup onion, chopped

o 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped

o 3 cloves garlic minced

o 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained

o 1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

o 1 (15 oz.) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

o 1 can (15 oz) pumpkin

o 1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes

o 2 teaspoons chili powder

o 1.5 teaspoons cumin 1.5 teaspoons oregano

o 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

o ½ teaspoon sea salt  o 2.5 cups vegetable broth

o Toppings: Fresh cilantro Avocado Scallions

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Add oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat.

2. Add onion and pepper, sauté until tender.

3. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant.

4. Transfer to Crockpot.

5. Add remaining ingredients to Crockpot and cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 4 hours.

6. Top with fresh cilantro, avocado and scallions

 

Chicken Enchiladas

10 servings, about 1 cup each

INGREDIENTS:

o 1 tsp. olive oil

o 1 medium onion, chopped

o 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

o 2 medium jalapenos, seeded and deveined, finely chopped

o 1 lb. raw ground chicken breast (or whole breast cut into strips or bitesize pieces)

o 1½ cups dry farro, rinsed

o 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed, drained

o 1 cup frozen corn o 1 (15 oz.) can diced fire roasted tomatoes (or diced tomatoes), no salt added

o 1 cup water

o 1 (10-oz.) can red enchilada sauce

o 2 Tbsp. chili powder

o 1 Tbsp. ground cumin

o 2 tsp. ground coriander

o Sea salt (or Himalayan salt) and ground black pepper (to taste; optional)

o 1 cup shredded jack (or cheddar or Mexican blend) cheese

o 3 medium green onions, chopped

o ¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Heat oil in medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.

2. Add onion; cook, stirring frequently, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until onion is soft.

3. Add garlic and jalapenos; cook, stirring frequently, for 1 to 2 minutes, or until jalapenos are soft.

4. Add chicken; cook, stirring frequently, for 5 to 6 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.

5. Place chicken mixture, farro, beans, corn, tomatoes, water, enchilada sauce, chili powder, cumin, and coriander in a 3-quart slow cooker; mix well and cover. Cook on high for 3 hours, or until liquid has been absorbed, and farro is tender.

6. Remove lid and stir mixture. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Add cheese; mix well. Cover until cheese has melted.

7. Top with green onions and cilantro; serve.

*You could use brown rice if you can’t find farro

*I got already cooked, diced chicken from the refrigerated section
 

Hello, World

I know I’ve been MIA for the past few weeks and here’s why – we just moved to Germany!  And let me tell you, it’s been a RIDE.

For those of you who don’t know, my husband is in the Army.   Several months ago we got orders to go to Germany, and now…well…here we are.

germany 4

I’m going to be real with you.  My exercise routine is shit right now.  I’ve been eating a lot of crap (partly because I wanted to try some of the authentically German treats and partly because the first 2 weeks we were here the jet lag was so bad it was like I was in my first trimester of pregnancy).

 

I’m homesick.  I miss my family.  I miss the familiarity of everything back in the states.  And the driving here – whoa!  It takes some getting used to.  I have not ventured out very far unless my husband has been sitting in the passenger seat.  It’s like I’m a teenager all over again with my learner’s permit.

The first day we got here, my daughter and I couldn’t even figure out how to flush the toilets.  And the shopping carts here – you can’t just take one.  They are all locked together and you have to put a coin in the slot to release one.  When you return it, you get your coin back.  Well, before someone took pity on us and told us that, my husband was quite a sight trying to figure out how to get a shopping cart.  He was yanking.  He was pulling.  He was muttering to himself.

I’ve gotten lost several times already walking around on base.  I’ve thrown my kids in the back of a stranger’s car (a soldier’s at least), sans car seat, and gotten a ride to my daughter’s school to go pick her up because I was 20 minutes late.  I’ve been stranded at the grocery store, with my baby and a cart full of groceries, for over an hour, because the taxi stood us up.  And yet again, I sat my kid on my lap and got into the backseat of a stranger’s car, with my groceries in the trunk, and got a ride to our hotel.

We bought a car off the “lemon lot” and I’m afraid to say we may have actually gotten a lemon.  I only had it 2 weeks before it had to go in the shop…It needs a new muffler…which they have to order from the states…

It has, literally, been one thing after another.  I have gotten a few workouts in here and there.  I’ve had a few healthy meals and a few not-so-healthy meals.

Wah, wah, wah, right?

I mean, here we are, in Germany, in this beautiful country, in Europe, where we have the chance to experience other cultures, try new foods, learn other languages and travel…and here I am…bitching…

So, now, here’s where the cool part comes in:

The OLD me would have continued to focus on the negative and the fact that our lives right now, every day, have been a true comedy of errors.  I would have decided that this is going to be the worst three years of my life.  I would have cried.  I would have spiraled into a depression.  I would have dug my heels in and begged my husband to take us back to the states.

germany 5

BUT…now…being in this particular situation of just moving to another country with three children in tow…I can truly see how far I have come.

There are times that it really sucks right now.  I’m not going to sugar coat it.  My nerves are frayed.  I have very little patience for my children’s shenanigans.  My husband is stressed.  I’m stressed.  There are tons of partially unpacked boxes in our house.  There is a TON of trash piling up in the garage (not to mention bags and bags of dirty diapers) because we have yet to receive the trash cans our landlord ordered for us.  Our dishwasher doesn’t work.  We have an ant problem in our dining room…and yet….

Despite all of this, (this is the cool part), I KNOW it’s all going to be okay.  I know that once we get settled, we are going to love it here.  I can see beyond all the shit (and I do mean, literally, all the shit in the diapers in our garage) that this is going to be a once in a life time opportunity to travel and explore and learn and grow and make many wonderful memories with our family.

 

 

And Then There Was Light

Darkness comes before the light.

You’ve heard that before, right?  BUT have you ever stopped to really think about what it means?   To think about how that simple, yet powerful phrase, applies to so many aspects of your life?  Of any of our lives?

even

Life isn’t easy.  Let’s just say that and get that out of the way because anyone who has been on this planet for more than 5 years (and hasn’t been living in a bubble) can attest to that.

“Darkness” can refer to SO many things – pain, depression, tragedy, relationship problems, health problems, addiction, career issues…the list could literally, go on and on.

If there wasn’t darkness, would you be able to appreciate the light?  To appreciate the good things that come your way as the black veil dissipates and the light shines through?

To be honest, for me, I’m not so sure I would be able to.  It seems, when you’ve had pain or struggle or any kind of “darkness”, the good stuff that eventually comes your way is SO much sweeter because of it.  (It’s kind of like when you put a pinch of salt in cookie batter – it brings out the sweetness exponentially.)

Is that human nature?  Or me just not being able to appreciate something without a kick in the pants?  My guess is – it’s probably a little of both.

Here are some things that I believe and have learned about darkness:

  1. The hard times are…well…HARD but they WILL be followed by good times.  I truly believe that no matter what you are struggling with, there will come a time when it is only a distant memory.
  2. It makes you STRONGER.  You will be amazed at how capable you truly are.
  3. There is a REASON for it.  It may not be evident at first (or for a long time) but I truly believe there is a reason for everything – whether it’s to teach you something, teach someone else something, or pave the way for others.

We will all have to suffer through darkness in our lives – in varying degrees- for short or extended periods of time.  There’s no doubt – it’s part of being alive.

BUT

Here is something else I believe:  There WILL be LIGHT in the end.

sunrise

Stay strong.  Keep fighting.  What you want…what you need…is on the other side of the black night.

 

This is Summer

Summer time can be wonderful.

The word Summer written on a sandy beach, with beach towel, starfish and flip flops (studio shot - warm color and directional light are intentional).  Note: extreme wide angle shot with curvature of field and focus on the word Summer.

The kids are home from school, the sun is shining, the pools are open and there’s plenty of time to do family activities that may not be possible during the busy school year.  There’s time to play together, eat together, vacation together….

But summer time can also be CRAZY!  Did I mention that the kids are home from school?  All the time?  Like every day?

Did I mention there’s plenty of time?  Plenty of time…for them to fight with each other because they are bored.  Plenty of time to get on each other’s nerves…and to get on my nerves because they don’t know what to do with themselves…plenty of time to whine about being bored and plenty of time to drive me to drink wine nightly.

bored

Summer time can be especially crazy for people in the military because it’s PCS season (permanent change of station).  Not only is school over and your routine is shot, but you are having to pack up and move.  Sometimes across the country.  Sometimes to another country – as is the case with our family!

This summer has been especially crazy for us – moving out of our house, our house that we brought our third child home to, a house on a street where the neighbors were absolutely wonderful to living out of suitcases while visiting family for several months as we prepare to move overseas.

moving-day

This life is CRAZY.  Being a military spouse is crazy.  Having little kids ages 5 and under is crazy (and exhausting) BUT…as I played with the kids in the pool this afternoon…as I watched them splashing and laughing…an overwhelming wave of something came over me.  It’s a feeling I’m not really sure how to describe but I found myself thinking – This is what summer is all about.  Just being together.  Playing outside.  Laughing together.

And for those moments that we were in the pool together…for those moments that they were smiling from ear to ear as they took turns jumping to me- I realized – this is summer.  This is what it’s all about.

Hell, this is what LIFE is about- moments of pure joy, of being in the now, of being present with your kids and the people you love…only to be broken by the sounds of the kids bickering over a ball and whining over whose turn it is with said ball.

Life is filled with GOOD things.  Life is filled with BAD things.  But…get this…

The beautiful thing is you get to CHOOSE which things you dwell on.  You get to CHOOSE which things matter in your life.  You get to CHOOSE which things to remember, and which things to discard.

lifeisbeautiful-e1458411303728

CHOOSE wisely, my friends.  You only get to live once.


In honor of summer boredom…I’m going to share some of my favorite, HEALTHY summer treats to make with the kids!

Chunky Monkey Banana Ice Cream

chunky-monkey-banana-ice-cream-vegan-gluten-free-7

http://www.emilieeats.com/chunky-monkey-banana-ice-cream/

Healthier Fruit Pizza

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http://www.layersofhappiness.com/fruit-pizza/

Healthy Pineapple Dole Whip

Healthy-Tropical-Dole-Whip

http://www.chelseasmessyapron.com/healthy-dole-whip-smoothie/

Adulting Can Be Fun

Adulting is hard…but… does it always have to be that way?

coffee

My 6 year old niece asked my sister something a few weeks ago that has stuck with me.   It got me thinking.  And it made me kind of sad, too.

She asked:  Can you still have fun when you’re an adult?

Naturally, my thoughts jump to:  Well, let’s see.  There are bills to pay.  Obligations to meet.  Jobs to go to.  Chores to be done.  People to take care of.  And oh crap….taxes are due next month.  And there is NOT enough time in the day to do all the things you HAVE to do so you can do the things you WANT to do because by the end of the day after I cook and do the dishes and entertain the kids and put them in the car and take them out of the car and take care of the baby and feed the baby and change the diapers  all I want to do is crawl into bed and go to sleep.

mer

Sound familiar?

We are given this one life.  This ONE LIFE.  Is that what it’s really supposed to be about?  Going from one obligation to the next and paying bills and going to work just so we can put food onto the table until we die?

When do we lose our ability to have fun?  When do we lose our ability to play and imagine?  When do we lose our ability to live in the NOW?

when

Here’s the thing – I’m not telling you not to pay taxes (please do).  I’m not telling you not to call your Aunt Irene on her birthday or to go to your mediocre job or to not pay your rent on time.

No.

 

What I am saying, though, is this:  You can CHOOSE.

You can choose how you THINK about this life which in turn will affect how you FEEL.

You can change your perspective.  For example, “Gee, I don’t really like my job but at least I have one in this economy.  I’m lucky to be getting a paycheck.”

You have the POWER to create the life you want.  You have the STRENGTH to fight for it.  It is in EACH and every one of us.

The question, then, becomes this:  Are YOU going to tap into it?

Are YOU going to put in the work it takes to do what you want?  Be what you want?  Live where you want?  Have what you want?

OR…

Are you going to play the “woe is me” card and the “Suzy down the street has it easier because her parents are rich” card?

People are AMAZING.  People do amazing things every SINGLE damn day.

People who have lost their legs run marathons.  People who have been told they will never walk again get up.  People donate bone marrow to save other people’s lives.  People overcome addiction.   People walk on the moon.  People fight for their country.  People perform brain surgery.  People survive brain surgery.

You too, can do amazing things.  Truly, you can.

So…here’s what I would tell my niece:  You can absolutely have fun as an adult.  Sometimes it’s harder because there are certain things you have to take care of but you can always figure out ways to have fun and make time to play.  Sometimes problems are harder to figure out when you’re an adult.  Sometimes people let the bad stuff get in the way of the good stuff.  The most important thing to remember is this – You can be whoever you want to be and do whatever you want to do if you just TRY.

keep

Keep dreaming.

Keep imagining.

Keep believing.

Keep doing.

 

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