Post- Easter Sugar Detox

Post- Easter Sugar Detox

Confession time- I’m detoxing from sugar again. There’s a big difference between a lifestyle change and a diet. A diet has an expiration date, an ending. Some kind of time limit or numerical pound goal. A lifestyle change is forever, which includes holidays for the rest of your life.

I am proud to say that I (most importantly) had a great Easter and school vacation week with the kids. It was only the second holiday in seven years that did not include a fight or emotional breakdown. I even mingled with my in-laws without a panic attack. All good things.

The other thing that I’m very proud of is my ability to refrain from binging. My previous “all or nothing” mentality would have set me off for the whole day, not being able to stop the sweets after dessert. In private, I would have consumed a bucket of Easter candy, emptied the fridge, maybe even stopped to load up on fast food on the way home. I would justify this behavior as a “cheat day” that I should live up before getting back on the diet tomorrow. No more of that.

Something I would like to get better at is being able to eat mindfully at family gatherings. Mindful eating at home has changed my life, and has empowered me to control my portions without going hungry. I still struggle with this at holidays. My social anxiety prevents me from ever reaching my baseline calm, and prohibits me from being mindful. I can’t focus on my food because I still hold that cloud of self awareness, self consciousness and defensive thoughts. Most of the time I’m actually just trying to hold my plate without dropping it, or getting the fork in my mouth. (When my anxiety is at its worst, I dissociate and have poor depth perception. I can’t control my hands, and often embarrass myself.) I noticed this Easter that I cleaned my dessert plate for the first time in years. I really feel that if I had be able to focus, I would have felt satisfied sooner and ate a smaller portion.

It’s done, it’s over with. It’s a new day.

My sugar goal is always less than 21grams per day, and no more than 6grams at once. Since most food has naturally occurring sugar, it’s impossible to meet these goals while consuming refined sugar. My diet is usually made up of protein and fibrous vegetables- although I do love my fruit. One banana can mess up my whole day, so I have to pay close attention to the choices I make, and the portions.

I’m mentally okay with my sugary decisions over the holiday. I knew when I ate them that I would need to detox eventually, and that I’d probably be sick for a few days. I still wanted to enjoy myself, and that’s allowed. As long as I do not allow myself to be completely derailed for long periods of time, things are acceptable in moderation.

It’s not required, but I like to start my detox on full liquids. There’s a huge misconception that this means you’ll go hungry, but it’s not the case. Obviously liquids include water, broth and sugar free drinks. It also allows sugar free jellos and puddings. Most importantly, it includes high protein liquids- creamed soups, protein shakes and low sugar Greek yogurt (check your labels! Some yogurt has a ton of sugar.) If I’m really hungry, a sugar free chocolate pudding and a scoop of natural peanut butter really hits the spot! It’s one day, and it’s worth it.

Starting a detox on a liquid diet will lessen the impact of sugar withdrawal. The biggest complaints of “Keto flu” or sugar detox are headaches, mild nausea and sweating. Staying hydrated will make each of these symptoms less painful, and prepare your body for the most success.

The next few days, (usually day 2-4 depending on my body cues)  I transition to easily digestible proteins- soft foods, fish, and nut butters. These items are easy on your stomach if you’re experiencing flu symptoms, low in sugar, and will satisfy hunger with their high protein count.

By day 5 my body can usually handle the full keto diet, even tough meat like steak or dry protein like chicken. I’m back on track, and feeling great!

Exercise really helps move the sugar along. Activity will get your circulation going, moving those cells that have stored glucose. Sweat removes toxins and sugar from the body, and staying busy lifts your mood, re enforcing positivity and increasing your chances of success.

Today is a new day. This moment is a new minute. Forgive the choices you’ve made in the past, but don’t forget them. Learn from them. I’m starting my sugar detox today. Who’s with me?

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Apples and Oranges

Apples and Oranges

More than once I’ve said the phrase, “my parents didn’t give me a sister, so God did.” Just like that, my best friend became family. The rest is well- known history. I’ve always been so thankful for our relationship. Most days I wish she really was my sister; that we’d had each other since birth. Other days I trust that ‘everything happens for a reason,’ and this is exactly how it was meant to be.

One day a group of our friends were laughing about how differently a pair of biological sisters looked in our school. One was really, really attractive. The other.. Had a great personality? We quietly laughed along with them, but as the group dispersed my sister said, “maybe it’s good I didn’t have a biological sister. I would have died if someone told me I was the ugly one.” (Trust me, she wouldn’t be. She’s gorgeous.) Those words never left my brain. At first it was a bit of disappointment that something could take away from our desire to be actual sisters. Eventually it became fear. As I grew to raise my own children I always wondered how they would feel about each other. I never want any of my children to feel like ‘the ugly one.’ I carried a lot of anxiety into parenthood. You can’t control what others will say about your children, so how do you prepare them for the future comparisons?

It took approximately 32 hours into my niece’s life for someone to compare her to my kid. I wouldn’t have ever been hurt by the typical “she’s the most beautiful newborn ever” comment until this girl stopped to specify that “Jacen looked like a grumpy old man” and “Anna was sick.” Yep, now I understand that ugly sibling comment.

I feel the same way when people compare Jacen and Arielle in their intellectual and physical development. He’s a much stronger reader, she’s more athletic. They’re definitely cut from two different types of cloth. When others compare my kids to their face, it might make the stronger kid feel special for a moment or two. After that conversation ends, they end up dwelling on the area where they fell short. They feel inadequate, and those feelings last much longer than one fleeting moment.

My absolute BIGGEST problem is the comparison in metabolism. All three of my kids are built differently, and it’s never okay for someone to point out their body type. The only people who should care about a child’s weight are their doctors, their parents, and themselves.

Rebuilding a hurt child is so much more difficult than preventing damage in the first place. I can only do so much to reverse mean words. Bullying is usually associated with peers at school, but some of the most hurt comes from backhanded comments by adults. It ends up causing resentment between siblings, and turmoil at home.

The comparisons and competition are starting to take a toll on my children. They ask a lot of questions, and I see self confidence issues building. I’ve recently adopted that old algebra term, apples and oranges.

If your compliment builds one person up, and puts someone else down, rethink it. Children should be incomparable, and be able to focus on being their own, personal- best selves. As adults, we need to support those individualities. Each child is unique and different. They all have strengths and weaknesses, and they’re all working on getting better in some area. They’re apples and oranges.

The last thing I want to deal with at home are ‘Marcia and Jan’ complexes. Jacen and Arielle compete enough in social milestones, games, and sports. They don’t need to compete in personal characteristics. Comparative compliments only result in bitterness, and they drive siblings apart.

Let kids be kids. Let them grow and develop on their own. Let them forge healthy relationships where they can celebrate differences instead of competing or conforming. Choose your words wisely, and focus on supporting each child individually. The hurt will linger, and it isn’t healthy. Just be kind.

Kate and the Kids.

Building a Mountain with Individual Grains of Sand

Building a Mountain with Individual Grains of Sand

560536279.984385I write every day, even though most of it doesn’t make it to the blog. It’s something I do as part of my self- care routine, and I’ve seen a major change in my mental health since starting. My writing prompt for today was “someone who inspires you.” This is a perfect example of a topic that normally would be kept to myself, since it isn’t directly relevant to wellness. The more I thought about this person, the more I realized how important it was to share my feelings about her. Something that first appeared as irrelevant began to fall into place, and quickly picked up momentum and importance. I now know that this topic is everything in wellness. This person took care of me when I was sick, tried to raise me nutritionally sound, and has always supported my emotional health. This person, of course, is my mom.

 

 

 

560535737.678986My mom is 59 years old, and for most of that time people have taken her for granted. They assume she is easily capable of much more than she has, but she is constantly pushing herself to the limit to meet and exceed their expectations. From the outside, maybe it looks like she has it easy. If it does, it’s because of her poise and grace. In fact, she has not had an easy life. Maybe it’s pride, maybe it’s just an undying need to take care of others, but this woman often shorts herself to keep others happy.

 

 

 

My mom is one of six siblings, and was born right in the middle. Even as a kid she had a ton of responsibilities, and carried more stress than a child should. She was a Navy BRAT, and moved all around the country several times. Living on just my grandfather’s income, the family of eight had a tight budget. These things aren’t ideal, but they shaped her.

 

 

 

560535576.646327When I was very young, I had a group of extended family members living under one roof. I don’t remember exactly if someone asked her for help or if she did it on her own, but there was an issue feeding everyone in the house that night. Without a second thought, she grabbed the keys and we headed to the grocery store. She didn’t have as much in her wallet as people expected, but she was smart. When we first walked into that store she didn’t know how she was going to pull it off. I remember brainstorming some options; pasta was super cheap. Hotdogs, mac and cheese, canned raviolis. She knew there was no nutritional value to these things. How could she get the most for her money, and feel good about what she was serving? All of a sudden, her expression shifted from stressed to inspired. I could practically see the cartoon light bulb go off next to her head. She picked up a bunch of eggs, cheese, bread, milk and butter. These five staples stretched far for her money, and gave the kids a pretty wide range of options. She got to the house ready to whip up scrambled eggs, french toast or even grilled cheese. At least there was a little protein and calcium there. When we left, she was happy. She had helped, and she could relax knowing her family was fed. I know that we went home to a house with food on the table that night. We had heat, electricity and a stable place to live- but these things don’t come easy, and she worked for every dime she put into keeping us afloat.

 

 

 

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Those dimes slowly but surely added up, but it was like working for individual grains of sand to make a mountain. It wasn’t just money either, my mom had dreams that were always so difficult to obtain. She always kept pushing until she reached some version of what she desired.

 

 

 

 

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My mom wanted a baby, badly. She watched others become teenage parents and bring children into the world without trying. She wondered why these babies came so easily for people who were unprepared, but she had her ducks in a row and it still just wouldn’t happen. She’d worked hard for a stable life- so why couldn’t she have this one thing that she really wanted? It weighed heavy on her emotional health. After a very long wait and loss, she tried IVF. She was told her procedure had failed, and she mourned another cycle wasted. Surprise! Finally, something had gone in her favor. She was pregnant with me, and she was elated. While others were gifted children easily (and for free) my mom stretched herself to the limit to get what she wanted. It took more time, more work, and in 1989 IVF was not cheap – but she made it happen. Finally, a grain of sand!

 

 

 

560477721.746285When I was really young we lived in a teeny, tiny house in a crowded neighborhood. We had a sex offender living just a few houses down, and once again my mom felt shorted. She’d worked hard saving for her home. She moved in with certain expectations, then realized the flaws. The houses were so close together that we heard the neighbors across the street fighting daily. There wasn’t much space in the home, so she turned the dining room into a nursery for me. She always said it was the size of the house that made her want to move, but I don’t think she ever slept easy with a pedophile living in the neighborhood. She set herself a new goal, and started dreaming of raising me in her ideal home.

 

 

 

560535522.846620I’m not sure my parents ever saw each other in my younger years. Every memory I have was either with my mom during the day, or my dad at night. My mom put herself through community college for nursing, raised me, and worked overnights to support us. My dad worked days, and spent the evenings with me. I never really noticed my mom being stressed or tired. It wasn’t until I grew up and became a parent myself that I started to realize what she went though. Those days were long and stressful, but she never let me see it. She always had time for me, always seemed happy, and always put out this image of having her shit together.

 

 

 

Through all the rough cards she was dealt, she basically faced them alone. I only remember meeting one friend of hers, and they grew apart after having kids. She didn’t let her guard down often with her family, and didn’t see much of my father due to their work schedules. She sucked it up, and usually internalized it.

 

Eventually she finished school, and started to conquer her ambition of finding the perfect home. We put our house on the market, and mentally prepared ourselves for a better situation. Naturally, nothing went smoothly. The stress and time demand only increased as I started dance lessons, ice skating and school. The house had to be kept spotless at all times in case the realtor stopped by with an interested buyer. That tiny little plate became more and more full, and I don’t know when she ever found time to sleep.

 

The house went on and off the market for what seemed like forever. We tried a few home renovations to make it seem more appealing, and just kept saving for when our opportune home did finally come to us. I remember sitting at the kitchen table with my play dough, and my mom sat next to me filling a binder with magazine clippings. She saved everything that she liked, every home and garden article and a ton of photo inspiration. It was basically Pinterest in the 90’s. Some nights I caught her hunched over the binder, once even crying. It was another grain of sand weighing heavily on her heart. I think this was the first time I really noticed that she had big dreams, but they weren’t easy to obtain. I saw the frustration with the process, and the hopes getting higher and higher. I was starting to think the day would never come where she’d get what she wanted.

 

She built the home she wanted. She put her savings and her dreams into that house. Moving in was probably the most exciting thing about my childhood, because my mom was truly happy. I wish I could say things got easier from there, but they didn’t.

 

full (97)As an only child, I got bored often. The house was quiet, still usually just two of us in it at a time. I ran her ragged with swim team, skating, girl scouts, horseback riding, clarinet lessons and a few attempted seasons of assorted sports. She was tired, really tired. I didn’t understand why she couldn’t keep up, so I developed a lying problem to spice things up. Sometimes it was just my craving for attention in a quiet house. Other times I wanted to appear more interesting at school, and cover up my bland home life. Either way, I started a ton of problems. Even when I grew out of the lying, I kept pushing her buttons. I was a well behaved student, but came home as a tornado. Even when she took me to therapists, my bipolar disorder went undiagnosed. That quiet, shy girl who lacked confidence in public was a violent, angry mess at home. I took a swing at her multiple times, and damaged the house. I knew how hard she worked for it, and how deep it cut her to watch it become less and less perfect. Every time we battled I went right for the kill, and tried to inflict as much hurt as I could. She didn’t deserve it, at all. I just didn’t understand.

 

 

 

I moved out as soon as I could, and ran away to South Carolina. I hoped that starting fresh would give me a better chance at mental health success, but fell flat rather quickly. I got myself in some serious shit. The ambition of being independent and self sufficient was actually met with uncontrolled mania. I spent money like I had it, and met up with strangers all the time. I went on dates almost every night, and I have no idea how I escaped becoming another internet dating statistic. I met Jacen’s father and ended up pregnant just weeks after relocating.

 

 

 

48029_463861310756_4809468_nIt broke her heart to find out I was pregnant. Even more so when she realized his father was a total scumbag. Pile on that I quit school, and ended up moving back home with her. I was a complete disaster, and yet she seemed to forgive it instantly when she met my son. She was in the operating room during my c-section, and will never let me forget that she held my baby before anyone else. That moment forged an incredible bond, and she’s been the best Nana in the world ever since.

 

IMG_3355She held my hand and helped me get on my feet as a new parent. She stepped in with the baby when he was a newborn, and supported us while I attempted school. I ended up quitting college again, and started certificate classes for medical assisting. She took Jacen while I went to school, supported us financially, and even set me up in an apartment so I could start being an independent parent. Again, her savings dwindled as she took on both her own mortgage and my rent simultaneously.

 

 

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Now that I’m grown up and in a good place, she has been able to relax into her role as a Nana instead of a co-parent. It doesn’t stop her from bailing me out when I get stuck, but at least Mike and I have it mostly together. She’s never stopped impressing me with her love and generosity for her grandchildren.

 

 

 

 

1209009_10151906345900757_1743428923_nMy mom hates animals. HATES them. She’s a nurse and super in tune with germs and disease, so she avoids those little bacteria factories like the plague. I mean, she totally appreciates their importance in the world, she just doesn’t want them in her little world. She doesn’t want to touch them or anything. That being said, I can’t begin to tell you the number of times she’s taken a deep breath and a gallon of Purell to make sure her grand babies take part in every experience they want. She’s endured farms, petting zoos, pony rides and so much more. I never thought I’d see her overcome her animal/bacteria phobia, but she has. I’ve even started to notice her smiling, even laughing through it. The things you can overcome for love.

 

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Animals aren’t the only thing either. She’s put on a brave face through amusement park rides that make her nauseous, just to set an example for timid little Jacen. She’s slowly started to join in on the fun when we dress up, and even took a ride on a sled this winter. She’s constantly growing, and letting go of that guard she’s had up for so long. She worries less and less about how she looks to others, and cares about providing her grand kids with love and involvement.

 

 

 

IMG_0396_polarrMy kids are her core source of happiness. I wish I could tell you that their existence solved all of her problems, but they didn’t. They just provide moments of joy, a break from working for those grains of sand. When she doesn’t have positive things to say, she doesn’t say anything. She releases minimal details about her personal life, and has become a woman of mystery to many of her loved ones. They don’t ask, and she doesn’t voluntarily tell- but I can assure you she’s working as hard as ever. Fifty nine years, and still, nothing comes easy. She’s still pushing through. She’s lost some of her supporters from years ago, but gained a new generation of people who love her. The problems still come up, but she faces them bravely. People still ask for help from her, assuming she has the means for it. Financially, emotionally, even just finding the available time- it can all be like getting blood from a stone, but she tries her best to find a way.

 

As I’ve grown and become a parent myself, I now have appreciation for all that she’s been through. I spend time feeling bad- it must have been so disappointing to want for a baby so long, and end up with me. She probably envisioned raising a perfect little girly girl, but ended up with an obese, ungrateful daughter with mental health issues. Even though I’ve done my best to change those things now, it doesn’t erase the trying years I put her through. I can only work to make the present as good as I can.

 

IMG_1113The stress is still snowballing, growing in size every day. It seems that once she finally accumulates a hill from all those individual grains of sand, a big, old, dirty boot stomps all over it. No matter how many times she starts over, she always finds the strength to keep pushing. For a long time, she carried most of that sand with little help. These days, she is exclusively moving it alone. I don’t know how she does it, but the kids and I are cheering her on, and loving her immensely with every grain she carries. She dreams of a day where she can proudly relax on top of her sand mountain, and a world where her grandchildren do not have to work as hard as she did. She is currently rebuilding from that dirty boot that knocked her down, but that mountain WILL come. She’ll make sure of it.

 

47291_462203275756_8293762_nI hope you now see why I couldn’t just let this one sit unpublished. If you’re going through something, if you’re feeling alone, if your hill has been stomped- find her strength. Get back up, pick up that sand, and keep pushing. It isn’t about where you come from, what you’ve been given or the card you’ve been dealt. Happiness and success comes from perseverance and hard work. She’s always inspired me so much, let her inspire you too.

 

With healthy hearts,

Kate and the Kids.

 

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My Ongoing Battle with Self-confidence

My Ongoing Battle with Self-confidence

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I’m pretty open that growing up obese has landed me in therapy. Everyone assumes this has gotten better with my 150 pound weight loss, but my weight still LITERALLY keeps me up at night. As I write this at 3AM, memories and anxieties about my weight flood my brain. I wish I could just let it go, but it doesn’t feel like I’ll ever see that day.

 

 

blurFor the most part, I was a happy kid. I was oblivious to my weight issue until the fourth grade. That year I moved to a new town, and struggled to make friends. I was different, I was new. I was a target. As I approached sixth grade, the bullying really started. Pre-teen girls are the most evil, volatile people on the planet.  Girls that were my best friends one day would be my biggest bullies the next. I realized that using the stairs between classes would leave me out of breath and sweaty, so I had a hard time focusing on my school work. I spent the entire period staring at the clock with anxiety about moving to the next classroom. Even outside of school I struggled with my extracurricular activities. I heard snickers and mean comments at horse back riding, as my fellow students ‘feared for the horse’s safety.’ Synchronized ice skating had me vomiting in the bathroom stall before we got measured for our matching outfits. Even my parents made me feel like a disappointment. I just couldn’t escape the feelings of inadequacy, and I didn’t have a single place that I felt comfortable with myself.

 

 

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Fast forward to being an adult at 303 pounds. That’s when the medical issues really kicked in. I had high blood pressure, PCOS, and struggled with infertility. I was taking the highest dose of Metformin (a diabetes medication) that is recommended by the FDA, and was on my way to being on insulin. My health held me back from some really big things- you know, like happiness.

 

 

 

 

 

tmpImageI started my weight loss journey because I wanted to beat my PCOS and conceive. Ironically enough the days after losing weight and getting pregnant were some of my most emotionally unstable. As the months passed, I was obsessed with the number on the scale. I refused to finish meals, avoided carbs like the plague, and insisted on continuing a vigorous workout routine. I guess it worked, as I lost body fat my entire pregnancy. I was pretty happy with myself until I ended up with a preterm baby.

 

 

 

 

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The months postpartum were my darkest. By day I posted glowing Instagram photos about my blessed life. By night I sobbed while on the phone with the suicide hotline. This didn’t happen once or twice, but daily between October and February. More than once the employees at Michael’s found me crying in the aisle, hiding from my family at home. I had thoughts about driving off the Sagamore bridge every time I drove to the cape. My husband was baffled. I had everything I ever wanted- weight loss, beautiful babies, even quitting my job to stay home with the kids. One day he looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, “this is outside my realm of helping. I think we need professional help.”

 

 

With that comment, I started therapy. His words never left me, “WE need professional help.” That’s real love. He stuck out my worst days, and held my hand through every part of my mental health recovery. He’s involved in my treatment, and does his best to make every single day easier for me. I guess that why he’s still so confused over my obsession with my body.

 

I’m currently the smallest I’ve ever been, but I’m just as sad as I was at my biggest. I’ll always be the girl who carried those 300 pounds. I have the same insecurities and low self confidence, now with the added anxiety about regaining what I’ve lost. I obsess. I track my food. I weigh myself several times per day. I cry- a lot.

 

 

The things that I went through as a kid stick with me. Those were the days that shaped me. The days that I felt I wasn’t safe anywhere, and that I had no one by my side. The days where I was alone in a crowded room, and was targeted by bullies just for existing. Those are the days that I carry with me, and just can’t let go of.

 

 

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) and psych meds have definitely made an impact on my mental health. It’s been 13 months since my last call to the suicide hotline. I feel healthier and happier, and I have a better relationship with my family than ever before. I’m starting to feel less alone and more supported. My blog has connected me with new friends, and even strengthened existing relationships by communicating feeling i was never able to talk about. There’s just one thought that haunts me: I have everything I’ve ever wanted, and I’m still not happy. I wonder if I ever will be.

 

 

I’ve spent 10 months stuck at my current weight. I’m so close to my goal that it hurts! Even though my weight hasn’t changed, my self confidence regresses every day. I’m still wearing the same clothes, but I see myself as bigger and bigger. It feels like not losing is the same as gaining. The anger and frustration consume me.

 

 

IMG_3136Getting myself healthy – physically AND mentally – will always be my number two goal. Number one? Doing my best to prevent my children from ever feeling this way. I constantly fear that genetics will take them down the same path I traveled. As a family we try to eat healthy and stay active. It isn’t always easy. Healthy food can be expensive on one income, and Jacen’s Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome can keep our active time pretty short. We keep doing our best. We budget and cut things in other places. We try to keep exercise fun and watch Jacen’s body cues. Most importantly, we use positive language. We talk about the science behind healthy bodies, and are open with our feelings. My kids know that it’s just as hard for me as it is for them to resist the soda and cake, so we indulge in “sometimes treats” every now and again. We don’t focus on weight with the kids, but more so choosing healthy foods that are full of nutrients. We zero in on “getting strong” instead of burning calories. By talking about the way we feel, the kids know it’s okay to struggle with sports. Some people are not athletically inclined, and it’s alright to be frustrated. It’s not alright to give up. It’s not alright to dislike yourself for where you fall short. You just have to keep trying, and keep trying to be a better YOU.

 

 

Someone once told me that I should speak to myself the way I speak to my children. I would never tell them they were fat, worthless or inadequate – so why do I tell myself these things? It’s a hard pill to swallow, and a hard habit to change. It is a double standard, but ‘knowing’ and ‘doing’ are two completely different animals. I try my best to set a good example on the outside, but inside is a very dark tornado of self confidence issues.

 

 

The way I was treated in my young days forever control my brain. I’m always flashing back to times I was deeply hurt, and triggered by things people say. It’s so important to think about what you say to others, as your words can have a lasting effect. Don’t be one of those memories that someone carries with them. Don’t be an anxiety. Don’t be a bully. Let’s set a good example for our children, and do our best to produce a healthier generation. I may never be cured of my mental illness, so I strive to prevent it in my children. It’s easier to avoid starting a problem in the beginning than to fix it after the fact.

 

 

Be kind to others. Work on being kind to yourself, especially during the most difficult of times. Join my journey into self-acceptance, and let’s get healthier together. Let’s do it for our kids, and for ourselves.

 

 

With healthy hearts,

Kate and the Kids.

I refuse to beg someone to love my children.

I refuse to beg someone to love my children.

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Christmas of 2009, I found out I was pregnant with Jacen. I was terrified, but his dad assured me everything would be okay. Just 9 months later, my due date was rapidly approaching when he changed his mind. His dad bailed, and I was left to raise Jacen alone – or so I thought.

 

47723_463861380756_838014_n (1)I mourned when his father left, but it only took 12 hours to get the fuck over it. There was one e-mail exchanged, and when I realized he wasn’t coming back I changed my gameplan. I promised myself and Jacen that I would not beg for anyone to be our lives. We had eachother. I wanted to be there, and he deserved a family who wanted nothing less.

 

155138_10150093736085757_860416_nMy biggest fear about being a single parent was that my son would not feel loved enough. You see, when his dad left so did a whole side of a biological family. He now only had one set of grandparents, no aunts, no uncles. Would he be sad without them?

 

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I shared these feelings with my mom. I shared them with both of my best friends. It didn’t take long before I realized that the people who were there, listening to me vent, were people who wanted to be in our lives. They loved us. They were family. The non-biologicals stepped up into the aunt and uncle roles, and before I knew it we had the big family I’d wanted for my children.

 

 

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Not everyone stayed. I had a friend who was there 100% during my pregnancy and Jacen’s first few months. She disappeared over time. She wasn’t around to see us, and the text messages gradually decreased. Again, I would not chase her down. My son did not go a single day missing this girl, as his aunts and uncles were RIGHT there to pick up the slack.

 

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I’m happy to say that my children have never grown up wanting for love. As time passed, our circle grew. I dated, I made friends, and when I got married I inherited a whole family of people who love us, including my beautiful ‘step-’ daughter. (Although I don’t use that prefix unless I’m describing the timeline of our family.) We were busy, and we never had to do anything alone. There was always someone who wanted to come spend time with the kids.

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Unfortunately, you just can’t control some people. I had cousins that I’d reach out to and ask to take their kids. I realized that even though the kids were together at my house all the time, their family had not once asked to take Jacen. I stopped asking, they never offered, and now we only see each other at family parties. My kids haven’t even noticed a change. There is also extended family who don’t bother with my children between holidays- then they get offended when my kids don’t recognize them. We once had a family member tell Arielle to “go see Auntie.” They were very offended when she ran over to Jean-Marie, but she’s the only auntie my kids have really known. Once again it was pointed out that she was not a “real” Auntie, since there was no blood relation. They couldn’t be more wrong.

 

335509_10151261206665757_402075821_oBesides my own mother – who is the absolute greatest, most loving member of our family – my SISTER is the only person that has been consistently involved in Jacen’s whole life. She asks to see us, we ask to see her. It’s a two way street, and the kids absolutely love her. There isn’t a day that her love has wavered. She stuck out my untreated bipolar days, my awful fighting, and some serious boyfriend drama. We got through it together, and her love only grew as each of my daughters joined the family. Even in her own life changes, she hasn’t missed a single beat with my kids. I’m overjoyed to now be an auntie to her own daughter, and I deeply promise to uphold the high auntie-standards she has set. We are family, and we want to see each other.

 

 

 

12043196_10153808412375757_7317638145714140690_nWe surely have strong family members who want to see us, and love us very much. That doesn’t mean everyone does. There is still family who we only see on holidays. There are many biological relatives that my children would not recognize. There are even people who have been around for years, and recently decided to excuse themselves from our lives. Jacen and Arielle are now old enough to see this. They’ve asked questions, but they honestly have not shed a single tear over it.

 

To be completely blunt, Jacen feels like he has lost a grandparent. Over the last few months, this person has failed to spend time with him. They ignored his requests for support during Jacen’s funrun, and even fail to have a conversation with him when they are under the same roof. The kids ask questions that are hard to answer, but they’re also really smart and almost immediately switch their focus to the people who are involved. They know who the true family members are, and understand the meaning of mutual love.

 

Here’s the honest truth: you can fake a relationship with children on social media, but eventually these kids grow up smart to your game. You can brag about your awesome family at the bar with your friends and it still won’t change the fact that the same kids don’t recognize you. When you fail to be present, you can’t cover it up with an emotional Facebook post. You may have your followers fooled, but the kids aren’t. They aren’t even seeing what you put online. In their minds, you have zero involvement. Memory is built by exposure. If they don’t see you, they won’t remember you. End of story.

 

 

52595984_10157329692430757_1838163839963627520_nMy children are very loved. It might sting a little when someone walks out, but that feeling is overshadowed by the people who support us. Relationships are products of the effort put in, which is why they love our handmade family most. As they get older, they begin to realize that the best families are based on quality and not quantity. When people fall out of our lives, it only makes the relationship with our base pillars even stronger. I find the truest family bear more and more weight over time, but it’s also more and more love. The amount of affection does not change when someone walks out- it simply shifts to a more deserving person.

 

What role are you in today? Do you feel like you’re chasing someone down to love your child, or are you the person dropping the ball? Are there calls to be returned, plans to be made, play dates to keep and not cancel? Is there mutual effort being put in? There are two sides to every relationship. What can you do today to keep those two sides in balance? Step up and return the effort when it’s given, but also know when to walk away when someone isn’t worth the energy. Family first, give them the loved ones they deserve – people who let their affection flow instead of forcing it when it’s convenient. Trust me, the kids will recognize true love when it’s there. They’ll return it.

 

With healthy hearts,

Kate and the Kids.

The Bystander Conundrum

The Bystander Conundrum

IMG_2610My niece is here, an I could not be happier! She is absolutely perfect in every way, from her beautiful face to her cute little personality. She’s been sticking her tongue out and making the silliest puppy noises. She’s a goofball already, and I’m looking forward to watching her grow and interact with my own children.

 

Not everything this week has been as positive as meeting Ms. Nora. There’s a person in my life who is mistreating and verbally abusing someone I love. It’s hard to watch, and my ability to protect this person is limited. It hurts like hell, it’s frustrating, and I’m spinning my wheels trying to think of a way to help.

 

superman-family-217_01For years I’ve witnessed the torture, and haven’t been able to stop it. I can only “damage control” so much after the fact by supporting the victim. It’s not like people have failed to pointed out the abuse, or tried to stop it. The aggressor denies that her words are actually hurtful, and insists that she is in a position to voice her opinions. Sometimes I feel like I’m standing in front of a train, trying to stop it by hand. The fact is, the brakes can only be activated from inside.

 

qlqcszmkp9yzOne of the most profound things I’ve ever heard is a quote by Louis C.K. – “When a person tells you that you hurt them, you don’t get to decide you didn’t.” It doesn’t matter who brings the issue to your attention- a concerned family member, a friend of your own, or the victim themselves. If someone tells you that you are constantly over aggressive and hurtful, you need to take a hard look at yourself. The aggressor is the only one who has the power to change their actions. Else wise, the environment may change when people stop interacting with the aggressor altogether.

 

I’ve been spending far too long trying to figure out where I belong in this scenario. When I feel the urge to speak my mind, the words “know your place” seems to pop into the forefront of my mind. Will I make the situation worse? Is there any point in arguing with a wall? Can you make someone who dodges accountability see their wrongs and change their actions? I don’t know. The last thing I want to do is make this person even more mean, but I’m full of energy to intervene. I’m seeing something, so I think that means I’m supposed to say something. I just don’t want the victim to take the push-back from my actions.

 

I’m trying to find balance between my mama bear- protective side, and my level-headed mom side. I’m trying to figure out what to do. It’s keeping me up at night, which is why I’m blogging at 4 AM. The trying doesn’t seem to get me anywhere. I know there’s action to be taken, but how? Where do I start? How do I help fix the cracks before my loved one breaks altogether?

 

It’s harder to put someone together later than it is to stop them from being torn down in the first place. Let’s all try to avoid this situation all together. Don’t be the aggressor. Be understanding. Be kind to each other.

 

Kate and the Kids.

New Baby Etiquette

New Baby Etiquette

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My niece is currently 5 days past her due date. I feel like I’m going to explode with excitement to meet her! I only want the best for my sister and her baby, and it reminds me of all the things other people did with my new baby that drove me crazy. From a mom, here are the things we want you to do.

 

 

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  1. Respect the fact that that mom is also meeting her baby for the first time. She will never get another “one day old” with this baby, and the parents want to soak up every moment of those valuable first hours. Let them have time to themselves, and ask them when you can come by. NO SURPRISE VISITS.
  2. Offer to step out. New moms are learning to nurse. It can be stressful and awkward to do this with an audience, and can feel even more weird to ask for privacy. The visitor should offer to leave for a few minutes when it’s time to nurse, don’t wait for mom to ask. Go get a cup of coffee and take a break. And please, God, do NOT expect mom to “just cover up” on your behalf. She’s probably less concerned with her naked body, but more so self conscious of learning a new still while someone watches. After all, you wouldn’t want your first piano lesson while on stage at the recital.Give her time and space to learn.IMG_1751
  3. Take a suitable gift– don’t drag the six foot teddy bear into the room. Remember that mom, dad, baby, and visitors will be in this little room for a few days. Gifts and flowers make the room feel real crowded, real quick. Parents also need to get all the stuff dragged out to the car and brought in the house. They don’t want to spend time doing it. They want to get their new baby home..
  4. Offer to wait until baby comes home to visit. Everyone is excited to meet the little bundle of joy, but you have their whole life to meet them. Mom and Dad only have a newborn baby for a short while.
  5. Don’t visit if you have a cough or cold. Duh.
  6. One pump in, one pump out. This is a nursing saying for washing/sanitizing your hands every time you enter the room, and every time you leave it.48029_463861310756_4809468_n
  7. Don’t take toddlers with you unless mom requests them. Toddlers have an astronomical numbers of germs, even when they don’t show symptoms of illness. Newborn are incredibly receptive to sickness- both your new baby and the other babies on the floor. You never know what another baby’s situation is; there could be breathing issues or complications. They’re also way too much energy for the hospital room- especially if you plan on holding the new baby instead of wrangling your child.47723_463861380756_838014_n
  8. Plan a short visit. Mom is tired, learning to breastfeed, taking care of baby, and constantly being poked and prodded by hospital staff. Don’t overstay. Typically a 20 minute visit is customary- just enough time to meet the baby and congratulate the new parents.
  9. Refrain from perfume, cologne, and cigarettes. Astringent cosmetics on the skin can irritate baby, and strong smells can be overwhelming.47723_463861395756_5733537_n
  10. Don’t comment on the physical appearance of mom or baby. Obviously, say they’re cute, but don’t point out a cone head, hairy skin, skin conditions, mom’s lack of makeup, etc.
  11. DON’T BE A KIBITZER. REFRAIN FROM UNSOLICITED ADVICE. It’s okay to answer mom’s questions, but wait for her to ask for help. She wants to learn on her own. She wants to do things her way. Just back off, your kids probably didn’t wind up perfect anyways. What do you know?
  12. Watch the signs. We all want to be there, and we’re all going to have trouble maintaining that 20 minute rule- but there’s more. If baby or parents look really tired, look overwhelmed, or appear less engaged in conversation, WRAP UP THE VISIT. Be respectful, even if this means cutting your 20 minutes even shorter.IMG_1728
  13. Don’t post birth announcements, baby stats, photos, videos or news on social media without mom’s okay.

 

Mom and baby have been through a lot. They need time to rest, recover, and get to know each other. Let the parents set the rules and the pace. Be kind, patient and understanding. Most of all, love the crap out of that baby!

 

Hoping to meet my niece soon, and I apologize ahead of time if I give an attitude while enforcing baby etiquette. I do it out of love.

Kate and the Kids.