Friday, April 29, 2011

A Blessed Birthday

I didn't post yesterday because, well... it was my birthday, and I just didn't get around to it.  I have to say, this was one of the best birthdays I've had in a while, and it wasn't necessarily because of presents or my birthday dinner (though those were wonderful).  Mostly, it was that I was alive.

For the two days before my birthday, storms threatened my area.  First off, I am terrified of tornadoes to near-phobic proportions.  I tend to start praying at least two days before a forecast severe weather outbreak.  During the storms, I have the weather on constantly, much to my husband's unhappiness, and I just found the joy that is live streaming weather coverage.  Now I can hunker in the hall with my laptop beside me.  
The storms weren't nearly as bad here as the ones in Alabama, but we did have two small tornadoes touch down within miles of our house on Wednesday.  Let me tell you, there's nothing like being in the hall putting your body over your baby in her car seat (hey, it might help) twice in one day to make you appreciate life.

I spent all day yesterday thankful that I got to see this birthday.  The week before had been horrible, as I was suffering through the hormonal PMDD stuff I wrote about on Monday.  I was on such emotional overload that I didn't know if I could stand it at times.  Now, I'm just incredibly grateful--for my life, my family, my home.  Both my and my husband's family were in dangerous areas, and all made it through safely.  A minor miracle considering the amount of family he has in Birmingham.     

I don't know why some people were spared and others weren't.  I don't know if there's some mystical reason or if it's just random chance.  I'm sure that those affected were no less worthy than I am.  None of us, no matter our religion, really has the answer to that.  But for whatever reason, I'm still here.

You can't get a better birthday than that.

Monday, April 25, 2011

PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder): It Can Happen to You

I am writing this post in particular for new mothers, though it may certainly help others.  You see, after birth we hear many times about the dangers of postpartum depression, but it is less common to hear about potential changes in menstruation once your period returns, including the possible development of PMDD.  Before I developed PMDD, my knowledge was limited to a brief blurb on a birth control commercial.

So what is Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder?  Basically, it is a very severe form of PMS that can cause depression, extreme mood swings, unexplained anger, and sleep problems, (among others).  For a full list, check on this article on WebMD.  It is actually somewhat similar to depression, but PMDD only occurs about a week or so before your period and then goes away.  It is so extreme that you can't help but notice it.  Probably anyone within a ten mile radius will notice it.

According to my doctor, PMDD can get worse if untreated, and I believe it.  This started to develop for me not long after my period came back, but it wasn't so bad at first.  Then over the last three months, it has started to build in intensity.  It is noticeable and unavoidable.  About a week and a half before my period, I wake up despondently depressed.  It doesn't matter if the previous day was the Best Day Ever followed by a night of Blissful Sleep.  Suddenly, I have all of the symptoms listed above--actually, almost all of the symptoms listed on the website.  I go from exercising and eating healthy food to not wanting to get out of bed and wanting only junk food.  I want all of the chocolate in the world.

The worst is the arguing.  My husband and I start arguing constantly and for no definable reason.  Like a compulsion I can't stop, I find myself snapping at everything.  I get furious for no reason.  It seems like I will never feel like myself again. 

Then I have my period, and I go back to normal.

Why am I writing this particularly for new mothers?  Because before I had my daughter, I didn't have PMDD.  I had pretty typical PMS, but no sign of anything like this.  I have since learned that your cycles can completely change after birth; I had known that some changes could happen, but I had never expected anything so extreme.

Be on the lookout, ladies!  If you start feeling like this, go to your doctor.  No one should suffer through PMDD when there are treatment options available.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Skin MD Natural, My New Favorite Lotion

First, let me say that I am in no way being paid to write this.  Actually, I don't think the company has any clue that I AM writing this.  I did win this bottle free over at Mommy and Me Giveaways, and I am so glad I did!

Ever since I had my lovely daughter, my hands have been super dry from all of the hand washing / sanitizing.  I've tried all different kinds of lotions with little luck, so when I saw the great review this product got on the Mommy and Me Giveaways site, I was eager to enter.  I tried it out as soon as I got the package.

Let me tell you, I couldn't believe the results.  I wish I'd taken a before picture of my hand so I could give you a visual, but I think this lotion took about 5-10 years off my hands instantly.  The effect didn't go away as soon as I washed my hands, either, though (as per the directions), I did have to reapply it a little more often the first day.  You can bet that as soon as this bottle gets close to running out, I'll be going to the Skin MD Natural website to order more.

Something else I love (from their website):  "Our lotions are made to be free of parabens, petrochemicals, dyes, and other irritating ingredients. They are also vegan, cruelty free, and eco-friendly. We don't participate in animal testing or use any animal products in our lotions and Skin MD Natural is formulated in the United States in a facility that uses 100% solar power."

If you have really dry skin problems, I would highly recommend this lotion.  Great stuff!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Business2Blogger Product Reviews

I have run across a new (to me) service, and I am intrigued.  Business2Blogger is designed to allow even owners of small blogs to do product reviews for businesses.  I just signed up today, and I can't wait to get the email with this week's opportunities!  I'll keep you guys posted on how it goes, though I suppose you will know if I succeed by a sudden influx of product reviews.  :)

Oh yeah, and they are also having a contest to win an iPad2.  If I win, maybe I should write a product review for the iPad2.  I could totally force myself to do that.   

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Things You Learn

Kira is almost 9 months now.  Sometimes, it is surprising to see how much of her personality is already evident (inasmuch as I can tell sans crystal ball).  So far, there are two big things that I know about my daughter: she loves people and animals, and she has a quiet, stubborn will.

Her love of people and animals is immediately obvious.  I posted a while back about how she seems to make people happy, and part of that is her infectious smile.  She smiles at people constantly.  And nothing makes her face light up quite like an animal--any kind, really.  She adores our cats and our dog.  She has tried to garble out "Hi, George" (our cat's name) and "good cat."  She loves the zoo and will stare, smile, and laugh at pictures of giraffes and penguins.  A future biologist or animal activist?  Time will tell.

What really catches me by surprise are her moments of quiet rebellion.  So far, Kira isn't one to throw fits or cry, though she does cry some when she is upset.  Instead, she has a way of doing what she wants without fuss.  An example:  Three months ago, Kira first held her bottle herself.  She did it once but refused to do so again.  If you tried to put her hands on the bottle, she would jerk them away and look at you like "That's your job."  She wanted her hands free for more interesting things, like grabbing necklaces or smacking herself in the head to stay awake because she didn't like how soothing drinking milk could be.  Then a couple of days ago, she started sort of holding her own bottle.  She put one hand on the bottom like she could barely manage.  I thought the odd shape of the Tommee Tippee bottles might just be harder for her.

Today, I caught my little willful faker.  She started out with her normal 'hand on the bottom of the bottle' hold and balanced it there.  Then when she was done, she pulled the bottle out with both hands.  She proceeded to turn it around, shake it, smile and chatter at it.  She held that bottle like a pro, and even brought it to her mouth easily a few more times.  I'm pretty sure she's had the ability for a while now considering how well she has held her toys; she just didn't want to do it.  No tears, anger, or fuss.  Just a quiet refusal to do something that she didn't want to do.  I guess she finally got tired of not having control of her milk.

I think I'm going to have to keep a close eye on her in coming years.  I can imagine her quietly going to her room when I tell her to clean it and proceeding to play for a few hours, and I don't even want to contemplate the implications for the teen years. 

I foresee a lot of double-checking in my future.  :)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Counting the Good

I was reminded yesterday that if we celebrated happiness the way we do unhappiness, our lives would be much richer indeed.  This conversation came not long after a pretty bad couple of weeks.  It wasn't that one truly bad thing happened; no, it was one of those times when one thing seems to happen after another.  When you feel like you can't take one more thing, and then something else comes up.  Your refrain becomes "seriously?", and it feels like you will never escape.

After the fact, I tend to realize that part of the problem is my own reaction to stress.  After a few stressful events, it's like I start looking for more.  I get tunnel vision and only see the bad.  I think I could win the lottery during one of those weeks and only be able to think "Oh no, taxes!"    

So why are the opposite types of weeks so rare?  I don't seem to get tunnel vision for the awesome times nearly as often, though good things certainly happen in my life.  I suppose you could say that it is partially where I am on the pessimist v. optimist spectrum, but I refuse to accept that.  I'm not going to let myself stand in the way of my own happiness. 

As my friend suggested, I think I need to work on counting happy events as strongly as the negative ones.  Though this is not entirely natural to my disposition, I am not such a pessimist that I can't reverse my thinking.  I used to be an extreme pessimist; I was emo as a teen before emo was cool, but I've worked myself to the middle ground.  Now, it is just a matter of bumping myself a little farther along on the optimist side.

So let me start by saying that it has been an excellent week so far.  Kira has been extremely happy, and I've been in a good mood.  My family and friends are all safe from the storms that came through on Monday, and we didn't have any storm damage.  Ben had a good birthday dinner Tuesday night, and Kira was good the entire two hours at the restaurant.

What about you?  What good things have happened for you this week?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Your Wednesday Geek Moment

My husband and I had quite a debate last night on the way home from his birthday dinner.  Though only marginally related to politics, it grew quite heated at one point.  Our point of contention?  The proper composition of a questing party when attempting to save the world.

It started with my husband's assertion that, despite their presence in movies and books, there hadn't really been many evil geniuses in human history.  I responded that there had been but they had been stopped by a party of people on a quest to save the world.  This unknown history had, of course, been lost, only to be found once more by Japanese RPG makers and fantasy novelists.

All you need, really, is a warrior, a healer, a couple of mages, and a rogue.  It is necessary, I asserted, that at least one of these people be royalty, either openly or secretly.  What epic quest can succeed without a prince or princess in the mix?  Chances are, the hero will be an orphaned prince or the heroine a run-away princess.  Who else is going to hook you up with an airship when the evil villain is surrounded by impenetrable mountains?  No one, that's who.

My husband disagrees.  He maintains that a child of any kind of head-of-state is acceptable in this day and age.  But really, a proper questing party has to travel around the world anyway.  There are plenty of monarchies where they could pick up a needy royal.  So what if they're angsty and not necessarily good at their role?  We're talking airships, people.  A president would have to spend months getting that through congress. 

In all seriousness, wouldn't it be cool if the world's problems could be solved via RPG quest?  I suppose it would be kind of strange to see a group of people in armor beating up slime in my backyard, though.

But whatever works.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Competing with Yourself

I'm sorry that it has been over a week since I posted.  Aside from a brief mini-vacation, things have been a bit crazy around here, and not always in a good way.  Colds, exterminators, and a great deal of "seriously?" in the last two weeks.  I can only be grateful that Kira isn't a toddler yet, or things would have been destroyed.  Yeah, like that.

Anyway, on to my point.  I've posted a lot about the trend of competitive motherhood.  Just recently, I've been reminded that the competition is not always external.  I've found myself struggling with the internal kind, and boy, is it insidious.  

I have several friends on Facebook who have babies around the same age as Kira, and they post pictures.  Pictures of their babies crawling, pulling themselves up in their cribs, holding their own bottles--all things that Kira has yet to master.  Now I'm not one of those mothers who thinks bad thoughts about other babies; I'm legitimately happy for those families.  The criticism is all for myself.  "What am I doing wrong?" I ask myself.  I start to wonder if it is my fault that Kira isn't already doing these things.

I've heard over and over that babies develop at their own pace and that we shouldn't compare.  Logically, I understand and even believe this.  So why can't I seem to believe it emotionally?  Surely I should be able to teach Kira to play Mozart and read Shakespeare by 5, right?  Surely.

When this happens, I just have to stop and roll my eyes at myself.  Sometimes, I am too much of a perfectionist for my own good.  So Kira isn't crawling or walking circles around the couch.  What, exactly, does that mean?

Besides the fact that I don't have to chase her yet.  Hmm... Maybe the other mothers are envying me.  :)