Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Learning to live with depression: Our family's journey

Nearly three months ago, I had the worst moment of my life. My husband - after months of my worrying - opened up for the first time about the deep depression he was battling.

But to this day, I'm grateful. I'm grateful that he realized he needed support. I'm grateful he saw his physician to get medical attention, and that he didn't give up when his first medication didn't work for him. I'm grateful he sought the help of our EAP program, and he was brave enough to share with his boss his struggles.

I wish seeking out help for depression meant you flipped the magic switch and that things have become automatically better. And many days, it has. I so much more appreciate the days when my husband plays with the kids and I hear them giggling in the next room.

But I still brace the days for the calls when he tells me he's having a "bad day" - when the medications aren't working with his body's chemistry and he can't function as well as normal.

Getting through depression as a family is, truly, a family affair. Having tough talks with little kids who might not understand what daddy is struggling with is not easy. Keeping the support of managing the household, when you're trying to lift up your loved one - is a challenge.

But you can get through it. Day by day, hour by hour.  I know; my friends whose husbands have quietly suffered know too.

It takes prayer. And patience. And persistence.

If you're struggling in your family with someone with depression, please know I am thinking of you!!!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Walking from my Winter Wonderland

Ten days into 2014, and I am ready for spring.

I've spent the bulk of this year so far not working on my resolution, not cleaning my house. Instead, I've been prepping and surviving a massive winter storm that hit Indianapolis. Not just stocking up on milk, bread and ice melt...it was managing employee and patient communications for a major organization in our community. All while juggling kids who were trapped indoors during -30 wind chills and unable to go to school, let alone play outside.

Friday's here. And I'm tired. And so ready to walk from my winter wonderland.

Thankfully we're blessed that warmer temperatures are on the horizon. The 30 (positive!) degree temperature today were such a blessing; and even with rain, I'm embracing this weekend in its entirety. No time on the computer; instead, we'll be coaching and playing basketball games, stomping in slush to sell Girl Scout cookies and hopefully enjoying the warmer weather and a less hectic time together (one that doesn't involve the phrase "Please be quiet! Mommy's on a work call.")

I'm ready to start my resolutions, and I'm refusing to beat myself up for these last days I couldn't make the time to taking the steps I needed to do. Instead of being upset I didn't exercise or read my Fitcee email of the day - let alone execute the day's goals - I made the decision to put it on "hold," and start fresh when I could commit to it.

So tomorrow marks my unofficial start to 2014. As the winter weather is behind me and the kids are starting to head back to school, I'm ready to refocus on taking care of me and my family. After a few good night's sleep, I'll have the energy to begin.

How are your resolutions coming along?

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Winter Olympics Party Ideas for Girl Scouts

Looking for more Girl Scout ideas? Visit my new scout leader resource site, Use Resources Wisely. 

The Sochi Olympics are just a few weeks away, and we're planning to celebrate it and help our Brownies kick off their Fair Play badge as well!

A Winter Olympics party has been on my must-do list for this Girl Scout year. It's a great way to take advantage of being stuck indoors.

Some of the great ideas I've found online for our Winter Olympics party next month:

Learning about Olympic Traditions

Quick Crafts to Go

The challenge? Narrowing our ideas down to an hour's worth of fun!

Looking for more ideas? Check our my Winter Olympics Party Board on Pinterest.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Low-stress start to freezer cooking

Freezer cooking is something I always have on my to-do list but rarely occurs. I'll be the first to admit that it seems like a daunting task; I'm overwhelmed by the people who can crank out 15 dishes in five hours (who can keep the kids away that long?).

But this week off work has given me an opportunity for some low-stress freezer cooking projects. I'm finding it's easy to cook once and eat twice; and my slow-cooker is being well-worn. (And the bonus is, the oven running is helping to warm my kitchen during this freeze!)

What have I been up to?

Cooking and freezing:

  • Peanut butter chicken. It is easy to double a batch when cooking and then freeze in family-size portions for those nights you need a fast meal. Just reheat and serve over quinoa or rice.
  • Waffles. Nothing fancy here; just make a batch of waffles and freeze for the days when someone is begging for them and there is no time. For those who don't want to cook from scratch (which is easy), a package of waffle mix runs not much more than eight Eggo waffles.

In the crock pot:

  • Orange chicken: I borrowed this recipe from Six Sisters for crockpot orange chicken. It was easy to double and pull off; and you can find all-natural (no sugar!) orange marmalade at the grocery store. I do think that this recipe is meant to be made with tamer barbecue sauce than what I buy in Kansas City, though. I used Daniel's BBQ sauce and found it overpowered the orange flavor, though it still tasted wonderfully. (I may just recast this as barbecue chicken on a bun for the kids!)
  • Homemade cinnamon pear-applesauce: I simply cored and quartered a slow cooker filled with pears and apples, squeezed in the juice of an orange and sprinkled it liberally with cinnamon. I ran the slow cooker on low for 8-10 hours and used my hand blender to make a smoother consistency.
  • Chicken stock: I save bones from rotisserrie chickens and freeze veggies that are on the verge of dying in my crisper; cover them with water in a crock pot set on low for overnight. Strain it in the morning. I freeze this in 2 and 3-cup servings for future use. I run through so much chicken broth for recipes, and this always tastes better than the canned stuff.

What are your favorite freezer cooking recipes and successes? Share them below!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Changes for a New Year

I'll be the first to admit I hate the word "Resolutions." It holds promise - promises of success and promises of failure.

But that doesn't mean I'm not ready for a change, and I'm starting those changes already. I'm hoping that 2014 is the year these changes stick.

Here's what I'm wanting to work on for the new year:

1) Finally budge the scale. I've been stuck at point A for frankly, a decade or more, and I hate it. I've struggled with finding a program that works - I need baby steps to success, not a massive overhaul that I'll abandon with enthusiasm. I recently started the Fitcee program, which is doing just that. (Yes, in the week before Christmas even, the crazy week of programs and birthdays and multiple urgent care visits!) I'll admit I haven't been 100% faithful just yet, but now that the holidays are passed and the Christmas treats are left at my mother's home, I intend to make concepts stick. Even if it means, gasp, trying a heart-healthy avocado.

2) Dump my Diet Coke habit. Again, this is a habit that's been with me since I was a teen (yes, count the decades...) I admit I have an addiction to caffeine, and probably have something to do with the fizziness of soda. My goal is even if I can't completely dump the Diet Cokes, I'd like to be able to significantly reduce them.

3) Get healthy. I know that seems a bit lofty, but I want energy, and normal blood sugars. I'm on the right route but want to continue that journey.

4) Get my finances in check. I'll be honest in that we still haven't recovered from the three years my husband was without a full-time job. We received a Christmas blessing and I hope to use that to kick-start our financial recovery.

What are your goals for the coming year?