Living in the Mommy Moments

There’s a viral video out there about motherhood and how quickly our children grow up, and it’s taken over my Facebook feed in recent weeks. If you’re a mom reading this, I suspect someone has shared Slow Down with you along with the tagline “guaranteed to make you ugly cry.” That rather unappealing promise aside, it’s a beautiful song, and I adore Nichole Nordeman. She’s one of my all-time favorite singers, and the story behind her latest album, The Unmaking, is inspiring. Meanwhile, there’s a super popular post on Scary Mommy right now which is also popping up on my social media feeds with increasing frequency entitled Someday I’ll Wish I Could Go BackSlow Down and the Someday I’ll Wish article have touched the same nerve with mommies of the Internet world – namely that our babies’ childhoods seem to pass too quickly, like a blur; that we want to savor every moment but life and the worries of every day distract us from truly enjoying each precious moment we have with our children. And we know that someday we’ll regret it.

Given its popularity, chances are you’ve watched the Slow Down video several times by now and boohoo cried over it too. But, if you haven’t read the Someday I’ll Wish article, I encourage you to check it out now. It’s a quick but impactful read. I’ve read it like 10 times at this point and still cry every single time I read these lines: “She was longing to nurture. To pick up a crying baby and be everything that he needs. To hold that warm, soft body and feel the weight of his head resting on her chest.” What a powerful image! As I read those words, I can literally feel my daughter nestled against my chest, her warm breath against my neck and my arms wrapped around her back and bottom. That’s a rare occurrence for me now.


My darling daughter at just one day old!

My only child is just 7 and ½ months old, but I can already attest to that all too rapid flight of time. My daughter’s first months are just a hazy memory now. Seems whenever I hold her these days, she just struggles out of my arms. I end up wrestling with her most of the time as she fights to gain ever-increasing mobility and independence. Perfectly developmentally-appropriate of course, but frustrating for me because now I really want to cuddle her close. I find myself staring longingly at pictures from her very earliest days in the hospital, when she gladly snuggled up to me and fell asleep on my chest. Pictures like this one:

I wasn’t paying attention at the time. I was too busy reeling from my emergency C-Section; too worried about my milk supply and too preoccupied with fears that I’d never lose the 50 pounds I gained during pregnancy, that I’d never feel like myself again. And now I find myself regretting the time I wasted, the moments I missed and wishing I could go back and hold my placid, tiny little newborn again; longing to recapture and savor those precious snuggly moments I failed to cherish at the time. N.B. I long to relive the cuddles and snuggles with my sweet little newborn NOT the sleepless nights, projectile poops and 3 AM battles with nipple shields. And I definitely do not miss the hours and hours I spent fellowshipping with my breast pump. But those are the things – those nagging nuisances, those pressing have-to-do tasks that go along with parenthood – those are the things that capture our attention and cause us to miss out on the sublime everyday moments with our children we might otherwise embrace. So each night when my husband and I sing our daughter to sleep my voice cracks because I know another day of her childhood has passed. I get tearful because I realize again that a little bit more of our time with her has slipped away.

I recognize that in order to truly enjoy the precious (and all-too brief) time I have with her, I need to live in the moment and stop being so distracted by all the other things that worry and distract me from what I truly value. And I am reminded of the following pre-game speech I once heard from former University of Florida (and current Oklahoma City Thunder) men’s basketball coach Billy Donovan.

He gave this speech just prior to the national championship game, which they won (Go Gators BTW). I love what he says! And it must have been effective because not only did this team win the national championship that night, they went on to win a second (e.g. back-to-back) national championship the following year. Coach Donovan challenges the players to anticipate adversity but still remain focused on the goal – to live in the moment. That same message – living in the moment despite the (very real) daily challenges that distract us from the truly important things like cherishing our children and family – is the key. As parents, we will always remember our children’s various stages fondly. But living in the moment, cherishing each moment is key to avoiding the pain of regret that comes from realizing (after the fact) you missed those precious moments because you were too worried about other, less important things. But again, the question is, how can we remind ourselves throughout the day to “live in the moment” when our minds often wander to other things?

First, understand it’s “normal” for your mind to wander. In 2015, Microsoft released a study (1) which stated, among other things that an adult’s attention span is only 8 seconds long. Basically, our minds wander every 8 seconds. Understand that some of us have an even harder time. For example, I have ADHD. And recent studies (2) have found adults with ADHD suffer from “excessive mind wandering,” (file that research finding in the ‘duh’ category). So, obviously my mind wanders more often than every 8 seconds. The point is, for all mothers, it’s hard to remain present with our children, and for some of us (i.e. me and others with ADHD), it’s REALLY hard. I often find myself feeling antsy or bored, reaching for my phone or the TV remote just while feeding my daughter. It’s tempting to multi-task, even when with our children in the name of “productivity.” But that kind of multi-tasking does not produce meaningful results, and it communicates to our children that they are less important than the phone, laptop, tablet etc. Which brings us to the next point: understand the role technology plays in distraction. That same Microsoft Study (1) found that average adult’s attention span decreased by 33% in just 13 years – decreasing from 12 to 8 seconds when measured in 2000 versus 2013, respectively. Those dates of course correspond to the boom in internet, hand-held technology and social media which now inundate us all, constantly. So it’s important to disconnect from the phone, laptop and TV as often as possible (at least a couple of times per day for at least 15-30 minutes at a time) and just be present with our children, spouse and family.

Here are 2 techniques that can help you tune into the present moment. Before trying either technique, disconnect from all electronic devices (obviously, you’ll need to read through how to practice these tricks first). Simply disconnecting from electronic devices will help tremendously with your present moment focus.

Technique #1 Balanced Breathing – think of your inhale (breathing in) as an arrow pointing upward. Now imagine your exhale as an arrow pointing down. Balanced breathing is when the “up” and “down” arrows are of equal sizes. Your inhale matches your exhale. Another way to think of it is to count silently as you breathe in (say inhale for 4 counts). Then count at the same pace as you breathe out, and match your exhale to the inhale (4 counts). When you first begin practicing Balanced Breathing, you may need to start with shorter breaths, only 3 counts in/out so you don’t get too tired or light-headed, especially if you have any breathing conditions (asthma, COPD, etc.) or allergies. You will soon be able to stretch out your breaths. But always make sure your inhales and exhales are equal or “balanced.” Practice Balanced Breathing at least 5 minutes each day. And soon you’ll be able to use this technique to focus yourself whenever you need to pay better attention. It can also help you feel more energized during the afternoon doldrums and can help you calm down after an argument with your spouse.

Technique #2 Grounding – Grounding uses your senses (touch, taste, sight, sound, smell) to help you return your focus to the present moment by directing your attention to your immediate surroundings. The easiest and quickest way to do this is by using your sense of touch but any of your 5 senses will work. The next time your find your mind wandering, reach out and touch your child’s foot or hand or touch the chair or sofa your sitting in. Feel the texture of the table next to you or pet your dog or cat. As your doing this, really pay attention to how it feels in your hand. Try to describe the sensation in your mind. Is it rough, smooth, furry, cold, warm or coarse? Simple touch is very effective for bringing us back into the present moment, but other sensations work too. Try pouring yourself (and your child/children if applicable) something to drink. Then slowly take a few sips, being mindful to notice how it tastes and feels in your mouth and as you swallow. Next, describe it to your child. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. It can be simple, like “oh that is cold on my tongue and throat.” Ask your child to do the same. Try being very still and quiet for a few seconds and notice what you hear. Can you describe it? Maybe you hear the whirring sound of the refrigerator, or your dog snoring (that’s our house). Pausing for a few minutes to tap into one or more senses is a great way to bring yourself into the present moment, and it’s a useful skill to teach your children too. Try it today and practice it with your kids a few times a week. It will become second nature.

There will always be distractions. As Coach Donovan said, “there’s gonna be adversity and challenges.” We know that in advance. But as moms we know that we don’t want to miss these precious moments. I want to embrace these moments now, not later or after the fact.  I want to really live in these “Mommy Moments” each precious day.

Wisdom for the Day:
Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
~Matthew 6:34 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
Read more here.

Resources of the Day:
1. Check out this article entitled Rush to Press from the brilliant Functional Dad. Yes, it’s true I’m massively biased. But do remember Functional Dad is PhD with tons experience helping folks perform better and improve their daily lives by applying these very same mindfulness and balanced living skills.
2. This self-help worksheet for anxiety from the wonderful online site Anxiety BC contains more info on relaxation and grounding as well as additional links for skills such as progressive relaxation and tips on healthy living.

The Top 5 Pregnant Lady Nemeses

Pregnancy introduces you to lots of new people – new friends, new medical providers, and of course a brand new family member. Sometimes you meet new characters in the people you’ve known for years. Most of these people are supportive and kind. Some are annoying, but some become all-out nemeses. Below is a list of the most frustrating, critical, and otherwise antagonizing folks you’re likely to encounter while gestating, along with suggestions for how to handle them.

1. Ms. All About-Me:
All-About-Me swoops in early in your pregnancy and seems so excited for you. Soon you realize All-About-Me’s not excited for you – she’s excited for herself. She announces your pregnancy on Facebook (on her Facebook page); she tells all her friends, relatives, coworkers, etc. the big news and all before the end of your first trimester. She insists on throwing you a baby shower; she wants to help you decorate because she already has a theme picked out for the nursery. She even presents you with a list of baby name suggestions. You have so much on your plate, after all. The problem is that it’s tempting to allow All-About-Me to take over, especially if you are: 1) feeling ambivalent about the pregnancy; 2) feeling too awful from morning sickness to get very excited yourself; 3) too busy with other children, work, etc. to plan for the new arrival; or 4) not financially able to do all the things All-About-Me promises to do for you and the baby.
How to Deal: In the immortal words of Barney Fife:

… nip it. Nip it in the bud. Thank All-About-Me for those things you accept then clearly and directly state which are deal-breakers.

2. The Worry Wart:
Poor well-intentioned Worry Wart just wants to share in your miracle, but doesn’t know anything about pregnancy and says all the wrong things. For example, Ms. Wart may tell you how she talked to her friend about your pregnancy and that friend “who is a nurse, by the way (as though that immediately guarantees expert credibility status), wants to make sure you are eating enough foods with folic acid and are taking your vitamins.” Wart then launches into several cautionary tales about not consuming enough folic acid to further emphasize the point. This is serious, Preggers! You don’t want to have a baby with an extra arm in the middle of its forehead, do you? Since you’ve been dutifully taking prenatals since before you got pregnant and are forcing yourself to eat 3 servings of green veggies every day despite crippling nausea, these helpful hints are seriously annoying. When Worry Wart reminds you (for the 5th time) not to miss your OB appointments, you may be tempted to fire back: “Nah we’re skipping the whole prenatal care thing. We’re bettin’ on a genetic crap shoot and a diet of Cheetos and Mountain Dew!” Screen Shot 2016-06-04 at 4.54.20 PM
How to Deal: Redirect Worry Wart’s nervous energy toward a specific project. Ask for help finding the safest travel systems or best deals on diapers etc.

3. The Constant Caller:
The Constant Caller tends to arrive near the end of your pregnancy. She starts calling and texting you with increasing frequency in those latter weeks “just to check in.” My own Caller Nemesis began reaching out to me around 32 weeks, asking how I was feeling, if I needed anything, etc. It was all very flattering. Then, Caller dropped by to see me around 34 weeks. Utterly appalled by the size of my belly, Caller immediately (and repeatedly) declared that I was “huge” and proclaimed that I would most certainly not carry to term because I was “so big.” I was incredibly uncomfortable and already very self-conscious about weight I’d gained, and I secretly hoped she was right, that I’d deliver early and put an end to my suffering. Thankfully, my baby had other ideas. By week 38, Caller was calling and texting several times a week, and I was literally praying to have the baby. By the time my due date arrived (with no baby and no signs of impending labor) I was going insane. Caller’s incessant texts asking if I had “anything exciting to report” only served to remind me that I was probably going to be pregnant for the rest of my life. The only thing I had to report was another 5 pounds gained so I chose to cut off all communication with her in order to avoid a profane texting outburst.
Screen Shot 2016-06-04 at 3.27.34 PM

How to Deal: Constant Caller wants to be in the loop. Reassure her she’ll be among the first to know.

A trick I learned from BTDT moms is to tell people an estimated due date 2-3 weeks after your actual EDD.




...Okay I didn't actually do that. But it made for an awfully satisfying fantasy!

…Okay I didn’t actually hurl things at Horror Queen’s head. But it made for an awfully satisfying fantasy at the time!

4. The Horror Story Queen:
The Horror Story Queen has the scariest birth stories around (and it seems to grow more elaborate each time she tells it). Horror Queen will seek you out, poor pregnant Mama, because you have to hear… so you’re prepared, just in case. “I was in labor for 72 hours. I passed out 6 times. The epidural didn’t take, and I had a third degree vaginal tear. Blah, blah, blah. Oh, I’ve already told you that one? Well, my sister’s, daughter’s, best friend’s delivery is the grossest, most terrifying story ever! You need to hear it too.”

Here’s one I actually heard while pregnant: “Oh you’re not delivering at [unnamed] hospital! You know what they say about that place don’t you? That’s the hospital where people go to die. My niece delivered there, and her baby died…I’m just saying.” To which I responded “And I’m just saying, duck!” as I hurled 5 lb. bottles of prenatal vitamins at her head!

How to Deal: Run away! Okay, you can’t run, but waddle away as fast as you can! 
Avoid the Horror Queen at all costs.


5. The Creepy Stranger:
As a Preggo, you can never be sure when you’ll encounter Creepy Strangers. They’ll appear as if out of nowhere, and usually when you least expect it. Creepys have finely honed covert skills, skulking up silently with arms outstretched, ready to touch your growing belly, often without asking. The Creepy Stranger also prides herself on being able to predict the gender of your unborn child just by assessing the shape of your belly, how you’re carrying, the condition of your skin, the position of the moon and so on. Creepy will ask you all sorts of personal questions like the number of children you’ve had, your age, your plans for pain management during delivery, if you’re married and etc. If you happen to be very pregnant when you encounter Creepy, expect to be informed as to how easily you could induce labor by simply taking a few laps around your house (this is especially annoying if you’re already desperately marching your pregnant behind around your neighborhood like a band in a parade everyday without so much as a single real contraction or cm dilated); how you should be having sex every night to induce labor (not terribly appealing since that’s how you got yourself into this mess to begin with); and (in vivid detail) the results Creepy had using castor oil to induce.

How to Deal: Honestly, it’s hard to completely avoid Creepy Strangers, so I encourage you to either take a mixed martial arts class before becoming pregnant so you know how to defend yourself, or consider purchasing several of these:

Take Home Mommy Wisdom: The truth is that none of these folks is really your enemy. They’re definitely annoying, especially when compounded by the ordinary hormonal swings and discomforts of pregnancy. It can be very difficult to graciously deal with a Creepy stranger touching your belly or the power plays of All-About-Me. When tempted to explode, take a deep breath and try reminding yourself that each of these folks is excited for you in his/her own misguided way. Enlist the help of your significant other in dealing with any particularly annoying family members. If you absolutely cannot maintain your cool when dealing with one of these folks, then limit contact as much as possible (texting is a useful means of maintaining communication without too much contact) until after you’ve had the baby. Also, try to remember that this is a blessed time (yes, you are blessed in spite of the heartburn, hemorrhoids and ankle-swelling you’re experiencing) and these characters just wanna share in your moment of joy.

Still, God, in His faithfulness, will deliver (women) through childbearing as long as they remain in faith and love and holiness with self-restraint.
~I Timothy 2:15 (The Voice)
Read more here.

Karen Dietrich is a new full-time mom and a long-time beauty junkie. She spends her time loving her baby, laughing at her husband and wondering if she’ll ever again fit into her pre-pregnancy jeans. For more from Karen and her relentless quest for beauty and wisdom in everyday life, be sure to subscribe to her blog: Daily Beauty Wisdom.

All In – Making a Lasting Commitment to the WHOLE30 Lifestyle

A few days ago, Hubs and I went grocery shopping. Nothing out of the ordinary. But as we were unloading our haul, which was especially heavy on the frozen meats and veggies, we realized there was no room in our freezers to accommodate our purchases. How could that be when I’d made the list myself based on items I knew we were out of? And, we’re blessed to have an extra refrigerator/freezer combo in our garage. So we should have tons of storage space, right? Hubs soon diagnosed the problem. Loads of assorted veggie burgers, patties and meat substitutes of all kinds were hiding at the back of each freezer, taking up valuable space.

For the next several minutes, we stood there holding bags of rapidly defrosting chicken, broccoli and green beans while I debated the pros and cons of tossing all my old vegan favorites. “But they taste so good,” I whined. “Remember I how loved the ‘crispy chick’n’ ones! Oh and here’s the 7-grain crispy tenders’ (by now, any current or former vegetarians out there know exactly which brand I’m referencing)! Those are my favorite! Remember how I loved them? They’re so expensive. I don’t wanna just throw away money,” I pleaded.

Hubs tried reasoning with me. “But Karen, remember how those things made you feel, how your stomach hurt all the time. You haven’t touched any soy in so long, and those breaded ones have grains all over them.”

Still I resisted. “But I used to love them,” I protested. “And you know how I hate throwing away food. It’s such a waste of money.” Then I came clean. “And, they taste so good. What if I wanna eat them again someday?” The crux of the matter – I was holding onto these foods knowing full well they were full of crazy chemicals; that they were loaded with artificial, processed ingredients; created in a lab somewhere by scientists to simulate real foods. But I hadn’t let them go because in the back of my mind I thought someday I might want to eat them again despite knowing how unhealthy they are. I wanted to keep my options open.

On hearing this, Hubs’ patience ran out. He grabbed a bag of faux meat and started reading the ingredients aloud. I think it was about when he reached “methylcellulose” or “cane sugar,” that he looked at me and asked “really? Is this really what you want to put into your body? Can’t you make something just as good with real foods?” He knows me so well. That was exactly the right button to push with me. Issue a challenge to my competitive nature, and I’m hooked. At that I promptly tossed all faux meat into the garbage and only looked back to take this pic.

Tossing out the artificial and making room for whole food freedom!

Tossing out the artificial and making room for whole food freedom!

Plus Hubs made a valid point – why settle for less than the best? It reminded me of a story from the Bible (Numbers 11). The Children of Israel had been rescued by God from slavery in Egypt and were being led by Moses through the desert to the Promised Land. During their time in the desert of testing, some of the people started complaining about the food they “had” to eat (literally Manna from heaven). The complainers decided they would have been better off returning to enslavement in order to have the foods they previously ate in Egypt. The upshot of this affair is that the complainers were allowed to eat some of the foods they were craving but with disastrous consequences. Click here to read more.

Be clear. I’m not suggesting I would drop dead if I took one bite of my old “chick’n” tenders. But it is important that we make wise choices each day and with each meal, choices that bring life and health to our minds and bodies. Wise choices are those foods created by God (the kind of foods with only 1 single pronounceable ingredient on the ingredient list), not scientifically engineered products filled with chemicals created by man. Wise food choices are exactly the kinds of foods that comprise the WHOLE30 and Paleo plans. Incidentally, those same whole foods are the ones identified as best for beauty in this recent study. It is important to remember why we started on the WHOLE30 program – to feel better, more energetic, maybe lose some weight and reduce/eliminate other nagging health problems (in my case to lose baby weight and decrease life-long GI troubles). In the face of this truth and the freedom the program has offered, it hardly makes sense to go running back to enslavement to former foods.

N.B. I’m all for allowing yourself the occasional splurge. But I believe in those rare instances, the indulgence should be something truly exceptional and comprised of all whole foods, not pseudo foods created by chemists. And it probably shouldn’t come from a freezer bag. For more on this approach to healthy splurging, check out this fantastic article by Melissa Hartwig where she describes her “One Bite Rule.”

Incidentally, for a couple of real food recipes that deliciously replace those sad soy substitutes, click these links and thank me later:
Paleo Leap’s Coconut Crusted Chicken Strips
WHOLE30 Thanksgiving in a Meatball

Wishing you peace, wisdom and delicious whole food meals in the coming weeks!

Wisdom of the Day:
They will turn their backs on the truth and turn to myths.
II Timothy 4:4 (Common English Bible)
Read more here.

Resource of the Day:
From Immunity Foods 20 Easy & Tasty WHOLE30 Lunch Recipes
(PS: Recipe #16 will blow your mind!)

WHOLE30 Day #24 – Cleaning Up

Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 1.02.23 PM
Much of our family’s focus this weekend has been on cleaning our home in preparation for visitors this coming week. With a baby in the house, we tend to clean more reactively than proactively. “Oh there’s a mess over here. Let me pick that up before the baby gets into it…The baby spilled her bottle over there. I need to mop that up before get into it and turn it into an even bigger mess.” We vacuum before our daughter does tummy time but not on a regular schedule (sad but true). I dust when we’re expecting company not because that’s just what I do every Tuesday.

So as I cleaned, I began thinking about WHOLE30 and how it’s been kind of a metaphor for spring cleaning, a reset if you will. I discussed it with Hubs. We talked about our individual experiences; how our initial WHOLE30 journeys are coming to an end; what we’ve learned; etc. We also talked about how we want to move forward, the aspects of WHOLE30 we definitely want to maintain, pitfalls we want to avoid during the transition from such a strict eating plan (binging on pizza anyone?) and such. More on this topic in the days ahead…

Shortly after this conversation I checked my email. I had received my daily e-devotional from Dr. David Jeremiah’s Turning Points. In case you’re unfamiliar with Turning Points – it’s a wonderful program that sends you 6 emails a week (1 per weekday and 1 for the weekend). Each email contains a short devotional with a foundational scripture, a brief discussion often based on the life story of some historical individual and an additional suggested Bible reading for follow-up. During my days in the full-time, traditional work force, Turning Points emails were invaluable for helping me establish a daily devotional routine. These days, with an erratic full-time mommy schedule, Turning Points serves to ground me and remind me every day of the peace and love God provides. I’ve pasted a portion of this weekend’s devotion below because it speaks so clearly to this issue of spring cleaning, and how we should remain continually in a process of resetting and reassessing our progress toward our goals.

…Why should we live without having our affairs in order? Why shouldn’t “getting our affairs in order” be a continual process of assessing and resetting instead of an end-of-life challenge? We know the reasons: procrastination, busyness, resistance to change, unwillingness to make hard choices, fear of the future, and more. And yet we eventually get to that place: We clean out the garage and basement, we go on a diet, we start exercising, we begin investing resources in healthy relationships, we start spending daily time with God, we fine-tune our financial matters . . . we do those things that we know will allow important priorities to rise to the top and less important ones to fall by the wayside. Is it time for you to get your spiritual and practical affairs in order? Make it a continual process as you press toward the goal of knowing Christ Jesus.

Verse of the Day:
But one thing I do . . . I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
~Philippians 3:13b-14 (NKJV)
Read more here.

Resource of the Day:
Click here to register & begin receiving Turning Points e-devotionals automatically delivered to your inbox!

Hi I'm Karen.

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