Time Goes By: Canon EOS Rebel SL1

It’s been over 2 months since Canon Canada graciously sent me a EOS Rebel SL1, and I have had lots of time to play around with it and fall even deeper in love. Is that possible with a camera? Yes, yes it is. This camera is hands down, the best entry level DSLR I have had the pleasure of using. Not only that, but it grows beautifully with you, as you learn more and your camera needs expand. Very user friendly and beautiful photos every single time. It’s fantastic, and I really can not rave about it enough.

 

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Because this model is so much more compact and travel friendly than others on the market, I have been able to take it out and about with us on more adventures, without feeling like it was in the way or too bulky. We have traveled to parks, pools, forests, family houses and on tons of walks, and I have been able to test this beauty in every setting possible. From the blooming flowers, to the snoozing kitten, to the exploring toddler, to the blossoming child, I have caught so many beautiful, once in a lifetime photos.

 

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I found a deep love for my 50mm lens, and have taken some of the tips from Canon Canada’s new interactive Facebook App, and applied them to our every day life, in hopes of catching the best photos possible. Just because your family does not include a ‘baby’ anymore, doesn’t mean that you can’t take some tips from the professionals still. I highly recommend taking a browse through the tips they have provided, and taking some time to play with your camera and surroundings.

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We have been lucky enough to enjoy an absolutely beautiful summer so far, much deserved after our horrendous winter, so we have been basically living outdoors during the day. Corbin is a man very much on the move, and quite determined to do whatever he wants, while Marley is turning into this beautiful, thoughtful and fun-loving little woman-girl.

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Once again, thank you to Canon Canada, for allowing me to capture our family moments with such beauty and clarity, with the EOS Rebel SL1. Please make sure you check out the Facebook App!

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Capturing The Best Moments: A Review Of Canon EOS Rebel SL1

We’ve all done it: gazed longingly at those beautiful, seemingly perfectly timed baby photos and thought to ourselves ‘Why didn’t I think to take that photo” or “Why don’t my pictures turn out like that?”. Well, I will say that in my experience, capturing beautiful photos of your children come down to a few things: quality of camera, shutter speed, planning and sometimes it’s just pure luck.

 

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When Canon Canada contacted me and asked if I would be interested in working with them, reviewing the EOS Rebel SL1, and their new Facebook app, I happily said yes. Maybe a tad more enthusiastically than needed, but who can blame me? When I first started playing around with photography, in high school, a Canon camera was my very first purchase, and I haven’t looked back since. I have never been disappointed with the quality, nor the performance. Whether you are an amateur, or a professional, Canon really makes an effort to make things easy for you and they succeed beautifully.

 

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The EOS Rebel SL1 has all sorts of fantastic settings, all of which are easy to use. To be honest, I didn’t even sit down and go over the manual until a few days into my ownership, and that was purely for curiosity sake, and wanting to fine tune a few aspects of my photos. If you have small children, you know exactly how hard it is to capture beautiful, non blurry photos, and the action setting is perfect for just that. From trying to capture a fast moving 1 year old, to nabbing the perfect shot of a gleefully spinning 4 year old in the spring sunshine, this camera is beautiful. Aside from all the great features, it is also very lightweight and much less bulky than most other models out there, making it easy to tote around on every day adventures.

 

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A fantastic new venture from Canon Canada is their new interactive Facebook App which helps you capture those important milestones in your baby’s first year. It is set up to allow you to pick the age range of your child, choose from a few of the most popular shots at this age, and then explore the tips, pointers and step by step instructions on how to best capture these shots. They give some really great pointers, that even the most amateur photographer can follow, which is really great. With these great tips, and a fantastic camera, you can have professional quality photos of your kids as well. It has been developed with the help of an award winning Canadian photographer, and she gives you fantastic pointers and tips. Please make sure to check out the app, and pass it along to your friends with new babies!

 

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A big thank you to Canon Canada for supplying me with the beautiful EOS Rebel SL1. All opinions in this post are my own!

 

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In Pursuit Of Sleep

It’s been 10 months since Corbin was born (!), and as most people who have had children will tell you, one of the biggest changes you have to adjust to with a baby, is the loss of sleep.

Like, forever.

Or at least is seems like it.

I will be the first to admit it, we were very very spoiled with Marley’s sleep habits from early on. From 6 weeks old she was sleeping 12+ hours a night, napped pretty well and went down quite easily. There was never (and I mean never) a single night where we were pacing the floor with her wide awake, trying to get her to sleep. When she did wake up, it was to eat and she was right back to sleep easily. But once she hit 6 weeks old, there came that heart-stopping morning where you wake up all refreshed from 8 hours of solid sleep, and you realize that your baby did not wake up.

Cue immediate panic as your heart leaps into your throat. Do you jinx it and peek in on her, taking the chance of waking her up? Or do you calm your racing mind, and ensure that she is indeed ok and sleeping peacefully. She was obviously snoozing peacefully in this case, and from that day on it was extremely rare for her to wake up at night. It was glorious and all my friends hated me.

Fast forward to this past April, when Corbin was born. He was perfect, he was chunky, he was a fantastic sleeper in the beginning, as most of them are. Then around 2 weeks old, things shifted a bit and he was awake more during the day, checking things out, but then he was cranky. Squirmy. Very unsettled almost the entire time he was awake. Getting him to sleep during the day could have been an Olympic sport, and I was working my butt off for the gold medal. But then, once he was asleep it would only last for 20 minutes. Max.

I endured months of horrible nights of waking up every 2 hours, and naps that never lasted more than 20 minutes. I was exhausted, cranky and frustrated, but that wasn’t the worst part: so was my baby. I joked to my friends that he hated life, that he was a grumpy old man and just loved me so much he couldn’t bear sleeping longer lest he be away from me for too long. But deep down, I wasn’t really kidding. Putting my exhaustion aside, I was really feeling like there was something seriously wrong with my son, I was a failure and doing everything wrong. Why was my baby so incredibly miserable all the time?

Really, looking back on it now (hindsight really is 20/20), there are a few things I can attribute to the general mood those first few months: sleep was horrible, my anxiety was out of control, breastfeeding issues, me not really listening to my baby and let’s not forget his personality.  I thought I knew it all, I had this parenting thing down pat since it was so easy last time around. I had this, or at least I expected to. I did everything the same way I did it with Marley, never once taking into consideration that he could possibly be and have contrasting needs, and when those methods did not work, I was at a loss and frustrated. Instead of looking at it and trying something else, I took it personally and became so down upon myself and my son, that it was shameful. I rarely spoke positively about him or the motherhood experience  the second time around, I did not enjoy him or even really try for a while. I was mad, frustrated and depressed. I was in a funk that had no end, but I slowly started to try and climb out of it when I realized that what I was doing (nothing), wasn’t helping the situation at all.

I reached out for help.

I put my pride aside and asked around different mom groups that I am a part of, someone must have advice for me. Something other than ‘this too shall pass.’, because I was so so so sick of hearing that. One evening in particular, I was venting on my local board about the lack of sleep, I knew that even the slightest improvement in that area would make a world of a difference in both Corbin and I. He was almost 6 months old, and we were still getting very little quality sleep.

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I received a private message from Alanna at Goodnight Sleepsite, and she was full of compassion towards my situation and kindness. She said she would help me, if I wanted a different perspective and I don’t think I have typed ‘YES’ faster in all  my life. While I was skeptical of the tactics she might suggest, I was really at a point where I knew that whatever we were doing was not working any more. She started out by asking some simple questions about his sleeping environment, nap times, bed time etc., which I answered honestly. She offered a few bits of advice, and asked if we could schedule a time to speak over the phone/Skype or FaceTime to discuss things more in depth.

After having a powwow with Alanna a few evenings later, I had a list of things to do, suggestions to help us both, and my mind felt at ease and I was confident that we would get this sleep thing figured out. I told her right off the bat that I was not interested in letting him cry it out cold turkey (meaning put him to bed, walk out and not check on him again until the morning), but I was also not naive enough to think we could do this without some tears. We figured out a plan of action that I was comfortable with, and I started to feel that glimmer of hope that things would turn around for us soon.

So what did she tell me? What is the magical advice that was given?

I wish it was an easy answer, but as you can guess, every baby and parent is different. I can tell you things that really helped us, though:

  • White noise machine. Have that sucker turned on for every nap and all night while he sleeps. None of those timed ones either! I was concerned about this at first, because I wasn’t crazy about the idea of him relying on white noise to sleep, but it works beautifully and he will sleep without it if we are out. I love this one from Munchkin.
  • Room darkening blinds/curtains. I have these in my own bedroom, because when I sleep, I like it to be super dark, so why wouldn’t your baby? I purchased ours from Target.
  • No soothers! (Corbin basically laughs in the face of soothers, so that wasn’t an issue for us.)
  • Early bedtime. This whole ‘keep your baby awake longer to make them sleep later’ is nonsense. Trust me, they want to be down earlier and your evenings will thank you. Corbin is in bed between 6 and 6:30pm now, with no issues.
  • Proper naps. This was a big one for us, as I was really expecting Corbin to go with the flow and catch his sleep while we ran errands or took big sister to the park etc. Making sure he was getting a decent nap, in a proper sleep environment was key. Sleeping in a car seat just does not cut it. We are at the point now, where he has 2 good naps a day, but if need be he is ok with having one of those naps on the go. Bedtime will be shifted up sometimes, but it works now.
  • Night time is sleep time, not play time. If/when you do go in for a feed or diaper change, keep interaction to a minimum, don’t turn on all the lights and keep things quiet and sleepy. For both kids I had a small night light so I could see what I was doing, and I only changed diapers if absolutely necessary. Otherwise, it’s a quiet cuddle, feeding, kisses and back into bed. Night time is sleep time, and if you help convey that, they will eventually catch on.

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So the burning question: are we all getting sleep now? Yes! Nap times are amazing and peaceful now, Corbin is getting the rest he really wants and needs and is SO HAPPY when he wakes up, that my heart just leaps when I walk into his room and he’s standing in his crib, happily calling me. That was the biggest change for us, as it’s made our days much easier and happy. Instead of waking from a 20 minute nap screaming, and then being cranky from the get-go, he is way more laid back and happy. He is sleeping through the night consistently enough, that the odd time that he does wake, I actually kind of enjoy that quiet time we get to snuggle and he nurses back to sleep quickly and peacefully. I don’t feel like I am constantly battling to stay awake during the day, my son is so much happier and we are able to really enjoy each other now.

It’s glorious.

(Disclaimer: I was not compensated or asked to review Goodnight Sleepsite’s services, these are my own opinions.)

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Veggie-Loaded Meatballs

I know, that sounds a little oxymoron-ish, doesn’t it? But trust me when I tell you that these here meatballs are the actual bomb. It’s truly amazing how many veggies you can hide in these suckers, yet kids GOBBLE them up like crazy. Bonus points for all the flavor you can pack into such a small package. I usually make a large batch of these, about 3 dozen, cook them all up and then separate into 2-3 large Ziploc freezer bags. Once they are all frozen, it’s easy to take out what you need for a meal and they make great finger foods for older babies and thermos lunches for bigger kids.

Win/win.

Before I list off the recipe for these bad boys, I feel like I should add a disclaimer that I usually eyeball measurements for them, so the ones given are rough estimates. I will also note that my proven method of getting the mixture together is to use my bare hands and get into there myself. So plan to get messy. I hope you enjoy these as much as my family does.

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Veggie Loaded Meatballs

Ingredients:

  • 1/2lb lean ground beef
  • 1/2lb ground turkey (I’ve also used veal or pork)
  • 1 package regular Italian sausage
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup crushed crackers (get creative! I’ve used sour cream and onion flavored ones or pretzel ones.)
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1/2 yellow pepper, diced
  • 1/2 orange pepper, diced
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 zucchini, grated (I just use a cheese grater)
  • 1/2 cup carrots, grated
  • 1/4 Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all meats. Using the tip of a sharp knife, slice open the casing of the sausages and remove the raw meat, placing it into the bowl. I use my hands to knead the meats all together.
  3. Add in all remaining ingredients and once again, use your hands to really combine the ingredients. IMPORTANT: Do not over mix! This shouldn’t be a paste when you are done. You should still be able to see pieces of ground meat.
  4. Wash your hands thoroughly, you were just handling raw meat.
  5. Lightly grease two baking sheets with olive oil.
  6. With the mixing bowl on one side, and the baking sheets on the other, begin to form your meatballs. They should be roughly the size of a golf ball, and spread out evenly. Tip: Lightly coat your hands with olive oil before you start rolling the meatballs. This way they will not stick to your hands. I usually keep a small bowl with a bit of olive oil in it off to the side, so I can quickly dip my fingers in and re-lubricate my hands. You will thank me later for this tip, it’s much less messy.
  7. Wash your hands thoroughly, you were just handling raw meat.
  8. Lightly drizzle olive oil over the meatballs. I have been known to top them with mozzarella as well.
  9. Bake on the middle rack for 20-30 minutes, until they are starting to brown on top and are cooked through.
  10. Enjoy!

*If you are planning on freezing some of these, wait until they have cooled completely before packaging them up. To reheat, I usually put them in the microwave for 2 minutes, or you can use the oven.

 

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Change

You know the mixture of feelings you have when your baby starts crawling?

Excitement

Pride

Terror

Panic

Sadness

All of the above, and more.

As with most things to do with motherhood, you run the gauntlet of emotions every time your baby meets a new milestone. Almost every time it’s pride and excitement, very quickly followed by panic and sadness that all signs are indeed pointing to your baby quickly approaching that not-so-much-a-baby stage. That stage that also brings it’s own range of emotions. It’s a never ending circle, and just when you think you have come to terms with the growing up, some other new skill is learned and they are bigger once again.

Since I haven’t updated in forever, it’s safe to say that both Corbin and Marley are very different little people in the last 4 months.

Corbin is kneeling, laughing, eating everything in sight, babbling, crawling around, pulling himself up to standing, and is testing the waters on standing on his own. He is really mellowing out, and is much more content in general. Thank God, because there was a good chunk of time where I really thought I was going to go off the deep end. I’m not even kidding. He was SUCH a hard little baby, and looking back on the first 7 months of his life is truly painful as it’s become such a black hole for me. I have such sadness when I let myself think about it, because we were all so miserable. I missed so much because I was barely keeping my head above water most days, and we weren’t able to truly enjoy him and know him for the longest time. It was pure, frustrated, sad and angry survival mode for quite a long time here, and I am just now starting to feel confident in myself as a parent with him. I could write a novel about my feelings about it all, and talk in circles, analyze, but it’s still painful and just typing about it makes my palms sweat and my heart rate increase.

But that was then, and this is now and I am determined to enjoy every second now, soak him up in all of his chubby adorable cute glory. He has such a sweet, loving and fierce soul, and while the road to developing that was a rough one, it was necessary and we all survived.

 

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Marley has morphed into this little lady almost overnight, it seems. She creates art masterpieces all over every tiny piece of paper she can get her hands on, and is obsessed with writing out words and learning to read. She is doing so well in school, and soaking up so many new skills and knowledge that it truly boggles my mind. The difference a year has made in her is crazy, heck even the last 6 months. She really is this little kid now, asking (and properly using) a knife with her supper, taking showers on her own, getting her own snacks and picking her own clothes. She is so full of love and affection; the other day she brought me a little heart pennant from a necklace and told me that I should hold onto it and whenever I miss her, I can rub it on my cheek and remember how much she loves me. Seriously. Like I said, she is absolutely blowing my mind every day. I’m so proud of her, I could burst.

 

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Every day we see something new and different about our kids. A new quirk, personality trait, a new little seed of knowledge planted. I think that’s one of the most rewarding things about being a parent; watching your child lean to fly with the tools that you have given them. On a very selfish level, you get the gratification that all your hard work, tears, sleepless nights, yelling, negotiating, teaching, laughter, time, really, your life all suddenly seems to make sense. Your purpose here becomes more clear, and the hardest days don’t seem so bad anymore. I love those days.

 

PS: Do you like my new look? I figured it was time for a breath of fresh air here and Becca over at Jumping Jax Designs brought my vision to life. I’ve worked with Becca many times, as she’s designed birthday invitations and christmas cards for us over the years. Check her out :)

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Four

4 years ago today, this little ray of sunshine entered our world and brightened it beyond anything I could have ever imagined. She has the biggest heart and a zest for life that inspires me every day. I feel so honored to call her my daughter and that she calls me Mummy. Love you so much, my sweet Marley, Happy Birthday to you.

Yes, I did cry while writing this.

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Chaos

I know I’ve been super super quiet on here lately, but we have a ton going on, so I apologize. We are leaving for a 2 week vacation on Friday, and a MAJOR renovation is starting at our house on Monday. New kitchen, walls being removed, laundry room and powder room are being relocated, new windows etc. Needless to say; my house is an absolute bomb and it’s driving me a little batty.

I have lists upon lists of things that need to be done, and so many things running through my head that often I find myself sitting at the kitchen table, staring off into space because I just don’t know where to start. This is all so exciting and awesome, but it’s chaos. I can not WAIT for all of the changes to be done to the house, it’s going to be pretty incredible once it’s finalized.

I know you are thinking it, so yes, I am a tad crazy for taking on a renovation this size while I have a 4 month old. Absolutely nuts.

Oh, and YES that is correct, Corbin will be 4 MOTHS OLD in 3 days. If that doesn’t make you realize how fast time flies, I don’t know what will. To be honest, it’s all such a blur already and I’m looking forward to September when things settle down, Marley starts full-time kindergarten and I can really spend some alone time, bonding with Mr Corbin.

If you are not already, follow me on Instagram for more updates, I’ve been on there quite a bit lately, dropping some pretty cute photos.

But since I am so nice, here are a few of my favorite recent ones:

 

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3 Months Old

Woah woah woah. I’m going to need a few minutes here, to absorb the fact that Corbin is already 3 months old. I mean, what? To say that these three months have been a blur is a understatement. I feel a touch of sadness thinking about it, because they really have flown by, and a lot of details are pretty fuzzy. I guess this is what happens when you are in survival mode and struggling with even that.

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Now that Corbin is becoming more relaxed in his surroundings, it’s easier to get out of the house and enjoy his little personality. He is still a sensitive little guy, and as he learns faces and is more sure of himself, he adjusts to situations easier. He startles easily, and his ‘fall’ or moro reflex is still pretty strong, something I can not wait for him to grow out of. I feel like this is part of his problem in the car, he gets that falling feeling, freaks out and has no one there to comfort him so it just escilates. There have been many times where his reflex is so strong, that it scared me to the point of calling my Dr about it, almost as if he can not bring himself out of that state. It’s scary, but those episodes are becoming fewer and farther apart. THANK ALL THE THINGS.

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On that note: he still hates the car. I have tried changing him out of his infant seat and into a Birtax Boulevard (rear facing, obviously), with little to no difference in his demeanor, so he is back in the infant seat for the time being. I have come up with a few ways to keep car freak outs to a minimum: white noise (MP3′s or a couple windows cracked), feeding him approximately 10-15 minutes before getting into the car and timing our trips so that he is just about to go down for a nap. 9 times out of 10, that works, and drives are slowly becoming more pleasant. But when it doesn’t? Oh. It’s truly horrific, nerve shattering, heart racing, skin crawling, awful. I pull over all the time. It’s brutal. I can’t wait for him to (hopefully) grow out of this. It will be really sweet not to have an anxiety attack just thinking about packing my kids into the car.

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I will say this, above all else, Corbin is a little love sponge. He snuggles like a champ, adores when Marley is talking/playing with him, lights up when he sees Jason and I, and loves when anyone talks to him. If you are looking at him and engaging him with smiles and chatter, he will give you the hugest gummy baby smile you have ever seen, and talk your ears off. He happily kicks his legs, squeals and smiles so much now, I even managed to get him to laugh a little today, which was truly awesome. Baby giggles could bring world peace, I swear it.

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He has managed to inherit my love of sleeping, and is now sleeping 10-12 continuous hours most nights. Yes, I am bragging, no qualms about it. I don’t know exactly what we did to deserve two children who sleep so well at night, so quickly, but it seems to have happened. We have done nothing specific, except stick to a regular night time routine and keep his night quiet and dark. Now if only I could go to bed earlier than 2am myself, things would be great. If it makes you feel better, day time sleep is a whole other story. It seems that he prefers 30 minute cat-naps, over a couple long naps, which makes the days pretty exhausting. All things considered, I will not complain while the sleeping is good.

  • Weight: 15.5lbs
  • Sleeping: Down at 7pm, up around 5am sometimes to nurse, up for the day around 7:30am
  • Eating: He is nursing like a champ, but still eats every 2 hours or so during the day. Making up for all the time he sleeps at night, I think.
  • Favorite Activity: He adores his playmat, talking to his toys. He also loves going for walks outside and the pool.
  • Milestones: He has started rolling tummy to back in the last few days, and is twisting to try from back to tummy, with no success yet. He is now grasping for toys and bringing things to his mouth. His fist is constantly shoved into his mouth. His head and neck control has increased a ton in the last week, he will now go in the jumper for 5-10 minutes at a time and holds himself upright.
  • Firsts: I took him into Nana and Poppa’s pool last week, which he was not sure of at first, but quickly relaxed and really enjoyed himself.

 

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My Heart.

This boy

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and this girl

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they have my heart. Completely.

Things are getting better here, day by day. We have been seeing a Chiropractor and Osteopath and they have helped Corbin immensely, I can’t even begin to describe the almost instant changes that they brought to him. Thankful is a small way of putting it. Corbin is starting to become a much more content, happy and relaxed baby, with the exception of car rides. I have a feeling getting used to that one might take a while, but even that is showing some improvement. I could tell you about the epic meltdown he had in the car the other day, it involved traffic, construction and pouring rain, but I don’t want to traumatize anyone else. It was the worst of the worst that left Marley, Corbin and myself shaking and quite upset. Not cool.

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Corbin is starting to ‘talk’ and interact more with us, which I feel like he was frustrated about before. Big huge gummy smiles are pretty common now, complete with little kicking feet and excited waving arms. I find it hard to express into words how glad I am that he is starting to seem more comfortable in his skin and with our surroundings, I felt so awful for all of us, but mostly him. The world is a scary place when you are used to a nice comfy uterus, it’s hard to blame him for being so upset all the time. As he is getting older, that magical age of 3 months is quickly approaching, the age where everyone keeps telling me a swicth goes off and babies suddenly understand more and relax a bit.

Marley is doing awesome, keeping us all entertained with her stories, fashion choices and overall adorableness. Since Corbin arrived, I can’t help but look at her and see a big kid, she has changed so much and matured overnight it seems like. She’s as sweet as ever, completely obsessed with her baby brother, and loves showing him off to strangers and friends alike. As long as they pay attention to her as well, right? After a few scares at the pool, she is starting her second round of private swimming lessons next week, which she is excited about. There is also a fairy princess ballet camp on the horizon, that I am waiting to tell her about, otherwise it will be “is camp today? how about now? tomorrow? in 5 minutes? mom, its taking a long time to get here.”.

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Jason and I are trying to organize ourselves and the house, as we are preparing to take on a pretty major main floor renovation. There will be walls ripped out, bathroom and laundry room moved, and a whole new kitchen put into place. I’m like a kid at Disneyworld excited, but the work leading up to the big job is pretty daunting as we essentially have to clear out our main floor for a few weeks. Because that is exactly what one wants to be doing with a 3 month old and a 4 year old. NOPE. But really, I will try not to complain too much because HELLO DREAM KITCHEN!

My anxiety and depression seems to ebb and flow, as one would expect. There are great days and there are horrible days, but I am working through everything and taking it one day at a time. Part of my ‘kick PPD/PPA in the ass’ program is making sure we get out of the house at least once a day, even if it’s just for a walk around the block. I have been finding that if I’m having a crappy day, but force myself out for that walk, once we are back at the house I am already feeling more upbeat and positive, so yay for progress! There are still some pretty big triggers, but I’m learning very quickly to remove myself for situations, people and places that are not healthy for me. Not always easy, and I sometimes fail at it, but I’m happy to be more aware and informed enough to at least look back on a episode and recognize triggers and situations. Again, day by day.

I have some really great things that I am wanting to write about, share with you and explore, and I plan on doing so as my creativity and drive come back to me. I have been keeping a list on my iPhone of topics and ideas, which I can not wait to get into as I dig myself out. Looking back, these last 3 months have been quite the blur, I have some regret and shame about how little I felt present during most of it. I was in survival mode for a while and I had to let some things go so that I could hold onto myself and my family. As I find myself have more and more good days and better times, I feel ready to add some of those pushed aside things back into my life, blogging being one of them. I am not saying I’m all of a sudden going to be posting a few times a week, I am not setting any expectations on myself for that quite yet. But I will be here.

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My heart.

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It’s not admitting defeat, it’s more of a war cry

I’m struggling.

Trying to find the words to describe how I have been feeling lately is very hard for me. How does one open up themselves to the internet, strangers, friends, family, and tell them that they are having a hard time with life? It’s not easy. If one knew how many times I have opened and closed the WordPress app on my phone to try and get all of this out, only to close it in defeat and frustration, they would be surprised. Maybe they would feel sympathetic, maybe they would recognize some of that struggle, maybe they would laugh at my weakness, and maybe they would be surprised.

But that’s the truth, my truth, right now. I am struggling and I can only hide it for so long.

My mind and heart sometimes race faster than I can keep up with, running away from me, leaving me breathless and overwhelmed. Simple things, small things, can send me into a panic and seem impossible to overcome. How do you stay on top of regular, normal, everyday things when everything seems like it would take the energy of a Mt Everest climb? Standing at the base of that monstrous mountain and wondering to yourself how you are ever going to get to the top, not even taking a second to logically tell yourself that there are places to rest, breaks in that climb, that you don’t have to ascend it in one day.

But the worst? Oh, the absolute worst, is when the optimism breaks through with the brilliancy of the most beautiful summer sunshine, only to have it crushed with a unexpected thunderstorm rolling in. Being brought up, when that’s all you have yearned for, only to be violently crashed down just as fast? It’s horrible, and that’s how a lot of my time lately feels; up, down, up, down.

I don’t want to paint this picture and have you think that my life is all doom and gloom, because in reality, it isn’t. There are some horrible, no good, awful, heartbreaking moments. But there are also many glorious, fun, happy, beautiful moments. It’s these that I want to bottle up and savor for when the bad are outweighing the good. When my ability to be optimistic and positive is broken.

It’s all coming down to how I am coping with everything lately, and it hasn’t been good or healthy. I know this feeling, and I know how quickly things can descend into that deep and dark place we call depression. I’ve struggled with it for as long as I can remember, and probably will always have to work to fight off that demon.

But what has been the worst for me lately, what has practically crippled me for the last few days, is the anxiety. The constant racing of my heart, the shaking of my hands, the loss of appetite, the visions of horrible things happening to me and my loved ones. It’s been horrible.

I have to clarify this, before you get the wrong idea. I do not, nor have I ever, visualized doing harmful things to myself or anyone else. Ever. What haunts me is the “what if”. Reading a story in the news about a child drowning and going into a mental panic because what if that happened to one of my children? Unable to stop the terrifying visions of that scenario from running through my head, quickly going through that terror and all the emotions that go along with it. Laying in bed, wide awake at 4am, unable to sleep because all I can think about is checking on my children one more time to make sure that Marley isn’t wrapped up in her blanket and Corbin is still breathing on his own.

Rinse. Repeat.

Add onto this already unhealthy place I find myself in, that Corbin has been a more challenging baby than I was prepared for, and it’s been hard. To no fault of his own, he’s brand new here and this world can be downright scary and overwhelming for the best of us, let alone a new baby. He’s sensitive, which has made for some very difficult days, full of crying and screaming. Days no one wants to repeat, and would most likely want to forget about. There is absolutely nothing that will send my anxiety skyrocketing faster than a fussing baby. To feel like you have no control, no ability to help your baby settle, it’s truly horrible and can break the best of us. I have been finding that as he is getting a bit older and more familiar with his surroundings, things are getting better for him and he is settling a bit. But for the most part, there is very little middle ground; He is either super happy and relaxed, smiling, coo-ing and goes with the flow, or it’s the end of the world and he basically hates everyone and everything. Nevermind the fact that he absolutely hates the car, so 90% of our travels are spent with him freaking out in the back, while I am helpless. I can not tell you how many times I have had to pull over at the side of the road, fearing that he would pass out, choke, unable to calm him down any other way. It makes me sick to my stomach thinking about it.

Today was one of those days and my nerves and spirit were broken so badly that I ended up in a parking lot, screaming baby, rain pouring outside my car and all I could do was cry. I climbed into the back seat with him, holding him, nursing him, while sobbing and praying for some peace.

It’s not easy to admit, none of this, but here it all is.

Postpartum Depression. Anxiety. Saying them out loud is scary, huh?

But if I’m not able and willing to talk about this, be honest, who will? Who will be there for the other new mom who is struggling with some of the same feelings? Who is there to help her know that she is not alone and that this isn’t the end of the world, that there is help out there for her? If no one talks about these dark days, we only intensify the feeling of loneliness and solitude that comes with it.

You are not alone.

Today sucked. It was absolutely horrible and brought me to my breaking point where I knew it was time to ask for help, and there is no shame in that. Luckily for me, it happened on the day that I already had an appointment with my family Dr, so we were able to discuss at length how I have been feeling and figure out how to help me regain some control over my mind-frame. It was hard, gosh, it was so hard. Hearing myself talk about it, saying these things outloud is scary, but also sobering in a way. I’m proud of myself for recognizing the signs, knowing that if I don’t reach out to someone sooner rather than later, that it will only get worse.

It’s OK to ask for help, but it’s not easy.

There are so many avenues to get that support you need. Pick one. Talk to a friend, call a family member, Google for local support groups, call your doctor. I guarantee you that you are not alone. No one will laugh at you, no one will find you at fault, no one will judge you. At least no one who has any kind of decency or soul. The people who love and care for you will support you.

While I settled down tonight to snuggle up and relax with Corbin while he nursed before bed, I took some deep breaths. I held his little hand, traced the curve of his tiny ear, felt the warmth of his body against mine and I felt some peace come over me. I could breathe a little bit easier, knowing that I had taken the proactive steps to help not only myself, but my family as well. I know this is not a overnight fix, this is a uphill battle that requires a lot of work. More tears will be shed, more days will suck, but I took those first few steps towards a better place and sometimes that’s the hardest part.

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