Friday, June 15, 2018

Don't Settle for Comfortable

Life is constantly evolving and changing.

No one lives in total stasis forever. Everyone has a period where change is gradual. Maybe you finally graduate from school and look back at how far you've come. Maybe you're a parent and you look back to see how your family evolved. Sometimes you go to work day after day, not feeling the changes for years. Everyone has those times.

Everyone also has times when life changes seemingly overnight. One day you're cruising through life, the next you're dealing with a major tragedy. Sometimes it isn't a tragedy. Maybe you finally get pregnant after years of trying. Or maybe you get that job that will finally free you of call center life. Some changes happen in an instant.

Change can be great! or really terrible... But no matter what kind of change you experience, you adapt. So you're going to move out of state to attend that dream college, you pack up and adapt to the new world around you. Maybe you break your leg and have to reschedule that boating trip. We constantly adapt.

When you have depression, adapting seems impossible. It feels like you aren't capable of adapting properly. Even with medication. Heck, even the medication itself feels impossible to adapt with you. The key with depression medication for a lot of people is consistency. Find what works, do that...forever. You take it the same time everyday, with the same drink, followed by the same meal. It's hard to want to mess with the flow of things. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right?

Sometimes, that's not possible. And it can feel like you have to choose between your medication and living the life you want. I've found that a lot of people with depression put their lives on hold because it's not easy to find a new solution when you have one that works. Sometimes it feels like once you find a sweet spot that you cannot stray for fear of falling back into the same difficult spot as before.

I feel ya. I take a medication that is also used as an appetite suppressant. (I just use it as a depression medication.) Lately, I've noticed I haven't been putting on weight when I really need to be. In fact, when I should be gaining around a pound a week, I've actually lost a pound. (Not a pound a week, just a pound over the past few months.) I don't have those pounds to lose. I need them!

This week, I've had to really think about what could happen in the next few months if I don't gain the pounds. After Google searches and WebMD articles, I was beginning to think that I had to make a choice: be depressed and gain the weight, or continue the medication and suffer the physical consequences.

With the sudden spike in celebrity (and non-celebrity) suicides, mental health seems to be on everyone's social profiles. People are pleading with one another to seek help, to know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel that allows you to accomplish your dreams. I have one friend in particular that draws to visually express what depression and anxiety feel like to him. I was looking through some of his images and laying in bed when it hit me.

I've said it multiple times that there isn't one solution that fits all. There isn't even one solution per person! There are many solutions per person! I really like the solution I had been using: Citalopram, BuPROPion, Ginger and B6 in the morning with the milk left from my cereal. I remember to do it if I follow the same routine daily. I know exactly how my body will react. It's comfortable.

It stopped being comfortable when I got dizzy every time I stood up. It stopped being comfortable when my pants were getting loose when they should be getting tight. It stopped being comfortable when I felt like I had to choose between even taking the medications or not.

I don't know what thoughts got me to realize that I don't HAVE to do it that way, but I did realize it. I don't have to take the medication in the morning. I don't have to eat cereal with it. (I do prefer to drink milk with the pills though because the taste of the ginger makes me gag.) I can take the pills at night! Would that solve the problem? I didn't know. What I did know was that with modern medicine, if this didn't work then something else would.

By taking the BuPROPion at night (and all the others because it's a habit to do it all at once) I was hoping my appetite would return by morning and I could spend the day eating everything in my sight. I've only done it one day. So far, it's worked. I woke up this morning wanting ALL the food! I wanted toast, and cereal, and milk, and hot chocolate, and crackers, and soda, and bread, and water. In fact I still want all those things.

Even better than just getting an appetite back, I'm not depressed. The depression didn't return just because I created a new routine. My brain doesn't care what time of day I take it as long as I take it each day.

The point of this story is, depression is difficult. It can make you feel like you need to choose happiness or life. That's not true. The truth is, modern medical knowledge has given us the chance to create a plan that works with our lives, not against them.

You still should probably cancel a boat trip if you break your leg, but you don't need to hold off on applying to that college or job just because you have a comfortable routine. It's scary because you know what's at stake, but in truth nothing is at stake except your happiness. I don't mean the opposite-of-depression happiness. I mean the happiness that comes from living the life you want. You can live in a comfortable stasis if you want, or you can adapt your plan (with help if you need it) and you can live the life that inspires you, that brings real joy to your day. The life that you are here to live. Don't settle for "comfortable."

With that being said,

Here is the last picture of M I had on my Android phone. (My husband switched us to Apple for security purposes and I haven't taken the time to find my pictures to use them here.) 

This is the life that brings me joy. He is the life that brings me joy. His excitement, his love, and even those rare fits. They are my happy. and I don't want to have to choose between that and "comfort." 

Thursday, March 1, 2018

When The Sun Comes Out

Have you ever walked on a tightrope? either. But I feel like I'm walking the depression tightrope.

After numerous doctor appointments, therapy sessions, and trying a million vitamins I have finally found a combination that works for me! When I first took one of the depression tests (with the numbers) I scored 28. The doctor told me 0-5 is "normal." Clearly I was way out of that range. I took one of those tests again after a month of medication, probiotics, and specific vitamins. I scored 3. 3! Can you believe it? THREE! Best score of my life! It has felt like the clouds have parted, finally!

It was Walk the Moon that
first gave me butterflies.
If you have depression or anxiety, you know that most days are grey, mucky, and just blah. Once in a while you'll hit a day when the sun peaks through a little, and you immediately do everything until you collapse with exhaustion. Then the clouds set in again. It seems like there isn't an end in sight.

I've been there. Literally, just a few weeks ago I didn't think there would ever be a way to feel "normal" again.

I first noticed how "normal" I was when I got butterflies from a favorite song. Since being hit with depression, music has just been noise I used to keep my mind busy. I have loved music for most of my life. The moment I realized how music affected me again after so long, I was floored (and then I had to work hard not to floor it in my Mazda...). It wasn't just music either! Movies!! I saw Black Panther twice because I wanted to! When we see movies twice, it's usually because Rich wants to, and I just enjoy tagging along. But this time, I wanted to go. I loved every second of the movie both times. That's not what I'm used to.

Music, movies, crafts, TV, sleeping, sexy time with my hubby...everything is suddenly so amazing. I feel fully connected to the world again! It's incredible to wake up every day now!

It's also scary. I worry that it will all fall apart and the clouds will return. It's been more than a week of feeling connected. It's hard not to feel like I could fall off this tightrope at any moment and plunge into the depths of depression again. I have to always reassure myself that it's all working and if it doesn't I have enough resources now to work it out again. As much as we all wish our depression or anxiety would just disappear, it doesn't. As we become "normal" again, the memory of the depression, the fear of it coming back, never leaves. It's a small price to pay, though.

The sun coming out again is worth every effort. There are a lot of people (including myself) who think certain things won't work for us. I avoided therapy for a long time. I didn't feel like there were things that I needed to "work out" with a stranger. Guess what! I was wrong. I didn't have any pent up issues that were particularly dragging me down, but my therapist gave me so many tools to smoothly navigate day to day problems. Plus, I really like her now. She doesn't feel like a stranger.

Some people don't want to use medications for one reason or another. I, personally, don't like the idea
My daily pills, neatly organized. 
of filling my body with synthetic medications. I do like the idea of enjoying life again, though. Plus, my doctor has given me other things to help along side the medication so that I don't have to use as much. He did a full blood and oxygen work up to be sure there weren't other things making me tired and causing a chemical imbalance. We discovered I'm vitamin D deficient. So he put he on some prescription strength vitamin D. As I mentioned before, I also take probiotics daily.

One of my medications (the Wellbutrin) makes me nauseated. My doctor offered me three options:
1. Go back down to a lower dose and see if that helps with the nausea without taking away the things I need it for.
2. Take an anti-nausea medication along side my regular medication.
3. Take a ginger and vitamin B6 supplement every morning (and throughout the day as needed).

I chose door number 3. The vitamins and ginger. It helped immediately.

It's true that you might need more than one type of medication to help get you through. I take two different anti-depressants, probiotics, ginger, and two different vitamins daily. That's what it took to get my chemicals balanced out.

He's my sun. 
If you aren't comfortable with a treatment plan a doctor recommends, either tell him/her or find a new doctor. Ask around and see which doctors specialize in depression. You can try as many different doctors as you need to find the one that fits you (as long as you aren't looking for narcotics at each different doctor). Same with a therapist. It might be true that you don't have any pent up issues from your childhood. But maybe, just maybe, they can offer you tips. One thing that helped me was that my therapist pointed out that if I'm on an anti-depressant and I'm still depressed, then it isn't working. Sounds like common sense, but I was so used to cloudy muck that I didn't realize there even could be sun.

And he's my son. (bu-dum-tss)
What I'm trying to say is don't give up. More than that, don't settle. Don't just try one option and give up when it doesn't work. It's a different experience for everyone. I take a slew of things to help. You might only need to take one, or none! Maybe you need vitamins, or maybe you need more oxygen at night. Maybe you just need to empty the junk drawer in your mind. Each person experiences depression for different reasons, but we all want out for the same reason. Depression sucks. It takes away your life, it ruins relationships, and it holds you back. You are capable of a lot. Don't let the clouds make you forget what the sun is like.

Pull out all the stops and dive into your own treatment plans. Don't write off any suggestion until you've given it a solid go. Find the sun in your life again.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Diet and Depression

That's literally what I googled after talking to my doctor.

I had been taking one anti-depressant and going to therapy to find the way out of this depression. It wasn't working. I was still fatigued, and blah, and feeling that not-sad-but-still-really-down-for-no-reason feeling. After trying for months to kick it with what I was doing, I went to a new doctor (because of insurance purposes; I loved my old doctor).

With many recommendations, I found a great new doctor. We talked about what I was already doing and then we came up with a game plan. One of the things he mentioned was a diet. Not a diet to lose weight, but a diet to change the vitamins my brain is absorbing.

We tried a B12 shot. I was not B12 deficient, so that didn't help. Doc also recommended probiotics. He briefly mentioned that there have been recent studies that show our diets are linked to the way our minds work. (That's one of those statements that once you hear you think "duh!")

The study divided the participants into two groups:
Support group only, and dieters.
M wakes up at 3 am, almost exactly every night. Whenever I have to get up in the night my body thinks we're up for the day. In these moments, when I can't sleep, I google. (Did you know that some spiders hibernate during the winter just to protect their babies?)

 After visiting Doc, I googled "Diet and Depression." There were some results from 2014, but I feel like that was too long ago to be relevant. Then I found this bad boy! (Mind you, all I know about Psychology is what google has taught me, but a website called "Psychology Today" seems legit to me.)

To sum up the article, a clinical trial in Australia found that what you eat is directly linked to your depression. What?! It even explains that it's not just any diet, but this specific diet that doesn't eliminate all the goodies. (My depression would greatly increase if I couldn't keep eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.)

The diet the article states the study used a diet called the ModiMed diet. The best part of this is that it's not a major lifestyle challenge! Not for me anyway.

The ModiMed diet (according to this article):

Encouraged foods: whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, low-fat/unsweetened dairy (not doing great on this one), raw unsalted nuts, lean red meat, chicken, fish, eggs, and olive oil.

Discouraged foods: sweets (yeah...), refined cereals (no comment...), friend food, fast food,
processed meat.

Beverages: maximum two sugar-sweetened beverages per week and maximum two alcoholic drinks per day, preferably red wine.

Way easier than a full sugar free diet! You aren't encouraged to eat sweets, but moderation in all things, right? ;)

Rich and I have been sort of doing this diet, mostly we have been taking probiotics. Let me tell you, the NEXT day I felt a difference. KID YOU NOT! It's been more than a week of taking probiotics and I have not needed to take three naps a day! Know how many dishes I've gotten done? (None!) but I could do so many dishes if I wanted!

Remember how last post I said there are two sides to fighting depression? This would fall into the chemical aspect of depression. I highly recommend taking probiotics, and getting with your doctor to see what else you could be deficient in. It could be something as simple as B12, or something else that you can help by taking a vitamin. The best part is, with vitamins you don't really need to have a doctors orders to take them! So I say you should do it. Start poppin' those vitas!

Take it one day at a time. Fighting depression is a unique experience for each person. Some need more therapy, some need prescribed meds, and some just need to eat better (you know who you are). Don't be afraid to tell your doctors that what (s)he's suggested isn't working. They won't be offended (and if they are, find a new doc).

And just to cheer you up, here's a pic of M fighting exhaustion during lunch:

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Day To Day With Depression

People living with depression know the biggest battle is the day to day. It's like your cup of energy has a hole in the bottom. Every night, when other peoples' cups get refilled, yours just drains back out. It's the worst. You can't even "borrow" energy from the next day. There isn't anything there!

Not having energy fuels the depression. You aren't able to accomplish even the simplest of tasks without needing some down time. There isn't energy to complete your homework, do the dishes, wash your laundry, or even showering sometimes. Imagine not being able to accomplish those simple every day tasks while the world goes on around you. It's defeating. It can make you feel like you aren't capable of anything, which can lead to worse thoughts.

It's common for people with depression to use medication to help balance the chemicals in the brain,(I have to take two to counter each other's side effects...) but there are some small things you can do to help feel like you are still playing an active role in your own life. For me, getting out of the rut of exhaustion and defeat took a while. I want to share three things that have greatly helped me.

The first is to prioritize. You don't have to do this daily. Once you prioritize once, it kind of all falls into place the next day. It did for me anyway.

Prioritize: There are three types of tasks: Essential, Necessary, and Good.

I had one Essential task. Take care of M.

Sometimes, this is my entire day. 
My Necessary tasks were things like eating (yes, that is hard to do when you don't have energy and you're out of your favorite cereal), showering, brushing my teeth, etc. Just the basic needs of myself.

My Good tasks were all the other things: dishes, cooking dinner, laundry, tidying up, etc. If it didn't endanger us (germs), or endanger my marriage, then it was listed under "good."

The second is the Five Minute Rule. No, it isn't about eating food off the floor, that's the Five Second Rule. The Five Minute Rule is designed to help you make baby steps toward accomplishments.

Five Minute Rule: Pick a task you need to do. It can be anything! Dishes, laundry, throwing out trash, doing homework, showering, etc. Do that task for five minutes. If at five minutes you feel like you can continue, then do it! If you don't feel like you can, then stop. Simple as that.

I emphasized the word "can" because sometimes we feel like we have to finish our tasks. Don't feel obligated to finish anything.

I used the five minute rule to do my laundry and dishes (I know I have used those as an example a lot, but those were the biggest things for me). After five minutes, I often realized that the tasks didn't take a lot of energy. Once in a while they took way too much energy and I stopped doing them. I ended up building up about four weeks of clean laundry to put away.

The third thing is about yourself. It's very easy to get caught up in feeling obligated to fill the needs of others, especially in a marriage with a baby! But it is critical for your mental health that you do things for yourself. At first I felt incredibly selfish setting aside time for myself. I mean, M can't do anything on his own.

Take Care of Yourself: Every day do two things: one you find enjoyable and one that makes you feel accomplished.

My "accomplishment" task,
washing my hair. 
It's hard with depression to enjoy things like you used to, or like other people do. I get that. At first my enjoyable things were watching a TV show, or playing a game on my phone. It's since evolved into writing in my journal (which has always been my favorite thing), and talking more with Rich. (Depression takes a huge toll on marriages. Communication is both important and difficult.)

Sometimes, with depression, the activities that make you feel accomplished seem to pale in comparison with those you see on social media. People are off buying homes, traveling the world, getting married, having babies, retiring, graduating! All these great things and your idea of accomplishment is to shave your legs. That's great! It's not about the size of the accomplishment or how it would look on social media. It's about how you feel. Feel accomplished dusting? Great! Way to go!! Feel accomplished folding your blankets? Awesome! Keep doing it! It does not matter what others might think about your accomplishments. Your opinion is the only one that matters in this.

I realize that I am lucky enough to have a husband who understands my struggles. He hasn't experienced it, but he's understanding, patient, and supportive. I know not everyone has someone like that in their life. Know that you can always message me, and I will support the heck out of you! Want to brag about folding those towels? Heck yeah I'll listen, I'll even applaud!

You can work through the day to day. You can pull yourself up. You are strong enough. You are capable. What you are feeling is not uncommon. You are not bad at life. You are not imagining your depression. You can do this!!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

A Story Without An End

People often share their experiences after the fact, whether that's years or even just days. Sometimes the experiences are too painful to share in the moment, but most times it's because we crave endings. We need to know everything turns out okay. That's why the bad guy always dies in the last film, and the good guy always gets the girl. Hollywood knows we need endings. (Hitchcock did not think we needed endings... I still stew about "The Birds.") I'm one of those people who needs an ending. That's why, I realized, none of my previous blog posts really seem to convey what I am thinking.

This journey I'm on hasn't ended. I can't write in the past tense when I talk about depression, transitioning to stay at home mom, and many other things. It's not "I had depression." For me it's "I have depression." It's "I am learning to handle being at home." Not "was." It's still happening, right this very second.

I want to share this journey but it's hard. Not because the experiences are hard, but because there is no ending yet. I can say I went to the doctor. That's neat. It's still inconclusive at this point but it's still neat I guess.

The stories that reach into people and connect with them have endings. They either have endings that make us feel good or endings we relate to. We can relate to the pain of losing a loved one after a long battle. We can also relate to finally getting that breakthrough job you've worked so hard for. As humans we love those stories because of the hope they give us. Hope that hard things come to an end. Hope that we too can smile after the storm passes. But that's not the point of the story I'm in.

I'm in the middle. There are stories I have that have ended, and I could write about those, but most of us aren't dwelling on our endings. We're focused on our middles (some of us go to the gym to work on our middles even!). I don't go through my day thinking "Oh my gosh, I'm so glad that two years ago that person apologized for hurting my feelings years earlier." While I do like that neat ending to a rough story, I live my day by thinking "okay, how can I get to an end in this?" We all do. Each story in our lives does come to an end, but before that we have to muddle through the middles.

My story, right now, isn't "I beat depression!" It's not "I have mastered being a stay at home mom! Bring on some triplets!" It's "How in the world do I do those dishes when I honestly can barely get up?" It's "I love my baby with all my heart, but man this is tough stuff!" I'm still figuring out how to boost my brain chemicals, how to change the way I act and think so I am not self-sabotaging, and how the heck I'm going to tire M out enough so I can nap too!

My middle is filled with doctor appointments, crying, and way too many chocolate oranges. It's trying to medicines. It's learning to backtrack and overcome anxieties. It's pajamas all day. It's forgetting to get the plates from Grandma's for three days in a row.

I want so badly to reach out to other women, to let them know that life is one big middle. That they aren't alone. That those neatly packaged stories happen to everyone, just at different times. Those who share complete stories had middles. They had tears. They had pajama days. They had moments of utter loneliness. Their dishes got dirty. They wore grungy T-shirts just to avoid doing laundry. And some of them are still doing it, because they are in a new middle. There will never be a time in your life when all the stories close at one time, just like there won't be a time when you finish your shampoo and conditioner at the same time. As one story ends, you'll find you were already in the middle of another this whole time!

I'm going to try to do my best to share my middles, so you know you aren't alone. I feel like the posts won't make sense, they won't be satisfying. There's nothing less satisfying than being unable to see how the story ends. In order to get to the end, though, you have to go through the middle. I want you to be in the middle with me. I want you to see that I don't try to crop out dirty dishes in the kitchen for Instagram. I want you to see me in the same shirt two days in a row because changing is just too dang much effort. I want you to know that at the end of the day when you realize your forgot to brush your teeth after breakfast, I'm right there with you. I want you to know that this is all of us. Those "fitness goal" girls you follow on Instagram don't smell nice after they sweat. They stink just like the rest of us. The "make-up goals" ladies? They don't do that every single day. Can you imaging the time they would spend daily just to look like that?! They would never have time to do dishes either! All these women that you look up to, that you admire, they have middles. We all have middles. Let's finish our stories together, middle after middle after dreary middle.

And because no post is complete without at least one picture of M, here you go!
Note the mess at the top of the picture? That's my life, every day. So don't feel bad if I don't invite you over; I just don't want you to crush the puffs into my carpet and I don't have it in me to vacuum. 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Momming on a Schedule

My daily schedule before M:
-Wake up
-Do whatever
-Do more of whatever
-Sleep sometime

M's daily schedule:
9:00 AM - Wake up
9:30 AM - Drink a bottle/watch PBS/Play with Toys
10:30 AM - Cuddle Mom
11:00 AM - Nap
12:00 PM - Wake up
12:30 PM - Eat lunch
1:00 PM - Play with toys/try really hard to scoot under the couch/stare out the window
2:00 PM - Nap
5:00 PM - Wake up
5:30 PM - Eat Dinner
6:00 PM - Play with Dad/try really hard to scoot under the couch
9:30 PM - Bedtime

My schedule now that M is here:
9:00 AM - Wake up and eat breakfast
9:30 AM - Watch PBS
10:30 AM - Get cuddled
11:00 AM - try to decide when to go run errands/try not to fall asleep
12:00 PM - Change M
12:30 PM - Feed M
1:00 PM - Try to teach M how to play with his toys/rescue M when he gets stuck under the couch/stare out the window
2:00 PM - Lay down with M to get him to fall asleep quickly
5:00 PM - Wake up and realize you accidentally slept the day away again
5:30 PM - Try to find something appetizing for dinner
6:00 PM - Try to get rid of the "nap hangover" while M plays with his dad.
9:30 PM - Be wide awake while everyone else is tired and sleeping
12:00 AM - blog about it...

Guys, I seriously have no idea how to schedule myself so that I feel productive, fulfilled, rested, and headache free.

As you can see from my afore mentioned daily schedule before M, I have never lived on a schedule. In fact, I still have nightmares that I forget to go to class because I was busy doing other things. I'm notoriously late to everything in life (including my own wedding). I'm not sure how to schedule things. I feel like I need a big planner that just has each day broken into hours that I can hang on the wall. That way I can write "Shower" at 11:00 AM while M sleeps, or "Fold the Laundry" during that long nap period in the evening.

While that is a logical thing to do, it feels so...regimented. I like to just "do whatever". Do I write that in during a period?

And right now M is really emotionally needy. His teeth are coming in, he's at the stage where he wants to be mobile but can't quite figure it out and gets frustrated easily, and he's having Dad withdrawals since Rich had to go back to work this week. What if I write "do dishes" on my day and I don't do the dishes? I realize that nothing will happen. The world won't suddenly come to a halt, but I'll feel a little...lottle...guilty.

I realize moms aren't meant to be superheroes that can do everything while maintaining perfect hygiene and a smile, but sometimes my inability to schedule things makes me feel a little useless as a mom. Yes, I am here emotionally for my family. That's great, but also I don't feel like it's enough.

I thought one solution would be a scheduling app beyond Calendars. One that reminds you of To-Do list items and has a widget that lives on the phone home screen. I've tried dozens and none of them feel right for me. Mostly because I don't check off the items and then they blare on my screen and make me feel like I'm behind in life. I also don't like having my phone tell me what to do. Someday AI might take over and boss me around, but for now I like to feel like I have some autonomy left as a mom.

What I'm picturing I need is a white or blackboard on my wall. A large one. Big enough to write all the To-Dos I have for a week or two. Then I could organize them by Urgent, Necessary, and Someday. Then as time allows I can use the nap times to check off the ones that I have time for, and organize our awake times to get the Urgent and Necessary ones done that are outside of the house.

Guys, this might just work! I might have solved the age old problem! (age old meaning 8 months old for me.)

Now I know you all come to this blog just to see cute pics of M, so here are a few to satisfy your M cravings.

Isn't he the cutest kid ever? I don't know how we can have other kids after this one. We kinda hit the jackpot with him. (And to any future kids of mine who read this, I'm kidding, and I think you're just as perfect as M.)

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Unboxing Life

I have been MIA for a while. I think that's how most of my blog posts start. Either I need to just expect to not blog often, or I need to be better about doing it regularly. I'll figure it out eventually.

Or maybe I won't.

That's who I am.

There's a reason I've been missing, though. I haven't known what to write. I wrote this profound post about having PPD and dealing with that. People responded to that. So I wanted to write another post people would respond to. No one wants to be a one hit wonder. Worse than being a one hit wonder is being a one hit wonder that doesn't know when to quit. That's why I stopped writing.

M keeps me up at night sometimes (he's got two teeth coming in at once...), so I have spent many nights trying to craft the perfect viral post about motherhood and life. The post would have the right amount of wit, life-altering advice, and a cute ending. Everything to make a post be shared a million times. Then I realized, that's not why I write.

That one realization opened up a rabbit hole of thoughts. Why do I write? What do I want to say? What's important to me? Who even am I?

The answers started simple. I write because I love to, because words are art to me. I want to say things to make the world smile. My family, my church, and chocolate oranges are important to me. I am Morgan.

That last answer was a little harder to come by. I am Morgan, but what does that mean? After I asked that question, a whole new wave of self-awareness and self-evaluation washed in.

Morgan is a mom. What is a mom? A mom keeps kids going. She organizes the house. She can cook dinner. She has cute decorations for every holiday. She gets up and actually gets dressed in the morning. Some moms work out to maintain a figure they like.

Of those things, I keep the kid going. (I can cook, but it takes more effort than I want to admit.) So I don't belong in the "Mom" box.

I'm in my mid-twenties. What do people my age do? A lot of my friends have hobbies they actively do (rock climbing, cooking, painting, traveling, etc.). They spend time with friends. They stay up late. They go to every movie possible.

Of those, I go to movies. Only because Richi goes to movies. I don't have time to regularly spend time on hobbies. I barely have time to brush my teeth! So I don't belong in the "Mid-Twenties" box.

I have a few favorite TV shows. What do people who have favorite TV shows do? They obsess. They wear TV gear. They don TV jewelry. They quote TV.

Of those, I barely wear the clothes. I wear Dr. Who, Marvel, and DC socks. Clearly that's not my box either.

I'm LDS. What do LDS individuals do? Well, we serve. We use kind language. We go to 3 hours of church (not a typo, church is 3 hours). We love everyone around us. We have more kids than can fit in a small school bus. We abstain from alcohol and smoking. We're Christians.

Of those, I do all but the kids thing. I don't have a bus load of kids, and I don't plan on it. So I belong in the
"LDS" box. That seemed like it would be the end of my soul searching, but it isn't.

Truthfully, I haven't come to an end of soul searching.

I've heard several talks, or speeches, or sermons, or whatever you to call it, about not putting people in boxes. There's a specific video that comes to mind when I talk about that. A bunch of people who appear similar (having tattoos, or wearing hijabs, or having long hair, etc.) stand in boxes together. Then people read out things people have experienced or qualities that make up a person. The people then leave the first box and go stand in a new box together. You can see how all of them get mixed together. The point of that is to visually explain why we shouldn't judge people and box them based on how they look.

I feel like that applies inwardly for me, though. I have been trying to fit myself into one box. I'm a mom, so I should be like all moms. WRONG. I watch movies, so I should be able to quote them. Yeah, NO. I don't belong in any box other than the one labeled "Morgan." And not just any Morgan. Me Morgan. I know a handful of other Morgan's and we definitely couldn't all be in one box (but I'd love to be in a box with Morgan Freeman).

So that's where I am. I am working on unboxing myself from all the preconceived ideas of who I am based on one aspect of my life. I won't write profound posts. I won't always know what to say. Chances are I won't cook dinner as often as Richi would like (but he cooks too sometimes, so it's not a big deal). You won't see me sporting a Deathly Hallows necklace. That doesn't mean that those who do are wrong, or that I'm wrong. We're just living in our own boxes. Sometimes the boxes overlap, and sometimes they don't. That's okay.

Now that you read all the words about me unboxing my life, let me give you a brief update about life as a stay-at-home mom with M, what M has been doing, and how much fun double teething has been.

M has officially been out longer than he was in. He's 8 months (remember he was early).

Cuddling up, watching PBS, battling a cold.
In the last month he has sprouted two teeth. TWO! Both bottom teeth. I'm grateful for that. He can only half bite me. I'd probably have a lot of finger piercings if he had top and bottom teeth.

Munching his stocking gift.
This was his first Christmas. He enjoyed eating all the paper. He also likes his toys. He got some books and looked through them a handful of times. He has some clear favorite toys, but seems to enjoy each of them.

We sleep most the night, but he insists on sleeping in a bed with me. Not because he wants to cuddle. He just wants to be close. He loves his space and loves to sleep spread eagle.

Hoping for warmer days.
Being home with him all day, every day, is equal parts amazing and draining. I'm used to having a schedule that takes me out of the house, but now we do a lot of indoor activities and hardly ever leave. It wears on me. I'm looking forward to the weather warming up so we can go out back and swing, or walk to the park, or even just drive to Grandma's.

For now, we'll keep binge watching PBS and learning all about dinosaurs from "The Dinosaur Train."