Katie Feavel

Love yourself... and do all the hard things April 30, 2016 13:38 4 Comments

Alright guys, Saturday morning sappy post to all my mamas...

being mom is hard.

We know this, nothing novel here. 

Seeing your body do the miraculous accordion effect that happens with having babies... is absolutely beautiful.. but hard.

And it isn't like we're playing with a full deck here either.

Post partum depression hit me like a ton of bricks after having Mags. 

Her early hospitalization, on top of the "normal" sleep deprivation, re-balancing hormones, adjusting to a whole new balance of day-to-day crazy... all road blocks to feeling like a somewhat well-adjusted human being. And I hit a really dark, yucky, non-functioning place.

Now, feeling like I don't recognize the woman in the mirror?

That's the one I still battle with the most. 

But, I have a daughter now...

And she's lit a fire under my butt to figure out this whole self-esteem thing.

Cause I'll be damned if my daughter grows up with anything less than a strong, confident, healthy woman as an example. 

So here's my two cents on rebuilding that confidence and reacquainting yourself with your post-baby mind and body, for what it's worth:

You're going to get a lot of advice; take it all with a grain of salt. Just like when you were pregnant, lots of people will weigh in. You'll hear everything from "You'll lose the weight if you breastfeed" to "it's not safe to lose weight while breastfeeding." Yeah, not that simple on either end. Just smile, nod and keep on truckin'.

Babies are not an excuse to be unhealthy. Guys, I don't mean that having babies should in no way influence your capacity for some elusive, diligent exercise and meal planning. Let's be real here. But being pregnant and/or having little ones is NOT an excuse to shrug off self-care and trying to live a healthy lifestyle. These babies need you at your best, healthiest and most energized. If it isn't motivation enough to do it for yourself right now, remember they're watching and absorbing. 

Be your best example. Society, in some ways, tells us our job as parents is to make sure kids have unforgettable, magical childhoods. I'd argue that my main purpose as a parent is to help shape my children into compassionate, healthy, hard-working, well-adjusted adults... and that starts with me learning to be a more compassionate, healthy, hard-working, and well-adjusted adult. This will look different for each of us. It will be far from a perfect picture. It may even seem exhausting and burdensome sometimes, but this is your role as a parent, so ya know... put on your big girl panties and suck it up buttercup.  

Be self-protective, but not selfish. I think our generation spends a little too much time thinking about how to preserve their cozy self-bubble rather than enveloping those they love into it. This stage of life is fleeting. Don't lose yourself in it and do the things you need to keep yourself centered, but learn to find joy and fulfillment in becoming a little more selfless as a parent. 

Find YOUR balance. My nature is the complete opposite of balanced. I like to work at all hours of the night, I obsess over projects and ideas until I have them perfectly how I'd like, and I am really, really hard on myself. But I'm slowly developing more balanced routines... because it's important. Consistency, balance, dependability are crucial to relationships. If you're like me and absolutely suck at those things? Work a little harder at them. 

Love yourself. No matter your motivation to improve or continue a healthy lifestyle, there are things about yourself that just aren't the same after kids. No matter how fit I was after my son, the constant swelling in my ankles hung around and only worsened after my daughter. Things will change, embrace it, own it, rock it. But don't let it deter you from influencing what you can control.  

Be your own best coach. All those road blocks I talked about at the beginning of this post can make it really difficult to do all the other things we're talking about here. I'm not discounting that. Nor have I mastered any kind of easy solution. Overcoming PPD/Anxiety means finding a way to break a vicious cycle of physical and emotional depression. That's gonna be a little different for everybody. 

For me, I realized that it wasn't going to get any easier. I had to convince myself to just do it anyway, to start anyway, in spite of how hard it was. The cool thing? I realized I was a hell of a lot stronger than I knew. 

Getting to the gym with a baby is hard. Don't wait for it to be easy. You can do hard things.

Getting to the gym with two babies... is hard. Don't wait for it to be easy. You can do hard things.

Making good choices about food... is hard. Don't wait for it to be easy. You can do hard things.

Making healthy decisions after a week, month, or year of unhealthy ones, is hard.

But really, the hardest part is starting. Don't wait for it to be easy. You can do hard things.

 

Sam & Maggie helping mama lift <3


GRACE & PERSPECTIVE October 9, 2014 01:08

I haven't posted anything in a few weeks. I can list a dozen or so reasons why... sick, busy, husband traveling, social engagements, more sick, more busy.  

But I think, if I'm being honest, I've simply been a little too focused on myself, becoming overwhelmed by issues that are, truly, only as big as I allow them to be.  

The series of bugs we caught...  

The husband traveling way more than we'd like and are used to.  

I've even allowed the "good" stress to overwhelm me. We have some great opportunities opening up before us, yet I have focused only on the uncertainty of it all.  

More than ever we have been surrounded by wonderful people... Yet I began to feel weighed down by my own perceived expectations of those around us, rather than remember what a blessing each person is to our family.  

So, two nights ago I lay awake in bed and found myself asking God to please help me find some level of peace in all of this. I asked God for grace. I asked that God provide for me a better perspective... Because Lord knows none of these "problems" we are facing warranted how burdened I felt.  

Then, in my narrow-mindedness I proceeded to become even more frustrated that I did not immediately feel relieved in any way. As if my merely acknowledging what I thought I needed should have been enough to attain it. Silly me.  

Yesterday was a busy day. Orders to make, ship and deliver, people to visit, phone calls, errands to run, a house to clean, laundry to do, an active toddler, pavers starting to work on the back yard.  

ALL positive things... but all I saw were the tasks.  

At different points throughout the day, I was most certainly blessed with some very wonderful and very real moments of God's grace.  

A sincere barista at Starbucks that seemed to truly hope I had a "wonderful day."   Random strangers smiling kindly.  

Some wonderfully appropriate and uplifting messages and songs on the radio.  

A sweet and funny lady who helped to calm my child when he decided unexpectedly to freak out... in the middle of a packed and hot elevator.  

But none of this registered. Finally, an incredibly kind older cashier at the grocery store brought the message home.  

Grocery shopping yesterday was like something out of a comedy. Frazzled mom, dropping things and running into people while toddler-who-has-found-his-voice has emphatic, high-pitched conversations with himself and attempts to eat the cart.  

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In line, the cashier asks if I need any ice or stamps. "OH!! Yes! Stamps!" Something I've been forgetting for every grocery trip for the last month and need so that I can send out the Thank You notes from Sam's Birthday party. (I swear to all those applicable, we are eternally grateful! Especially since you all put up with my less than timely expressions of gratitude!)  

I turned to Sam and, as if I expected him to respond, say "Mommy has been forgetting stamps forever!"  

This cashier... This wonderful stranger who I will now never forget, stops what he's doing, smiles at my child and says, with full sincerity, "That's because, I'd be willing to bet, Mommy's got a lot on her plate. And I'm sure she is doing the absolute best she can."  

So simple.  

Yet so unbelievably and incredibly wonderful... supportive, compassionate, encouraging.   It probably didn't hurt that the guy sounded kinda like Morgan Freeman, but ya know...   It's just that, in that moment, I realized that God had been blessing me with little bits of grace all day long... As he always does if I am able to get outside of my own concerns long enough to see them.  

Okay, there's the grace part. So, what about perspective?   This is what I found on my Timehop app this morning. 

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I did most definitely laugh about this. But not for the reasons I had expected four years ago. I didn't laugh because I found eating chicken nuggets after midnight at an old folding table funny or pathetic (as I saw it at the time). In fact, that memory now seems absolutely sweet and wonderful to me.  

I laughed because even then, when I had a fantastic partner in life sitting across a table from me in the middle of the night, a job to come home from, a phone to play scrabble on, the ability to obtain food that wouldn't make me sick... all I saw was what I didn't have.  

I had some grand idea of how flawless my life would "someday" be... without realizing that the flaws were what made my life perfect and beautiful.  

This... this is my perspective... and one that I want to make sure I learn better for Sam.   There will always be things I think we need... that truly do not matter.  

There are things we have now that I will surely take for granted and look back on fondly down the road.  

Life will always have an element of uncertainty. It's all part of the adventure.  

Grace and perspective are already given to us, it's up to us to see them for what they are.


GRIEF IS NOT A FOUR LETTER WORD... AND SO MUCH ELSE IS NOISE June 26, 2014 01:06

On Saturday I'd made a list of things I wanted to write about this week. I had expected to share with you all the details of Sam's 1st Birthday party... the recipe for the cake I made him, his outfit, the decor... But none of those details seem important enough to write about anymore.

The morning after Sam's party we woke to the news that a beloved uncle on my husband's side of the family had died suddenly of a heart attack early that morning.

His is not my story to tell, nor would I do it justice if I tried. But I can tell you that he was a wonderful father, husband, son, uncle, brother, friend... who is utterly irreplaceable and will be greatly missed by so many.

I did want to share a few thoughts, a few things this last week has taught me. Forgive me if these thoughts seem a little scattered and lack cohesion right now... 

It is unnerving how quickly life shifts... One afternoon the family is celebrating a first birthday, the next morning we are grieving a terrible loss. All the more reason to truly cherish the moments we all have on this earth together. 

Big families can be a blessing. My husband's family is huge... the sheer amount of people around to help and take pieces of this burden from those who are grieving the most is impressive. And each of these people has something unique to offer. 

There's a sort of tier structure when it comes to loss within a family... There are those at the center of the crisis, that cling to one another and are supported from all around. Then those in that second ring of support are also being held by a third tier, etc. Then there are the many countless neighbors, acquaintances, friends-of-friends... people offering up prayers and positive thoughts. It's a tragically beautiful ripple effect that both spreads the memory of the one who has been lost, and creates a safety net for those left behind to mourn his death and celebrate his life.

Everybody handles grief differently, everybody has a role to play in the process of navigating out of it. After the last few days I believe more than ever that God gives us the kind of people we need in the moments we need them. Some people are good leaders, some are organizers, some people clean, some people feed, some cry with us, some hold us up, and still some are just so wonderfully skilled at finding joy and peace in the midst of mourning. 

Grief comes in waves. It is exhausting, but sleep is elusive. Nothing can fix it, or make it go away... though food and family seem to help. 

Babies make it better, if only for a few seconds... Something about their innocence and how oblivious and carefree they are seems to lighten the burden and bring smiles to faces, even if just briefly. Grief has a way of showing us what truly matters in our lives... And what's just noise.

Sam & Daddy at the Beach(Image is an unrelated shot of my husband holding my son as he experiences the ocean for the first time... it's moments like these that matter and are worth holding onto).


MY BABY IS ONE!! June 19, 2014 01:06

I'm this manyYou're THAT many?This many  Are you sure about that? It cannot have already been a year since I first held this amazing human being in my arms. 

Newborn Sam  

My son. The most incredible thing I've ever been blessed to be a part of. You... after over 3 days of labor... flipping yourself over to put mommy into back labor... and wedging yourself into my hip... finally made up your mind to join us and only made mama push for 10 minutes before you crashed into our lives in the most awesome way. 

Newborn Sam 

That was a pretty good picture of your personality... you take your time with things at first. You're observant. You like to know what you're getting yourself into. But once you've made up you're mind, it's full speed ahead and you go barreling on through.

ONE looks good on you kid. You're kind of a little guy. You weigh about 21lbs. and wear 9-12m clothes. You definitely take more after your mama so far when it comes to size... but you have a HUGE head... and a lot of hair!

You've got 4 teeth that you do some serious work with. You love chicken, turkey, beef, eggs, pork, broccoli, carrots, sweet potato, avocado, berries, apples... really there's nothing you've rejected when it comes to food.

But "Nah-nah" (nursing) is still your go-to source of nutrition and comfort. You say "Mama," "Dada," "Nah-Nah," and "Ta" which seems to mean that. You were callings the dogs "Pops" for a while, but now you just kinda yell at them.

You shake your head Yes and No. You understand A LOT of what we say to you, though you're already quite skilled in selective hearing.

You took your first steps last week... in the gym of course! You're pretty darn impressive buddy. You love to snuggle... and read "Goodnight Moon" over... and over... and over.

You love music... really sound in general. It's how you explore your world. You spend hours a day just seeing what types of sounds you can create, whether with your own voice, hitting two objects together, scratching a different surface, or drumming on boxes and tables.

Everything is a drum to you... And you already have way more rhythm than your Daddy! The depth to which you are moved by music is pretty incredible. You love anything Mumford and Sons, Three Little Birds (Bob Marley), a couple random Billy Joel songs and the Frozen soundtrack... Especially the opening song, which has a really strong beat to it.

The type of music I play for you can alter your whole mood. You are insanely expressive. You feel and portray emotion with your entire body. You are about 95% pure joy, 4% sass and the other 1% accounts for occasional grumpiness or sadness.

Really the only things that make you sad, though, are when you need "Nah-Nah" and Mama is taking too long... or if somebody startles you... or if you hear another baby cry. You are one empathetic little dude.

And holy cow, SO charismatic! My goodness I have never known a human being who could attract so much social interaction... Let alone a baby! Your love for life and other people is truly magnetic. Your favorite game is to find somebody who's frowning and do whatever is in your power to make the person smile. You especially love playing peekaboo with random strangers.

Oh... And you're totally a flirt... I'm in trouble. You like blondes... And you pretend to be shy (ha!) You smile and bat your ridiculously long eyelashes... and people melt.

You have this fabulous, unhindered sense for adventure. Your first beach experience showed us a lot of that. You would have thrown your whole body into the waves if I'd let you. At one point a wave splashed up over your head. I expected you to be upset about it... But you just squealed and laughed and wriggled your entire body with happiness.

FASTER. LOUDER. HIGHER!

Sam getting thrown in the air

You're pretty tough kiddo. You growl when you get shots... And if you fall and hurt yourself you usually get right back up and get after whatever it is that hurt you.

To say I am blessed to be your mommy is a gross understatement. There are no words to describe how incredibly happy you make me and your daddy... how truly you complete us.

Happy Birthday to me sweet, sweet boy... I can't wait to see where year #2 takes us!  


SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST: FALLING OVER IS FUN June 12, 2014 01:04

Let me tell you about the first time my husband and I ever hung out...

We met in an accounting class in college. He was broke, I had the book, so we decided to study together. At one point during this “study” date, he thought it would be a good idea to come up behind me and tickle me.

Not his smartest move. I am extremely ticklish… and I panicked. My completely accidental, clumsy, knee jerk reaction? Elbow into his crotch and the back of my head into his face.

Result? Him getting racked and a bloody nose. We were officially dating by the end of that week and, six and half years later, I still find ways to accidentally cause him physical harm.

You’d think this would have been a red flag to me that this guy was a glutton for punishment, right? Perhaps not the best trait to pass on to future generations…

Then, this morning, I find myself half-stumbling, half-limping around our house because my legs are completely fried from yesterday’s Crossfit WOD. And, I smile, because it’s a “good pain.” That’s when it occurs to me, I’m the exact same way.

As this realization is sinking in, I look down at Sam who is standing, repeatedly hitting his head into a mirror, then proceeds to throw himself backwards onto the ground laughing, because, let’s face it – falling over is fun!

Here’s my face-palm moment of the day. Um, sorry kid, we didn’t exactly set you up for success in this area. I see a few ER visits in my future.  


PRETTY MUCH OUR FAVORITE PLACE EVER - EAST VALLEY CROSSFIT June 5, 2014 01:03

You've seen pictures of Sam at our gym since he was itty bitty...ecvf13evcf11 

and if you Crossfit or know anybody that does, you know it's more than just lifting a few weights. It becomes a lifestyle in a lot of ways... it's a community.

But really, who's THIS obsessed with a gym? Um... well, we are I guess. Actually, when I started writing this, I thought it would be a quick little shout-out to some of the amazing people at East Valley Crossfit. But now I realize that it would be impossible to include every way in which this place has impacted our family... let alone every person who has played a role in that.

So, I'm sure this won't be my first post about this place, but I guess I gotta start somewhere!  

For starters, we geared our entire first house-buying search around being close to the gym.

We needed 4 full tables at our wedding just for gym people... and that was two and a half years ago when the gym was still pretty small!

We came out at our wedding to "Welcome to the Jungle" because we're known as "The Danimals" at the gym, and the owner suggested it...

EV7A bunch of these awesome people even pitched in to help me surprise Daniel with bobbleheads for a groom's cake, because I was a poor grad student.EV10They helped us rescue this sweet guy when we found him wandering in a busy street, and in pretty bad shape...Gino  Our son got visits from a couple of badass Olympic lifters in the hospital when he was born... Auntie Midge and Uncle Panda! I'm seeing a trend with this Panda guy... I think he's stalking your baby...

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He's harmless, I promise... And more the first night home from the hospital!EV3 EV5 

He got to watch Daddy lift in a competition when he was 4 days old.EV6  He falls asleep to the sounds of plates dropping and loud music.evcf5 

I may or may not have purchased a pair of infant shoes based on the fact that they look like Olympic Lifting shoes.EV11But really... We've been a part of East Valley Crossfit for over 4 years now and these are some of the most solid people I've ever known. They kind of rock... no, like literally... rock my kid to sleep for me.

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They show my son more love and affection than I could have ever hoped for him to be surrounded by.evcf8photo 3 (6)This gym has seen us get engaged and married, helped us move into our first home, celebrated with us as we started our family, and been part of countless birthday, wedding and baby celebrations. This is where Sam laughed for the first time, because he was just SO excited to see his Auntie Claire.

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And where he stood on his own for the first time. It's where we've met some of our closest friends... and discovered drive and determination within ourselves that we didn't know existed. This gym is a place where sayings like "Don't talk about it, be about it," get put on t-shirts... and mommy turns that t-shirt into a romper, and hopes that this is a message her son grows up hearing.

EV12But there are a few issues... Sam will likely not understand the meaning of "Aunts" and "Uncles," since he has like 50... that are in no way actually related to him,photo 2 (11)and he'll probably say a lot of really inappropriate things when he starts talking... and be very... VERY... confused about what "cake" means.photo 1 (8)But at least he'll have amazing social skills and a great immune system! Sam will grow up seeing a dedication to health, fitness and community as the norm... not just because it's the message that mom and dad will try to send him, but because he'll be surrounded by it... fully immersed in it.EVEVCFI could not be more grateful for that... I could not be more grateful for this place... and all the people in it.2013-06-19 21.44.48


JUST A LITTLE HUSKY May 29, 2014 01:03

I have a favorite story from my mother-in-law about my husband… When he was a kid he was on the chubbier side. One day he came home from school upset because some kids said he was “fat.” In the sweetest way, he said to his mom, “I’m not fat, right mom? I’m just a husky boy!”  Meet my husband, Daniel…
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And this is one of our dogs, Ari (Daniel got him shortly before we met back in college),
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And you already know our son…
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They like to headbutt things… Those big blocky heads are useful for moving stuff out of the way. They grunt a lot… And snore loudly. They are all rather furry… 

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 … especially my husband. They all get “hangry” (angry due to hunger) 

 

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They are basically all the same creature, just in different forms... Goofy, rough n’ tumble, but also sensitive, barrel-chested, long-torso’d… and just a little husky.
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IT’S KIND OF ABOUT ME, AND SOMEBODY MIGHT CARE April 23, 2014 02:00

Since I first found out I was pregnant with our son, I’ve read and shared an obscene amount of random information with my husband. I like information… I like research… I’m a nerd.

The following conversation quickly became a nightly ritual for us…

Me to hubby: "You know what I read today?"... regurgitate information. "But…" critique information. 

Hubby: Well, that’s interesting. You know, you should really write about stuff like this.

Me: Yeah… maybe someday. A couple months back, on one particular night… that followed a particularly disheartening day with our son… and after reading a particularly inspiring and helpful blog post from another mom, I responded a little differently... "Why would anybody care what I have to say about these things? What if all I do is piss somebody off?" 

The hubs was kind enough to point out the error in my thinking...Yet, I suppose this is how I’ve felt for a long time. “Don’t rock the boat,” and “It’s not about you and nobody cares,” were phrases used regularly in my house growing up.

That sounds worse than it actually was… I was a habitual boat-rocker. I loved to argue. I was an unbelievably opinionated kid… to a rude extent… to a pushy extent. Those phrases were used half-jokingly by my parents, as verbal cues, to try to tame some of the pushiness and get me to focus on others a bit more.

And at some point, I realized that being so opinionated didn’t make me any friends. Yet, over the years these things became part of my inner mantra… to where I’ve continued to tell myself that nobody cares what I have to say. But how dumb is that? We have different gifts and opinions for a reason… to share them… to perhaps help others by doing so.

More importantly, my son will soon be a sponge, and what I say both to him and in front of him will shape his internal voice, his view of his place in this world...

Is this really the message I want him to get from me? That our thoughts and opinions are insignificant simply because they are ours? That we should not speak unless we are sure that what we say will be well received? That we should not share good information and well-intended thoughts for fear of pissing somebody off?

That deserves an emphatic NO.

So here goes nothing… This blog isn’t about me, but I will include my opinion. You’ll read about a lot of topics on this blog. You’ll see little anecdotes about my son, my husband, our dogs… I will write about breastfeeding, baby-led weaning, potty training, teething, baby-wearing, cloth-diapering, and whatever else seems noteworthy. I hope that this blog brings its readers a little bit of humor, a good resource for baby-related information, and maybe even a little inspiration.

Family Photo


BABIES AND ADULTS ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL IN THE CUTENESS DEPARTMENT April 16, 2014 02:00

Universal truths… The sky is blue. The grass is green (unless you live in Phoenix, where it’s usually brown). Money doesn’t grow on trees. Practice makes perfect… …and things that make babies cute make adults… not so cute.

Chubby cheeks. Chubby thighs. Missing teeth. Wearing footy pjs. Blowing spit bubbles. Being milk-drunk. Wearing a diaper. Sucking on your toes. Having an extremely huge head.

Falling over… …because somebody popping out from behind the couch saying peek-a-boo is hysterical, and you laughed too hard... and because you have an extremely huge head. 

Clapping with your feet. Drooling profusely. Making this face… 
 Or this one…  
Or this poo face while sitting on the potty.

 

Now picture an adult doing any of these things? Yeah, no thanks.   Shout out to Uncle Panda for the inspiration for today’s randomness!