Twinning Attitude!

Join Fran Pitre and friends for uplifting, supportive, healthy conversation and information on topics important to all moms (and all women) today!

Stress and Motherhood: this mom’s perspective February 20, 2011

Filed under: Let's talk about ...,Tips and Ideas — twinningattitude @ 5:09 pm

Motherhood and stress go hand in hand as far as I’m concerned. I’m sure most of us would agree that living our lives as parents among our other identities tends to stretch us a bit thin.

I’ve not posted a new Twinning Attitude! topic lately because I’ve been experiencing an abundance of stress-triggering situations and ongoing demands that have been overwhelming me. But knowing I’ve got to persevere for the benefit of myself and my family, I need to find that “winning attitude” myself and hold on to it … and live it!

I’ve decided (as I often do when I’m feeling overwhelmed and need some sort of stress-releasing solution) to sort things out by writing it all down. So, here I will share:

1) those “stressors” in my life;

2) my reactions and means of coping (some of which that are not so good);

3) and finally, make and enact a plan to cope in more healthy, positive ways.


STRESSORS:

1) Finances have always been and will always be high on the list of stressors. Regardless if we’re in a prosperous or time of financial struggle, the focus and importance placed on family budgeting, planning, finding creative solutions, etc., is an enormous source of stress, worry and energy-depletion;

2) Children and their well-being is an all-encompassing, 24-7 stressor on me. As a mom, I hit the floor running each day jumping right into the role of caregiver, meal-preparer, grocery-shopper, laundry-doer, home-cleaner, van-driver, problem-solver, toddler-rocker, story-reader, bath-giver, nose and bottom-wiper, and the list goes on as so many of us know. I fortunately have a very hands-on, willing husband who is the perfect Daddy to our children. He parents his children as all Dads should, and his assistance is very needed and appreciated by me! But, he is also a very busy architect and project manager at the office where he works. He is under a lot of pressure and puts in very long hours, and business often takes him out of town for days or weeks at a time. Often, he comes home exhausted, and my reaction is to try to make our home the inviting, warm, loving retreat it should be for a husband and father who works so hard for his family. Is it that wonderful place of peace and solace each evening when he arrives home? Nope, try as I may. An argument between our teens or tweens will invariably pierce what was until only a second ago, a gentle bubble of quiet and peace, while the pasta begins to over-boil on the stove top, and the phone rings while one of the toddlers takes a toy out of the other toddler’s hand who then begins to SCREAM. (–sigh–)

3) When the kids get sick or hurt, I become terribly stressed-out and emotionally drained. Thank God we’ve not any injuries so far beyond a broken finger, sprained ankles, assorted head bumps, cuts or bruises. And as far as illness are concerned, I’m not talking about coughs or colds, but the big stuff, like those violent stomach flu bugs, or those high fevers associated with flu or strep. When one or more come down with these illnesses, which may happen when my husband is in or out of town, I go into a survival operational mode, determined to do anything and everything needed to get him, her or them well.  By the grace of God, we get through these episodes, and when all finally settles down, I usually end up with whatever illness I was nursing my kids with, or I collapse out of exhaustion from lack of sleep for several nights in a row.

4) Meeting my family’s needs while trying to please everyone (which I understand is often impossible) is very stressful, and is an unending, daily challenge. Twin 3-year-old boys are a complete handful. They are potty trained, and know when and what to do … when they WANT to. Dealing with this type of stubborn behavior is enough some days. Then when I factor in my 11-yr-old daughter’s very busy soccer schedule, my 11-yr-old son’s baseball schedule, my teenage daughter’s dance classes, and her twin’s assorted club and school activities, I become stretched in many different directions. Helping to assist with school projects, homework, test prep, problems and such can also take up so much time and energy. Two student drivers to ride with for practice while they have their learner’s permits is the definition of stress alone!

5) Having 2 teenage girls.

6) Did I mention the need for me to work and bring in a supplemental income? I am presently actively promoting my book, “TWINS x 3”, provide creative design services for a local real estate business and my daughters’ high school development office, and own/operate my home show direct sales jewelry business.

It all sounds like too much. Some days it works well, and some days I want to pull out my hair.

 

 

WAYS OF COPING IN THE “NOT-SO-BEST WAYS”

After I delivered my 3rd set of twins at the age of 44, after 3 months on pregnancy bed rest, I think my body decided to go on strike.  I just didn’t bounce back into shape as I had (with some help of diet and exercise) with my earlier two twin pregnancies and deliveries. I retained so much pregnancy weight and pain in my hips and neck from the months on bed rest that I seemed to struggle more to complete my important daily tasks. Although I was determined to shed the unwanted weight, I worked out, dieted, and tried different ideas for almost 2 years with only little success. I found some success with a metabolic-approach, but because the program itself was so expensive, I couldn’t sustain it. I kept off the weight I’d lost (over 20  lbs.) for several months, but when additional financial challenges hit, as well as the holidays (eek), I (unbeknownst to myself), began to slowly put much of the weight I’d so hard-fought lost, back on. (–second sigh–)

I admit it. When I’m stressed, unhappy, (or even happy), worried, in the middle of conflict with my husband or my kids (usually the teenagers), or overwhelmed by anything in anyway, I tend to retreat (when my husband is home to care for our lil guys) to my home office or my bedroom and shut the door where I can find quiet, peace, have a complete uninterrupted thought, and find some distraction in a book or from a television program. Sleep offers a wonderful escape, too. But another form of self-soothing is finding that bowl of left-over pasta to heat up, or a bowl of cereal, or toasted bagel at 4 in the afternoon when I’m not even hungry. I’ll prepare dinners for my family which will include the comforts of carbs such as rice, pasta or potatoes. I’ve been known to go back for seconds. Oh, and lets not forget that candy bar grabbed at the check-out counter and added to my groceries because “I deserve it”, because it’s been “a tough day”! I eat these sometimes on the way home from the store or once I’m in my room or office and can enjoy them by myself.

I also believe that I’ve been in a bit of a depression initiated by the overwhelming business of life. Some days I stay on top of every task and duty, and enjoy walking the boys up to our neighborhood park to play while exploring the world of tall trees, pine cones and doodle bugs. Then there are  other days I feel like I don’t care if the dishes pile up, or the laundry isn’t folded and put away, or the toilets aren’t scrubbed, … as long as everyone is clean, fed and gets to and from school/practices. Just do the basics. I know I should exercise because I’d feel so much better both physically and emotionally, but I don’t feel like exerting the energy. I just don’t want to get out of bed some days at all. I don’t want to, but I do.

I don’t want to feel this way. I don’t want to eat my feelings. I don’t want to fill in the cracks of my heart with a spread of peanut butter on my cherry pie, like Paul Blart. I don’t want to continue wearing the same clothes day after day while looking at 3/4 of my unfitable wardrobe. I don’t want to look at joggers, walkers and bikers and just wish I’d feel like doing that. I want to look forward to this summer being able to wear my favorite shorts, tops, skirts and swimsuits.

 

 

NEW PLAN

Okay, I’m done.

I’m done with loving my scale one day and hating it the next. I’m done making excuses and wanting to curl up under a blanket to feel better. I’m done wishing things were different sometimes, and am now determined to count my blessings, shake my own shoulders and see this through.

Two and 1/2 weeks ago, I started a new weight loss plan and I’ve lost 10 pounds! Another 3, and I’ll be back to where I was before I started to regain. But I’m not stopping there. I’m going to continue until I am really happy with myself. Will I get there by eating differently alone? No. Yoga and power-walking will not only help this program along, but as we all know, will release stress and increase healthy blood flow and brain function. My brain could really use some healthy functioning. I’m making efforts to have girl friend get-togethers … so dinner or a movie out every couple of weeks or so. And having a date with my husband 2-4 times a month is a top priority.

Will changing from a negative, self-soothing attitude to a healthy, positive attitude with an active plan underway take out all the stressors in my life? Of course not, but I hope that as I continue to make better choices in the way I handle what life hands me each day, I’ll find more peace and ability to cope which can teach my kids how to cope with life’s challenges in healthy, positive, productive ways.

 

 

For some advice that I found helpful, please visit: http://stress.about.com/od/stressmanagementtools/a/joy_motherhood.htm

How do you cope with the stress in your life? Give me your feedback and some suggestions for other Twinning Attitude! visitors … your comments may be just what someone out there needs to hear!  🙂

 

Does Santa visit your home? November 29, 2010

Filed under: Let's talk about ...,Tips and Ideas — twinningattitude @ 10:18 am

In our home, Santa Claus (aka Saint Nicholas) visits each year on Christmas Eve delivering gifts and treats to the children in our home as a passed-down tradition. St. Nicholas’ ancient practice of secretly filling the stockings of his town’s poor children is the basis for this Christmas tradition. We remember that Nicholas carried out this practice with the Christian belief of giving anonymously, so as not to take credit for generous deeds.

Each year, our children write a letter to St. Nick describing how “good and giving they’ve been this past year”, and include a list of two desired gifts. They place this letter in their stockings on the night of December 6th (the Feast of St. Nicholas), seeing the next morning that their lists were taken during the night. As parents, we love this practice, because after that point, there can be no wish-list revisions! 🙂

Our childrens’ Catholic elementary/middle school provides us with a list of children in need our local area each year, and along with each child is a list of items that he or she would like that Christmas. In many cases, the gifts asked for on this list are the only gifts that these children will receive that year. So, we choose one child from the list and place his or her wishes in an extra stocking. We then pick out one or two of the listed items, wrap, and then have our kids deliver the gift(s) to their school on behalf of St. Nick! They get to be his “helpers”, and have an opportunity to experience the important blessing of giving!

Many families believe that continuing the tradition of Santa Claus is “lying to their children”. Many Christians believe that Santa Claus is a pagan, secular, commercial figure who distracts from the focus of Jesus’ birth as the basis for this holiday celebration. I can understand this position, but we believe that St. Nick (a very devout Catholic Christian in his day) loved our Lord very much, and celebrated His birth by continuing the tradition of giving as did the wise men (the three kings or Maji) when they brought precious gifts to the new born King.

As our children grow up and realize that an actual man in a red suit does NOT come down our chimney to deliver gifts, we share with them that, because they now have learned the secret behind Santa Claus, they may now as “big kids” help continue our tradition for their younger siblings, so that they, too, can experience the joy, anticipation, wonder and excitement of the spirit of St. Nick, along with anticipation and celebration of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ!

One day, Santa will no longer come to our home, and we’ll look back, never regretting the joy and excitement that this tradition brought to our children and to us!

Please share your thoughts!

 

Your Family’s Special Christmas Traditions … November 27, 2010

Filed under: Let's talk about ...,Well-wishes! — twinningattitude @ 1:13 pm

It’s so important to form lasting family traditions that can be passed down.

From the way in which you decorate your home and your Christmas tree, to your favorite Christmas music, to your special foods and treats, and for whom those special gifts are bought or home-made … all of us have special traditions, rituals or celebrations we do each year as families.

For the Pitres, decorating our home, both inside and out, with our favorite lights and very special ornaments are a must for us! We have a secret and scrumptious family Christmas cookie recipe, which my Mom baked for years as we were growing up, and that I took over the first year we were married. I have only missed making them ONE year … the year Kathryn and Lauren were born the week before Christmas 1994! Every year before and since, however, we’ve not missed the tradition of baking and decorating these delicious confections, and I’ve SO ENJOYED entrusting the painting and sprinkling to the KIDS! We have our absolute FAVORITE Christmas music CDs which begin Thanksgiving evening, and continue all the way until January 6th, the Feast of the Epiphany (the date celebrated as the Maji arrived in Bethlehem with gifts for the new born King!). We have a traditional Christmas dinner, which usually is patterned after the full Thanksgiving dinner menu, but one special tradition is to prepare Cajun red beans and rice for Christmas Eve. This was the meal my Mom prepared on Christmas Day 1994 while we traveled back and forth between home and two different hospitals to be with our

Remember and create warm Christmas memories.

newborn preemie baby girls in 1994. It was the perfect crock-pot meal that could cook all day while we were gone, and be ready for us late that night when we finally returned home! Since then, we prepare that dish each Christmas Eve in memory of our baby miracles, who will both turn 16 this December 18th!

It is not until after January 6th that we take down and carefully wrap up our Christmas decorations in preparation for the next year, because only after the Feast of the Epiphany is the 12th day of Christmas complete.

What are some of your family Christmas traditions? Post some of your unique, funny, memorable things that you do every year with your family? Be sure to post your traditions, and become automatically entered into a drawing for a free, signed copy of TWINS x3 for yourself or as a gift!

From our family to yours, we pray that you all have a very safe, happy, healthy, blessed and memorable Christmas 2010!

 

All moms are “working moms”! October 20, 2010

Filed under: Let's talk about ...,Tips and Ideas — twinningattitude @ 12:02 pm

 

Ask any mom, and she’ll tell you that being one is the hardest job she’s ever had! Now, add on top of that 24/7 responsibility the task of working outside the home (full- or part-time), working an outside job from her home office, or running a business from her home office, … and you’ll see one busy woman!!

Some moms reenter the workforce due to the basic need for sustaining income, while others choose to go back to work simply because they want to. Regardless of the reason that working moms work, it’s very difficult to balance home responsibilites, children, work, and actually finding time in there to take care of herself.

Before I had my third set of twins, I’d been working for several years at a few different ways to earn additional income from home for our family of six. If you’ve read TWINS x 3, you know the different hats I wore before I became pregnant with Sean and Benjamin. When I wrote and published my book, I’d planned that any and all income received from this venture would, of course, be reinvested in our family and/or placed into savings for my childrens’ futures. A few months ago, out the absolute need for additional income, I contacted the publisher in South Georgia whom I worked with for two years providing advertising and editorial magazine design for his various county Chamber of Commerce publications. Deciding (or reconfirming, rather) that the amount of work and the quality of what I was providing simply wasn’t fairly compensated for, I decided to re-sign with the direct sales jewelry company that I’d been an independent distributor for also in the past. Premier Designs High Fashion Jewelry (http://www.premierdesigns.com) is a solid, reputable, 25-year-old company whose business philosophy is based on the Biblical principles of honesty, integrity and service. Becoming a jewelry sales consultant has given me the flexibility to work outside my home presenting and conducting home shows in customers’ homes on evenings and on weekends while allowing me to be home with my toddlers and be able to transport my older children to and from school and other activities.

But factoring in a new, growing business from my home has real challenges. For one, I haven’t sat down to post a new blog topic in weeks until now!  In addition to preparing for and conducting my hostesses’ home shows, I attend monthly support and training meetings. I also spend many hours each week: building a customer base; scheduling and planning home shows; recruiting, supporting and training new jewelers;  closing (placing orders for) each home show online as well as ordering/maintaining  business supplies; all while creating new ways to grow my business to support and serve my customers. While doing this, there are diapers to change, groceries to shop for, beds to change, laundry to fold, messes to clean up and kids’ arguments to break up!

Although I have a few rules that I’ve followed for years when it came to managing my time and keeping my sanity as a working mom, such as:

~ take advantage of toddler nap time to get lots of work done (OR take that much-needed nap yourself);

~ plan meals ahead of time so meal prep can be quick and easy;

~ accept or enlist help from your older children/teens … teaching them that they’re assistance is valued and that everyone pitches in for the common good of all;

~ make use of after-kids’-bed-time evenings and weekends to catch up with work, but also be strict about leaving and shutting the office door at a set time to concentrate on my kids, husband or for me to get out and visit with a friend for dinner;

…  I’ve also found some additional tips from two websites. Check them out for yourselves!

http://www.buzzle.com/articles/work-at-home-moms-best-time-management-tips.html

and,

http://workingmoms.about.com/od/worklifebalance/a/Selfcare.htm

 

Please post your comments and suggestions about how you manage the balance between working and family! Your ideas will be much appreciated, very valued, and will help other Twinning Attitude visitors, including me!!

 

YIKES! Big-Boy Beds! October 1, 2010

Filed under: Let's talk about ...,Tips and Ideas — twinningattitude @ 11:00 am

As my baby boys approach their third birthday, yes, the time has definitely come to graduate these little guys from their safe, comfy yet restrictive cribs to the adventurous world of “being loose” in big kid beds. I placed crib tents upon their cribs back when they were around 14-months because they began to demonstrate their frightening abilities to lift one leg over the side not knowing what would result could be a terrible fall. At one point, Benjamin nearly fell directly on his head, and would have if not for the cat-like reflexes of his mom catching him. Of course, it took this mom several minutes to recover from the use of her cat-like reflexes and sudden rush of adrenalin.

For the last couple of months, there’s been evidence of the attempts of a prison break from their tented cribs. Ben’s tent began to show his efforts of his trying to escape, as if he’d stashed a spoon from the prison cafeteria up his sleeve … I detected little holes in the white netting here and there that became bigger and bigger. Sean decided to pull at a corner seam along the inside of his crib tent and was able to push those wet diapers out and onto the floor that he so often would shed, only to then wet his crib sheets!

So here we are. We’ve taken down the twin cribs for the third and LAST time, and set up the twin bunk beds that double as individual single beds against two opposite walls, each having its own bed rail. We’d bought these beds when I was pregnant with my second set of twins so that my eldest twins (4-year-olds at the time) would no longer have to share a full size bed together (which they graduated to from their cribs), and would finally have their own big girl beds.

As most of us who’ve been through this transition have experienced, the BIGGEST CHALLENGE now lay with KEEPING THEM IN BED once nap or bed time arrived. It was so bad with our first set, that we, out of desperation, would take “bed-time drives” around our neighborhood. This drive would begin after jammies were on and teeth were brushed so that the girls would fall asleep in the car after about 10-15 minutes, after which we would lift them out of their car seats and lay them down in their shared bed. We gated their bedroom into the hall so that if they awoke and we didn’t hear them, they couldn’t leave their room and get into any trouble/danger in the rest of the house while we slept.

REFUSING to resorting to this method with my second set, I simply told them to stay in bed. When they got out to play some more, I’d go right in and threaten them with “toy taking”, “no playground the next day”, or something to that effect. The family room was just off the kids’ rooms hallway, so I could hear every sound and could quickly zoom in there. Eventually they would settle down. Sigh. Yes, their room was gated as well.

This time around, well, the kids rooms are upstairs. My biggest challenge is that when I believe they’re settled and quiet, I leave to return downstairs, only to hear the “pitter-patter” above me! I make many runs up the stairs, and find that they’d heard me coming (no matter how quietly I believe I’m prancing) and quickly jump back into their beds, slyly now resembling the little angels I’d left only minutes before. Yesterday, I realized that Sean had reached up and TURNED OFF the baby monitor because the monitor I keep in the kitchen suspiciously began to emanate that static-y sound of when the main unit is OFF! Rascal!

At night, I’ve developed a fantastic system called: The Patrol. One of the two 11-yr-olds (usually Brandon, whose room is just across from Ben and Sean’s) will be recruited to patrol and report the status of the toddlers who should be in bed. Bruce and I can resume our evening duties of laundry folding, bill-paying or simply TV-watching while Brandon gives us a regular report from the top of the stairs every few minutes. If one or both toddlers are “being naughty”, he’ll startle them with a quick, “GET BACK IN BED!” order … following which they quickly scamper back into their beds! It’s an AWESOME arrangement!

What stories do you have about that wonderful transition from crib to bed? What challenges have you had? What suggestions to you have for the rest of us? We’d LOVE your input …

 

Please pray for four lives that ended too soon September 27, 2010

Filed under: Let's talk about ...,News and info to share! — twinningattitude @ 9:46 pm

Early Sunday morning, September 26, 2010, a truck carrying four teenagers from Vandebilt Catholic High School in Houma, Louisiana crashed and took the lives of all four passengers. The teens (two boys, two girls) were nearly home while returning from the LSU football game in Baton Rouge Saturday night. The entire high school and community of Houma is struck and terribly saddened by the loss of these four young lives. Although it hasn’t been officially confirmed, it is suspected that alcohol may have been involved, or it may have simply been a case of the driver falling asleep at the wheel.

Grief counselors and other sources of support have converged on Vandebilt to assist the peers and families of the four lost teens.

Online article:  http://www.houmatoday.com/article/20100926/BREAKING/100929403

Although parents do their best to aid their children in the grief process, they often look for additional assistance and guidance. Being a faith community, it’s important that Vandebilt turn to the basis of their foundation for guidance. Mass has been said today in several neighboring Catholic parishes, as well as at Vandebilt itself. Many parish pastors, priests, nuns and lay ministers will most certainly a source of consolation and counsel.

Vandebilt Catholic High School, Houma, Louisiana (the high school I'm proud to call my alma mater)


http://www.vandebiltcatholic.org/home.html

Coping with the deaths of friends and family is overwhelmingly difficult for adults, but children and teens perceive this experience differently than grown-ups. I recall having a very unsettling, disturbing experience for weeks following the tragic death of a classmate just before the start of our senior year. The year after our graduation, we lost another classmate. It doesn’t make sense at all to reason about the deaths of young people so tragically just as their lives are beginning. We all remember the 1999 Columbine High School shootings, the 2007 Virginia Tech tragedy, and most recently, the tornado-caused disaster at Enterprise High School that took eight young lives. So much is senseless about these events, but in some cases, as perhaps in this Houma tragedy, the reality and deadliness of driving under the influence of alcohol or driving while overly tired are bitter lessons and realities to face.

Although Christians take comfort in knowing that there is a glorious, eternal life awaiting after death, coming to terms and facing their own mortality is very traumatizing for teens, and all the while they’re grieving the loss of a close friend or perhaps sibling.

What is your experience with the loss of a peer? Did you lose a classmate tragically (either to illness or injury) while in your teens? Has your own child experienced the loss of a friend?

As parents, we want desperately to comfort, reassure and give hope to our suffering child. Catholic/Christian resources and sources of counsel can be especially helpful at this time. Allowing and encouraging your child to grieve, to experience the seven stages of grief will be the most healthy, healing path to wellness and wholeness once again.

Please visit: http://www.recover-from-grief.com/7-stages-of-grief.html

Although there are many resources to help parents and their children deal and cope with grief, one source of resources is Solace Tree, where you’ll find many sources for assistance and comfort as you and your child experience the painful, confusing stages of grief and loss.

Visit: http://www.solacetree.org/bookstore

 

For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

John 3:16

 


 

 

Heavenly Father, please welcome your children into your warm, loving arms where they shall spend eternity in glory praising your name. For the sorrowful friends and family members left behind, please also wrap them in your arms where you can comfort and remind them of your promise the of eternal life, where they will one day be reunited with their loved ones.

Amen.


 

We MUST NEVER forget September 12, 2010

Filed under: Let's talk about ... — twinningattitude @ 6:09 pm

God Bless America!

I remember watching it all happen live while at home with my not-quite 2-year-olds.

I immediately wanted my husband and first-grade daughters HOME so we could all be together. I was heart-broken for the families whose lives changed forever that day, and knew that we’d NEVER FORGET!

(New York, my home state)