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Depression isn’t what you think it is.

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So, as you may have gathered from my last post, I’ve been dealing with some mild depression lately. It’s something I’ve dealt with before, but it still sucks. So hey, let’s talk about it.

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I’ll skip over the long version of the story and just say I have depression issues when taking hormonal birth control (ie the pill). I REALLY wish this side effect was discussed more. I learned this years ago only after having been unknowingly Depressed most of college, and found a particular pill that seemed to not bother me. Only after being totally OFF the pill when trying to get pregnant for 2 years did I realize that pill was making me depressed, too, just less so. After having Ainsley, I went back on a low-dose version of the pill while breastfeeding, but I still had issues here and there. So when I recently ran out, I decided not to pick up my refill. I’m tracking my cycle like a Nazi now and crossing the heck out of my fingers because we don’t want another baby quite yet. But I feel better.

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So what IS depression, anyway? How was I depressed and didn’t know it? Well, it’s hard to know when you’re in it. It doesn’t look like it does on the commercials. Though in my darkest days I do think pretty damn sad thoughts, I have never actually really thought about suicide or anything like that. But that doesn’t mean it’s not still awful. For me, I tend to get more OCD than I normally am. Clutter almost literally drives me insane instead of just bothering me. If I’m jotting down notes and the pen flubs a line, it seriously bothers me. Like, seriously. If I lose something, I obsess over it even more than normal. If I screw up at work, I feel even more terrible than I should. Everything stresses me out. I retreat from my wonderful husband. I hate everything about our house that isn’t finished or fixed or perfect. I feel not so much sad as just…numb. Like I’m not a part of the word, but just drifting through it. And then eventually, I’ll have a moment of clarity somehow and realize: depressed.

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But I might not LOOK depressed. If you’re not spending a ton of time with me, you probably think I’m OK. Because here’s the thing: Depressed people still have to live life. It doesn’t look like the commercials. Some depressed people are even (gasp!) men. We don’t actually sit in our robes, looking pensively out the window all day. We’re not always crying. We have to get dressed, look presentable, interact with people, go to work, and drop our kids off at daycare. We have to. And some of our smiles and laughs may be genuine. But behind it, we still have that disconnected, sad feeling. You just don’t care. At least not about the right things.

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And it doesn’t make sense! You keep telling yourself that you don’t *really* have any reason to be feeling like this. If you’re feeling depressed (lower case d) because a family member died, or you lost your job, or something along those lines…well, then you’re sad for a pretty damn good reason, and you might just be OK in a bit. Depression (capital D) can seem totally insane because it’s not connected to anything. You’re not Depressed because X happened. You’re just…depressed. And then you get more depressed because why are you depressed about nothing? But the thing about depression is that you can’t reason yourself out of it. It’s not your fault or anything’s fault. It’s just…there.

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So anyway. I am lucky in that, thus far, I have been able to regulate my depression by NOT taking certain medicine. But if the time comes when I need medication to make me feel better, that’s something I’m open to. Because taking a pill to be happy every day is a whole lot less crappy than being sad every day and not taking a pill.

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One of the things that has brought me some happiness during this time is babywearing. I miss Ainsley terribly when I’m at work and cherish the time when I get to go home and take a walk around the block with her and Lucy. On the days when Will is home with her, it gives Will a chance to get dinner ready and have some quiet time. On the days when I pick her up from daycare, it allows me to keep her close and snuggle during her most grumpy time of the day when all she wants is to be held, and I can also make dinner and get things done around the house.

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So if you feel like you may be dealing with depression…well, if you THINK you’re depressed, you probably are. Talk to someone about it. A friend, a significant other, a relative, or a doctor. Maybe get off the pill if you’re on it and try another birth control method. Maybe just try and get out for a daily walk to get some sunshine. Maybe talk to your doctor and see if meds are right for you. But don’t just stay depressed. You and all your loved ones deserve the HAPPY you, the REAL you.

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So with that, I am still going to be taking a break for a while (you know, during the most apt season to be writing about my garden…but whatever). I’m fine, really, (or, getting better) but I’m going to focus on other things for a while. It will also give me time to work on a couple side projects I’ve been putting off. I will update the Ainsley weeklies when I get a chance – I have been taking them still, and you can see some previews in my Instagram feed on the sidebar.

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Taking it slow.

I’ve been not really in the mood for much of anything lately, hence my unfortunately negative recent blog posts and general viewpoint about the world. So I’m going to be taking it slow on the blog here for a while, and when I get around to it, I owe you a post about why my glass is very much half empty lately (hopefully written when it’s working on being half full).

In the meantime, happy Mother’s Day to you all you wonderful mamas out there!

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I will also update Ainsley’s Weeklies soon – I have been taking them, I just need to get them up on here. You can always check or follow me in Instagram to see what’s going on lately.

And NOW, I will take a Mother’s Day shower, because I think the sick baby is definitely asleep :)

I love this house, but I hate it.

Allow me to complain for a bit.

So I’ve been thinking this post in my head for a while, and then something happened. A blog I follow, Young House Love, revealed that they’d bought a new house. Ever since they moved into their current one about 3 years ago, I’ve been following along, jealous at all the things they are doing to it to make it their own and awesome and wonderful. Jealous because Sherri doesn’t have to bug John about changing the wall color again, because changing the wall color is LITERALLY their job and what they get paid for. Jealous because they get to experiment every day, and doing stuff like thrift shopping is their job, AND they get to stay home with their baby. I was drawn to their blog because their first house was small like mine, and super happy for them when they upgraded. But somehow this news about the new house actually pissed me off.

Why? I guess because I’m invested. Because I knew they’d eventually move, but I HATE moving, so I imagined them loving the heck out if every improvement they made (they penny tile! the guest room I adore!) and picking it to live with for years to come. I imagined they doing improvements because they loved them and not just because.

I even posted a comment recently about struggling. Struggling because there are SO many things that we would love to do to this house to make US happier in it…but they don’t make sense financially since we won’t (hopefully?) be here for too much longer.

See, I love this house. Love it! I love the location so much. I love that it has a yard. I love that it is not a condo, which is what everyone tried to get us to buy. I love that it’s our first house and where we brought Ainsley home to. I love the gardens, and that those gardens bore this blog.

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(I can’t wait to paint that door yellow!) I do not love that we are currently ohhhhh a lot underwater in it. Despite living with Will’s parents for FREE for an entire year after getting married, this is still the best we could find. I won’t tell you how much we paid for it, but I will tell you we bought in 2007, after we THOUGHT the worst was over. I don’t know that we’d be in that much of a better situation had we rented someplace at that same point and just tossed that money away, but I do know that now we are stuck. Stuck stuck stuck. And we are stuck in a house that is small (960 square feet…I know I complain about that a lot – sorry). And this house is dictating our family decisions (there is nowhere for baby #2 until we move).

And we have put a lot of love into this house. We’ve renovated the kitchen, replaced all the flooring (twice in some places!), gutted and renovated the bathroom, added baseboards, removed old baseboard heating, upgraded the water heater, greatly improved the lawn and gardens, replaced all the doors, renovated the laundry room, and oh so much more. And we will get NONE of the money we put into that back whenever we sell. Obviously we didn’t make those improvements for sale value, we made them for us. But as we now look at moving (and maybe renting this house out?) in the next 2-3 years, there is a long list of things that we would love to do for us that probably don’t make sense financially:

  • add more blue chip to the driveway
  • stacking washer and dryer/make a pantry in the laundry room
  • new roof
  • new front stoop
  • new, larger deck
  • new siding
  • new shutters (I so want black shutters!)
  • addition to add true master bedroom with second bathroom
  • addition to add dining room (moving the table out of the kitchen so there could be an island there)
  • greenhouse attached to shed

…and on and on. And it’s so frustrating!

Also, lately, I’ve been really missing Miss A and lamenting today’s world’s need for a 2 income household. Like so many families, ours requires 2 to survive. And I like my new job, but A is in such a wonderful age right now and is really becoming a person. And I feel like I miss so much of it while I’m sitting at a desk for 9 hours a day.

I’ve even thought about what would happen if I did stay home. We are lucky that we only need a sitter 2 days a week because of Will’s schedule, so that helps financially. But still, our mortgage is more than 1 of our 4 monthly paychecks. It’s expensive to live here. We currently now only have 1 car payment (as long as my car will hold out for a couple more years). But it would still be touuuugh.

So anyway, I know I’m not alone. So if you need to complain about your annoying house/work situation, let me know!

Lucy’s Canine Addison’s Disease Crisis

(Forgive me for all the puppy and kitty pics in the post. Once you read, you’ll know why they’re there. Also, ugh I posted all these pics in the wrong size, but you can click each one for bigger until I go back and fix it.)

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We’ve had a rough few weeks here in the Jennah’s Garden household. A couple weeks back, a cold/sinus infection that I had been trying to ignore for quite some time turned into tonsilitis (probably Strep, but the ‘quick strep’ test was negative and the doc just gave me antibiotics for the obvious infection rather than wait for the longer test), complete with a fever, chills, puking, and 2 days off work (just when I was getting ahead with leave time!).

I finally got better, and then we noticed that Lucydog seemed to have a bladder infection. I took her to the doctor on my Friday off (after Ainsley’s well checkup – busy day!). It was confirmed that she had a UTI and also an ear infection. They drew blood, but waited to send it at my request since that would be another $200. They were concerned that she hadn’t been eating, but figured it may have been because she just didn’t feel good.

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She got antibiotics and seemed a bit better, but still wasn’t eating. She was having tremors/shaking, but she tends to do that a lot when sick or stressed. I started to get concerned when she wouldn’t even eat a marrow bone, though. Thankfully, Will was off with her Monday and Tuesday, so he kept an eye on her.

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Then we were both at work Wednesday. When I got home, I went in to let her out of her kennel to go potty…and she couldn’t stand up. Couldn’t even get her paws to cooperate to get them flat on the ground. I freaked and immediately went and got the phone, called Will and said “Lucy can’t walk.” I then called the vet, which thankfully had not closed yet (they would in 15 minutes) and they told me to bring her ASAP. In the meantime, I had put Ainsley in the living room and closed the gate – she was of course screaming because she wanted me. Poor Lucy, still with her UTI, had dragged herself out of her cage and peed on the floor (and herself).

Panicked, I put my stuff and a screaming Ainsley in the truck…then realized I had to somehow get a pee-covered 65lb dog who couldn’t walk outside, down the deck steps, and into the truck. Yeah. I considered asking the neighbors, who were outside mulching, for help. I called Will and luckily he was close by and able to leave work early. I brought A back inside into the living room and went and sat with Lucydog and tried to clean her up as best I could. I was shaking. I knew it was not good. When Will finally got home (longest 5 minutes ever). I hoped I would see Lucydog again alive, and that me and Ainsley would be taking our babywearing walks with her soon, but I wasn’t sure. Finally I went and got A and we got some snuggles in as I waited for news.

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Will got home an hour and a half later or so, and they had been able to stabilize her. They thought it might be Addison’s disease, which was thankfully treatable. It presents in young dogs, is more common in females, and had lots of symptoms in common. Will still thought it may have just been severe dehydration. After 2 scary nights with her in doggie hospital because she still was not strong enough to walk, the blood test results confirmed Addison’s Disease. The UTI and ear infection pushed her body into crisis and she was probably close to death (what if I had been stuck at work for 45 minutes longer that day? omg). Thankfully, it is treatable with a monthly injection, one she will need for the rest of her life. But that life will be long and happy.

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Just like when Ainsley is away and I’m home, I kept looking for Lucydog during the 2 days she was away. It’s crazy how much these pets become part of your family. Crazy, too, because Lucydog was snuck into the family by Will when I was away one weekend (true story). But Lucy, our first baby Alicecat, and the mischevuous Mr. Hank are as much a part of this family as Ainsley. I routinely freak out when I can’t find a cat, thinking they for sure have gotten out somehow and we’ll never see that little kittyface again. So I missed Lucydog when she was away. Even my mom, who is not the hugest fan of Lucy (only because she’s a little leery of dogs in general and Lucy lovestobeinyourfacebecauseshelovesyou), cried when she came over to drop Ainsley off the day Lucy came home from the vet. Pets’ll do that to you.

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As soon as Ainsley saw her doggie buddy, she came over and petted her and snuggled her.

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So, we still have a Lucy-lifetime to regulate her disease. But I am happy to report that as I type this, Lucy is loudly chomping a rawhide bone that I bought her in her cage right behind me. And other than a shaved paw where she had an IV and super-frequent peeing because of her recovery meds, she’s pretty much back to the same ol’ Lucydog. And we love it. I am very thankful that our vet gave her a quick and correct diagnosis and got her back on her feet (literally) quickly.

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I will be ordering Lucy another collartag (she already has one with her name and our contact info, so she’ll now have 2 tags) with her medical information (“MEDICAL ALERT / Addison’s Disease / Medication Needed / vet info”) so that, should (pleaseno) she ever be lost, she would not be in danger because of lack of medication. I love, love, love Boomerang tags. Both of the cats have regular hang tags. Lucy used to have a hanging tag until it somehow got stuck in the TV stand doorknob and she ripped the door of the hinge – since then we have moved to collartags and it stays on her collar and is also very nice and quiet. Lucy wear the 1 inch one for an adjustable nylon collar. (They are not a sponsor, I just love their products and customer service!)

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We also DID get some gardening done last week during all the craziness, so once I get myself together I should have some gardening posts coming up.

Making Your Own Laundry Soap for a Year in 20 Minutes for Under $50

…and 15 minutes of that is just grating a bar of soap.

I’ve been using this homemade laundry detergent recipe from Raising Colorado for a year and I love it. I even use it on A’s cloth diapers now and it works great.

I actually had everything set up and was going to show you how fast it was to make via video. I was going to try to make it EVEN faster by using my blender to break up the soap bc someone had recommended using a food processor. Well, newsflash, blenders are not the same and it was an epic fail, but even with that screw-up I still got it done in 2 minutes by hand grating the soap like I usually do (cheap dollar store grater). Unfortunately, the video was still totally terrible and out of focus. So instead, I’ll just give you some pics and links to the products on Amazon (I realize I could buy them in the store, but it’s a whole lot easier to find them on Amazon and just have them delivered in no time at all for free.)

bar of Zote, grated (I bought a 3 pack of the bigger bars this time because it was cheaper, so I just didn’t quite grate the whole thing – $10.23 for 3 large bars)
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TOTAL $47.22
Prices listed are for when I wrote this post, but give you some idea. Right now 77 Tide Pods are $20. And my stuff does waaaaaaaaaaaaay more than 77 loads!
Just dump all that stuff together and mix it up! Use about 1 tablespoon per load of laundry (maybe 2 if your stuff is heavily soiled or has lots of polyester/under armour type stuff). For stains, I soak stuff in Dawn pre-wash (GREAT for oily stains…it does clean oil off baby birds, after all!) or use Honest Company stain remover, or sometimes toss in an Honest Laundry Pod.
I use one of those Lowe’s big bucket things to mix it in. Wear gloves (and maybe not your black work pants? oops) while mixing, or it will bother your skin. Also, it mixes better if you grate the zote in last (tends not to stick together in a big clump), but I was all annoyed by the blender thing so I wasn’t thinking.
Grated Zote

Grated Zote

all mixed up

all mixed up

I store mine in some dollar store plastic shoebox things on a shelf in the laundry room. Our last batch lasted us just about a year even with new baby laundry, and for $50 that is pretty freaking great!

in its shoebox home!

in its shoebox home!

I want to try homemade dishwasher detergent next, because we go through that stuff like crazy. I don’t want it to suck, though. Note that we do have hard water. If you have a recipe that works, let me know!