Thursday, April 10, 2014

Restoring Energy (and back again)

My children fill me up with so much joy, that there are moments when I cry just looking at them. I wonder at how God so generously gave me these amazing, precious souls to raise and to love. Their automatic, unconditional love for me blows me away to uncomprehension! Without even questioning it, or wondering what else might be out there, they love me unconditionally with all their hearts. As a mother the ups and downs of my energy tremendously vary from energetic, calm, and optimistic, to completely depleted, chaotic, and overwhelmed. Yet even on the days when my vessel has been depleted, and my energy has drained from my mind, body, and soul--they still adore me and look to me for love and validation in all they do. 
This, I think, is one of the greatest gifts about children, and families, and the intricate design of God's plan for us, because as a mother I am a continuous flowing fountain of love for my children even when I am completely drained of good feelings. I know the love is still there. I suppose our mutual love will always be there, no matter what.

When I feel drained beyond reason, I know it's time to recharge myself. I always hate it when I let it go past what I can bear, but sometimes I can't help it. Life is so busy and full of  daily challenges, that I don't realize how drained I am becoming until it hits me hard.

This past Tuesday evening I attended a yoga session specifically for women. I wanted something that would help me not only prepare for childbirth through stretching and toning my muscles, but also a way to bond and connect with other women in my community. There were five other women there, one other pregnant mama like me. The yoga studio was beautifully decorated like an enchanted temple in India, or a jungle yoga retreat in Hawaii, in every way designed to relax, and refresh a tired soul like mine. I felt right at home there.  
We started off by doing some simple meditations and chants, where we sat quietly, legs crossed, jnana mudra fingers in place. The room was darkly lit, with shadows bouncing off the walls from the flickering lights. The aromatherapy from the oils was powerfully fragrant, and relaxing to my entire body. The music was soft, soothing, and melodic. The yoga teacher's voice was full of warmth and knowledge. Everything in that room was inviting me to relax, to let go, and to fill my energy back up to full again. 
SAGE HILLS YOGA CENTER
As we started our second chant I realized how precious this time was for me to be still. Rarely am I ever still. My body is in a constant state of  walking, getting, clicking, scanning, retrieving, stirring, flipping, climbing, stooping, lifting, bending, etc, etc. It's no wonder when I lie in bed at night that I literally melt into my mattress and fall asleep even sometimes while my husband is still talking to me. Sitting there in meditation pose, letting the aura of that room fill every crevice of my soul, I realized that I needed to slow down. Big time. I knew I  needed to let go of anything extra (besides my family) that demanded too much of my energy. I needed to slow down, let go, and surrender to the hardness of my pregnancy and the challenges of life right now. 
The power of that meditation sent me through an intense emotional release. I sat there and cried, letting the tears fall down my cheeks to floor, freely. I felt a powerful connection to God, and His love for me. I knew that He was with me in that room, telling me I could go on--that I could do all these hard things still ahead. All I had to do was surrender and let go, and keep filling my energy back up when I need to. I went home feeling refreshed, recharged, and ready to give all my love to my family.

Ironically, the next morning (yesterday morning) I woke up with a terrible virus, which is giving me headaches, chills, an aching, sore body, a sore throat, and a deep, bronchial cough that sends my body into shaking fits. Ironically, I am depleted of energy again, and feeling that tremendous fluctuation of highs and lows once more.
 But I am grateful. And I see the blessings beneath the chaos in all of this. I am grateful for a husband who stayed home to take care of the children, grateful for an active, healthy baby inside my womb, and grateful for three loving children who love me even when I'm at my worst....again.

My goal is to keep filling my energy back up again-to keep pushing forward, even when I keep getting knocked down.  
Fourteen more weeks to go til I get to meet our little baby boy. (give or take 2 weeks in either direction.)

Sending love and light to all those who may be going through the toughest of ups and downs, as well. May you find ways to keep filling back up and pushing onward. :)


A few pictures from the latest, most joyful times:
First Zadok's baptism: My firstborn baby boy was baptized on March 29. One moment he was a baby in my arms, the next moment he's making this huge, grown-up decision to make life-long covenants with Jesus Christ. I am so proud of him and his mature, righteous example. His baptism was spiritual, and powerful, and wonderful in every way.
Our little Odin had a birthday. He turned six! We took him to his favorite place to hop over rocks and feel on top of the world!
And here he is at Kindergarten, being honored and celebrated for his birthday! 
And this is our loving cat, Cotton Candy, who will make sure to love you and groom you long after you've gone to sleep. 
 The end.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Time to get Real. (Last term of pregnancy)

I can feel a strong pull to bring my mind and thoughts to a positive plane, and stay there for the duration of this pregnancy. It's time to prepare, like really prepare for the mental, physical, and spiritual ending to this journey--the birth of our baby boy this summer. 

My footsteps are heavy, and I'm growing extremely uncomfortable in my body, but when I think of the incredible strength of my form, the power of fertility and femininity, and the God-given ability to give birth to new life, I am overcome with confidence. 

I know this last 3 months won't be easy, but the labor and birth will be my joyous end.
 The intense mental and physical work I'll perform, will be my finishing reward. And then the baby will be here.
I keep envisioning the baby-- with his soft hair, his tiny, wiggly fingers, his perfect lips, and that glorious baby smell. I can almost see him now. I feel him, and know him already. I can't wait to meet him.
It's getting closer and closer to the end and It's time to more fully fill my vessels with positive energy. 

Mental positivity: In the form of inspiring books, and videos, and truth. To surround myself with friends who support and understand the natural process of pregnancy and birth. Start envisioning the room and space where I will labor and birth, and prepare that space for our family. Remember positive birth support from before. 
Physical positivity: Surrender to the changes and growth inside me and let it define me. Become comfortable with the uncomfortable nature of my body, and embrace the last term of pregnancy with joy and grace. Daily stretching, daily walks, pregnancy floor-exercises, raspberry tea, wholesome foods, and me.
Spiritual positivity: Stand grounded in the faith that God will walk with me on this path--that I can do what thousands of my ancestors have done before me, as my great-grandmothers, my grandmothers, my mother, and now me, can and will do. Trust that God will guide me in this experience and I will feel His love through the birth of this baby.

I searched around on the net for a collection of pregnancy and birth art to inspire me. I am captivated by the whimsical colors and shapes, and the ability these pieces have to connect me to other birthing women. I know I'm not alone in this because we are all in this together. 
Here's a few of my favorites:

                         Found on themandalajourney.com                    
by Julia C R Gray

                         Found on spiritysol.blogspot.com                    

                         Found on amandagreavette.blogspot.ca                    



Thursday, March 20, 2014

Jam-packed-week


 A lot can happen in a week. Or even a month. But this week happened to be really action-packed and felt like an entire month. 
It amazes me the constant variables in family-life: the ups and downs, the highs and lows, and the tos and fros, and all the little things that can happen when you are more than one person, and not a single entity. Because I often feel like 5 people packed into one body! My mind is constantly racing from one person to the next, jumping from mind to mind, trying to figure out what each person needs.



Is Zadok getting the attention and encouragement that he needs? He's always been our neediest child, bless his heart. He requires a lot of extra TLC, which I hope I've been able to give him more of since Odin's been going to school. 
He just turned 8 this past week, and I know without a doubt that he felt pretty darn special on his birthday. His grandpa (my dad) was on the mainland  on a business trip from Hawaii, so he stopped over for a few days. Zadok was super stoked that both of his grandparents (Micah's mom and my Dad) were here to celebrate with us! We had a fun, family birthday party for Z, complete with the most extravagant ice-cream cake Micah's ever made, as well as presents galore from his family. He is such an awesome kid. My firstborn son is 8! Unbelievable!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY Z-BOY!

Is Odin adjusting well to Kindergarten?  He seems to be excited to go to school everyday! He loves doing his little homework pages and comes home talking all about his fun activities. It's still strange for me to not be there for all the things he's experiencing. The other day when he came home and I asked him what he did today in school, he answered,"Today we went to that one room where we put all the shapes together!"
I don't know this room so I ask curiously,"You mean the gymnasium?"

"Nope" he replied.

"You mean the skills counselor's classroom?" I ask again.
"Nope." he responded again.
"Was it on the rainbow rug, or in the computer room, or in the cafeteria?" I asked again.
"No, no, and no," he said again.
"Well which room was it?" I was trying so hard to picture where my son was and what he was doing, and starting to get frustrated that I couldn't have that image in my head.
"It was the room where we put all the shapes together! It's a room you don't even know about, mom!" he answers smiling.
And then it occurred to me that this was another part of him growing up. I'm not always going to be there to see every room, or every moment, or every shape he puts together. This is his path, and his experience, and I'm here to love him and encourage him along the way. (Although, I still might make him show me where that secret room is next time.)



My sweet, little Odin at his school-All smiles. :)

Is Jonah feeling loved? Is he learning not to hit and how to be nice to his older brothers even when they leave him out? Jonah is the littlest of them all, and often gets left out of the fun, big brother things. While the older boys are busy doing Legos together, or playing Minecraft together, or playing rough, Jonah is often left to his own devices. When he lashes out at them, kicking and hitting them for no reason, I know it's because he needs more attention. However, with Grandma Sandy visiting this past month he has been getting more than enough attention! I can tell by how happy he is every day, and how the hitting has gone down significantly, and how smiley and cute he is lately, that he feels loved. I need to be able to keep it up after she leaves.....
Happy Jonah building a castle in Kolob Canyon.
Is the baby healthy?  I haven't heard him kick in a couple days so I lay still on the bed until I feel that gentle, subtle movement. This is always a worry and concern for me because my mother, and my paternal-side grandmother both had still-births. Their pregnancies were going along just fine when suddenly the baby just stopped living. There was nothing that could have been done about it. So when I don't feel the baby move for awhile I instantly start thinking the worst. 
Up to this point I haven't had any complications in pregnancy or birth--no miscarriages, no pre-term labour, no premature babies, or problems getting the baby out of me. I keep wondering when my turn will be? Is it my turn now to experience heartbreaking loss? Is it my turn soon to know the empathy that other mothers feel towards each other-with those that have lived through these trials? Is it my turn to bury a child? I don't know what God has planned for me, and it might seem morbid and insane to think about the worst, but in some ways I want to be honest with myself  about the ever-changing- variables of life.

Like this crazy-jam-packed- week, with all it's goods and bads, and funny things. 

Funny:**Friday night we got a babysitter so Micah, Grandma Sandy, and I could go see the second Hunger Games movie at the cheap theater. Except when we got there it wasn't playing anymore (because some forgetful pregnant-lady forgot to check the times). So then we decided to drive to St. George to go gun shopping. After that adventure, we stopped into a Mexican food dive for dinner. I ordered a California Burrito. I had asked the woman at the counter what exactly was in a CA Burrito and she told me Carne Asada, rice, and vegetables. It sounded good enough. However, when I opened it up it was full of Carne Asada, vegetables, and French Fries. French Fries? I've never had a burrito filled with French Fries! So I asked the lady again. Apparently when she said fries, I heard rice. We had a good laugh about that. It was a serendipitous evening out.

Bad:*I left the hose on in the front yard on Monday morning and it flooded one of our downstairs bedrooms. Micah and I spent hours (mostly Micah) on Monday night sucking up water from the carpet, instead of going to the Lego Movie with our family like we had originally planned. (Zadok still went with Gpa Bill and Gma Sandy, so at least a few of us had fun!) Micah was really worried that it would cost thousands of dollars to fix, but luckily it just took some hard, Monday-night-labour. Thank you Micah for vacuum-sucking my mistake.

Good:***We had a lot of fun with Grandpa Bill while he was here. We celebrated Z's birthday, then we showed Gpa around town. We showed him Micah's school where he works as a science teacher, our new home that we're moving into next month, and then took him down to our favorite creek to play. The next day we went and saw some sights we've never seen, such as Silver Reef and Red Cliffs State Park. Then Grandpa treated us to a Golden Corall buffett lunch. They have a chocolate fountain surrounded by strawberries and gummy bears. And they have cotton candy. Grandpa joked that the kids ate 1% lunch and 99% dessert. It was kinda true.
Grandpa bill and his two little grandsons, Odin and Jonah.
Micah and his name placard.
Micah showing the boys his cool science room stuff.
Pretending to be students in Micah's class.
Birthday boy playing in the creek.
Bad:* Our sneaky, mischievous dog, Thunder, has figured how to get out of his fence. We can't keep him in and it's been a daily challenge to run after him and keep him safe. Dogs are a lot of work!
Good:***Our sweet, loveable dog, Brownie gets along well with our cats.

Good:***This boy loves his grandma:

Bad with Good outcomes:* I caught another stomach bug the day after Grandpa Bill left, which left me writhing in pain for an entire day: Cramping, diarrhea, vomiting, and lying miserable in bed-- it always feels like I'm going to die.  As I laid there feeling horrible and sorry for my already uncomfortable, pregnant-self, I finally asked Micah for a Priesthood blessing. He gave me the most beautiful blessing of hope and healing. It really touched my soul. God reminded me to let the light in--to focus on the good things and appreciate the blessings. Immediately afterwards I felt inspired to turn off my mindless TV show, and read an article on Power Of Moms called, "Light in the Tunnel.  Click here to read. It was exactly what I needed to hear in that moment. Sometimes I find myself looking ahead at the light at the end of the tunnel, when I really need to focus on letting the light seep in now. Which is hard to do when you get the stomach flu for the second time in your already-tough-pregnancy, but like the article says, "An answer always comes." Especially if you actively seek the light.


Whelp, that's all for now. I'm glad I got some time to myself to write. It's important to my well-being. Actually, all 5 of us benefit. :)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Daily Beauty Regimen

 One day recently I discovered that I've become a creature of habit when it comes to my daily beauty regimen. I was standing in front of the mirror, doing the same things I do day after day, realizing that I've officially become "set in my ways." It must be a sign of middle age (I just turned a whopping 35)! 
 For example,  I pluck my eyebrows every Wednesday and Saturday and shave my legs and pits every Saturday night. I wash my body with the same body wash, then after the shower I dry my entire body off in the same pattern, then my hair, then I detangle and brush my hair in the same fashion every time, using the same leave-in-conditioner. I lather the same moisturizing lotion onto my face, rub on my regular deodorant, slab on my favorite lip balm, and then moisturize my hands. Lastly, I spritz a lovely blend of essential oils onto my neck and voila-I am done for the day! Oh, and  I brush and floss my teeth twice a day, everyday, and clean and file my nails almost daily. I don't bother much with nail polish because I paint my nails maybe 2-3 times a year when I'm in a funny mood. And I only wear make-up on Sundays when I got to church, or on a fancy date, so I don't bother with that much, either. At night I wash my face with my usual soap, and call it a day.

So basically I'm a minimalist when it comes to daily maintenance and product usage. I'm sure there's a zillion more things I could be doing everyday, and a bazillion more products I could be convinced to try that may increase my health and beauty, but I like to keep it simple. Simply natural. I believe that a little daily dose of sunshine, a wholesome diet, lots of water, daily exercise, and adequate rest is the foundation for a happy, healthy person. 
So, I regret to say that I don't have any phenomenal secrets to staying young and beautiful, but I have found that staying happy and healthy along with some products that I really like, keeps me feeling pretty awesome.

In the shower:
Dr. Bronners Pure Castille, 18-in-one Hemp, Magic (liquid) Soap. It's not tested on animals, certified fair trade, and made with organic oils. Micah and I both use it! We buy it in 32 oz bottles, then squeeze it into a smaller plastic bottle for easier application. We always dilute it because it is so strong, and then one bottle can last 6-9 months at a time. I use it in the shower as a body wash and a facial scrub. I also use it every night to wash my face and neck. It leaves me feeling fresh, tingly, and amazingly clean! My favorite scents are lavender, eucalyptus, and rose water. My husband just recently bought almond, which I am getting used to. It's almost too sweet for my senses, but It still feels really good on my skin. 
**For a good sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner I prefer Melaluca's Sei-Bella. 
I don't have any right now because I've been lazy and cheap and have been using Tre-Semme (which I actually like, except for those darn sulfates), but Melaluca's products are all natural, safe for the environment, and cruelty-free. Note to self: Order some soon. 

After the shower or daily (if I don't get a shower):
I use KISS MY FACE, in Peaches and Cream, as a daily moisturizing lotion on my face. It's all natural, using gentle fruit acids to exfoliate. It's not tested on animals, phthalate free, and no synthetic dyes or colors. It feels soft and creamy on my face, and leaves a refreshing after-scent. I rub it around my eyes, and on other potential wrinkle-forming areas.
My absolute favorite antiperspirant deodorant is Tom's of Maine in Fresh Apricot flavor. Talk about aromatherapy! Every time I put it on I feel instantly calm and happy! It's made with natural fragrances, organic oils, aluminum-free, and not tested on animals. I love this stuff and kinda panicked when I couldn't find it here in Cedar City right away. Luckily I thought to check Wal-mart and found they carried it, even when the local health store didn't. Who knew?
On my lips I apply a mixture of essential oils mixed with beeswax. Right now I am using this Magical salve made by Ho'omana Royal Mana Oil, which we used to purchase at the Hilo Farmers Market. It is made with Hawaiian beeswax plus a blend of peppermint, oregano, teatree, and spearmint essential oils. It feels tingly, cool, and soothing on my perma-chapped-Utah-lips. I'm thinking that when I run out I will have to either make my own, or order more in bulk! This stuff is amazingly addicting to my lips. 

I use a leave-in conditioner to de-tangle my wild mane. My Avon-selling-friend in Hawaii got me hooked on Avon's Damage Repair-3-D Rescue-Leave-in-Treatment.  It claims to repair chemical, thermal, and mechanical damage. It feels amazingly smooth, smells great, and adds a little bounce to my wavy curls. And did you know that Avon doesn't test on animals?  I am almost out and need to order more! I need a new Avon lady! p.s I also use their make-up on those days when I want to feel extra purdy.
I like to spritz a diluted blend of lavender essential oil on my neck everyday. Lavender is soothing, and relaxing. It is known to relive stress, tension, pain, and enhance blood circulation. I also like to add a few drops to a warm bath when I can. Recently my dear friend Melissa dropped off an essential oil blend called Joy that I've been spritzing on my entire body. She brought it over when I was having a hard time in my pregnancy. I love the way it makes me feel-Pure joy every time I take a whiff of it!
As far as toothpaste goes, I rotate through lots of different brands, such as Arm n' Hammer Baking Soda, Tom's of Main Spearmint, or AIM. I wish I could find one that I really liked, felt good about, and could stick with. I have friends that make their own toothpaste, with all natural ingredients, but I haven't felt motivated to take that route, yet. If you have any recommendations of a toothpaste you love, I'd love to hear it!

So that's pretty much it! Don't ask me why I wanted to write this down, but I did. There's so many things out there we can absorb into our bodies! Our skin and hair is so fragile and  delicate and will soak up whatever we put onto it, good or bad! I feel pretty confident in my choices right now, and think I'll probably stick with this regimen for awhile. 

I'm curious to know what your favorite products are that you feel good about using?? Do you have a daily beautifying regimen that you love?

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Three weeks=HUGE difference

It's amazing what can happen in just 3 little weeks. I feel like a new person! The changes we've made in my life have definitely made a difference in how I feel, how I act, and how I get along in the world. I was feeling pretty darn crappy before, and now I have energy, optimism, and enthusiasm. Life is good.

Depression is such a selfish disease. It takes hold of your mind and forces you to think only of yourself. For the past several months I've been dwelling on how miserable I am, and how much happier my life would be if this and that, and so on and so forth, and yadda yadda, could happen for me....when all I needed was to be content in the moment. There's a wise saying from the Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu:

I like living in the present. I like focusing on my family, my current responsibilities, and the important things I am doing right now. It feels good to be able to look at each one of my children and to know that I am here for them, and that there is purpose and meaning in raising them where I am right now. These past few weeks I've been extremely happy to be here in Utah. I've been feeling an overwhelming gratitude to the Lord for leading us back here (even far, far away from one of my favorite and most beautiful places on the planet,Hawaii).  I know that when I am allowed to be at peace in the present, I can glory in all the goodness around me. 

Some things I'm pretty sure have helped lift my depression:

1. Changing my pre-natal vitamins: I have more energy now. I feel lighter, bouncier, and happier. I needed the natural folate and not the synthetic folic acid. Although I haven't done the genetic testing, all symptoms pointed to MTHFR.

2. Lessening the guilt, pressure, and stress in my life: I feel an amazing release of pressure  since our middle child has started Kindergarten. 
Just those three little hours he is away (being entertained and busied by another responsible adult), has helped me calm down immensely. I've realized that with having three children my mind can get three times more cluttered! When just one of them is gone, (and it doesn't matter which one) I immediately feel more peaceful and relaxed. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE each one of them and wouldn't ever want them gone for longer than a few hours at this point, but dang--those few hours help me get centered again to the calm mama I need to be. Furthermore, I'm not sure that moms are meant to do this alone. I certainly can't! I need other wonderful people in our lives to help me on this often challenging journey of motherhood! Which leads me to #3:

3. Having someone here to help me through all these hard transitions: Since Micah's mom has been here to stay, I have felt immensely happier, probably because she is always happy! She has been here to play with the boys, which she always makes time to do. She has been here to babysit and care for the other two, while I helped Odin get used to school. She has been here to talk me through my doubts and fears, and give wonderful motherly advice. She has been our biggest help and blessing and I am so grateful to her! (we get her for a whole month!)
4. Buying a house: We bought a house with large, sunny windows, and a humongous backyard, in a great location that's all above ground! We get to move in at the end of March! I am so excited! I feel a deep sense of peace with our new permanence, and excitement for our futures here.

5. Finding out the gender of our baby: It's a boy!  No doubt about it!
And I'm so happy that we know! Just knowing what to prepare for has me feeling happier and more settled in the future of things. It has also lessened my anxiety and enabled me to live in the present! I know I was hoping for a little girl, but I feel warmth and love for this baby boy already! I am proud to be a mom of ALL boys!
Funny story: When Micah and I came home from the ultrasound we wanted to surprise the boys with the gender of the baby by doing something fun (well, it was my idea as Micah would've been happy just to tell them). So we stopped at the grocery store and bought some blue cupcakes. I wrote on the top of the box, "Boy=blue. Girl=pink," then told them that whatever color cupcakes were in the box, was the sex of the baby.  The boys slowly opened the lid to reveal the color. Jonah was standing right there looking very confused and said very sadly,"But these cupcakes are turquoise..."  We quickly clarified that they are closer to blue and therefore it is in fact, a boy, and not some kind of strange alien baby. Phew!
6. Exercising daily: I gained a lot of weight this time around. In fact, at 22 weeks pregnant, I weigh the same as at the time when I last gave birth! And I have 18 more weeks to go! Yikes. So,  I'm carrying a lot of weight with me and it can be a burden on my mind and body. However, when I get outside everyday to walk, I feel healthy, energetic, and forget that I am so excessively large. Exercising helps me to center my mind and focus on how amazing my body is at growing a human, and not on how big and uncomfortable I am. I like to walk in the sage and juniper hills near our house. We also got a pool pass to our local aquatic center. I take the boys swimming 2-3 times a week, where I get to submerge myself underwater, and feel more like me again. 

7. Serving others: When I am in the service of my fellow beings, I am only in the service of my God. (Mosiah 2:17) When I am helping other people, I feel happier overall, and closer to my Savior. I have been making a point to be more diligent in my callings, and more aware of the needs of those around me. I try to smile more at the grocery store and make a new friend wherever I go. I'm reminded of that quote: 

"Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others, cannot keep it from themselves." James Matthew Barrie


I am also happy with the level of volunteer work I am doing in my community with LLL. There's a lot more I'd like to be doing, but I know my limitations and am keeping it minimal until I have more time and energy. I received five breastfeeding help calls in the first week of March, which was a record for me! I love helping other moms and feel the joy in seeing happy mommys and positive results. 

Most importantly I love serving my family. My little boys need me. They are still so little and love being with their mama so much. When we go to the pool they all hang onto me, crowding their little bodies around me. They want me to play games with them, to be silly with them, and to give them lots of undivided attention. It can be exhausting, but also very flattering. I know they won't want me like this forever, so I try my best to be present in the moment!
Overall, I'd say things are going great! I am looking forward to the future, grateful for the past, and peaceful in the present!

p.s.**I did a baby-stuff inventory in my house and found that we don't have any baby items left! Not even a single onesie, cloth diaper, or baby toy! So with the exception of a few slings and carriers that I was saving for my daughter-in-laws, we are starting from scratch! It's like the first child again! 
So I am having a lot of fun perusing craigslist, the local facebook selling sights, plus the thrift stores and consignment stores for gently used baby items. I bought a bag of baby boy clothes yesterday and came home feeling so excited for our baby to come. Only 18 more weeks to go. Stoked.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Kindergarten for Mama

My first day of Kindergarten was scary. It had been 30 years since I stepped foot in a Kindergarten classroom, and I was nervous as heck about what to expect. 
The first thing I did when I got to the school was go into the office to talk with the secretaries. I had lots of questions that needed immediate answers: Do I pack a lunch? Do I bring an extra set of underwear? Who is the teacher? Is she nice and friendly and understanding? What happens if there's an accident and medical help is needed? What if it's just too big and scary? Can I back out? Can I cancel everything and start again another time? Will you be understanding with my needs?
I was on the verge of tears and feeling so uncertain about the future.

The office ladies gathered around me, their warm, caring faces reassuring, ready to calm my deepest fears. They didn't have fangs or claws like I'd half imagined--they didn't come at me with stacks of frivolous papers or useless worksheets, ready to stuff the latest in common core down my throat. They came with eagerness and excitement for this new journey ahead of me, making me feel that no matter what, they would support me on my path and comfort me when I needed it. 

I went to the Kindergarten classroom feeling more confident. The Kindergarten teacher welcomed me with open arms. Her friendly, caring smile calmed my fears once more. I could tell she had years of experience calming down first-timers, and I was probably one of the worst of them. All I could think about was how strange this all was. For years all I talked about was homeschooling and more homeschooling. I didn't prepare for this! I didn't check out books at the library about what to expect on the first day of school, or what to do in an elementary school classroom. It was always freedom, and creativity, going at our own pace, and doing things on a whim. But here I was in a Kindergarten classroom, ready (or not)to take on this next adventure in life.

I soaked in the classroom around me. It was brightly decorated, covered with artwork and whimsical images made by cute and clever little 5 and 6 year olds. There was a soft carpet on the ground made of squares of rainbow colors. I was invited to sit down on the blue square and join with in the rest of the class. I listened eagerly as the teacher spoke. She was talking about Dr. Seuss, one of our family's favorite authors! His birthday was coming up and she was planning some fun things to do. We would create Cat in the Hat letter books, make a giant Cat in the Hat cut-out, and read Dr. Seuss books in our pajamas. There would even be a special program in the classroom, where Thing 1 and Thing 2 would come in and read stories and do a puppet show. 

This wasn't so bad, I thought. I can do this. I can be a part of Kindergarten and not be scared! After-all, It's only three hours long! There will be new friends to play with, new things to learn, and new fun, activities to try! There will be computer class, playground time, musical assemblies, and interactive games in the gym for P.E.! Kindergarten was starting to sound like a fabulous escape from the mundane! 

****Today started the second week of me and Odin going to Kindergarten. I sat in the corner reading a book, making myself almost invisible. My goal is to gradually disappear as Odin becomes more and more comfortable with it. The first day I sat in a chair next to him, and on the blue square, but I've slowly moved farther and farther away. I can stay as long as I need to, because Grandma is home taking care of the other boys so I can do this. But, pretty soon I will fade completely out of sight and won't be attending Kindergarten any longer. 


But Odin will be going every day. And he will love it! I can already see the eagerness and curiosity in his eyes as he takes it all in. He comes home on a bouncing high of happiness, as he spills out all the fun things he did at school to his family. He is proud of the things he makes and proud to be part of a group of kids his age. He even made a new little friend all his own. I can tell that he feels more independent, and not so shadowed over by his big brother. He is doing his own thing and loving it.

Starting Kindergarten was really scary, but now I know it was the right thing to do.
I've decided not to send my 3 1/2  year old to pre-school, just yet. 
Afterall, I just got used to Kindergarten, I don't know if I'm ready to take on pre-school!

Monday, February 17, 2014

MTHFR and Me

I'm really excited today! I think I might have found some answers to help solve my depression and mood issues during this pregnancy. I also wanted to follow up on my last post so that people wouldn't think I was over here crying in a hole everyday. I'm okay! Answers are coming and I'm happy!
So what is MTHFR?
For starters, I can't take credit for this discovery, as there were many people involved in helping me to see the light of this new information, but I can say that I am choosing to follow this new path. In short, I think I may have a genetic disorder called MTHFR, short for "methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase".
 My brother recently did some genetic testing and what he discovered is that he has a genetic mutation which makes it so his body can't process folic acid. His wife, unfortunately, also has it. Because of these types of mutations, there is an excess of folic acid build-up in the body, which can cause various health problems and illnesses. 
These genetic mutations are common and can cause problems ranging  from depression, anxiety, chronic pain, chronic fatigue, nerve pain, migraines, elevated homocysteine levels, Fibromyalgia, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Alzheimers, Bipolar disorder, Schizophrenia, Parkinson’s, stroke, heart disease, multiple miscarriages, still births, as well as other congenital anomalies (birth defects), and Down’s Syndrome.  
Having adequate levels of folic acid is so important to our bodies overall functioning and health that when we are deficient, it results in a whole lot of problems.  (This lovely lady sums MTHFR up on her blog so nicely!)

For someone who can't process folic acid, such as a pregnant woman taking her daily dose of pre-natals, they'd need to switch to a form of folate that is more bioavailable, such as methylfolate vitamins. Methyl vitamins are a pure form of folate, from what I understand. 

**Deplin and Noova DHA are two methylfolate brands that I know of, so far.

So why do I think I have MTHFR? 

First of all I'm related to my brother, so it's very possible I have it, too. (I need to get tested.) 
Second, from what I've read about pregnant sufferers of MTHFR they can experience depression, fatigue, anger, and anxiety. I match all those symptoms, too, and have struggled with these emotional rollercoasters with my last three pregnancies. 
Lastly, after my sister-in-law led me to read Melanie's blog, I felt in my heart of hearts that God was leading me on the right path to finding answers. Coincidentally Melanie is a mother of all boys, a practicing Mormon, a fun personality, and a mother like me who was searching for answers to her depression. I spent about an hour yesterday reading her blog posts and feeling like I had found my soul-sister!
  All in all, It just doesn't seem plausible to me that I would be doing so awesome, then revert to feeling so down. There seems to be something missing in this equation. Sure there has been some stressful things going on; moving, house fires, adopting animals, first trimester sickness, making new friends, new callings--these are things that are harder than normal, but nothing that should throw me over the edge. At least I don't think they should? I know myself pretty well by now to know when I am normal stressed  and when I am crazy Sally. There is a fine line! 

I am excited to know more about MTHFR, and how taking methyl vitamins can change my life. I plan on switching my pre-natal vitamins as soon as possible, plus take a genetic test to find out for sure. 

I'll let ya'll know the results! It might take a few months, but so worth the wait. Also, I realize that there's no "magic cure" for everything so I will still continue to make changes to keep my stress down and balance up.

So how did I find out about MTHFR?

I have my sister-in-law to thank for turning me down this path towards healing. I was aware that her and my brother were researching MTHFR, and that taking methyl vitamins had helped them both immensely, but I lacked the motivation to look into it myself. My mom even emailed me about it awhile ago and I shrugged it away. It wasn't until my SIL started emailing me more intensely about it yesterday, that Micah and I started researching it ourselves. (Thank you, Gen.) Sometimes it takes a loved one's concern to make you think more seriously. I'm glad she wasn't intimidated to email me and tell me about MTHFR
(By me being an open book, I realize that I can get all kinds of advice---It's nice to be able to have the power of discernment to know which is right for me.)
Also, as it turns out, our homebirth midwife knows a lot about MTHFR. I knew she was meant to be our midwife! She said she had mentioned Deplin to me at our first pre-natal appt. I don't even remember. 

 I would love anyone who has had any experience with MTHFR to please feel free to leave me a comment below or on my fb page. 

Tell me what you know! 
I'd love to hear from you! Maybe you have lots of good advice or maybe we can embark on this journey together! You never know!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

"Life is tough, but so are you"--Pregnancy, homeschooling, and making tough decisions.

We're currently house shopping, car shopping, and school shopping. I know, it's a lot to take in, but sometimes change is inevitable and I am learning to just flow with it and accept the answers as they come.

My favorite new quote going up on the wall is,"Life is tough, but so are you." I stole it from Kid President, who I'm sure stole it from someone else. It's one of those free-for-all sayings that applies to everyone. I'm applying it to me right now because there's a lot of tough stuff coming at me, but I am trying to be tougher. 

We are (crossing fingers) getting approved for a home-loan this month and looking to buy a house. I didn't think I wanted to move again until this baby came out in July, but now I know we must move before this baby comes out in July! I'm so grateful we found this basement apartment right after our house fire, but as I learned before and am realizing again, it's just not healthy for me to live underground. I long for bright windows, and sunlight, and a view of the world above. I long for a window overlooking the yard where my kids are playing, and a chance to see their little, happy faces riding bikes up and down the street. Living downstairs is making me a crazy woman, and believe me, I don't need more crazy right now. So, we are hoping to be in something wonderful by April or May, just in time to unpack, do all my nesting, and then have a baby. (Plus save lots of money on rent and invest in our family's future.)

Second, we need a bigger car to hold our new baby. Right now we have a 5-seater, and 5 people in our family. I've tried to think of clever ways to squeeeeeze the the 6th child in, but none of my ideas were going to work. (stick the 5 year old in the cargo bed??)
But no, we have to buy a bigger car. As much as I despise car shopping, and car payments, and buying new insurance plans, this family is expanding! We thought about getting another VW Bus, which holds 7 passengers, but then decided our VW Bus days were officially over. Waaaaaagh, boo-hoo.  There's just too many bumpy, off-road camping trips, and long road trips we want to do that won't work with an old bus. We need something with 4 wheel drive and full-power-steering. Goodbye forever fun, pink bus days.

Lastly, after much prayer and consideration for everyones happiness, we've decided to sign up Odin for Kindergarten and Jonah for pre-school. They'll start next week. I know it might come as a shock to those that know how strongly I feel about homeschooling, but sometimes change is inevitable, and I'm learning to flow with it....

I'm having a very hard pregnancy right now. The emotional roller coasters and daily struggles to feel grounded and optimistic about life have hit a breaking point. I've struggled with depression as a normal human being, but now that I'm pregnant, it's gotten ten times worse. It feels that everything I've done to conquer and overcome my depression in the past has rewound itself and I'm back to square one.
From what I've researched, depression in pregnancy affects about 20% of pregnant women. It's not just regular hormones acting erratically, causing me to be extraordinarily cranky, eat more chocolate and sleep a ton more.....there's actually a radical change in brain chemistry happening here, which is bringing on mood disorders. Some days I can't get out of bed, and when I finally do, I'm exhausted, on the verge of tears, and already yelling at my children before they've done anything wrong. Many days I find myself feeling extremely anti-social, lonely, angry, and worthless. (Basically, depressed.)
 So, I'm doing all I can to combat it, once again. I'm taking the right things,  and I'm getting help.  I can't do this alone, I realized. I just can't. 

One form of help is coming from my angel mother-in-law, Sandy.
She is truly one of the most wonderful, loving, trusting, and compassionate people I know. She'll be coming up next week to stay with us for a month, to help with all these new transitions. 
First I will need her to stay with Zadok and Jonah while I help Odin transition to Kindergarten, then I'll need her to stay with Zadok some more while I help Jonah get used to his pre-school. 
Several weeks ago I thought perhaps sending Zadok to a private home-school-school several days a week would be helpful. But, it wasn't the right answer because Zadok would've been miserable there. It would have been a form of punishment for him, which wouldn't have be good for any of us. Because of his special needs, I've had to reevaluate my reasons for wanting to send him away. Sure he is having a difficult time at home with his brothers, and in turn I am having a hard time with him, yet he still needs me to be with him. He needs the reassurance that I am always here, and that he is safe. He's always needed that reassurance, and I need to trust that the time will come someday where he'll want to break free--at his own time, at his own pace, and not because I forced him.

Odin and Jonah, on the other hand, will do great in school-- I just know it! Odin has the bubbly, happy, easy-going  personality that will allow him to thrive in any situation, and Jonah is right behind him. So the decision came that it would be best to sign them up instead. 
 I've struggled endlessly with this decision, and have felt the guilt and punishment of a resistant homeschooling mother. The passionate homeschooling mother in me wants to keep my kids out of the rote, government education system,  let them learn and thrive creatively on their own, teach them correct morals and principles from the safety-net of our home, and build a strong, family system based on our own educational values. 

I had to tell her to shut up.

Then I had to dig down deeper and deeper to find the sweet, soft whisperings of the guiding Spirit, gently showing me the path I truly needed: 
"You're not a bad homeschooling mom for sending your kids to school." it said.
"You're not a bad mom for needing this space right now." it spoke again.
"Your children love you and will be happy, but you need to be happy first." It pleaded.

But I want to homeschool all my children, I tried again. I want to enjoy all the wonderful, joyous moments with my kids throughout the day. I want to be there when they make new connections and learn new concepts, and watch their faces light up as they understand. I want to help build a community of homeschool support, and connect with other families in our area. I want to start a co-op, to share my talents and abilities with my children and the world. 

Not right now, it nudged me again. You completely lack the mental capacity and patience to take on these challenges. You can't do this alone. You just can't.

So that is the end of that. Zadok will continue to stay home and the younger two will start on their new journey next week. Perhaps they'll do school just this semester, or maybe they'll start again in the Fall. It's hard to tell. This is one of those stories that will unfold for itself. If there's one thing I've learned, (besides that the world is tough but I'm tougher,) it's that the world is not black and white. There is a  long, beautiful spectrum of color out there, winding it's way through our lives. One day a decision may seem perfect for us and we may start to see in all black and white, but then something happens: Changes occur, prayers are answered, the right people come into our lives, and we suddenly find ourselves tip-toeing carefully on gray, then bordering dark purple, then teetering on the edges of mauve, til we've suddenly reached bright, fluorescent pink. Flourescent pink is where we find our answer: In fact,  maybe it was pink all along, even when I couldn't see past the black and white of my own passionate, made-up mind.

At least that's how I see it. 
Here's hoping all goes well during these new transitions. 
And praying that pink is a tough color on me, as I face the tough decisions of this world.
18 weeks pregnant!