Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Spiritual Discipline Essay

A little over two months ago Power of Moms published another one of my short essays called,"When Prepartum Depression Meets Spiritual Discipline."
I wrote it nearly three years ago when I was pregnant with Malachi and submitted it to be published. I was thrilled when it was accepted and then nothing happened. I waited and waited then finally I decided to inquire about the article just this past February. They responded by saying, "Whoops! So sorry! We lost it somehow when we were making changes with the new editor, however we'd still like to publish it!" Yay! I got thrilled all over again!
So, here it is, better late than never: 
Spiritual Sundays: When Prepartum Depression meets Spiritual Discipline.

Reading this again was a walk down memory lane for me, remembering back to when I was pregnant with Malachi and trying to find answers to my depression episodes. It was  important then and still important now that I take time to nurture myself spiritually. I find that my spiritual cup needs to be filled daily, or I start to deteriorate into negative thought patterns. 
I've also discovered over the years that although my depression gets worse when I'm pregnant, it isn't going to go away. Depression is something I have, just like someone would have diabetes, Hashimotos, arthritis, or any other long-term, chronic condition.

In the past I've tried to convince myself that it (depression) would go away as long as I was: eating all the right foods, getting regular exercise, taking the right vitamins, seeing a therapist consistently, filling my daily spiritual cup, staying away from toxic people, and staying away from negativity that could trigger me, etc, etc...
All of those things are helpful and necessary but the truth is, the only thing that truly helps ME feel emotionally balanced, stable, and normally functioning  everyday is depression medication. Once I was able to recognize this and accept this truth I stopped trying to get off of it all the time, stopped convincing myself I was weak, stopped trying to find other failed ways to heal myself, and let the medication do it's thing. And it's been nothing short of miraculous! 
Depression medication is helping me be the best version of myself, and I'm a believer.
That is all.


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Camping Season 2017 is in full effect!

School's out for summer! 
School got out for my husband and Jonah on May 24th and we went on our first camping excursion of the summer on May 25th thru 27th! We couldn't wait to get out there and camp. Some friends invited us to camp with them at Kolob reservoir, which is somewhere we had never camped before.  It was basically a  large reservoir surrounded by grassy, muddy banks. Here and there people had created camp sights up on small hillsides or directly on the edge of the water where they were fishing and enjoying the views of the lake. The entire lake is surrounded by private property fences so you can't wander too far into the surrounding forested areas. There's also a bouncy dirt road surrounding the circumference of the lake that people can ride their ATV's on or go for little walks around.
It was absolutely gorgeous but not somewhere we would've picked out for ourselves. We usually pick spots that have more of a variety of recreational opportunities like hiking trails or mountains to climb.
But, sometimes it's really good to do something different, especially if it involves great friends that you get to spend time with.
The water was freezing cold--too cold to swim in, but our friends brought some SUP boards to paddle on the surface of the lake with. We also brought a small raft, which turned out to have way to many holes in it because it was left outside all winter. However, Zadok had a blast pumping it up with air, paddling it around the lake, then coming back in when it was nearly deflated to pump it back up again.

Here's a few high lites from our weekend: 
*Roasting s’mores over the campfire
*Saying White Rabbit over and over when smoke got in our eyes
*Malachi pretend-shooting people with a stick while saying “Medium Puuume!” over and over and over. (as opposed to high puuume, which would have hurt too badly)
*Watching Abraham and Odin take 15 minutes to unsuccessfully light a fire
*Odin hiking up into the hill to gather firewood and making the fire second night
*Zadok standing on Micah’s shoulders to rope the hammock rope around a tall tree.
*The stars at 2am! Oh my there were so many gorgeous stars!
*Playing Mad libs with everybody and watching 6 year old Jonah laugh so hard at every single story.
*Malachi always asking,”Where’s Jose?”
*Zadok and Odin doing the SUP by themselves for the first time. Zadok fell into the cold, cold, cold water but was super tough about it.
*Zadok rowing our little raft all over the lake except the raft has little holes in it so he would have to come in and inflate it before he headed out again.
*Me rowing Malachi and Jonah to the other side of the lake and back.
*Micah and I doing the SUP together. Watching Micah have amazing balance and form while he paddles.
*Jose taking the boys out on the SUP, and later Micah taking the boys out.
* Helping Jonah collect bottle caps from around abandoned fire pits.
*Watching Odin and Abraham catch weeds with their fishing poles, using cherries for bait.
*Zadok being a total complete nut ball the whole time.
*Cuddling up next to Malachi to keep us warmer in the tent at night.
*Wondering how Abraham could possibly take a nap in the middle of the day.
*Watching people get stuck in huge potholes their trucks because the puddles are too muddy, and then getting towed out by even larger trucks.
*Malachi calling our tent his “little house” and inviting everyone to come play with him in his “little house”.
*Malachi being obsessed with the lanterns and wanting to carry them around everywhere with him. I had to explain that the sun was our biggest lantern so we didn’t need the little lanterns on during the day.
*Jonah being happy and smiley all day long out in nature!
*Doing nothing most of the day but still having fun because it was so pretty and quiet.
*Watching the tiny ducks dive down for fish. Malachi calling them ducklings.
*Reading scriptures with the Gonzales family.
*Getting out of there Saturday morning before all the crowds took over! 







My favorite thing about camping is unplugging from the rest of the world and taking a vacation from the stress of world news. Right before we left there was a terrorist bombing in Manchester, England. I feel like I can't even read about these things anymore because my heart becomes too broken. I don't understand how people can continue to be so cruel. It's happening more and more frequently and it's sadly, devastatingly, not going to go away anytime soon. 
However, camping for several days really relaxes me and helps me press my personal reset button on the world. When I'm out in nature with the sun shining overhead and the beauty of God's creations surrounding me, I know I can come back with renewed faith and hope in humanity.......or at least feel better that someday all the suffering will be over and we'll be wrapped in the arms of God's love. Sometimes that's the only hope I can hang onto.

All in all, I'm looking forward to an amazing summer of camping. Our plans this year involve 2 1/2 weeks in the Northwest at various campgrounds like Mt. Olympus and the Oregon coast, plus some one-on-one camping trips with our kids. Micah and Z just got back from several days in Great Basin. Next week I am taking J to Zion for one night, then in August Micah is taking O on a 4 day campout/bike riding road trip near Bryce Canyon. Besides that I'm sure there will be some great backyard trampoline camping (Malachi keeps begging me to sleep on the trampoline with him but I keep telling him to wait til it's warmer!)  in between all the road trips. 

Happy Camping!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Toddler #4, Weaned

When I left for Hawaii last month I had still been breastfeeding our 33 month old toddler. I knew that leaving him for a week would probably be the end of things, but I was ready, he was ready, and we were both very ready to move forward and end our nursing relationship. 
It had been several months already where I knew that he was mostly nursing out of habit and for attention. He wasn't interested in nursing, except for when I wasn't playing games with him or reading his favorite books! And I was feeling all touched out, annoyed, and ready to be done, yet avoiding it because weaning is always so hard! So, we kept on breastfeeding. My trip to Hawaii would be the end of it, so I hoped. 

Why is weaning so hard??
First of all there are so many emotions attached to nursing. Breastfeeding Malachi these past two plus years had been such a tremendous bonding experience for me that letting go of that aspect of it feels like losing a little piece of myself. I get so used to using nursing as a tool for comfort and nurturing my babies, that it's hard to let that go and still feel like a good, attentive mother. The guilt associated with weaning is harder than the weaning itself!
Second, there is the risk for mastitis. While I was in Hawaii my breasts got super engorged so I spent the first several days constantly expressing milk to the point of comfort, to avoid pain and possible infection. I've never had to do that before since our last three toddlers weaned because I was pregnant. My milk had dried up naturally and my toddlers had moved on naturally. This weaning felt much more forced and unnatural for me as I still had plenty of milk to give, but no baby to give it to.

After about the fourth day away from Malachi, my breasts stopped hurting, my milk production slowed down, and I was able to finally say "I think we are done!" Meanwhile, back at home, little Malachi was having a fantastic time with his Dad, not thinking about nursing one bit. Micah came up with a bedtime routine that didn't involve breastfeeding (obviously), and was able to get Malachi to sleep each day using his magical Dad powers. Actually, he would read him one children's story then make him listen to out-loud readings from Lord of the Rings until he drifted off to sleep. 
Micah would send me selfie photos of him and Malachi taking naps, which reassured me that his emotional needs were still being met and all was well with this weaning process. My heart needed those photos and I was grateful.

We got back from Hawaii and to our home in Utah at 3am due to the long flight from Oahu to Vegas then the driving time from Vegas to home. I was so exhausted when we arrived, but I'll never forget what Malachi said to me. I walked into our bedroom where he was sleeping in his bed and he woke up to greet me and said so enthusiastically,"Mom, I don't need milkies anymore!" He came up with that all by himself as Micah hadn't said anything to prompt him. 
 I immediately jumped in bed and cuddled my little buddy back to sleep. I couldn't stop kissing his soft head and holding him tightly against me. I missed him so badly and never wanted to let him go again! That first week I was back he was extremely cuddly, wanting me to hold him, hug him, and snuggle with him constantly. It was the cutest thing and I loved it. The first couple days he would ask for milkies out of habit, but I quickly distracted him to something else. I knew that he didn't really want to nurse, he just got so used to asking for it all the time as a way to get attention that he had to learn to play more on his own, get distracted by other fun things, and learn to do other fun things with mom, besides nurse! We talked about him being all done with milkies and how he's such a big boy now and he seemed pretty proud of the fact.

So that's how baby #4 was weaned.Baby #1 nursed for 24 months, baby #2 nursed for 22 months, baby number 3 nursed for 3 1/2 years, and now baby #4 at 33 months. That's a lot of nursing if you add it all together that's a little over ten years, almost non-stop, no bottles. However, It feels really awesome to be done nursing! There's a sense of freedom and autonomy with my body that I haven't felt in a very long time: I'm not hungry all the time. I don't wake up in the middle of the night needing more food to calm my aching stomach. I can leave for hours at a time without worrying about engorgement or emotions getting in the way. I also have tons more energy! I used to have to take naps with my toddler every single day and now I don't. I feel like I should be training for a marathon or something with all this new found energy!
All in all, I loved nursing each one of my babies and wouldn't have done anything differently with the durations or time spent together nursing them. It all goes by way to fast and I will forever cherish those wonderful times with my babies and toddlers. I am so grateful I was able to provide them with comfort, security, nourishment, and love, from the miraculous body God gave me.

I took this photo the first day I was back where I didn't have to nurse him to sleep. Instead, I told him a story about a blueberry muffin family that lived on top of a mountain and had to avoid getting eaten by Ogres and he was fast asleep in no time. Not nursing to sleep was such a crazy, wonderous change from what we had been doing the past 33 months that I snapped this selfie-of-joyous-celebration! Yes! We are done nursing and it feels so good!




Monday, May 15, 2017

Learning lessons: Spring Break on Oahu

I took our two older boys to Oahu over Spring break several weeks ago. I had this idea planted in my head that instead of taking big, huge, family vacations to Hawaii that we couldn't afford right now, I would take two of our kids every couple years. Spring break was our first round of this new plan to get me back to Hawaii more often-to the place I was raised.
I'll have to say, this trip was a good learning experience and one that was necessary for planning or I should say NOT planning, all future trips.

First of all, I didn't like vacationing without the other half of our family. It felt awkward and empty without them. I missed my littler boys like crazy and wanted them to be there with us. I ached for my toddler and couldn't believe I thought I'd be okay for an entire week without him. I realize that every parent is different in this regards. I have friends who are constantly planning trips without their kids and can't wait for the next one so they can get a much needed break. But for me, I can't stand being away from my kids and my heart ached the entire week I was gone. In fact, I had terrible anxiety about leaving him months before I left but hoped I would be distracted enough to have fun once I got there. It sorta kinda worked, except for every time I thought about him, which was like every hour.
I did have lots of fun, however, with my two older boys. It wasn't a bad trip, but I learned that ideally we should all stick together even if that means we will be vacationing at Snow Canyon instead of the North Shore of Oahu.

Second, I learned that when you rent a car you should never, ever, ever go cheap on the full coverage insurance. Get the insurance, no matter the cost! I haven't been in a car accident ever in my life, so I figured 6 days without rental car insurance would be fine. Boy was I wrong, especially on our third day there when I was backing out of a hotel in Waikiki and hit a cement pillar. The entire left side of my 2017 Nissan Versa got scraped up and the fascia came unhinged from the car.
I thought for sure I would pay thousands in car damages, which kinda put a dent in enjoying the rest of our vacation. As I made phone calls to my insurance agency I found out that I actually did have some collision damage, with a $200 deductible. I'm still waiting to hear the final results of my claim. I'm hoping that I don't have to pay out-of-pocket for loss of use fees, which is the fees associated with the rental car company not being able to rent the car out while it was being fixed. 
I could've avoided this entire fiasco if I'd have gotten the full coverage rental car insurance. 
Lesson learned.

Third, I realized that having a grand adventure with my two older boys also required some flexibility. Just because they are the older of the two, doesn't mean they don't have regular kid needs. 
When I was imagining this trip last year it was filled with non-stop fun and excitement and outdoor adventures! We'd be surfing and hiking and swimming and snorkeling NON-STOP!! But in reality we had to stop a lot to eat. My kids got hungry a lot (imagine that!) and I had to feed them on a reasonable food budget in a place that has unreasonable food prices. We had to stop and cook breakfasts, cook lunches, find snacks that weren't too astronomically priced, and find healthy foods, too.
 If It was just me I would've grabbed a manapua at 7-11 and gone and surfed for five hours, but my kids are pickier eaters, eat way more than I do, get tired easier, and require me to help them find foods that will satiate and satisfy.
I remember this one day we stopped at the roadside fruit stand and I let my boys pick out fruits they liked. One got a $5 tiny ziploc bag of sliced watermelon and the other got a $5 tiny ziploc bag of Mango slices and I just about died. Holy expensive, Batman.
I also had to be flexible when one of them got bad chaffing from swimming in the sea and salt water. We drove all the way to my favorite beach to swim and collect shells one morning and he sat on the beach the entire time because he was too sore to walk. Needless to say we didn't stay very long and spent the rest of the day reading, shopping, sightseeing, and trying to figure out ways to prevent chaffing so we could go back to the beach. (lots of Vaseline!!)

The greatest test of my flexibility came when we had an unexpected visitor in our bedroom. We were staying at my friend's house on the beach in Haleiwa. It was beautiful, quiet, and lovely, but as old North Shore houses go, it was also old, dilapidated, and not the Turtle Bay Condos that my boys were used to from previous visits to Oahu. They were overall fine with it, and it was so nice of her to let us stay there, but I could tell that Odin wished we were staying somewhere a little "fancier." 
On our third morning there, my little Odin was laying on his air mattress when suddenly the biggest, creepiest spider came crawling up the curtain next to him. 
Now, I grew up in Hawaii my whole life  and I NEVER saw a spider of this creepiness or magnitude before. It's body was the size of a small fruit and it's big, hairy legs extended out past the size of my hand. 
I would've screamed except for the fact that Odin was already screaming and I needed to stay calm for him. I have never seen Odin so frightened before in his life. He was trembling, crying, blubbering, and needing answers. I immediately told him to go sit in the rental car and stay there while I killed it. Meanwhile Zadok was getting out of the bathroom and asking what was wrong. I told him about the spider and he ran to the rental car as fast as he could without looking back (he's a true arachnophobic).
I made a quick decision to leave the spider alone because, honestly, I didn't want to go near the thing. I also knew that my kids would never satep foot in that house again so I quickly packed up all our bags and left my friend's house on the North Shore.  
 It was pouring rain out, the waves were twenty feet, my boys were both trembling with fear in our rental car, and I never felt more homesick in my life. I wished right then and there I could've transported back to our house in Southern Utah in a heartbeat to be with my husband and two little kids. 
From there we drove into Waikiki to find a hotel room, preferably on a really high up floor away from creepy crawly things, and that's when I scraped up my rental car. 
Awesome sauce. 

But, I don't like to dwell on the negative things. These stories were just to illustrate that sometimes in life we learn things we need to know. I learned a lot about myself that week and especially  my needs and desires regarding visiting Hawaii.
I learned that I don't need to go back to Hawaii as often as I thought. I learned that I don't want to go on vacations without ALL my kids and my husband. I learned that I am flexible and patient when my kids are having a crisis. I learned that paradise comes with a price--if you don't have money to spend in Hawaii or family to take care of you, you don't get very far. I learned that being a tourist in Hawaii isn't as fun as living there. I learned that the safety and welfare of my kids surpasses any and all grand adventures I have planned. I learned that I LOVE living here in Southern Utah and was so happy to come home to my simple, country life.

 We did have lots of fun on Oahu, too! Despite all the hard lessons I learned,  we also had a blast doing fun things you can only do in Hawaii!
We had a spectacular day at the Polynesian Cultural Center with my Dad. The Samoan and Tongan shows are always so entertaining. The night show was amazing--my boys were very impressed with the fire knife dancing. I love doing all the fun stuff there like canoe rides, weaving fish from coconut fronds, and riding the tram around Laie, just like we used to do all the time when we were little kids living in laie.
And hanging out with my Dad is always fun no matter what. We also went to the Jon Hirokawa magic show with my Dad in downtown Waikiki, which was phenomenal! We are still laughing at all the funny jokes and mind-blowing magic tricks.

We had fun picking seashells off of Keiki beach and crashing in the surf at Three Tables. We got shave ice at Matsumotos and connected with some old friends. We had fun swimming at the little beach in front of my friend's house in Haleiwa. I ran on the beach every morning we were there, just like old times. We snorkeled at Hanauma Bay (Sharks Cove is way better but the waves were too big),  I got to surf in Waikiki and caught some really fun waves on a ten foot longboard, I ordered my favorite Saimin at Zippys, got a manapua from 7-11 and got Kalua pig at our PCC dinner. (My boy's favorite food memories are the pancakes at Ihop with Grandpa and the shaved ice.)

Overall, it was a grand adventure and a wonderful time spent with my two oldest boys. They are really fun to hang out with and I'm glad I spent an entire week with them!


PLANE RIDE TO OAHU:

ZIPPYS DINNER STRAIGHT OFF THE PLANE

OUR FIRST MORNING IN HALEIWA



THREE TABLES


MATSUMOTOS SHAVE ICE


HANGING AT OUR CASA

COOKING AT KELLY'S

HALEIWA BEACH





LANIAKEA BEACH

BANYANS AT KAWELA BAY

THE PCC




ME AND MY PA

Fixing Odin's headache with ti leaves and massage






Ala Moana Beach


Jonah's stuffed bear in Waikiki

HANAUMA BAY




MY TEMPORARY HONU TATTOO

HEADING BACK TO UTAH