Monday, December 8, 2014

Sometimes I eat bugs for lunch

I try to have a big pot of something yummy in the fridge to eat all through the week, such as chili, or lentil soup, or potato soup, or Micah's delicious stir-fry. I get really busy during the week and often don't have time to cook something nice for myself. When I don't get enough food I get cranky, shaky, and irritable with my kids. Having a big pot of healthy soup on hand is the perfect thing to help keep me balanced.

Several weeks ago I was having a really hard time getting enough food in. It seemed that every-time I had a chance to prep some veggies or cut some meat, my baby would wake up and need me to hold him or feed him. Or my toddler would climb on me and need some attention. I was living on fishy crackers and apples and it wasn't doing the job. I finally asked my husband to make me a pot of veggie stir fry so I'd have some actual food to eat when life got crazy.
The broccoli harvest from our summer garden was huge this year! In fact, up until three weeks ago we still had a big bag of broccoli in our fridge on the verge of going rotten. I was so grateful when he used up that entire bag of broccoli to whip up the biggest, fullest, pot of veggie stir fry I'd ever seen! Yum! The fishy cracker famine was over!
I scooped up a bowl and immediately started shoving big spoonfuls of stir fry into my mouth. Each bite was something warm, wonderful, and satisfying to my taste-buds! I could feel the bountiful nutrients penetrating my soul and bringing life back into my deprived system. 
Then I stopped. 
Because right then I noticed that along with my freshly cooked broccoli florets, were infestations of freshly cooked broccoli bugs. And not just one or two, but 15-20 little aphids per bite, floating amongst the other vegetable and stir-fry particles.
I don't know how many little bugs I had already eaten, but It was too late-I couldn't take it back: I was a bug-eater.  
It immediately reminded me of the time when I was a little girl in Hawaii and my mom made me a bowl of hot ramen for breakfast. Halfway through the bowl I realized I had been eating boiled, dead maggots with every bite. I was so grossed out that I threw the rest in the trash. However, I didn't dare say anything to my mom because we were very poor and that was all the food my family had that day. I went to school grateful for a maggot-free school lunch. 

I suppose I should have thrown out my husband's veggie stir fry, too. I suppose I should've been thoroughly grossed out, wondering why he didn't wash the broccoli first. I could've yelled at him for feeding me bugs and stomped my feet around the house demanding a re-do! However,  I knew that it wasn't intentional and that he was just busy. When people are busy, they sometimes overlook small details like washing the small bugs off of the broccoli before serving it to their starving spouses. 
So, I didn't throw it out. And although we are not poor, and gratefully we have enough money to buy food for our family, I ate that entire pot of bug-infested stir fry during the week anyways. 

I did it because I am grateful for a husband that will take the time to make me food.
I did it because I love veggie stir-fry and didn't want to see it go to waste.
I did it because it was really delicious, and before I noticed all the critters, I had been thoroughly enjoying it.
I did it because if I closed my eyes and imagined the bugs were all gone, it still tasted the same.
I did it because I've eaten bugs before, when I worked in wilderness therapy, and they didn't taste all that bad.
I did it because I have a good imagination and could easily pretend I was a wild-bush-woman from the Australian outback who eats bugs on a regular basis.
Finally, I did it because I didn't want to be hungry all week while I ran around taking care of my kids.

So yes, I confess that I am a bug eater. 
But not this week because this week I am making chili with beans and corn, from a can.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Kids Welcome Here.

Each week we have my kid's friends over to play at our house! I think it's really fun to watch them interact, be silly, and fight over the huge plate of nachos on the table along with my own children. They all get along so well, these kids! (neighbor kids, church kids, school kids)

I like feeding all the kids! I like it when they all come running into the kitchen after a long, exhausting session on the trampoline looking for food. I cook up big pots of pasta and cover it in cheese sauce. I cut up apple slices and dish out bowls of peanut butter to dip them in. I pour large cups of milk and sometimes throw in a cookie or two. I like keeping my pantry stocked with enough food to feed my kids and their little friends. They don't eat a whole lot and I'm always impressed with the kids that say Thank You. I get after the ones that don't and remind them of their manners. Especially my own kids.


I like having a house-full of laughter and jokes and booby traps! I like looking out my back window to see kids in the trees, kids on the swings, kids in the sand pit, and kids playing with the dogs. I've always wanted a backyard filled with fun things to do for kids! 


I like seeing kids riding their bikes up and down the sidewalks and round and round the cul-de-sac, too. I also like it when the kids come in the house and engage in long games of chess, or dominoes, or marble run. Last week they had a pretty entertaining game of hide and go seek happening here. "Bounce the balls up and down the stairs" and "wizards" are other fun games they play.

I always ask the kids to clean up after themselves when they're done. It's nice to see the kids respect this wish and be mindful of our family's space. I don't allow messes to clutter up our lives, although I'm not too strict! I like the slogan I saw once on someone' family wall:
"Clean enough to be sanitary, messy enough to be happy."

I've always wanted a house where my kid's friends feel right at home. I love having a house-full of children and look forward to having a house-full of teenagers! I want my home to be a place where kids feel welcomed, safe, respected, comfortable, and loved. 


How to pay your water bill before and after kids

Before Kids:
Monday: Receive bill. Open envelope. Decide to pay it early. Write check. Lick stamp. Place in mailbox. Relax. Go on a long bike ride and think about where to eat out for dinner. Vietnamese Pho or Thai Curry will do!

After Kids:
Monday: Think about the bill. Think about it sitting on the kitchen counter in the envelope, with all the other bills, waiting for you to open it.

Tuesday: Open the envelope and stare at the $$$ amount. Did someone leave the hose on again? Was it me? Try to remember where you left your check book last.

Wednesday: Write the check, sign it, and place it in the envelope. Look in your wallet for stamps. Discover that there are none left.

Thursday: Remember that you need more stamps because you actually used the last one to pay the mortgage bill. Drive through at the ATM after school drop-off and before grocery store, and purchase more stamps.

Friday: Lick stamp and place it on the envelope which is still on the kitchen counter. Don't forget to write a return address. Put envelope next to the front door so you won't forget to drop it in the mail box.

Saturday: Before breakfast ask your 8 year old to run the envelope out to the mailbox. Remind him, "Don't forget to raise the flag so the mailman will pick it up."

Sunday: Relax knowing your water bill is payed and there are no more bills due til next month.

Monday: Check the mailbox after lunch and find that the envelope is still in there. Your child forgot to raise the flag on Saturday and the mailman hadn't stopped. Quickly get kids in the car  and rush to the post office and drop the envelope in the blue drop box. Worry that it won't get there on time and you might be charged a late fee. Run to the store to buy stuff for dinner. Dinosaur chicken nuggets will do.

*And that is how it's done!
I sure love this family of mine. Life is definitely different with four kids, but I wouldn't have it any other way. This is the season of my life where I cast aside all of my perfectionism, my high expectations, my lofty ideals, and even sometimes my common sense, and follow my heart completely. It might take me an entire week to pay a bill (or insert any other adult responsibility), but in between all those days and hours is a mom spending time with my kids.
**And  no, I didn't get a late fee. Phew!


Monday, November 17, 2014

Forget yourself and Serve (Combating the Winter Blues with Service)

I got to thinking yesterday,"How can I be happier this winter? It just won't work for me to be moping around like a turd, letting this cold weather take the best from me! I am a strong, positive person with a lot of good to share with the world, so why should I let Old Man Winter beat me down?"
My best inspiration came after I forced myself to church. I wanted to stay home all cozied up in my bed next to the wood burning stove, but I knew I had to go. And while I was sitting in sacrament meeting the thought came to me to make goals of service, even f I didn't feel like it, even if looking outside my pitiful self was the last thing I felt like doing.

Here's 5 ways I felt instantly happier, which I also think will improve my overall mood this coming week:

1. I made a goal to bring a new mom a meal. 
I saw a mom at church with a 4 week old baby. She looked tired and overwhelmed. Along with her 4 week old baby she also has two small children and two foster teenagers. She could definitely use a meal this week, I thought. So I scheduled to bring her family dinner the next day. I instantly felt happier.

2. I made a goal to beautify our nursing lounge.
I went into the mother's nursing lounge at church to feed my baby (because It's quiet in there and easier to feed a baby that squirms and squirts milk everywhere like mine.) It's a small, plain, drab-feeling room with one comfy rocking chair, one broken rocking chair, no changing pad, and many mothers who all want to feed their babies at the same time. So I made a goal to give it a face lift. I put an order in to the Bishop for a new rocker. This week I'm going to find a changing pad, a vase of flowers, a beautiful quote, and a pretty basket for all the extra diapers.  Voila! I felt even happier.

3. I organized a playdate at my house.
Winter can be lonely, so let's all get together! One of my friends on facebook had a great idea to start a winter soup group. Once a week they'll meet at a different persons house to eat warm soup and let their children play. I loved it! So, I planned my first  "Soups, Snacks, and Socializing" play-date at my house this week. I invited my LLL breastfeeding group, and am excited to open my home to others who get just as lonely as me. I feel happy already!

4. I am catching up on thank you's. 
I have so many people do great things for me! I hope I don't take that for granted. Just last week I had a friend give me bags of cute, gently used hand-me-downs for our baby. Another friend ordered me a brand new coffee grinder from Amazon for grinding up all my seeds, when she heard I didn't have one. Another friend watched my kids at a moments notice. Another friend brought me dinner when I was having a rough day. Another friend sent me a real letter in the mail with pictures from Hawaii. My goal this week is to remember to send thank yous, to say thank yous, and to express thank yous however I can. Pay it forward!

5. I made a goal to do my Visiting Teaching. Our church has a wonderful system set in place of ministering to those in need. Each lady in our women's organization is assigned to look after several other ladies each month. Those ladies we're assigned to are women that we pray for, visit regularly, keep up on the latest happenings in their lives, help in times of emergency, sickness, or urgent need, plus we also share a spiritual message each time we visit them. It's a way to make sure that everyone is taken care of, watched over, and loved. My goal this week is to visit my sisters and offer sincere love and service to each of them. I feel happy when I do this each month. 
Learn more about Visiting teaching here. 

I hope I can remember that whenever I get feeling bluesy and sorry for myself, the best way to combat those feelings is to forget myself and help other people. (It works, it really does!) Furthermore, I've worked really hard to overcome real depression-- to lift myself up from the dark places of my soul that couldn't be fixed before no matter what methods I tried. The winter blues are different  to me because, unlike real depression, I can find ways to rise above them and bring light back into my life. I'm sure there will be days when all I want to do is cry and curse the sky, but for the most part I'm going to give this winter my best effort.

I was also reminded of a story I read about our former Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley:
"As a new missionary serving in Preston, England, Elder Gordon B. Hinckley was facing a major trial in his life. He was sick when he arrived in the mission field, and he quickly became discouraged because of the opposition to the missionary work. At a time of deep frustration, Elder Hinckley wrote in a letter to his father that he felt he was wasting his time and his father’s money. A little while later, Elder Hinckley received a reply from his dad. It said, “Dear Gordon, I have your recent letter. I have only one suggestion: forget yourself and go to work.”
Earlier that morning during scripture study, Elder Hinckley had read in the Bible, “Whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it” (Mark 8:35).
“With my father’s letter in hand, I went into our bedroom in the house at 15 Wadham Road, where we lived, and got on my knees and made a pledge with the Lord. I covenanted that I would try to forget myself and lose myself in His service” (Ensign, July 1987, p. 7).
What a wonderful message to remind ourselves to be happier through service. When we covenant with the Lord to serve others, I believe it invites His spirit into our hearts and allows the light to penetrate more deeply, even on the darkest, wintry days.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Suck it up and Smile

I'm not going to pretend that the snow and cold doesn't make me irritable and sad. It just does. It's one of those byproducts of growing up in Hawaii--I crave sunshine, warmth, and hot, humid air, and that's just the truth of it. I suppose if I grew up in Utah I'd welcome and love the change of the seasons and the cold wind on my face. But I don't. I don't love it so much that looking out the window this morning at the new layer of snow covering the ground makes me cry sad tears of resentment towards all things winter.
It snowed last night which is why the ground looks like this in our front yard:
My husband is very thoughtful and made a big fire in the wood stove in our bedroom before we went to sleep. I fell asleep nursing our baby on our bed, all warm, snuggled up and cozy. Falling asleep like that is one of my favorite things in the world. 
 However, all night long I dreamt of Hawaii. I was back living on the North Shore again, in the thick of winter surf season.
A new swell had just arrived, and the waves were really big! I woke up feeling the excitement and energy in the air, knowing that it would be one of those days where everyone greeted the world with a smile! In my dream I was driving down the street checking every surf spot to see what gifts mother nature had brought. The miles of miraculous ocean was filled with surfers, lining the beaches and riding the waves. When I drove past Pipeline I saw someone drop into a thick, glassy barrel, riding it all the way to the shoreline, only to shoot out at the end. Everyone on the beach cheered, whooped, and hollered in excitement!
I could feel the warm sunshine glowing onto my skin and smell the thick, salty sea mist hanging in the air above my head. I was smiling from ear to ear, then I woke up.

I think the hardest thing for me about winter in Utah is that everyone bundles up and closes their doors for months at a time. It's a very lonely feeling for someone who thrives off of sunshine and people energy. Summer is my favorite season because everyone is outside--playing at the parks, swimming in the rivers, or basking in the sunlight at one of the many outdoor concerts or festivals. Then the cold winds start to blow, the white stuff falls from the sky, and it suddenly feels like a desolate jail-cell of abandonment and isolation. 
Ten years ago when I was going to college at BYU-Provo I was determined to fight off the winter blues so I bought a season snowboarding pass at Sundance. I tried to go up and ride the mountain as frequently as possible-to feel the exciting energy of winter. I remember one day in particular where I had just exited the ski lift and was sitting on the side of the mountain clipping my snow boots to my board. The sun was shining, and the snow was sparkling and beautiful. I felt peaceful inside knowing I could do this temporarily. I could almost feel the joy of winter in Utah, knowing this was just a phase: a college experience that would soon be over.

I feel sad and blue this week. I turn to all my happiness tricks, but none of them seem to work--exercise, nature walks  scriptures, prayers, good food, good books, cleaning and organizing, zumba, yoga, friends. But the cold somehow penetrates through all of that, leaving a chunk of melancholy ice, frozen in my tropical island soul.

My kids woke up excited to see the snow this morning. "Look mom, look!! It snowed last night! Yay! I'm going outside to lick it! I'm going outside to eat some! I'm going outside to build a snowman!" they all sang in unison.
I can see the excitement and joyful energy in their eyes. I can feel their happiness and wonder at the changing seasons and the welcoming of all things winter. 

I suck it up and smile.
I can do this. 
I won't let myself cry this morning.
I made this choice and here I am. 
Only four more months til Spring.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Right here, right now. The school update!

      Two weeks ago our four year old decided he was done with pre-school.  It was only 2 1/2 hours a day, but it seemed to fill a little void for the both of us. For him he got to engage in fun activities and get loads of attention from the over-staffed classroom of University students working on their childhood education degrees. For me, I got to have some space to help my eight year old with his homeschooling, plus get some exercise and mental peace time in. My 4 year old talks NON-stop, and has a challenging personality for me, so having just two hours of quiet time was doing wonders for my sanity.
  
       Then one day after a month and 1/2, he just didn't want to go anymore. He started saying things like,"School makes me too sick." or "When I go to school I run out of too much energy."  Pretty soon I was having to bribe him to go, offering special treats when I picked him up like mango smoothies and suckers. But that wasn't working either. It was beginning to stress me out until I realized that it didn't matter anymore if he went or not. He was only four years old. If he wanted to be home with is mother, so be it.

I admit I was upset at first. This arrangement was something I had really hoped would work out.  One day while he was at pre-school I remember running down the bike path with the baby jogger, wind in my hair, and feeling a joyous freedom come over me! I felt so blessed to have this time to myself!
But, it's all done now so I have to move on. Instead of wallowing in my disappointment, I had to shift my paradigm a bit, re-do my daily routine, buy a double jogging stroller, and find the positive in this new arrangement. (It's been three weeks now and I've found the positive.) 
First of all I had been constantly rushed. I had been hurrying to get Odin and Jonah out the door at 9am to drop them off at their schools, then rushing back home to quickly nurse the baby, read scriptures, go jogging, work on stuff with Zadok, then try to squeeze in some extra "me-time" before I had to go pick Jonah up again at 11:30am. I was married to my watch, which is someone I never like to be.

Secondly, I realized that Jonah and I needed more time together, not less time. I had thought that daily pre-school would be a good way for him to get some extra attention while I was preoccupied with the new baby, but I was wrong because he just needed me: To sit on the floor with him. To play with him. To build marble runs and set up the train set with him. To make lunch together and dance in the kitchen with him. To color pictures, cuddle, read books, and watch Dinosaur Train together. To give him as much attention as I gave my older two children when they were his age. 
I realized that just because he was willing to go to pre-school, didn't mean it was the right thing for him to do. So once he decided he was completely done going, I knew it was because he needed more attention from me, more than he needed attention from pre-school. And I needed him, too. We've been bonding more, and through our time spent together I am learning to be more patient, more understanding, and more receptive to his needs. He is a headstrong, contradictory, and often honoree child, but the more we hang out together, the more I can see the positive sides of his tough personality. He needed his Mama to see him in a better light. Don't we all?

We also had to ditch the third grade K12 home school program for Zadok. It was waaaaaay too demanding, overly structured, and stressful on all of us. The daily schedule didn't match our family's learning style, and was giving us all an unhealthy dose of anxiety. Fortunately I was able to send all the curriculum and computer equipment back without any trouble, which was nice. 
Now were back to un-schooling! Zadok is a natural learner and self-directs his own. Right now he's reading like crazy. He's finished the Percy Jackson series, is working on Harry Potter, and reads anything he can find on Dragons and Wizards. His Dad has him working on math everyday. I work on grammar and writing with him. Our daily exercise is hiking the dogs up the hills, or jogging our favorite bike path. Zadok likes being home. He likes to curl up on the couch and read a good book and hang out with his Mama. Nothing wrong with that. I feel really close with my Zadok boy and love spending this time with him.

Lastly, Odin the first grader still loves going to school! He's been using the word "mighty" a lot to describe things. Like, "I need to read this mighty book for my homework!" or "This dinner is mighty good!" I love his fun vocabulary and I also love that he loves going to school so much. He reminds me a lot of myself at this age. I couldn't wait to get out the door in the mornings  to see all my friends and do my mighty school work.
Sometimes I wake up and realize that I don't know what the heck I'm doing raising these four boys. I mean right now I feel like everything is good in the moment, and each child has his needs met, but then I find that I'm terrified of the future! I can't seem to see anything past five years ahead, let alone next month.
*How long can I keep getting up every morning and driving Odin to school before I burn myself out? Will keeping Zadok home-schooled only exacerbate his shyness and anxiety or keep healing him from it? Will Jonah always be so contradictory? Will I kiss the ground on his first day of Kindergarten or miss him like crazy? Do I want to make goals to have them all home-schooled by next year or keep my mind open to sending them all to school? Will baby Malachi be my last baby? Do we want to try for a girl or have I reached my capacity?
Do I want to start thinking about making an extra income to pay off our debts? Can I handle the stress of work and family?

I honestly don't know what I/we/they want. I don't know what's best for everyone. I only seem to know what's best right now. I've been praying for some clarity but the only answer I get is:
Right now is working so just flow with it. Don't worry about what the future will bring because it will take care of itself.
So that's what I'm trying to do--be happy in the moment. Go with the flow. 
I'm happy that I have a wonderful family that I love so much, happy that we have everything we need, and happy that each one of them is thriving in their current situation, right here, right now. 


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Waikiki Moon

One night we went surfing under the bright, full moon. The blaring lights from the beach hotels helped illuminate the night sky. The sea stayed dark and calm, with gentle 2-3 foot sets rolling in. It was just us and the ocean out there; deep, sparkling, and beautiful. I waited a long time for the perfect wave. When it finally came I couldn't tell when the crest would break, as dark clouds covered the sky, casting a shadow over the water. The gray night sky and the gray ocean suddenly blended into one, a sudden movement of synchronistic perfection. I rose to my feet at just the right moment, gliding across the face of the wave, high on adrenaline and glory, just me and the Waikiki moon.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Minivan Floor Costume-Halloween 2014

Looking for a last-minute Halloween costume idea?
It's called, 
"The floor of my minivan."
If you're a mom and you drive a minivan, and you have any children at all, this means you don't have time to actually clean that minivan! And the clutter that builds up on the floor is disgusting, gross, and downright spooky. Hence, the perfect Halloween costume. 

Step 1: Clean out the floor of your minivan
Step 2: Superglue all the crap to your favorite mom sweats
Step 3: Add a shirt to go with it, covered in dirty footprints, grass stains, and crumbs. 


 Happy Halloween!

Here's my  cute li' Pumpkin baby to assist me on Halloween night. I don't have photos of the other 3 boys, yet. Z and O are going to be the same thing as last year (Dark Wizard and Fire Wizard, and J is a tiny Ninja. (Click here for Halloween 2013)
The boys carved watermelon-o-lanterns since we had so many leftover after the frost this year.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

4th Baby Home-Birth in Retrospect

I was digging through some boxes in storage today when I stumbled upon our home-birth kit. When you're planning to give birth at home there are certain supplies you need to have on hand, such a sterile gloves, cord clamps, and a fishing net (the fishing net is for a water birth if you can imagine why.) We weren't able to use some of our supplies because of my hospital transfer, so they've been sitting in my storage closet ever since.
I also found an empty birth certificate that is usually filled out by the midwife and an ink pad for taking prints of baby's little, newborn feet. 
I got sad for a moment imagining again how things could have turned out had the baby's head not turned onto my nerve like it did. I pictured us all relaxing at home while my midwife weighed the baby with a homemade midwife's scale, and then stamped his tiny footprints in ink and then onto the paper. sigh. Now I'll have to stamp our baby's big, 3 month old feet, which will add to the depth of the story, I suppose. 

With every hard experience there is always the retrospection to look forward to- the moments when you get to look back and see all the blessings and meanings behind everything hard that happened to you. 
One blessing I haven't mentioned before is how several weeks before I went into labor my husband and I applied for medical insurance through our state government. We didn't think we would qualify but thought we'd try anyways to help with medical bills for after the baby was born. Our midwife fees were already paid for in cash, so we were covered for the delivery at home, but to our surprise we ended up qualifying, and were granted with 100% coverage of any medical bills for up to one month before baby was born and up to 3 months afterward. You can imagine what a blessing this was when we got the big bill for my hospital stay plus epidural. It was a humungous blessing that we didn't have to go into debt over this. 

Another healing experience I had was when I realized that I had been preparing myself for this hospital transfer all along: 
Several months before I went into labor I had gone through a rough patch in my pregnancy where I decided I wasn't going to homebirth anymore. I began to fear the pain from my last homebirth, and began to second-guess my ability to birth without medication. I wanted to look into birthing in a hospital with an epidural instead, which is something I've never done.  So, one of the first things I did during this emotional crisis was call one of my best friends who recently had an epidural birth. We talked on the phone for a long time as she explained everything about epidurals-The risks, the benefits, the insertion process, the side-effects, the after-effects, and anything else she could think of. It was a very informative, enlightening conversation! However, I cancelled that epidural plan and obviously decided birthing at home was best afterall. However, when I found myself lying in that hospital bed on epidural medication, I felt extremely confident because I knew everything about epidurals. When my body started shaking uncontrollably and I could no longer feel my legs, I wasn't scared because my friend  already told me this would happen.

Lastly, several times in my pregnancy I had dreams of pushing my baby out, weather in day-dreams or real dreams, it didn't matter; whenever I envisioned our baby coming out I was in a large room in a hospital. There were people surrounding me and I could see my baby's small head emerging, full of dark, brown hair. A doctor sat at the foot of my bed waiting to catch my baby's little, newborn body. Then the dream was over.
I pushed these visions away because I knew I needed to envision how I wanted my birth to be, not this other scenario. So instead I would try to picture pushing the baby out in the birthing tub at home. I eventually pushed these other hospital images out of my mind until I was solely focused on the water birth.
It wasn't until weeks after the birth of baby Malachi that I was finally emotionally stable enough to look at the birth pictures my friend Jillian took. When I got to the photos from the hospital I started crying. The images in front of me were the exact ones from my dreams: The same room, the same layout, the same people, the same dark, brown hair emerging. 

This birth was a beautiful reminder that life is full of meaningful experiences, not just coincidental accidents. There is a thread woven throughout all of our life experiences, binding together what we need for divine growth, and enlightened understanding. I truly believe that baby Malachi was going to be born in that hospital no matter what I might have done. This was our destiny and our blessing.
I wrote a letter to our local newspaper to express my gratitude for the hospital's respectful treatment of me and my birth team. They published it in the "Letter to the Editor" section. 
I feel that there can be a lot of misunderstanding and animosity between the home-birthing and hospital-birthing professionals in many communities. My letter was also a wish to express a need to bring together our communities in purpose, tolerance, and appreciation for the good intentions we all have in bringing baby's safely into this world. I still get a lot of positive comments from people around town for writing this letter. Let's just say, I felt inspired!
I am also extremely really grateful for all the people that helped and supported our family for this birth. And every  single day I am so grateful and in love with baby Malachi. 

Feel free to read my letter below or click on the link for the newspaper version.

Appreciation for Valley View Labor and Delivery:

To the Editor:

I was recently a patient at Valley View Medical Center. I transferred to the hospital because of unexpected, severe and debilitating nerve pain during the end of my labor.

For this birth, my husband and I had been anticipating a peaceful home delivery with our home-birth midwife, DyAnna Gordon, CPM. We had previously delivered two of our other children at home with a professional midwife, and were looking forward to a similar experience with this one.

However, the type of nerve pain I began experiencing is uncommon for a normal labor and delivery, which is why I chose to seek pain relief from the nearby hospital, instead of continuing to birth at home. With the full support of my midwife, my husband and my home-birth support team, we made an unexpected arrival at the medical center late Saturday evening, July 19.

Today I wanted to express my sincere and heartfelt gratitude to the staff at Valley View Medical Center for their kind and helpful approach to my unique situation. Their level of care and concern for my comfort and safety was over and beyond what I expected.

The nurses and doctors treated us all with friendliness and respect, as they swiftly moved toward relieving me of the excruciating pain I was in. Shortly after, I was able to give birth to a beautiful, healthy, 10-pound baby boy!

An extra special thank you goes out to Doctor Travis J. Bilanzich, DO, Shawn Kinross, CRNA and Amber Morris, RN. These individuals in particular took extra special good care of me, helping to make my birth experience at the hospital a joyful and happy ending. Thank you for doing what you do so well!

With hundreds of expectant mothers birthing at home in Southern Utah each year, there’s rarely, but occasionally, times when relief or intervention is sought from a local hospital. It’s comforting for me to know that our Cedar City hospital is willing and ready to help in the event that there is an emergency in these unique situations.

I think it’s wonderful to see our home-birth professionals and hospital-birthing professionals working together harmoniously to bring our children safely into the world. I hope that this feeling of friendliness and mutual respect in our community can be passed on for generations of babies to come.

Warmly,

Sally Jackson

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Inner Mama-Bear Roarrrrrs

"Hey you!" she yelled down the bike path towards my eight year old son.
My son didn't respond, but kept walking.
"Hey kid, stop!" she yelled again.
Again my son didn't respond. 
She tried again, this time shouting even louder than before, "Hey stupid kid! Stop walking, so my dog can sniff your dog!"
This time my son heard her and stopped walking. She had a look of pure annoyance on her face as she stomped up to my little boy. She was an older woman, probably in her late fifties. She had shoulder-length gray hair, and was wearing a knee-length jean skirt to walk in. 
She had been following behind him on the bike path for quite sometime, trying to catch up to him, she'd explained. She really wanted their dog's to meet each other by sniffing each other. 
"Why didn't you stop when I called you?" she asked.
"Uh, I don't know," my son replied. "I didn't know you were talking to me."
"Well, who else? You're the only one here, aren't you?," she asked.
My son just looked at her blankly. He isn't one to bother with superfluous questions such as the ones she was now throwing at him.
"What are you doing anyways?"she began again.
"Is this your dog or someone else's?"
"Why didn't you stop when I told you to?"

He finally gave quick, short answers to her questions and then hoped she'd go away.
"I'm walking." 
"It's my dog."
"I didn't hear you."
 She seemed satisfied enough, lingered for a moment longer, letting her little dog sniff our big dog's behind, then continued on her way. 

Every morning after we drop off my 6 year old and my four year old at school, my home-schooled 8 year old and I spend the next hour exercising. Sometimes we take our two dogs hiking up in the hills, or sometimes I jog on the bike path while my 8 year old rides his bike in circles around the baby and I. Today was a beautiful, sunny day, and we chose to both walk the bike path, bringing one of our  Border Collie dogs with us. 
Sometimes I walk at a faster pace than my son, and then wait for him at one of our meeting points. It was there that I was waiting, watching from afar, when that woman approached my son. I couldn't hear what they were saying, so I waited until he got closer to ask him. I could tell something was wrong by the look on his downtrodden face.
"What did that lady say to you?", I asked immediately, figuring something in their dialogue must've caused his change of mood.
"She called me a stupid kid because I wouldn't stop and let her dog sniff my dog."
His voice was soft and sad. His eyes were lowered to the ground. My heart instantly hurt for his hurt feelings.

"I'm so sorry, sweetheart." I gave him a big hug. "Some people are just mean and say the wrong things," I explained. "It was wrong of her to say that to you, but all we can do is ignore her and move on. Some people are just crazy like that."  I felt satisfied with my response and could see that he was feeling better already. I know from experience that there are some very unreasonable, grumpy people out there, who will be cross with you no matter what you do. I've had to let many things go in my life that I could've taken very personally, been very hurt and angered by, but chose not to. Choosing to ignore mean people and walk away takes huge amounts of courage and maturity, in my opinion. 

This is where I wish my story ended.
But, in true Sally fashion, I'm afraid I've got more to add to this situation.

I looked down at my son again. His big, brown, innocent eyes looked back up at me. 
"But why would she call a kid she doesn't even know, stupid?," he asked.
I could suddenly feel my blood starting to boil. I could feel my calm, cool demeanor melt away and be replaced with red, hot, steaming anger. It was starting to seethe over the top of the pan, and I knew I was going to have to say something to that lady. He had a point: why would some strange lady call my son stupid? 
She had no right to say that! In fact, she wasn't going to get away with this!
 My pulse quickened, my heart-rate started soaring. My inner-mama-bear was starting to growl. I looked ahead up the bike path and spotted her 300 yards away. I smiled sweetly at my son and said,"I'm gonna run real fast and catch up with that lady. We need to have a quick chat." 

I had 300 yards to decide what I was going to say. I had 300 yards to sort out my angry feelings and decide how I was going to let this strange woman know that it's actually not okay to call my son stupid. I had 300 yards to keep asking in my head, "What would Jesus do? What would Jesus do? What would Jesus do?" I also had 300 yards to change my mind and turn around, to forget the whole thing. 

My 300 yards ended quickly, and suddenly I was right behind her and her sniffy, little dog, too. I blurted out of nowhere,"You grumpy, old witch! How dare you call my son stupid! How dare you think it's okay to call my child names!"
She looked shocked. I was still fuming. I'm pretty sure there could've been fire coming out of my nostrils. Or claws protracting from my fingers....
"I am not mean!" she responded emphatically. "I am a very nice person!" 
"Yes you are mean! You're the grumpy old hag that called my son stupid! And now you have two choices here: You need to either apologize, or go back into your house and don't come out until you learn to be nice to children!" I responded just as forcefully. I stared her right in the eyes, waiting for her next move.
"Well, I'm sorry." she replied. "But you're no better than me, calling me names like this."
"Well, I'm not a grumpy old witch out to hurt the feelings of an eight year old boy, am I?" I shouted back.
"It doesn't matter who it is," she said back.
"Yes, it does!," I said back.
"No, it doesn't," she said back.
"Yes the hell it does!," I said back, even angrier than before. "You hurt his feelings, and ruined his morning, and it matters to us."

And then we parted ways. I grabbed my son and our dog, and huffed home. She took her scowl and her dog, and huffed home. "What a terrible lady." I said to my son. "Let's make sure we never pass her on the bike path again, if we can help it!"

I went home feeling really terrible. I'm pretty sure I felt more terrible than my son even did in the first place! I'm pretty sure I felt more terrible than If I had just...moved on. Let it go. Ignored her. Walked away. When we set out for a walk that morning I never wanted to make an enemy in my neighborhood, but now I had one.
The inner turmoil I now felt was way worse than the entire situation, and I brought this on myself.  On that day I made a choice to go against my first instinct and then do the one thing I shouldn't have done--lower myself to her level.
True, that lady said a mean and inappropriate thing to my child, but it's my job as the (mature, responsible) parent to teach him how to respond appropriately in these types of situations; because they will happen again. And again. And again. That's just the crazy way of the world.

Since becoming a mother 8 years ago I've discovered an inner-mama-bear I didn't know existed. I try to keep her tame and locked up in her cage, but every once in awhile she escapes with the hungry, ferociousness of a wild animal in late winter. This mama-bear wants to protect her children from the unpredictable cruelness of the world. She wants to Roarrrrr at those who offend her children, and claw at those who may want to hurt her young, baby bears.  
My inner mama-bear is more aggressive at times depending on the level of stresses happening in my life, but that's no excuse for calculated anger and retaliation. 
I am still learning to use my mama-bear instincts as a tool for good. I think as mothers we've been hard wired to naturally want to protect our young, and when the timing is right, our mama-bear jumps to the occasion and saves the day; like the time I turned around to see a large dog about to jump on my child at the park. My instincts kicked in and allowed me to kick the dog back before he pounced. Or the time at the beach when a random kid was throwing sand at my children. My mama bear swept in and made him stop without a second thought. Or the time a kid at the park broke my child's toy, so I spoke with his mother immediately and made certain he replaced it with his own money. You see, mama-bear often just wants to protect, nurture, and make sure her young ones get treated properly in life. 
This other creature that came out that day might have been more of a mama-Mountain lion. They are more calculating in their actions. They carefully sneak up on their offenders and pounce when the timing is right. They aren't only trying to defend their young, but also trying to attack and take-down their victims with a vengeance. There have been many cases of mountain lions pouncing on people without notice in the recent news. I may be part of a growing statistic!

Over the past month we've seen "The Stupid Kid Lady," as my son refers to her, walking on the path at the same time as us. Each time we pass each other, we awkwardly look the other way. Sometimes I pretend to be on my phone. Sometimes I look down and pretend to fuss with the baby. Sometimes we cut across the grass to avoid her completely. Sometimes the collective powers of my inner-wilderness-creatures begin stirring, ready to defend the dickens out of my child once again. But most of all, I feel a knot of regret in my stomach for allowing this women's bad behavior to affect mine. 
I hope I can do better in the future. 

**Has your inner-mama-bear ever come out in a situation like this? How did you handle it and what did you learn from the experience? (tell me I'm not alone!)

Friday, October 10, 2014

So I married a Gardener

My husband plants the vegetables each year and I help harvest and eat them. I think we make a good team because I've never really enjoyed gardening. It's always seemed such a tedious and unpredictable task to me. 
I mean, you take special care to plant these little seeds, acting so carefully to water them and nurture them, and then wait patiently while they may or may not grow well according to a zillion little determining factors: such as early frost, pests, squash bugs, heavy winds, hungry animals, or bad soil. When they don't turn out, it's very disappointing! I've watched my herb plants die a thousand times over. (However, It might be because I'm highly distractible and forget to water them.)

So I'm pleased to say that my husband manages each year to grow these amazing, productive, fruitful gardens of which I am very proud and appreciative of. In fact, he's so very particular about his garden that he won't even let me touch it until it's ready. He maps out where he'll grow each plant, marks off barriers, makes walkways, rakes up the soil, then blesses the earth with seeds.
And voila! Just like that, his garden grows. And grows and grows, until we've got veggies coming out of our ears.
(I actually said that once and my 6 year old looked into my ears for veggies. He took it literally.)

My favorites this year are the pumpkins, tomatoes, zucchinis, broccoli, carrots, and basil.
I LOVE pumpkin everything! Our pumpkins get turned into pies, cookies, muffins, breads, smoothies, and pancakes. And later on, Jack o' Lanterns.
THIS IS ONLY THE FIRST BARREL OF PUMPKINS!
The zucchini most often gets turned into zucchini garlic stir fry. I also put it into smoothies for a nice, smooth texture, and bake it into breads. I like it raw dipped in hummus, too.
The tomatoes get turned into salsa fresca and tomato soups!
BUCKETS AND BUCKETS OF TOMATOES. WE GAVE SO MANY TOMATOES AWAY BECAUSE WE COULDN'T EAT THEM ALL
 The carrots get used in stir frys, salads, and just for PLAIN eatin'. The boys love eating them even more, knowing they helped to clean and scrub them.
ZADOK GIVING THE CARROTS A WASH.
THIS CARROT REMINDS ME OF A LITTLE TEAPOT.
 Finally, my basil gets used in salads, soups, and lasagna. And the broccoli gets steamed and eaten nearly every night with dinner. Next year when we have more time, money, and resources, we're going to can and preserve the vegetables for later. That way, we can enjoy the garden goodness all year long and not let as much go to waste. I see hundreds of quarts of salsa in my future. 
*This year he also grew corn, bell peppers, delacata squash, green beans, sugar peas, several types of lettuce, spinach, and cilantro.

I love vegetables so much that I would marry them, if I wasn't already married to the world's greatest vegetable farmer. Thank you Micah for providing wholesome sustenance for your family. We love our yearly gardens and look forward to many, many more to come.
MICAH MAKES BIG CARROTS.
AND BIG BABIES.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Sometimes you just can't breathe....

Our four year old started doing this thing several months ago where he gets really upset and starts crying and then says that he can't breathe. As four year olds often are, the smallest little irritations can set him off-- perhaps one of his brothers knocks over his lego creation, or someone takes a bite out of his sandwich, or his pancakes are cut the wrong direction, or his mom tells him not to karate chop his brother, and on and on it goes. These episodes often start with hiding in a corner and crying, then escalate into  full-blown panic attacks, where he is arching his head back, stiffening his entire body, and grunting through foaming lips that he can't breathe. My husband and I are used to them by now and know how to deescalate the tantrums, or even better--nip them in the bud before they start! But today he got set off at the wrong place and time where mom and dad couldn't help him: at pre-school.

Our little buddy loves going to pre-school, and absolutely loves his teachers, Cassie and Kayla. I drop him off everyday with the ease and comfort of knowing he's going to have a wonderful time and come home happy! However, today when I walked up to the front of the school to pick him up at the normal time, he was surrounded by four paramedics. My heart dropped through my stomach. I got out of the car and ran over to him as fast as I slowly could, what with carrying a 20 pound 2 month old, sleeping in his car seat. It was all in slow motion. Even though I could see my four year old sitting up, all my worst fears started to surface-Perhaps he had a seizure and will be stricken with seizures the rest of his life! Or he was stung by a bee and went into epileptic shock! Or a psycho kid in his class stabbed him with scissors! But soon enough I found out that he simply got really upset, went into his "I can't breathe" crisis mode, then his teachers called 911.  Phew! I calmed down immediately. I looked him in his big, brown eyes, gave him a huge mommy hug, and felt so much love for my little drama boy. (Who apparently got upset because his teacher had asked him to please try pouring his own water before she could help him pour it. You just never know what will trigger a meltdown...)

Now I'm not saying his tantrums aren't important or real, because they are very important and real to him. In his little mind he probably feels so upset that he feels suffocated beyond reason. By saying "I can't breathe, I can't breathe," over and over again, he is telling us that he needs help coming out of this dark and scary place where his feelings are so vulnerable and unreasonable that he can't make sense of anything! So even though it seems funny and overly-dramatic, I understand his behavior completely. I also understand that it could be very terrifying for his teachers to not be able to help him. The paramedics checked his vitals, gave him a sticker and a pen, and made him feel all extra special.
The worst part for me was that they couldn't get ahold of me or Micah because they didn't have the correct prefixes for our phone numbers. So they sent two policemen to get my husband at his work-place high school. They interrupted his classroom to say,"Your son had an incident at school and you need to come with us." I'm sure his heart dropped, too. By the time Micah showed up, I was still sitting in the grass with a happy, talkative four year old, a sleeping baby, four paramedics, one teacher, and now two policemen. 

All for our little boy who just can't breathe sometimes. 
We love you little Jonah. 
Sometimes I can't breathe, either. 
WEARING BANDAIDS FOR FUN. 



Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Greens for Grandma

 I'm a huge fan of the green breakfast smoothie. Not only because it makes me feel really good to eat vegetables for breakfast, but because it reminds me of my Grandma Lois who lived to be 100.
She used to blend Dandelion greens in water and drink it straight, yo. Not even a sweetener to chase it down with! Now that's hardcore. 
Her other keys to health and longevity were a daily dose of Cod liver oil, sodium-free foods, and only eating meat in the winter. She died in February of 2011. I think about her all the time, mostly because I do a lot of things that remind me of her, like blending green stuff up in the blender and drinking it. Only I add sweetener. My Grandma didn't have Pinterest growing up, but if she did, she might've loved collecting recipes for green smoothies, like me. 
I printed out this Green Smoothie Formula and taped it onto my kitchen cupboard. It's been a lot of fun concocting different smoothie recipes by following this guide: 

You seriously can't go wrong with this! I've thrown some really odd sounding ingredients together in the blender, yet everytime my smoothies come out tasting delicious!
The other day I added:
 2 cups water, a handful of spinach, a handful of zucchini chunks, 1 frozen banana, 1 green pear, 1 Tbs of Peanut butter, 2 Tbs of soy protein powder, 1 Tbs of flax seed, 1 tsp stevia, and 1 tsp vanilla extract. 
I blended til smooth, then found myself in super-smoothie heaven. MMMMmmmmmm.

**This next ones for you, Grandma! Maybe someday I'll even be brave enough to try Dandelion greens.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Progress Happening Here

Sometimes it's hard for me to see the progress of things as we busy ourselves from day to day, week to week. The days start to blend together, as I'm running about trying to meet and balance everyone's wants and needs. (including my own!)

I wake up and make breakfast. I feed the baby. I drive Odin and Jonah to school. I drop them off then use this time to exercise. Baby goes into the jogging stroller, we jog around the loop. Zadok rides his bike alongside me, or stays home and reads. We pick up Jonah from school. We run errands. We go home and make lunch. We play games. We do chores. We read books. We pick up Odin from school. We go to the pool. Then there's Cub Scouts, and friend play dates, church meetings, and park days.
Laundry gets done, dishes stack up, laundry stacks up, and dishes get done. And round and round it goes....
Until in the midst of it all I realize that progress is happening: 

Odin is reading really well! In fact, he's reading entire books when several weeks ago he couldn't really read at all. And little Jonah is happier than he's been in months, as he's become pre-occupied with his fun, new pre-school. And Zadok is growing more social, making new friends and involving himself with Cub Scouts. He made a special new friend at church that he loves to play with each week. And Malachi is starting to Coo and make baby GA-GA-goo-goo noises, and when he smiles he throws his head back and smiles with his entire body. He isn't spitting up as much, either.
And Micah and I are happy. We love being parents. I have lots of activities, meaningful projects, and friends to connect with. My pants are getting a little looser everyday and I am feeling energy come back again. Micah is doing awesome at his job as a science teacher. He can also ride his bike 50 miles at a time without being completely  wiped out afterwards. And our family calendar is full. Our lives are full, and we are making progress. We've been here in Cedar City for one year now since we moved back from Hawaii, and life is not only flowing along, but there is also an overwhelming feeling of happiness and progression as we go.
It's a really good feeling.

Sometimes It's hard for me to see the big picture of what it means to my children to have me for their mother. I can get down on myself and feel like I'm going to miss some very important piece to their childhood-- that perhaps I'm overlooking something essential that will come back to haunt me when they are all grown up and gone: Did I give my middle child enough attention? Did I listen to my children enough while they were telling me stuff? Was I patient enough? Did I teach them correct morals and values and be the example they needed? Did I feed them healthy foods and teach them how to eat intuitively? Did I teach them how to find their path to happiness?

It's so easy to start worrying if I am....mom enough.

Today as I was sitting on the floor in the living room and watching my little children dance, and roll, and jump, and couch hop, and do all the crazy kinesthetic things they do when I sit on the floor, I had a time-freezing moment. It seriously felt like time stood still for a few seconds, and I was in a bubble of perfect awareness. And in my bubble of perfect awareness I saw myself from the eyes of my children. And from the eyes of my children I saw a mother who was enough. 
Because in the eyes of my children, I am the center of their entire Universe. Micah and I are the foundation of their existence! They came into this world with nothing but their bare baby butts, and here they found a mother who loves them. I was able to see today in this vision of absolute truth, how lucky they are to have ME. 

There's progress happening here, and I am a huge, important piece of it.

Thank you God for giving me this sweet reminder. The end.
 HAPPY BABY M, 2 MONTHS OLD
Z READING BOOKS TO HIS LITTLE BROTHERS 
 A SALLY SELFIE, 35 YEARS old AND COUNTING