Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Human Touch



Zadok holding his baby close.


A hug can change an entire day. At least for me. When my little Zadok comes running up to me with a hug, I am the happiest mom alive. When Micah gets home from 4 days at Redcliff all I want from him right away, is a big husband hug. I think as humans we need to feel the warmth of human touch. It gives a sense of love, security, and belonging, that can't be experienced through any other means.
After carrying a baby in your womb for 9 months and experiencing that closeness of human touch,(you can't get much closer than a baby inside you, right?) Well, I can't imagine not wanting to continue that closeness once they get out. Feeling the warmth of a brand new baby on your face or chest, or lying next to you in bed, is one of the sweetest memories I possess. The baby smell, the small inhales and exhales of breath, the tiny heartbeat.....it is a closeness that parents cherish. As a brand new little person coming into this world for the first time, I can't imagine wanting to be anywhere else but in the safety and security of my mother or father's arms. It's a loving, mutual exchange that both need to feel. The warmth of human touch.

Everywhere I go I see devices designed to separate babies from parents. Devices invented out of convenience and for a profit, not to bring about closeness and
interaction. One such device is the plastic car seat. Although a handy invention to keep babies safe while driving,or if your baby is sleeping and not to be disturbed, or if it's blizzarding outside and you have to protect their face from the rock hard hail and snow falling down. However, these contraptions have unfortunately become overused and abused.
For many people, carrying a baby in their arms just isn't an option anymore. I've seen babies fed, rocked, lugged around, and left alone, all in the confinement of their car seat. I've seen babies' alert and active, sitting in their car seat for the duration of a church meeting. I've seen babies left at the bottom of a shopping cart with stacks of groceries piled up around them.I've also seen parents limping along with difficulty as they carry this cumbersome load, sometimes for long durations. And all the while babies' little head is bouncing around as he stares blankly at the ceiling above.
At a recent parenting conference Dr. Robert Sears (renown pediatrician) said, "People are raising car seats these days, not babies." The whole room erupted with applause. I was grateful to look around and see other concerned parents like me. He also said the first thing he does when a baby is brought to his office is get it out of that car seat! Simply because it may be the only human interaction baby gets all day.

Babies need to be held, loved, cuddled, just like you and I. They need to see the world around them, which helps them learn and grow intellectually. They need to have human touch and interaction, which helps them grow emotionally.

We live in a busy world, lets not forget our sweet babies in the car seat.

A wonderful article to read about this subject: http://backpack-baby.com/mothering.aspx

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Need money to Travel

"The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less."

Here's another "Peaceful Warrior" Reminder:
Traveling is something I truly love. However, we just haven't had any extra money the past few years with Micah getting through college and us starting a family. Life before kids, I visited such places as Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Tahiti, Mexico, and various states around the U.S. I have such sweet memories of diving into new cultures, trying new foods, and meeting amazing people on my little adventures. I miss it and I miss the fresh perspective that comes with it when you get home.

Micah has been to Europe, Australia, and the Phillippines. (well, he served a mission in the ladder) But alas we have let our passports expire with no plans to travel in the near future. I haven't even been back to Hawaii in 2 1/2 years!
But wait! We just so happen to live in one of the most beautiful, versatile deserts on the planet. Within 100 miles we have national parks with cascading waterfalls, rushing rivers, massive mountains, and breathtaking views. People come from all over the world to visit here! I am grateful for the opportunity we've had to explore these beautiful places and make them our home.
Around every corner a new adventure awaits with our kids and our meager income.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas


Just wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas. I will be sleeping comfortably tonight on my new memory-foam mattress, thank you Micah. :)
Hope everyone has fun, and your house is as crazy-Christmas-messy as mine is!


Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker with our new lightsabers.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Spirit of Christ (mas)

Leaving a friend's house yesterday we had been talking about crazy Utah Mormon culture. Yes, it is a bit backwards and weird, and if your not LDS, it can be overwhelming. As a Mormon, not from Utah, I feel I am lucky. I have been able to clearly distinguish my true, religious and spiritual beliefs from what appears to be a mainstream culture full of social expectations, here in Utah. It is nice to have that distinction, and I believe it helps me retain my individuality, and helps me grasp what is truly sacred and special to me about being LDS.
Feeling a little saddened by the conversation, I kept thinking, "Is it really all that bad here? Are people really all that crazy? Are Utah Mormons really a threat to society and individuality?"
I stopped at the local grocery market to buy our Christmas dinner. It was packed. Hordes of people doing their holiday food shopping, and last minute details. As I was rounding the corner by the produce I noticed a large group of people running around the store. There was a lot of commotion and I saw men and women with long lists, arms filled with cool whip, applesauce, and green beans! They were yelling at each other to grab "5 more boxes of oranges! Six more bags of potatoes! We need another ham!"
At first I was annoyed at their loudness, then I heard someone ask, "What's all this for?" And one of the men with the lists answered back, "We're feeding 20 needy families tonight. We're dropping boxes full of food at houses and at the shelter." And last he added, "It's a Ward effort."
Almost instantly my eyes filled with tears. I quickly turned a corner so no one could see. I cried my little heart out. I felt the Spirit of Christ so powerfully, and all I could do was stand there and think that living in a town full of Christians isn't such a bad thing. I was grateful for this experience. It touched me deeply and made me want to be a little less judgmental, a little less confused, a little more like Christ.

I Just wanted to wish a Merry Christmas to all my wonderful friends and family. I hope each person gets to experience the Spirit of Christmas and what it means to them.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Stokes' Christmas Card Game


The Stokes' kids-ready for another round of the Christmas Card Game.


Save your Christmas Cards every year and you will have a fun family tradition. I have fond memories of playing the "Christmas Card Game" at Grandma Lois's house, and hope to play every year with my family now. Dad just reminded me of all the rules, so here they are if you forgot, or if you want to start playing!

Players: 1-10 (or more if you want a really long game)
Materials: leftover Christmas Cards from friends and family, all shapes and sizes.
Objective: be the first person to get rid of all your cards.
Rules:
Each person gets 10 cards.
Decide who goes first.
The first person lays a card down in the middle and names an object. (ex: Christmas tree, snowy pond, a frog, baby Jesus, red ornament, the word "Noel").

Then person to the left looks through their cards to see if they have it.If the person to the left has it, then that player puts down his or her card in the middle, and names an object on it.

If the person to the left doesn't have it, then the play continues around, until it reaches the original namer. However, If someone has the object, then they pick a new object, and get to release one of their cards, and pick something new on that card.

If it comes back to the original namer and he doesn't have the object, then he names something new on the card. And round and round it goes.

First person to get rid of all their cards, Wins.
You can keep playing until everyone is out (except the last person, the LOSER.)

Christmas Cards tips from Bill Stokes:

Smart players will name something on the card that they notice was on one of their other cards. Also, naming really unique things that the others might not have is an advantage. E.g., if you notice that two of your cards have elves with green slippers, you would say "an elf with green slippers" instead of "an elf."

A 10 card game is a long game. You can shorten a game by dealing out less cards. Also, it's polite not to pour over your cards to see whats on them when it is your turn to name an object. You should do that when it's someone Else's turn.

A real good player will have looked at their cards and see where they can win the game by placing one card after another. They have their cards lined up in their hand where an object on one card will lead to an object on the next card which will lead to an object on the next card, etc.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Proj-ing out

















We'd call it Proj-ing out, back in high school when you'd just spend the evening in your room working on some project, zoning out. "So whatdja do last night?" "Oh, I was just proj-ing out in my room, listening to music and stuff."
I guess I have been proj-ing out more than normal lately and it's been really fun. That's one thing I do love about the snow. You have to be inside most of the time--proj-ing out. :)

So here's whats been keeping me up late at night:
1. Wrap around skirts. Three yards of fabric and an easy-to-follow pattern. Love em!
2. Ornaments with Zadok, out of popsicle stix, toll paint, glitter, and stars.
3. Forty home-made bean bags for kids spending the holidays at the hospital.
4. Sewing hula wraps for the "activity days" girls to wear at our Hukilau performance.
5. Perfecting my wholesome-homemade bread recipe. (adding a little soy flour is Mmmmmm)
6. Sewing a stocking for Odin
7. Mei-tai's for Leilani, Hilary, and Andrea

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Peaceful Warrior


Odin being a peaceful warrior in his 18 gallon bucket bath.

"The Way of the Peaceful Warrior" is a book I can read again and again and feel inspired every time. I read it for the first time 13 years ago and it still speaks to me these truths that I always need to hear. One of my favorite quotes from said book is,
"The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less."

So each week I think I will post a reminder to myself of how I have been able to develop that capacity in my life. The concept of "less" has helped me immensely to keep things simple and flexible; To not worry about money, to enjoy the small pleasures, to be at home with my kids, to embrace the present.

Peaceful warrior reminder #1
: We may not have a bathtub in our apartment, but our rent is cheap and we have a very wonderful, large garden in the backyard to grow our own vegetables.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Endorphins?

I am not a Gym kind of girl. In fact I belonged to the Gym once and I still have uncomfortable flashbacks of sweaty old men pumping iron, whilst glancing in the mirror at their growing bi-ceps. Or un-naturally orange women who are there 3 times a day obsessing over their tans and figures. Not fun for me.
I know the Gym isn't all bad. There's those high-energy aerobics classes, the pools and the saunas. But given a choice I would much rather be outside running up a hill with the fresh wind in my hair, or swimming in a lake. In fact running up the big hill in Cedar City is exactly what I've been doing every day, pushing my boys in the double jogger. It has been awesome. Until it snowed.

So whats a girl to do? How do I get those elated feelings, those natural highs, those endorphins I need, in this snowy city? How do I get through this Winter without getting the blues?

So I called the Gym. I made an appointment and went to check it out. The equipment and aerobics classes greeted me like an old friend. Afterall, I used to work out in Gyms in my single days, and I knew just what to do. I got excited thinking about jumping up and down to music again.
But this time I wasn't walking in alone. I had my precious kids in tow. The big, muscly, manager said hello, and immediately asked if I had any questions. "Yes I have questions", I answered eagerly.
"Is your day-care state certified? Are your staff trained in infant and child CPR? Do you clean and sanitize the toys regularly? Do you allow people to carelessly drop off their sick kids? Do you let the kids cry or do you go get their parents? How many staff are in here at all times with the kids? How do you handle behavioural problems? Does the day-care staff interact with the kids or just watch them? Have you ever had any serious incidents I should be concerned about in this day-care?"

Big, muscly manager answered all my questions just as eagerly, assuring me that my kids will love Gym day-care. "It will improve their socialization," he says. Yah right. I still felt really uneasy about leaving my kids in there. Call it my mommy heart, call it my gut instinct. We played in the day-care for a few minutes, then left. I drove home thinking that I would just like to get some endorphins, not be a mom who questions everything. But I am a mom who questions everything.
So I guess I'll go home and do an aerobics video, content with boys playing in the other room. Until the snow melts, of course.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Popcorn Popping



Popcorn is probably one of my favorite hidden treasures. What I mean is that I like it, but I don't always crave it, or pine for it. Yet, when I have it, it's always enjoyable and I can eat a whole lot of it. Especially all buttery, or the best is with seaweed and rice crackers like we have back in Hawaii. MMMMmmmmmm.
So I discovered one day that popcorn is best enjoyed eaten with chopsticks. I think you should try it. Here's the reasons why:
1. Your hands don't get greasy
2. You eat slower so your popcorn lasts longer
3. If sharing, you don't transfer germs to all your friends
4. It's fun to eat popcorn with chopsticks
5. You could start a trend in your neighborhood

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Sallyseashell Update

Hey it's me, Sally. I used to be Stokes, now Jackson. It dawned on me the other day that I am reaching 30 years and there are many people in my life who barely know me. Weather you are a family member or a long-time friend, don't you think it's high time we caught up?
This blog is my way of saying, "Let's sit down and talk story, eh?"

Well, to update you with the latest on my life, I've still got brown, multi-colored, foofy hair, and brown eyes. I wear 2 rings consistently; my wedding ring and my CTR ring. I have lots of scars from surfing and bike crashes, I'm pretty sure my Uterus is bigger than it was before, I shave my legs every 3-6 months when I remember, my skin is turning pretty white from less sun exposure, but my face is still tan, as are my arms. I always have a baby carrier wrapped around me, my eyebrows have never fully recovered from when I partially shaved them in the 8th grade, I get high off long-distance running, I have a baby tooth that never fell out, i wear dangly earings to match my outfits, I prefer cooking wholesome foods with lots of grains and veggies, but I can't say no to Taco Bell. I eat my fingernails, I have recurring dreams about humpback whales, I have never dyed my hair, I love sewing projects and breastfeeding advocacy, and I feel prettiest when I dress up for church.

I have accumulated a lot of opinions in my 30 years. You'll hear some of em. You may not agree with them all, but I trust you'll still like me anyways.

I am in love with my husband Micah. We like to sit on the couch, and crack each others toes, and talk about someday owning dairy goats. He carves spoons out of wood and cooks delicious yams.

I am a mom. I believe in being gentle with my children and teaching them kindly. We practice Attachment Parenting in our home because it feels right. We want to nurture strong connections with our children. Sometimes it's not the easiest choice, but it has the greatest outcome for ourselves and our kids. It's those sleepless moments at night when children are snuggling up to me and my breasts are being emptied of milk, that I feel the most human. Being a mother is my greatest joy and biggest focus.

I live each day with my heart towards God. I believe He alone brings goodness into life. I am a Latter Day Saint. I don't debate God's plan. It's real. It's true. It's simple. It keeps me grounded.

I don't claim to have a perfect life, ever. I only claim that I am trying each day to do better than yesterday. I have strengths and I have weaknesses. I have joys and I have pain. I have nice days and I have grouchy days. I have beliefs and I have doubts. I have cravings for pumpkin ice-cream a lot.

I hope this blog provides me with an outlet for sharing what's important in my life with those who care. I probably won't write too much about what's happening at home. That's what my personal journal is for.
This blog is for me, for funsies. It's cheaper than therapy.
Mostly, I really hope you walk away saying, "So that's the Sally I've known all these years."