Thursday, February 26, 2009

Colors are for everyone

A friend asked me today if we had issues with our boys liking "girl colors and things". Her son had received a pink Hello Kitty watch from a happy meal, and had been sporting it on his wrist all day. She was quite seriously trying to think of ways to steal it and throw it away before her husband got home!
So I sat there and thought about it. Hmmmmmmmmmmm....... I thought and thought and thought and thought.

I thought about our hot pink VW bus that my husband drives to work each week. I thought about our cabbage patch kids and how our son likes to carry them around in his baby sling. I thought about our stash of orange, and pink, and red cloth diapers. I thought about my husbands favorite fuchsia Mei-tai. I thought about the time we dressed up Zadok as a girl for Halloween because we didn't have a costume. I thought about the pink jump rope our son picked out at the toy store yesterday, and the pink electric guitar he picked out at the thrift store earlier this week.

I thought about how our boys love dancing to music, wrestling on the bed, outdoor adventures, laughing, painting, baking, playing in the mud, wearing costumes, and choosing for themselves what they like or don't like.

I thought about how pink is perfectly suitable as a man's dress shirt. What's up with that?


Sunday, February 22, 2009

(baby) Food for thought


Stories about breastfeeding bring tears to my eyes. My "New Beginnings" magazine came in the mail this past week and I just read the whole thing today. It is a publication by La Leche League International.
It is filled with warm and happy stories about families who choose to breastfeed, sometimes with difficult challenges. Every story, weather it be a message of hope and encouragement to those who are having a hard time, or just sweet memories of mothers who love their breastfeeding experience, I cry tears of happiness for this wonderful art of caring for our babies.

At an LLL meeting up in Idaho I met a courageous woman who told me the following story:

Several months after she had her baby she got really sick. She became so ill she had to be hospitalized. She was still able to hold and breastfeed her baby until she got so sick she entered into a delirious coma-like condition.
When she woke up 3 days later her mother-in-law was right there to tell her the most amazing thing (I've ever heard.)
For the past 3 days this kindhearted mother-in-law would come into the hospital with the baby and hold her gently up to the woman's breasts to nurse.She would do this every time the baby needed to eat, which was very frequently.
The sick mom wasn't aware of anything going on, but the baby was just so happy to be up close to her mother, drinking her mommies milk.
This mom was really grateful for her family, who supported her in something that could have been an even more difficult experience than it already was.

This story really touched me and I think of it often. Breastfeeding is such an amazing experience. There's so much warmth involved, so much love and dedication, and to be nurturing your baby so close like that is a priceless experience.
I would encourage every mother to try. Even if things get hard, perhaps thinking about this woman's story could remind us how important it truly is.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Would you like stress with that salad? Or bleu cheese?

I had the most stressful "waitressing nightmare" last night.

For those of you that have worked in the restaurant business, you know what I am talking about. Particularly the stress-induced restaurant business, where you are constantly running busy with no breaks, and basically busting butt for hours on end.

My nightmare always starts the same. I am lingering around waiting for customers to show up, filling ice and stacking cups, when all of a sudden the whole place gets slammed. I am running around taking orders, filling up drinks, throwing down appetizers, and seating people at tables. Suddenly I can't keep up. The cooks are backed up, food isn't coming out on time, customers are glaring at me angrily, and I can't ever seem to get any one's orders right.

In my dream last night I was supposed to make Vanilla ice-cream smoothies for these two little boys, but I couldn't. There was no explanation why, I just couldn't do it and it was making me really upset.

I always wake up in a panic, sometimes almost in tears. It takes me a couple moments to realize I am safe in bed with my family, and not on the pinnacle of a breakdown at Pizza Bob's.

My friend still has waitressing nightmares, except she sleep walks through them all. Her husband will find her running all over the house taking orders and mumbling apologies to customers. One night he found her sitting on the couch, pouring herself a cocktail at the end of a rough shift--asleep.

I waitress'ed off and on at this same place for 6 years and it seems, whenever I have excess stress in my life, these nightmares are always here to haunt me.

I've heard that stress can bring up traumatic issues from your past, through your dreams. Was waitressing really that awful? It's kind of funny to think that,yes, i really hated it. And I will never do it again.

Is there "post-traumatic-waitressing-therapy" for these types of things? Or am I doomed to these nightmares forever?


Me spending a Halloween night waitressing at Bob's. October 2001

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Babywearing Beginnings

Babywearing is really a modern term for an age-old tradition. Only now us Westerners are discovering the logic in wearing our babes. And the joy.
Babywearing has become a huge part of our parenting. We wear our babies in carriers to connect with them, to comfort them, to help them sleep, to go for walks, and to get the dishes done.

Many women in the world wear their babies. Just take a look at these beautiful images.
I think this is my favorite. This seems to capture the sense of peace and acceptance in her role as mother/babywearer. Picking tea leaves, just beautiful. This picture is fun. No, I don't consider this babywearing. Possibly baby transporting, like the modern day car-seat baby. Yikes!

You can make your own baby carrier or sling, or buy one. I prefer making my own. It's fun to be crafty, and cheaper, too. Plus making something beautiful to wear your baby in is empowering! Makes me feel like super mom!

I sewed my first Asian Mei-Tai 2 1/2 years ago. I started with a pattern from this sight. Since then I have been experimenting with different fabrics and patterns to make the perfect Mei-tai. Micah has helped me come up with a design for our family that we really like. Here's a couple of my Asian Mei-tais. They are a hybrid of several different kinds:







Stretchy wraps are the easiest to make. All they require is 5 yards of fabric, 30 inches wide. I like a jersey knit-cotton blend because you don't have to sew the edges. Go to the fabric store and look for something that has a vertical stretch, but not horizontal, cut it in half, and you have two wraps. These ones below cost me 10-15 dollars each. Very inexpensive and so comfy for me and baby!
There's more ideas here for wraps.






There is a Do-it-yourself forum on www.thebabywearer.com You can find many pictures and ideas of home-made baby carriers. Get inspired.

Pouches and Ring-slings are not so easy for me to make, yet. I love them, but don't know how to make them. But other people do, so you can go give them your business if you want.

Happy Babywearing!




Odin in a pouch made by lovely Larinda hands.


I took this photo in Bali, Indonesia in 1996. This was the first time I saw someone wear their baby with a piece of cloth. Pretty cool, eh?

We Jacksons also wear our babies because we believe it is really good for them.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Zadok's World of Make-Believe

My husband and I both remember when the world of make-believe started. Our 16 mos old had wanted some juice. We both looked over and saw him with the juice pitcher pouring some pretend juice into a cup, and drinking it. He had discovered the immediate rewards of imagination!

What happened in the following months was pretty spectacular.
I recall him asking me for a toy sword one day. So I pulled out an invisible sword from my pocket and started to fight him. He immediately got upset, crying "No! IIIIIIII wanted the sword!" So I quickly handed him the invisible sword so he could play with it. I remember seeing his face light up as he became the master of this mighty make-believe weapon.

Suddenly our world became so much bigger. When he is hungry for ice-cream we can sit there and eat heaps of it in imaginary bowls, filling our mouths with imaginary mouthfuls of chocolate and strawberry flavors. Imaginary balls are thrown and caught. Imaginary bridges are crossed through imaginary forrests. Imaginary rocket ships are launched into space.We can imagine anything and make it happen.

The best part for me is that it solves a lot of situations where we just don't have what he needs. One day he wanted to go outside and make a snowman but the snow wasn't sticky enough. So we found ourselves sitting on the carpet in the living room, building the biggest, most jolly old snowman we could think of. We were laughing at how silly he looked with such a large carrot for a nose, and never questioning that he was just a pile of air.

Micah and I have really enjoyed watching our son's imagination flourish. Each day he becomes a new character. He wears the name proudly, often demanding that we call him "Willie Wonka, Spiderman, Annikan Skywalker, Robin Hood, Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, or even the Wicked Queen", as he maintains the depth of his character's personality throughout the day. If you accidentally call him Zadok, you will be asked kindly, "Call me Robin Hood."



He also assigns roles. For instance, if he wakes up as Superman, you will most surely be Lois Lane for the duration of the day. And you'd better know your lines, too!
(Oh Superman, save me, save me!) (I'm coming Lois! I'll get those bad guys!)

I still can't believe Zadok is turning 3 years old next month. With all this growing up, I sure hope our world of make-believe can grow with us.

(After all, I can make a pretty impressive, imaginary Tiramisu. Want a bite?)



A few props from around the house enhances our make-believe role-play.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

How does He do that?

I was laughing slightly at my last entry. It seemed as if I had implied that I most often find the answers to life's greatest questions through the latest book on New York Times best seller's list. Although I am deeply enjoying this book, permanence is something I have been struggling with for some time. It is something I have often gone to God in deep prayer, in order to help me find peace with it.

And God always provides my answers. Even providing little moments of inspiration through a popular book. (even if that wasn't the author's intentions in that paragraph about Rumi)

Everyone has a different relationship with God. Mine is one that almost entirely relies on His great love and knowledge to answer all my queries every day. I have had so many experiences in this life that leave me knowing, undoubtedly, that He knows me and ultimately leads me to the right decisions; the happiest place I could be.

It's also inspiring for me to collect universal truth everywhere I go. I believe God has inspired many people to inspire other people all over the world. I have these Aha moments at the strangest, most incongruous times.
Through an unlikely book I'm reading, a conversation with a stranger, a quote in a calendar, a crowded bus ride, or a terrible experience that leads to growth.

It's interesting to see how He intervenes, and when, and through who. I find it exciting to see how He works through other people.

So, we decided last minute to do our weekly grocery shopping Friday night instead of Saturday day, so we could leave our day open for fun. We packed up the kids and went to Smiths. Halfway through the aisles, checking off our list, we realized Odin had wet himself. He had thoroughly soaked his diaper and pants. I quickly grabbed him and ran out towards the car. As the automatic glass doors opened to the dark and raining parking lot, there was a white car blocking the way. An older woman sitting in the car saw me walking towards her and quickly rolled down her window.
She said urgently, "Have you nursed your baby?"
I answered, "Yes." and was thinking "you have no idea......"

She then replied,"We need someones help. My daughter just had a baby on Monday and is having a lot of trouble breastfeeding her. Today has been the most difficult day and she is about to give up!"

I then told her that not only do I nurse my baby, but helping people nurse theirs is what I do.

She looked amazed and shocked. They had prayed to find someone to help, and then drove to the store.
I didn't know whether to laugh or cry at the fate of this circumstance.

Now, for someone who has never breastfed your baby you're probably thinking, "What's the big deal?" It's not like she was dying or needing resuscitation!"

To a mother who wants to nurse or has nursed, the maternal instinct to nurture and feed a new baby can ache and burn like life or death.

I was grateful to be able to help her, and flattered that I was an answer to a prayer.

Thank you God for understanding the urgency of this need, and for answering this mother's prayer.
(And thanks for always answering mine, too.)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Permanence

Permanence used to scare the crap out of me. For instance the time I started college so my dad bought me a brand new computer. I cried for like 3 days because I felt like I was bound to this giant machine forever. And being bound meant being trapped, which meant staying in one place, which meant no spontaneity, which meant boredom, which meant the ultimate death of fun. But I didn't die, in fact it really helped me write term papers.
Then I got engaged. You think the computer scared me? Now I was making a lifetime commitment to normalcy. Luckily I chose to marry a lively and adventurous man, so it all worked out.

And then we had kids. Dum dum dum....The ultimate commitment...Tying me down like the giant computer, only I found myself in demand more frequently than the weekly term paper. This required me to rethink my dreams, and i didn't really know what they were.
Living in the moment just isn't what it used to be when your constantly responsible for the physical and emotional well-being of children. Suddenly I found myself needing a plan, and wanting to be happy in the moment, even when it scared me.

I read in this book about the great Sufi poet and philosopher Rumi who once advised his students to write down the three things they most wanted in life. Rumi warned that if any item on the list clashed with any other item, you are destined for unhappinness. He taught that it was better to live a life of single-pointed focus.

So I made my list.

1. A wonderful and fulfilling marriage
2. To raise my children and enjoy every moment
3. A Christ-centered home to do all of this

I was relived to see that there wasn't any clashing. And maybe I had dreams after all; I just couldn't seem to recognize them because I was too scared to realize that I was already in a happy place. Permanence used to scare me, but it is allowing me to have what I want most.



We put an offer on some land and it was accepted today. Our very own land! Micah has been drawing up the blueprints for our house, and thinking up all the endless possibilities of how we'll make our home a Home. Everything from fruit trees to garden space to solar panels to self-composting toilets to dairy goats to strawbale walls to a place to meditate by a pond. I've been thinking about all the many colors of paint for our walls, a creativity room for special projects, and dreaming of which room we'll give birth to our next baby.

Permanence is not so scary anymore. In fact, it's really FUN.

Looking to the West towards our land. It sits right below those hills farthest away.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Happiness is:

Here's a few things I got a kick out of this past week:

1. My mom called and left me a message saying, "I just went to the library and saw a lady walking with a baby hanging off her breast, nursing! Just thought that would make you happy." Yes, it did make me happy, and I love that she knew it would!

2. Rebekah threw a birthday party for me. My friends came bearing gifts of artichokes, seeds for bread-making, a recycled cardboard card, and pictures their kids drew. I am grateful no one felt compelled to spoil me with fancy perfumes or something. Sweet hippie friends......

3. My husband took me out on a date Friday night. Just me and him gazing into each other's eyes over some grub. He grabbed me and kissed me in the parking lot and made me feel like the most important person in the world.

4. I went to the thrift store to look for some tunnels or a tent for the kids to play in; something novel to keep them busy while we left them on our date. They didn't have anything like that, however, we did meet this mama with her new baby in a wrap. We followed her to her house where she gave us some toy tunnels. And now we are new friends.
Isn't life full of unexpected surprises?

5. I went for a walk on SUU campus a couple weeks ago. Student life was bustling as usual. I saw a girl walking to class with her friend, and for some reason she stood out to me. Then today as I was driving I saw someone standing on the side of the icy road with two bags of luggage. It was her. So I gave her a ride home. She was extremely grateful because she was stranded at the shuttle drop-off. I think I was meant to remember her face so I could make her day happier.
It was a good feeling.