Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Time Will Tell, part two

When I wrote this last post, about having babies, I guess I just needed to put it out into the Universe that there's some choices in life, that are just plain hard to make. However, in the end I know deep down that making these big decisions almost always occur because we've been inspired to enhance and bless our own lives.

I was really grateful for the comments I got from you all, (public and private,) about what has inspired you to have the children you have, and decide when it is time to get pregnant again. I wanted share some of the thoughts that were shared with me, because they made me HAPPY!:

"It is great to talk to others, but in the end, only you will know because the Lord will help you know that. Being pregnant is hard. Having kids so close together is hard. Having young kids is hard period. But pregnancy passes. The kids do finally grow up. And its all just a part of the journey. And really, no one is better than another for having more or less kids, we all just have different life paths."

"Yes, it is a LOT of work. But they are treasures that will be with you forever."

"A friend of mine always says that her last one is the last one until she changes her mind. And that really helps her."

"My smart mother-in-law had 7, and when people told her she shouldn't have had so many, she says, "Well, which ones would I send back?" And the answer is an overwhelming NONE of them! They all needed to be here!"

"We just take it one kid at a time and he (my husband) trusts me when I get those strong promptings that we need to have another one and when."

"God's little spirits need to come, weather you give birth to them personally, or not. I think you are a pretty good candidate for a good home." (LDS doctrine here)

"If my mind & body can handle it, I would like a big family. I grew up in a small family and i always thought someone else really wanted to be there. Once WE feel that my family is complete, we're done. This decision is between you, your husband and the Lord."

"It's okay to admit that parenting is harder than you expected. Hard work often means bigger rewards!"

"The worst time to decide if you want more kids, is right after you have one. Wait a little while and the answers will come. Take a little break, relax, and enjoy your family.You'll know when and if it's time again."

"Have you thought about how the children we have are not just for our own experience? Perhaps your children need these other siblings in their lives, as well, for their own learning experiences."

"God knows how many kids your gonna have. Don't worry about it. If you need to know, pray."


Thank you, friends, for all your wonderful thoughts to think on. As I've been thinking about this more, I've come to terms with the fact that my last pregnancy was hard for me. Like really hard. In fact, everytime I see a pregnant woman these days,I want to cry, because all these post-traumatic feelings surface again. It wasn't just physically demanding on me, with all my aches, and pains, and miserable uncomfortableness.....It was one of the hardest emotional rides I've ever been on. I experienced ups and downs, daily mood swings, depression in all forms, and serious paranoia. I'm lucky I escaped with any friends at all (and a husband and kids)! This might seem a little mellow dramatic, but then why am I so upset about ever getting pregnant again?
I know friends who've had easy pregnancies and really hard births, and friends who've had easy pregnancies and births, and then really hard babies. I guess we're all given our challenges in life, and we just have to choose what to learn from them, eh?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Wearing Jonah

Look how big our squishy baby has gotten. His little feet used to be tucked in under him, and then one day they just popped out the sides. A true sign of a thriving squisher. Here he is at 4 months:


It seems like just yesterday I was holding him close in his little pouch. I would look down at him and adore him, and oogle over his sweet, chubby knuckles.
Here he is, just a week old.

I also loved to wear him in a wrap when he was just a newborn. There's something about all that snuggly fabric that makes us feel safe together. And warm. And synchronized. Like two little hearts beating as one.
Here we are at 5 weeks old.

He is my traveling buddy. My favorite shopper. My church-halls walker. My nursing-on-the-go hopper. He looks around and takes it all in. He sleeps the best right on Mamas chest. He breathes so naturally, so quietly. He looks so peaceful and aware. So happy-go-lucky. Here he is now, at 4 months:

I kiss his little head and say, "I love you squishy. Don't grow up too fast." But I know my magic words won't work....They always get bigger, darnit!
I love you little buddy. And sometimes when your fussy all day and all you want is held, I put you on my back. And I do dishes, and cook meals, and build snowmen outside with big brothers. But your favorite thing in the world is when I sit down in a chair, and have one-on-one, face-to-face time. Just me and you, smiling and making funny noises at each other. Your the best, Jonah!

(Thanks to friend Erika for the pouch picture and thanks to friend Wendy for the 4 mos Jonah picture. It's nice to have friends with camera skillz)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

100 years-Happy Birthday Grandma!

She made it! My Grandma Lois turns 100 years old today! Everyone who could make it, is over at the Stokes in Oregon today, celebrating the big day! They even made her 100 candles to put on her birthday cake.

I wish I was there! I really, truly love that Grandma of mine! My Grandma Lois was always an abundance of creativity and fun. Whenever we came over to her house, she had boxes and shelves of toys, games, costumes, and tricks! She had a special toy room where the magic of childhood came alive. I remember most fondly, Grandma letting us play with her doll house. She had each little room decorated, and each little person dressed in little clothes. We would play for hours, listening to old records, and letting our imaginations run wild.

One of my favorite things about Grandma is that she is an individual. She never seemed to try to impress anyone. She never cared about having nice, fancy things in her home for people to see. She never cared about looking or acting a certain way. Her focus was always on having fun, and enjoying those unique and unconventional moments that life has to offer. I often wish she was 25 years younger right now, so I could be around her, to pick her brain a little bit longer. But, her memory, eyesight, and energy is fading. She is still happy and full of life, but you know---she's 100, and things start to slow down.

When I went to college in Provo, UT, I was lucky enough to get to live by Grandma for several years. I will always treasure the time I got to spend with her while I was there. We spent many hours talking and getting to know one another. We went to many all-you-can-eat buffets and Senior Center dinners, too! She always had funny jokes and stories to tell me, and I will never forget all the quirky memories we shared. But most importantly, she never let me forget who I am....meaning, I never left her house without her reminding me in some way that I am first and foremost a daughter of God. Her testimony of our Heavenly Father and his Son Jesus Christ were always the most important thing to her in life. I couldn't help but feel a lot more spiritually stronger and confident, after hanging out with my Grandma. Her amazing influence in my life will not be forgotten.

(last time I saw Grandma, June 2009)
My Grandma has a heart of gold, always giving to others, and not asking much for herself. She has lived a wonderful life, and continues to bless those around her. I wish I could be there today to give her 100 hugs and 100 thank yous, for being my grandma.
Here's just a few photos from Grandmas long life.

1913-Grandma Lois, her bunny, and her brother.

1920-Grandma and her siblings, driving in the family car-a model T Ford.

1926-Grandma just graduated from 9th grade

1936--Grandma raised 5 boys! Here she is, being the wonderful Mom that she is!

1958--Beautiful!

1996--Always having fun!Halloween at the Provo Senior Center

2007-shortly after Grandma moved to Oregon to live with the Larry Stokes family

Someday I would like to record all the great stories I have to share about Grandma. There are these moments in my life where I feel her traits, and genetics within me, and I think,"Wow-I am having a Grandma Lois moment right now." It's kind of cool how her influence can live on with her grandchildren. I, for one, am proud of that. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO my Grandma Lois!

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Pizza Pie, Baby!

Is this a giant pizza or a giant baby?

Yes, is both correct. This is a giant pizza and a giant baby.

We ordered a GIANT sized pizza from The Pie,and had leftovers for 3 days. Mmmmmmmm pizza. (Grandpa Bill is here, which means food adventures!)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Holiday Compliments......a Weighty Issue

I learned something very valuable when I spent a year working at an eating disorder treatment center in 2003. I won't go too deep into how me working at an eating disorder treatment center changed my life, but I will tell you what I took away from being in that environment.
First of all, it was an eating disorder treatment facility for girls, ages 12+, but that doesn't mean that eating disorders are limited to girls. Men and young boys are afflicted by eating disorders, too. However, being a girl myself, I could really relate, and became vicariously involved with many of the things being taught there, to those girls seeking treatment at the time.

Many of the girls and women that came into the treatment center had lived their lives under some sort of abuse, weather sexual abuse, physical abuse, or verbal abuse from family or associates around them. Some of the girls had been victims of rape, and molestation, coming in with their tattered and worn self-esteems dragging behind them. Many were sad, hopeless, and discouraged, that life had anything else to offer besides their addiction and their self-loathing. There were some situations that I couldn't barely stand to hear about, and would find myself coming home and bawling in my bed, feeling so sad and hopeless for the fate of humanity.

Eating disorders become a way to numb oneself; to rid oneself of all the feelings of doubt and fear in your life. Just like drugs and alcohol, they are an addictive drug, only they can be hidden really well. Things like obsessive exercising, starving yourself, chronic dieting, cleansing and flushing, binging and purging, obsessing over food every day.....these are just a few signs of an eating disorder. They come in all sorts of varieties and severities, and most of them can be passed off as normal? societal and cultural feelings towards food. However, a victim of an eating disorder knows the misery of waking up each day as a slave to your body, a slave to food. As your thoughts, your words, and your actions, all revolve around what you are going to eat that day, and how it's going to manifest itself in your days' activities, it becomes a discouraging and depressing way to live. Getting professional help is the smartest thing one could do.

I mentioned that many of the girls that came to the center were victims of serious abuse, however, this wasn't true for all of them. (However, each person's subjective experience with what abuse is, should not be undermined.) Some girls that came to the center were simply dragged into the guilt and shame that we see each day as victims of media exposure. For most young girls these days, being thin is a sign of approval. It is validated each time they open a magazine, or watch a TV show, where the most beautiful, popular girls are those who have lost the most weight and are the skinniest. It's true. We can't deny that girls aren't pressured and coerced to obsess over their bodies, so they can fit in, be popular, be successful, be beautiful, find boyfriends/husbands, etc... It's sickening, and all too often it creeps into our lives, as hard as we try to stay away from it all.

One valuable thing I would like to share, which I learned from working with those beautiful, courageous, and amazing girls and women, is this: As we get together with friends and family, sharing hugs, food, and celebrating the holidays, try leaving the weight out of it.
One of the things we naturally want to do when we see our friends and family, is compliment them. We may see our sister, aunt or cousin, who we haven't laid eyes on for years, so, we say things like, "Oh you look good! "You've lost so much weight!" "You look like you didn't even have a baby!" "Your so thin, are you eating?" "Your pants are falling right off you!" "Wow-you look great-are you dieting?" "You look good, you look so thin!"

What seem like harmless compliments to friends and family, can also send serious messages of approval and disapproval to them as well.
One of my roommates in college (who didn't have an ED) shared the story of her aunt, who every time she saw her, would say,"Oh you look so thin! You look gorgeous!" On one occasion, she met up with her aunt for a lunch date, and her aunt didn't say a thing about her weight that time. She says she remembers feeling strangely disappointed and rejected, as if her aunt no longer approved of her because she didn't comment on her weight. See how it can backfire?
If so many women associate being thin with social success and approval, what message are we sending when we comment on someones weight? Although we've all done it, and sometimes it has felt good to hear, it can have serious affects on the way we feel and view ourselves and others. Just ask the women who come to seek professional treatment each day, because they really believe that being thin means being better.

When we see our friends and family these holidays, and we want to show our love and give our compliments, why not say things like, "You are wonderful." "You are a true friend." "Your smile is radiant." "You light up the room when you walk in." "You bring me such happiness to have you in my life." "You are beautiful."

These are the words that can truly lift people up around you, and leave a lasting, and healthy impression on their lives.

I left that job with so many insights into how I can better love myself, love my body, and have a normal perspective of how to view food and eating. It was life-changing, but I need to be reminded from time to time to not let the world teach me otherwise. I want to be an example to those around me, who may be struggling with these issues. I want people to know that when we see others, we should focus on their beauty, their talents, and their ability to love and be loved. And leave the weight out of it.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends and family who love me for who I am.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Time Will Tell.....

I picked up a pamphlet at the health department several months ago. It was created to help mothers determine the answer to that tough question, "Am I ready for another baby?"

The pamphlet asks these thought-provoking questions:
1. Is your partner ready?
2. Do you feel you can afford another child right now?
3. Can your partner handle it emotionally?
4. Do you already feel overwhelmed at the end of the day?
5. Can you give a new baby the attention it deserves?
6. (if you recently had a miscarriage) Have you taken the necessary time you need to grieve?
7. Is your body ready for another pregnancy? (physically capable)
8. How will your children react to another sibling at this time?
9. Will getting pregnant take energy away from being the great mom you want to be right now?
10. Do you feel you have space in your home for another child?

I found this pamphlet to be timely, as I've been thinking about this a lot. After recently birthing our third baby, I found myself asking over and again, "How do people determine how many kids they want?" "When will we know if we are ready for another child?" "Is three going to be it for us?"
It seems families come in all sorts of happy sizes, so how do people know when to stop, or how do they determine it's time to stop? I thought of my own mother who says she tried and tried, but her body quit producing at five kiddos. Would that be me? Would we keep trying and trying until our bodies naturally check out of the cycle?
Then I thought of our friends who don't believe in using birth control, ending up in 7, 8, or 9+ kids. They must have decided ahead of time that they can do this! I also thought of our friends who have decided that 1 or 2 is the right fit for them. They have also found that they are happy with what they have!
So how do we determine what size we want our family to be? How do we determine when we're ready for another one? Are these pamphlet questions really relevant to anyone?

After I looked over these questions from the health department I thought, "Surely we answered NO to some of these before we got pregnant with Jonah, and that didn't stop us." I can't imagine life without our precious Jonah, weather we had money, space, or emotional capability at the time. Getting pregnant with Jonah just felt right. I remember reading this inspirational book about this homeschooling Mama who had 10 kids, and with each one she wasn't sure if she wanted more. But, in the end she determined that sometimes you just have to do what feels right and let God take care of the rest. I feel like that was our case with Jonah. It was horrible timing, and it was really hard, but it all worked out. And now we have a Jonah.
Maybe the best question to ask is, "Do you want another baby?" When I answer that question I can't help but say "YES! Of course I want another baby!"

When I think about becoming pregnant again I feel overwhelmed, stressed, and totally freaked out. However, when I think of not having any more babies, I feel empty, sad, and unfulfilled.

I'm guessing time will tell on this one.

How do you determine how many kids you'll have? Or is this way too personal a question.....

Monday, November 15, 2010

Funny Boy Talk

4 yr old: Moooooooooooooooooooooooooom!!!
Mom: Yes?
4 yr old: Can you use your magic wand to turn me into something?
Mom: Sure. KAZAAAAM! Now your a rabbit.
4 yr old: (whiny voice enter here) Mooooooooooooom! Can you turn me into something with a cool defense mechanism?
Mom: Oh, sorry. KAZAAAM. Your a centipede.
4 yr. old: Thanks. Now watch out, I'm going to sting you!

2 yr old:Mooooooooooooooooooooom!!
Mom: Yes?
2 yr old: (crying hysterically) I don't have any super powers!
Mom: Oh yah? Why not?
2 yr old: Because zadok stole them all and said I couldn't have any.
Mom: Well, here's some more (Mom waves magic hands towards toddler)
2 yr old: Thanks! (runs away with big smile)

4 yr old: Moooooooooooooom!
Mom: Yes?
4 yr old: You told me that if I was good, Heavenly Father would give me all the super powers in the world.
Mom: Hmmmmmm. I don't think I said that.
4 yr old: Yes you did. You and Micah told me that when I was 3.
Mom: Like flying, and shooting fire, and disappearing into thin air, super powers?
4 yr old: Yep! So when do I get them?
(needless to say, we had a funny talk)

2 yr old: I want to be Nacho Libre and fight you.
Mom: Who am I going to be?
2 yr old: you be the skinny guy that gets beat up!

There are some moments of rest: Looking for Waldo, after a long day of boy stuff.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Baby Survival Mechanism

I seriously LOVE our baby. But who doesn't love their baby? The fortunate thing for babies, is that their parents are chemically hardwired to think their baby is the cutest and best baby in the world. I think it's a baby survival mechanism so they won't starve to death or be left all alone. Therefore, my baby is the cutest and best baby in the world.
(don't worry--I'm sure yours is, too)



When Jonah first came out, he cried and screamed for several hours, off and on. We couldn't console him very well, and it was frustrating. We could tell he was angry about something, and no amount of soft words and warm breast would calm him down.
Our midwife thought it was because he experienced some slight birth trauma. The average length of an umbilical cord is 18 inches long, and for some (unknown) reason the cord that connected Jonah and I, was 8 inches. So, squeezing himself out of the birth canal, she noticed that his left shoulder was tucked downwards so the cord wouldn't tear. Turns out, baby Jonah entered the world with a sore shoulder. Poor sad, sore baby.
Now he is 3 1/2 months old. I haven't heard him scream like that, since those first hours he was here. He is the sweetest, quietest, most gentle baby I've ever known. His name means "peaceful dove", and it describes him perfectly. Of course, he's perfectly allowed to scream if he's upset; baby survival mechanism again.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

6 Great Years!

Yesterday we celebrated our 6th year wedding anniversary! This is my present for Micah:

I think he loved it because he wore it all day.

It was fun to remind the kids that this was the exact day we got married, all those 6 years ago. Our eldest child was so excited that he went into his room and wrapped up recycled toy-box gifts, for the entire family. He could feel that this was a special and happy day for us, too. (I thought it was funny and coincidental when he gifted me a rubber chicken, like the one on Micah and I's first date)

So, we celebrated by having a really fun and delightful day with our children! With zero prospects of a babysitter, and a whole day of Micah not working, we decided to go out into the world and do lots of fun things!
We started with a trip to the zoo, to see what the dung beetles were up to.


Then we headed over to this awesome soup and salad buffet called Sweet Tomatoes, where we stuffed our bellies with healthy, wholesome yumminess.

The Pumpkin soup was especially delicious!


After that we all came home, took naps, and rested. The kids actually let me and Micah have some much-needed cuddle and alone time, while they slept and played quietly. This was an anniversary miracle!


And then our 4 yr old took a picture of us.


To top off the last part of the day, we made pizza for dinner, and then went swimming in the pool for desert!
It was a wonderful day....and

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Un-crafting

I wasn't sure for awhile how much I should push crafts on my kids. Our oldest child wasn't showing any interest, and I was feeling guilty because, for me, coming up with creative craft projects isn't exactly my specialty. When I envisioned myself buying things like glitter, felt, beads, and trinkets from the craft store, it totally stressed me out. I figured we'd rather be outside building a mud castle and hiking in the leaves.

Another homeschooling friend I know said she doesn't feel it's necessary to do anything "crafty", unless they really want to, or if it's a life-skill you want your child to learn, like building with hammer and nails, making soap, or sewing a pillowcase. Otherwise, pushing crafts on kids is like making someone learn how to ski who just doesn't like the snow....totally unnecessary for life.

However, over the past few years I have been collecting all these craft supplies and keeping them in my cabinet. Lately I've found that when I nonchalantly put them out on the carpet in the morning, I find my boys hovering over them; cutting, pasting, gluing, glittering, and making all sorts of crafty discoveries. It's really fun to watch them busy their time away, creating art from the core of their imaginations......and I didn't have to push a thing.


watching and nursing while the boys get "crafty"

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Fresh Perspective and a Pink Bus

I woke up this past Wednesday morning really itching for something...but I wasn't sure what. I found out 5 hours later, as I pulled into Cedar City, that it was a spontaneous road trip down south that I needed.

When I started driving I wasn't sure where I was going to stay, or if the bus would even make it. I wasn't sure if our baby could handle being in the car that long. I wasn't sure what I would tell Micah when he called me after work, and found out I threw the kids in the car and drove away for a few days. I also wasn't sure if I was sane?? It was an emotionally-charged, spur of the moment, somewhat stress-full decision I made, all in the course of about 20 minutes. Suddenly I was on the freeway, driving.....and driving...and driving......until I saw that sign that says, "Welcome to Iron County", and realized I was very far away from my house.

As it turns out, I have dear friends who take care of my spontaneous insanity, I have a 34 year old VW bus that refuses to quit, I have a baby that needs to sleep a lot, and a compassionate husband who understands me. Maybe I am not so insane after all.....
Because, I found out a few things about myself on this road trip, which helped me come back with a fresh perspective. And fresh perspectives are what life is made of.

Fresh perspective #1- I really appreciate friends. Sometimes you don't realize what good people you have in your life, until you leave them. I really love and miss the friends we made down there, and hope they each know what amazing impacts they've left on me.
One of our La Leche League Leaders up here says at every meeting,"The wonderful thing about coming to LLL meetings, is that it's one of the only places you can complain about nursing, and no ones going to tell you to wean your baby." I love that she always says that. It is so true. When you are in a safe place, where people understand you and know your heart, then you don't feel bad bitching a little about the things that are important to you, because they understand. And that's what I love about these friends. I can sit there and be myself, and break open the surface of my life, and no one gives me advice. I came back realizing that I need to be a better listener in my life. I need to be a safe place where people can be themselves, and I won't tell them to (metaphorically) wean.

Fresh perspective #2- A little about my religion-
I have been really struggling with going to church lately and questioning my motives. It seems the "day of rest" has turned into a battle with my kids to get them dressed, keep them quiet and happy, and convince them that Primary doesn't kill them. Plus, this new ward seems to be a bunch of dead-beats, with rapid turnover rates, making it impossible to get to know anyone. I've also been struggling with finding time for Spiritual renewal and meditation in my own life. I can't remember the last time Micah and I attended the Temple, or consistently said our prayers together. I was starting to feel like I was drowning in guilt and wishes, that I couldn't live up to all these ideals.
But, post road trip, I came back with a fresh perspective. Don't ask me how. Maybe it was the long silences as my children napped, that allowed me to think and meditate on my life. Perhaps it was meeting up with an old friend who shared some incredible insights about herself that really inspired me. Perhaps it was that talk I had with God, to cut me a little slack for being a slacker. Whatever the combination of things, I came back feeling renewed.
At church today I knew we were all supposed to be there. The Spirit touched me hardcore. I kept thinking over and over that I have to strengthen myself and look for opportunities to serve. I have to strengthen myself, not judge anyone else, or wait for anyone else. I have to remember that this church is made up of millions of individuals, and I am no better nor worse than anyone else. We all come with our own story, and we are all on our own path. (So, when I have to endure one more testimony meeting that is all about Aunt Bertha's kidney transplant, I have to remember that we are all finding our own way.)
There is purpose in attending my meetings, and there is purpose in getting our kids there. After church today I felt an incredible high, and a love for all my brothers and sisters in the ward. I couldn't wait to get my new calling so I could serve them better. I couldn't wait to come back next week to renew my covenants and learn more about the gospel of Christ.
I realized there are going to be times in life where I feel like I'm not living up to my ideals. And that's okay. Our Heavenly Father made us, and he didn't make us perfect. Next time I feel like I am drowning, I need to remind myself that Christ is here to sink a little with me, and then when I'm ready, rise with me to surface again. It's okay to drown a little with Jesus as my buoy. (dude--that should totally be a bumper sticker)

Fresh perspective #3-
I'm a lot like our old, pink VW bus. We are a little eccentric, sometimes show-offy, and like to stand out in a crowd, but we are also simple, reliable, and easy to maintain. We like to go slow, enjoy life, and carry our precious cargo with us. And sometimes when we hit those big, hard, upward hills, we struggle. Except then, when we get to the top, we like to speed down as fast as we can, going, "Weeeeeeehooooooooo! This is fun!! I may be in my thirties, getting a little rusty and old, but I'm going to make it!"

Fresh Perspective #4- See that man standing above, next to old Pinkie? He's the love of my life. As I was driving home all I wanted was to be with him. I missed him. Most days we live in a chaotic heap of laundry, with wild boys bouncing all over the house. Some days we barely get a chance to hug. Some days I yearn for a date night out with this man, and know it's a pipe dream. But, every day I love him, and every day I am so grateful he is mine. Thanks for being my home, wherever that may be.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Boo!

We went to BOO at the ZOO this year for our family Halloween celebration, and it didn't disappoint! I mean, what could be better than running around your favorite place, whilst trick or treating and costume watching, with quick stops to see what the elephants and gorillas are up to? It was a blast!

Costumes were easy this year. The boys changed their minds so many times all month long, that I finally just laid all the toy-room costumes out, and let them pick something right before. They were the happiest, little superhero duo ever!


And this little lion cub here, he slept the whole time in his mei-tai. But I caught a couple shots in the car. Don't you want to squeeze those cheeks?


Here's some more highlites from our Halloween!
Odin asked, "Is that cow a robot?

Are the animals passing out the candy?

Is Mama wearing a costume?


Our "spooky" Halloween decorations this year: Hawaiian lava lava ghosts and jack-o-lanterns. The boys painted them first, before we cut them.


Til next year, Happy Halloween!!!