Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Fulfilling Work


It surprises me sometimes how immensely fulfilling it is to be a stay-at-home Mom. I feel so very blessed that I get to stay home to raise our boys, and grateful that this is something Micah and I both decided before having children.

We made a promise that whatever happened, through financial difficulty, schooling, and moving around, that I would be home with our children, no matter what. Even if it meant living in a small, dumpy shack, with hardly any money or material wealth, we would make it work. And we have. We always have just what we need, and I have found so much happiness and joy through being with my children, dumpy apartments and all.

If there's one thing I will look back on as a Mom, and will never regret, it is the time that I have with them each day.
Our days are open and un-rushed.
We have time to cuddle, time to hug, and time to go on spontaneous adventures.
We have time to read books, time to color, and time to make lunches and sit around the table together. We have time to pray, time to read scriptures, and time to talk about important things. We have time to do chores, time to do projects, and time to tell silly jokes that make us all laugh.
These are the simple moments that I love and will always look back on during these little years.

There are some comments from the October 2011 General Conference, retold by Neil Anderson, that really touched my heart. He is talking about the importance of children and explains,
"My daughters recently referred me to a blog written by a Christian mother (not of our faith) with five children. She commented: “Growing up in this culture, it is very hard to get a biblical perspective on motherhood. Children rank way below college. Below world travel for sure. Below the ability to go out at night at your leisure. Below honing your body at the gym. Below any job you may have or hope to get.” She then adds: “Motherhood is not a hobby, it is a calling. You do not collect children because you find them cuter than stamps. It is not something to do if you can squeeze the time in. It is what God gave you time for.

I especially love that last line. It has really helped to give me perspective on what it means to be home with my kids. There have been overwhelming hard days where I've started to feel like I'm lacking, like I should be doing something more productive and important than hanging little people's laundry or making endless PB&J sandwiches. I was even a little worried that I would feel less fulfilled as I've taken a step back from my volunteer work with La Leche League for the time being, nor do I have any responsibilities in my church at the moment. Then I am reminded that this is what God gave us time for-to teach, to nurture, to love, and to raise these young children.
It's incredible to me that with absolutely nothing much else on my agenda, these little boys fulfill me to capacity.
Their little spirits have touched my life more than I could ever really explain.

I love these boys with all my soul.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Earth Day Confessions

Dear Mother Earth,
First of all, let me just say, HAPPY EARTH DAY! This is the day that we celebrate YOU, and all the beauty and wonder that you are! I mean, what would we do without you? You have provided us with everything that we need, and given us opportunities to thrive and be happy in your amazing, natural elements!

I can think back to my earliest childhood years and cherish the moments I had out in nature. I loved those long walks on your sandy beaches, collecting sea-shells and drift wood, and those beautiful hikes through your green woods, picking wild flowers and climbing trees! It was through those experiences that I have grown to love life, and look forward to each day the sun rises.
As a young adult I spent many days in your wilderness, pondering God and the Universe. It was there out in nature that I felt deep in my heart, the truths of the gospel of Christ. It was in the thick sage brush and next to the running rivers, that I felt the love of my Heavenly Father testifying to me that I was on the right path. I remember sitting on the ground in the middle of the dry desert, reading my scriptures, when suddenly I felt connected to the past, and connected to the Prophets of old. I knew in my heart that what I was reading was real. The quiet solitude of your natural world allowed that moment to happen.

There have been countless other moments in my life where I have marveled at your greatness, and learned amazing lessons through your beauty! Surfing your waves opened my eyes to excitement and possibilities, hiking your mountains gave me self-confidence and strength, and descending into your canyons gave me determination and clarity! My whole life has been blessed by the natural wonders of this earth, from swimming in your oceans, rivers, streams, and springs, to hiking through your valleys, to watching your brilliantly colored sunrises and sunsets, to observing your magnificent creatures! Everything on this earth breathes life into me and makes me want to live and love life to it's fullest!
I have to give some apologies, though, and I hope you'll understand. I try my hardest to be a good steward of this land, but sometimes I don't always do my part. Sometimes I get lazy and don't recycle my tin-cans or glass. And then these past 9 months I gave up completely on cloth diapering. I was too overwhelmed with the big move, and the three kids, and all the rain that would turn my laundry into mold...... It was too much for a busy mother to handle, and something had to go. So, I am sorry I have been putting garbage into your land, but I hope I can redeem myself through other avenues.
Maybe instead you can appreciate that we are raising moral and ethically conscientious children, who care deeply for our planet. Just the other day Zadok tried to help a bird that was dying in the street after being hit by a car. He put it in a box in the garage and tried to make it feel better. (Even though a cat came and ate it during the night, it was a heartfelt effort.) As a family, we really do try hard to recycle our household trash, give our compost back to the Earth, and try to reduce waste by using re-usable shopping bags. We shop at thrift stores and yard sales, lessening the impact on your resources, and we always take care not to hyper-consume, or buy stuff that we really don't need.And of course, we never, ever litter! I'm sure there's a lot more we could do to make you more healthy and beautiful than you are, but we are trying.
Oh, and I am trying my hand at cloth diapering again, starting today!
It's the least I can do after all you've done for me.....but If I get overwhelmed and decide to quit again, just know I really do care and I'll try harder in other areas.

Well, I hope you've felt special today because we sure do love and need you, our wonderful Mother Earth!

Your loyal steward,

Sally Jackson

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

WHOLE food goodness

Since we've moved from our house out in the jungle, we're not going to have immediate access to our garden and fruits like we did before. Whenever we'd get hungry for something delicious, we would just go outside and pick a tangerine, or a starfruit, or a guava, or a mountain apple, or a papaya, or an avocado, or whatever else was in season. It was one, wonderful perk of living out in Puna! Although we are much happier now living in the big town, I am thankful for the experiences of growth we had out there, one of them being a deeper desire to eat whole foods.
Six years ago when I got involved with La Leche League, I was learning about many new philosophies of parenting, and trying to match them with my own, personal ideals. I believe La Leche League is an inspired organization! Their main goal is to help mothers and babies (and families) lead happy and healthy lives! One of the ten LLL statements of philosophy is,
"Good nutrition means eating a well-balanced and varied diet of foods in as close to their natural state as possible."
I took this philosophy to heart when our first baby started solids, and have tried hard ever since to follow this example in my own life, and for my family now.

Basically, when we eat foods that are whole, or in their natural state, our minds and bodies benefit from all the nutrients they provide. A fresh bunch of spinach is going to be healthier than spinach-flavored puffs, a bowl of Rolling oats-oatmeal is going to be healthier for you than a bowl of Quaker oats-cereal, and a whole strawberry is better for you than a strawberry-flavored drink. When we eat REAL fruits and veggies, and REAL whole grains, our bodies are getting the maximum nutritional benefits they have to offer! We feel better, feel healthier, and can usually maintain our natural weight.

(Picking sweet potatoes in the garden)


(Mashed sweet potatoes, a beautiful purple hue)

I get really agitated by fad diets and marketing propaganda, to the point where shopping in grocery stores really confuses and annoys me. There are so many companies out there trending on catchy phrases like "natural", "whole grain", or "organic", but if you look at the labels you find most of them are still highly processed, and stripped of all their wholesome ingredients. So, we have tried to stay away from boxed foods, and have cut down considerably on things like cereal, fruit snacks, and crackers.
I won't lie, we still buy those quick-box foods on occasion, bit it's nice to have an ideal.
I think having an ideal keeps me focused on what I really want to do, and helps me pick back up and move forward after a hasty stop at McDonalds.
There's also been times past where I've bought something really junky for my kids like Captain Crunch cereal and I'd think,"We had this stuff all the time when I was little, and I turned out fine....." Then I'd seriously have to remind myself that I was chubby, and self-conscious up until about my sophomore year in high school!! It wasn't until I started running track and eating less sugar that I felt so much better about my life.

Living out in Puna reminded me of this ideal each day, and gave us the opportunity to live off of the bounty of our land. I haven't felt so healthy and strong in a long time, and attribute it to the rich nutrients in our diets. I want our kids to grow up with a logical understanding of where food comes from and how it affects our bodies. I don't want them to think that food comes from a box in a store. I want them to continue to love their whole foods, the ones that came right off the tree or out of the garden.

(Scraping Green papayas into a salad with shredded carrots and cabbage)
Here at our Hilo house we have one avocado tree and one Ulu tree, and a few wild guavas. Yet, we are close to the Farmers Market, where we can buy fresh, local produce whenever we need. We also have several friends here who are raw foodies, who remind me that people can live exclusively off of whole foods, and lead active, healthy lives, I think. I mean, they haven't crumbled into bits and died, yet, from eating mostly nuts and fruits.

The point is, it just feels good to eat this way. It's whole food goodness!
(Eggs come from chickens. Here's the Micah-made coop in our new backyard)

Here's a list of our favorite foods to snack on right now:
Boiled edamame (soy beans)
Apple slices dipped in peanut butter
Hard boiled eggs
Carrot sticks and hummus
Whole grain bread and butter (homemade, real butter)
Banana wheels, pear slices, cantaloupe cubes, pineapple chunks
Slices of cheese
Almonds and peanuts
Ripe papaya
Corn tortillas and cheese (quesadillas)
Blueberry and spinach smoothies (with yoghurt and honey)
Strawberry and banana smoothies (with tofu and flax seed)
Applesauce
Green pea soup

Zadok, Odin, and Jonah enjoying a Berry/spinach smoothie Popsicle

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Toothy


I honestly wasn't expecting this to happen so soon. MY little boy, my baby boy is losing teeth?? He kept asking me when he would start losing his baby teeth and I remember shrugging and saying,"I dunno, when your like 7 or something." I obviously need to read more child development books because a week before his 6th birthday little toothy started to wiggle free.
Then another toothy started to wiggle. Then another. Then one by one, four teeth were completely out by 3 weeks time!
I quickly sewed together a felt tooth fairy pillow so he'd have somewhere to put his first tooth.
I told him the Tooth Fairy would come and exchange it for a prize. (wink, wink)
He didn't believe me, of course, but loved to play along anyways.

My little guy looks all grown up with his missing baby teeth, and big, awkward adult teeth growing in. But he'll always be my little Budgie. He still loves to hold onto his Mama and cuddle tight. He loves to be with me day and night.
He's really funny and makes lots of jokes. He likes to tell me that we're both 6 because when you add 3+3 it makes the same age number (I'm 33). He laughs hysterically and tells me I'll be 6 1/2 soon, so not to worry. I think I'm the one who's worrying.

Don't grow up too fast, my little boy.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Sleep and Dr. Sears

We are a bed-sharing family, so we start our babies off sleeping in bed with us, from the moment they arrive. This is my favorite thing in the world and has been the greatest joy of my mothering journey! I think I've mentioned this before. I remember when all 3 of my little babes were just newborns, and I would wake up in the night to nurse, and have this huge smile on my face because there was a baby next to me! A cute, little baby for me to snuggle! Oh the joy!

In our latest situation, our 2 oldest boys both sleep in "the boy's room", where they go to sleep every night together, each with their own twin bed.
However, the big boys are always welcome back into the big, family bed with Micah, Jonah, and I. For the past several months Zadok(6) has been waking up with nightmares and comes crawling into bed with us at 2 in the morning. He ends up cuddling with either me or Micah, then falls peacefully back to sleep. He really needs his parents to comfort him in the night, and we are glad to do so.
Odin(4),on the other hand, has been having a lot of behavior problems throughout the day, like tantrums and meltdowns and such. These things are perfectly normal for his age range, yet I was having a hard time dealing with them, emotionally. His challenges were really stressing me out, and causing me to feel distanced from him. He's naturally a very wiggly, hyper, and non-cuddly kid, so it was hard for me to find ways to connect with him during the day, especially during these tough times. Gratefully, the thought came to me to have him come back and sleep in bed with us.
This turned out to be just what we needed!
For several nights I was able to cuddle him, hold him, and feel his little breath and sweet hair, next to mine. This closeness allowed me to open up my heart and feel more love and patience for him. When we woke up in the mornings I felt more connected to his needs, and ready to face whatever challenges lay ahead. In this situation, he was really able to comfort me, and bring me peace, as his mother. And after just a few nights of sleeping with Mom, he was ready to go back to his own bed.
I really feel that co-sleeping with our children has been a wonderful thing in our lives, as it has brought a feeling of unity to our family and comfort when we really need it. It's not always easy, as there are nights when we get woken up and tossed around, but it all works out in the end! And I love the extra cuddle time we get during the night!

I can attribute so much of the blessings of nighttime parenting to the advice of renowned pediatrician, Dr. William Sears, who has written over 40 different parenting books. He is most famously known for his "Baby book," "Breastfeeding Book," and "Continuum Concept" books, but when I was a newly, sleep deprived mother, I found comfort and answers I needed in his "Nighttime Parenting" book. This book simply made me feel normal for wanting my babies in our bed at night, and gave us simple solutions for meeting the needs of our kids, even after the sun went down. Here's his Safe co-sleeping research that is a wonderful read for all parents-to-be!

Recently Dr. Bill Sears came to the Big Island to talk about his latest medical research, which won him a Nobel prize. It was such an honor to be able to meet him!

He spoke in front of a small audience of about 45 people, and I tried really hard the whole time not to yell out, "I LUV YOU!," at the top of my lungs. I did, however, give him and his wife Martha big hugs and thank both of them for having such a positive impact on our families' well being!

Happy Sleeping!