Tuesday, December 31, 2013

12 weeks-Life in slo-mo

This week makes 12 weeks pregnant. 
And no, it is not going by fast! ha! Maybe for the outside world, but definitely not for me. 
In fact, ever since I got pregnant it seems my life has been going in super-slow motion. 
I wake up sometime between 8am and 9am. I lie there for quite sometime thinking about getting up but not really wanting to. My mind usually goes back to what I dreamt about last night. Hawaii again. Every night I dream about Hawaii. Sometimes I dream I am surfing or swimming, although these dreams are not always pretty dreams of rainbows and dolphins--sometimes they are ugly dreams of tsunamis, heartbreak, and destruction. One night I dreamt that our old house on Kamehameha Hwy was swept away by a giant wave, our entire family with it! So  depending on the dream, I either wake up grateful to be safe in Utah with my children, or longing to be at the ocean-I never know which one it will be. Pregnancy is messing with me.

My kids are pretty awesome at waiting for me to get up. Zadok wakes up first, usually around 6am and turns on Netflix cartoons. Then his younger brother Odin gets up around 7am and joins him. Last comes our little three year old Jonah tot who rolls out of bed at 7:30 or 8am to excitedly let the cats out of the laundry room then watch cartoons with his brothers. I am grateful for these boys, for I need my sleep to function. I can hear their little voices laughing and playing in the other room while I snuggle with my pillow. When they finally get hungry enough they come into my room, pile onto the bed, pry my eyes open, and force me into the kitchen. "Okay, okay, I'm up!" I say.
I slowly shuffle out there, where we either make waffles, or scramble some eggs, or eat cold cereal, which seems to take up the bulk of the entire morning!

My house is a mess. "I am half the woman I used to be!," I cry to my husband one day. I just don't have the energy to take care of simple things like I did before. Remember when the bathrooms used to be clean? And the floors were swept? And I fed my children healthy meals?  He chuckled lovingly and got up and swept the floor. We have different standards for tidiness, yet he knows by now when I have reached my breaking point, and require intervention. Thanks, honey. Wipe down the counters why yer at it, eh? 

When I'm pregnant everything is harder. Everything takes more work and more energy that I just don't have. Getting up in the morning is harder. Making food is harder. Getting dressed, cleaning up, playing games, and going outside is harder. I seem to be moving through the world like a tired, old sloth, with no desire to do anything but sit in my nest and  stare at the wall. That's actually when I feel really good. I just sit there and watch my children play, and try not to think how tired or sick I feel, and then feel somewhat awesome inside. 

There's  a lot I don't do right now, simply because I can't, nor can I find the energy to.
I don't make daily lists anymore or give myself extra things to do. I don't dream of all the things I want to accomplish and make goals and plans in my journal. I don't sew, or bake, or craft,  or plan my future-dream- etsy shop. I don't exercise much, or do Zumba like I thought I would. I don't blog much, or write much, or call or email everyone back immediately. I don't plan fancy singing time lessons, or write out homeschool plans for the boys. 
I let the dishes go for days, step over the Legos, and may never make my bed again. 
I can only do what I can do right now, and it isn't much. It may sound depressing, and I admit some days I am sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, but with this pregnancy has also come further introspection on what it means to me to be a mother:

I've realized how wonderful and valuable it is to simply be here and be present with my children, no matter how I look or feel. These boys of mine love me and need me no matter what condition I'm in. They don't care that my pants have gone from a size 10 to a size 14 in under 3 months . They don't mind when I sit on the couch for hours at a time eating buttery popcorn and watching movies with them. They don't even seem to mind that I've taken a break from planning crafts or reading stories. And they certainly haven't questioned why I haven't been pushing the chores as of lately! They are happy, optimistic, and so excited for this baby to come! They love spending time with me, no matter what state I'm in. Their enthusiasm and love for me is inspiring. 

My family is the most important thing in the world to me, and it is more than enough right now. This baby is more than enough, and I'm learning to enjoy life in slo-mo.

_________________________________________________________________
First Trimester pregnancy symptoms:
Daily struggle to drink water, had to flavor it with powders or liquid flavor enhancers.
Voracious appetite: eating every 1-2 hours, in large quantities.
Craving savory, salty, greasy foods, like french fries, flaming hot Cheetos, and Beer-battered fish tacos.
Drinking 8-16 ounces of cows milk a day (rarely ever drank milk before)
Feel sick when my stomach is empty. 
Feel sick after a bowel movement.
Feel sick when I have gas.
Feel sick if anyone touches me or bounces on the bed next to me.
Extreme sensitivity to odors like wet puppies, shi-shi, and cooking meat. (blech)
Rapid, thumping heartbeat that leads to insomnia.
Zero desire to exercise or go for walks.
Fatigue and overwhelming exhaustion, especially after 3pm.
Raging hormones: happy one day, depressed the next. 
Short tempered. (although I've been truly trying to hold it in!!)

I am happy to report, however, that all of these symptoms are getting better! I am entering my 2nd trimester and feeling more optimistic about this pregnancy! I can feel my energy returning, my moods leveling out, and my appetite returning to normal.
This pregnancy is very much like all the others, so far, though I don't think it's a prediction of gender! (I'm still thinking GIRL!) The only huge difference with this pregnancy is that I am in a better place emotionally. I am happier, more at peace with my life, and more in tune with God's will for me. My husband and I are also stronger together, and more spiritually and emotionally in tune with each other. It has made a huge difference in how I feel about myself, my pregnancy, and the future of our family. There's a lot of love happening here, which makes being a sick, exhausted, pregnant woman A-OK!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Ten Days before Christmas

Cozy in our home, ten days before Christmas
I woke up at 2:30am last Monday morning smelling something funny. I jumped out of bed and let my extremely-sensitive-pregnant-lady nostrils lead the way around the house. The smell was strong, and it frightened me, but I couldn't find anything wrong.  I first ran to my older boy's room (they are sleeping in their own room now!) to make sure they were okay. I checked their chests to make sure they were still breathing, that we weren't all being slowly poisoned by carbon monoxide. They were fine. They were sleeping soundly.

Our heater was broken again this weekend and our rental agency had brought us some large electrical heaters to keep the house somewhat warm. We had one plugged in upstairs and two downstairs, so my immediate thought was that the heaters were getting too hot and letting off some rancid smells. I went around and unplugged the heaters one by one, even though I knew we would all wake up freezing cold.
I then went back to my bedroom and crawled back under the covers, hoping I had solved the problem. My husband and toddler were still fast asleep in our big bed. 
I didn't want to wake my husband up this time. He was tired. He had just returned late Saturday night from a school conference in Denver, and hadn't rested a wink since he got home. Our weekends are often far from restful as we hustle to meet the high-need demands of family life that can quickly fill our days--groceries, recreation, shopping, one-on-one time with the boys, church activities, and then the hustle and bustle of church meetings and callings on Sundays. The last thing I wanted to do was wake up my husband 3 hours before his alarm clock went off for work, only to tell him, "I smell something funny." After all,  my extremely sensitive pregnant lady nostrils could be playing tricks on me!

But the awful smell wouldn't go away. It was now 3am and I was still lying there smelling this horrible gassy/burning/electrical smell. Only I couldn't figure out what the heck it was! The house wasn't on fire, as far as I could tell. The CO2 alarm wasn't going off, the heaters were unplugged, the animals and children were all breathing....yet I still had this horrible, worrisome feeling in the pit of my stomach. After lying there another few minutes, I finally convinced myself that I was being paranoid and went back to sleep. Unfortunately, I was still very worried when I drifted off to sleep, so I prayed in my heart that God would watch over my family while I slept. It was all I could think to do.

At 6am my husband shook me awake. I knew immediately that something was wrong. 
"Sally, wake up." he said urgently. "Sally, I need you to stay calm and follow me." I jumped out of bed, alert and ready to face the worst of whatever  there could be ahead of me. He quietly led me to the hallway stairway and pointed upwards. From where I was standing I could see the open attic with wild, orange flames bursting from the ceiling to the top of the roof. Our house was on fire after all, and we needed to get out quickly.

I picked up our sleeping toddler from the bed, while my husband grabbed our 5 year old from his bed. Our seven year old was already upstairs in the living room watching cartoons, completely oblivious to the fact that he had walked underneath a flaming attic to get there. We took the children out of the house and put the two older ones in the car, while I dialed 911. While we waited for the rescue crews, my husband scurried through the house grabbing our most important things, such as purses, wallets, kitties, puppies, and computers filled with years and years of digital pictures. 

It was still dark, and freezing cold out. Snow and ice covered the ground. I didn't realize that I had run out of the house without my shoes or jacket on. I was shivering on the sidewalk, holding tightly onto my toddler, trying to dial my next door neighbors phone number with stiff, cold fingers. 
"Can we come over? Our house is on fire." I said as soon as she answered.
"Absolutely, get on over here." she replied.
I ushered our children out of the car and over to her house. They were still in a sleepy daze, unsure of what was actually happening. We cuddled up on her warm couches, and watched out the windows as police cars and fire trucks filled our driveway next door. 
I watched as the firemen clomped into our home with their heavy boots and big fire hoses; smoke and vapor shooting out from our rooftop. This was our very first house fire and it was pretty fascinating to watch. Soon our driveway was filled with concerned neighbors and friends. When the flames were finally cleared, and the fire trucks had driven away, we were greeted by the fire Marshall. He told us it was an electrical fire that had started in the attic. The smell I had smelled had been smoldering insulation from live wires that had caught flame. He then informed us that the electricity, the gas, and the water were all turned off. We'd need to alert our landlords immediately and find a new place to live. 

But it's ten days before Christmas, I thought miserably. And I'm pregnant, which means I'm tired.  And sick all the time. And where are we supposed to go? I don't want to move! I really love our house, and our neighbors, and our ward, and the park across the street!
I reasoned that maybe the house wasn't in such bad condition, after all. I'd just march in there and take a look and we'd find that everything could be fixed in just a couple days. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case.
Not only was the kitchen ceiling, the attic, and the greater part of the back of the house ruined, but the smell lingering in the house was horrible! My sensitive pregnant lady nose was freaking out, big time. Also, the water from the fire hoses had dripped through the ceiling down to the basement, flooding the bathrooms and soaking the carpets. There's no way we're staying here, I finally accepted. This place is over and done with.

Our rental agency put us up in a cheap motel for two nights. The first night we were there I was a train wreck of emotions. On one hand I was so extremely grateful that our family was safe and that the fire wasn't worse than it was, but on the other hand I was feeling nauseous, exhausted, and bitter from packing bags and moving our family to a tiny motel room across town. I had already been having a really rough week, emotionally and physically, and this was just adding insult to injury. I was feeling so annoyed at everything going on at this point, that nothing could make me feel better. I finally cried in a heap on the bed while my husband and kids tried their best to ignore console me. Utah sucks, I reasoned. I could be on a warm beach in Hawaii, eating lychee and shave ice and soaking up the sun, but instead I am freezing my butt off in this awful place! I'm cold, I'm sick, my house just caught on fire, and now we have nowhere to go. 
Sure, things could have been worse, but this was my breaking point. 
The first act of kindness came the next day when a friend from our church invited us over for dinner. I was delighted to accept, for I knew that going to her house would be 100x better than sitting in our motel room, watching cable,  and crying....again. 
Dinner was delicious and the company wonderful! It lifted our spirits and helped me feel more optimistic about the heavy work load ahead. This simple act of kindness would only mark the beginning of the long string of generosity and care bestowed upon our family at this time. 
I watched over the next few days as people came out of the woodwork to give love and support to our family. I also watched as my bitter, angry heart softened and melted at the kindness and love people showed us. 
I feel very grateful at this time for all the goodness that has been shown to our family. I wanted to try my best to explain how grateful I am, and how full my heart is at this time for all the kind deeds, so here I go:

 I'm extremely grateful right now to the Relief Society sisters who came over and helped me pack up our house into boxes. Some of them I didn't even know their names, yet they came and did what needed to be done. I am grateful for a loving Relief Society president who did my soaking-wet-fire-laundry and even mended the rips in my sheets. I am grateful for a loving  Bishop who is constantly checking on us and making certain we're comfortable.  For the lovely sisters in our ward who have served us meals, for the friends at Micah's work who gave our family money, and for the strong men who came to move all the heavy furniture to our new house. For a caring Visiting Teacher who spent her Saturday helping us move furniture and boxes. And for the wonderful neighbor who generously fed our moving crew on that chilly Saturday afternoon. I am also grateful for our special *Trike Fairy* for sending Santa money for the kids so that we could make Christmas extra special, and for a dear friend who watched my children two days in a row while I rejuvenated myself and tried to stay sane during this past week. 
I am grateful for all the wonderful neighbors from our ward who have brought us holiday cookies, food, and words of support to our doorstep. For a friend who went out of her way to brighten my day with goodies that I love! For an Aunt who called to make sure we were okay and touched my heart with her kindness. For a friend who helped us find a new place to live with wonderful new neighbors in our same ward boundaries (BONUS!). For an intuitive landlord who let us move in immediately without references or applications, because she "felt good about us." For a spontaneous pizza dinner from a caring family in our community. For all the kind words and messages we've received through phone calls, emails and facebook, as friends and family have showered us with  love and concern for our welfare. 

Most of all, I am so very, very grateful that I've been able to witness the love of Christ work through all these wonderful, generous people in our time of need. 
This has been a rough week, but one of the BEST as far as feeling the true meaning of Christmas! I found out through this experience that you just can't feel bitter or sad when the world is lifting you up!
 I also found out that I live in a beautiful community full of amazing people, and I furthermore learned that I belong here. 
In fact, I don't want to leave. 
Sure it might be freezing at times, and my house might even catch on fire forcing our family to move in the middle of the cold of winter and during the depth of a hard pregnancy, but in the end I know we will be fine. In fact, I know that we will be more than fine-- we'll be safe, happy, comfortable, grateful, and loved, all because our house caught on fire ten days before Christmas.

Merry Christmas everyone. 
May the goodness of the season come full circle as we keep paying it forward all year long!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Power of Mom's essay feature and review:

Recently two essays of mine have been published on the Power of Moms website. 
You can read them here:

The Lost Toy
Exchanging Papayas for Peaches

I was thrilled when they accepted my essays for publication, and hope there will be more in the future. It has also been a lot of fun to see my writing appear to a broader web-audience.
Having my essays published has also inspired me to feel more like a writer. Writing has always been my hobby and passion, and little by little, I am seeing more possibilities for myself in this area. (After all,  I am still writing a book, ya know! It might get done when my youngest child is in college, but overall I like to think that someday I will be a published author.)

A little about Power of Moms:

Over the past few years several different friends of mine have been posting these truly inspiring parenting essays on facebook. Of course I don't read everything that posts to facebook, but when good friends with like-minded parenting ideals post something, I read it. 
The common thing I found with these articles is: 1. they would stick with me throughout the day, 2. they would force me to reevaluate myself as a parent, and 3. they'd inspire me to be a better Mom.
It wasn't until fairly recently that I realized that all of these articles came from the same place--The Power of Moms website!  It happened one day when I was perusing the links under the FAVORITES tab on the site and saw all of my favorite articles all in the same place! 
Aha! I was so surprised! I knew right then and there that there was something really special about the women who put this site together, and I wanted to find out more. 

As I dug around the Power of Mom's website I not only found truly  inspiring, down-to-earth essays on deliberate mothering, but also a collection of FREE learning tools such as videos, podcasts, book summaries, printable quotes, and picture stories. 
I also found that they've published a book called "Deliberate Motherhood", which supplies encouragement and tools to mothers who are looking to have more peace, purpose, order, and joy in motherhood. (I am reading it right now and I can't put it down!) 
Furthermore, I learned that they offer mothering retreats across the country where mothers can gather together to discuss and learn from each other these valuable principles of deliberate mothering. ( I really want to go to one someday, and I will!) Finally, they offer empowering programs  to strengthen families and help mothers do an even better job at raising their kids. (I am currently learning from Family Systems Training, and I love it. Such a blessing to my life!)

I love that Power f Moms is a gathering place for all mothers. As the website states, 
"Please know that we really want YOU here.  We need your voice.  We need your perspective.  Regardless of your employment situation, your background, your marital status, or your ability to make it through the bedtime routine without losing it, you belong here. And TOGETHER, we are The Power of Moms."

I am so grateful that I've discovered the influence of Power of Mom's in my life. There are some days when I feel so overwhelmed and so burnt out as a mom, then I read an article on the site and I know I'm not alone. I know that motherhood is hard and exhausting at times, yet it is also changing me and growing me into a better person. I also know that I am doing the best I can and that my children are growing into amazing people, too, despite my weaknesses or bad days as a mother.
Thank you to the founders, April and Saren for following your hearts, for being inspired, and for starting something we all needed--a gathering place for moms just like us.

A few essays on POM's that have touched me and stayed with me over the years:

Monday, December 9, 2013

To everything there is a season....

This past week was an extremely difficult week for me.  I really don't know how to begin to describe it without feeling like I'm totally complaining about my life, which I generally try really hard not to.  I love my life and feel very blessed to be where I am, surrounded by those I love most, which makes it possible for me to appreciate things more than complain about them, in general. I  truly have so much to be grateful for, and so much to look forward to, yet this past week it was really impossible to see any of that. 
I was shrouded in such a dark, depressing cloud, that I couldn't even lift my eyes to see the good. 
It possibly all started with the cold wave that hit our town really hard. On Tuesday morning we woke up to -19 temperatures. And to add insult to injury, our heater decided to stop working that day. It was  bitter cold in our house for about 7 hours until the mechanic finally showed up. He couldn't get his truck working because of something cold related-- go figure! I kept a fire burning in the fire place all day and bundled everyone up, which kept us semi-warm, but not warm enough to lift my spirits. I felt so miserable.

And sick. This pregnancy is starting to take it's toll on me. Everyday is a struggle to find something to eat so I won't feel sick. I've found that when my tummy is full, the nausea-feeling lessens, so eating voraciously every 1-2 hours is the cure. Yet the only things I felt like eating this past week was junk food. Cheezits, sugary cereals, Taco Bell, and sweet juices took over my diet all week. For those that know me, I don't purposely eat this way. 
It was making me so angry and disgusted with myself to crave all these junk foods, plus sit there and watch my pants grow smaller and smaller as my waist grew larger and larger.
And forget about getting exercise. Not only was it too cold outside to go for a jog, but I didn't feel like it. Not one teeny bit. 

So here I was stuck in my house, with the harsh effects of winter all around me, feeling sick, disgusting, and obese, with nothing to look forward to, hope for, or feel good about. The snow continued to fall all week, the temperatures continued drop, and each time I looked out the window at the snowy mountains, I would fall to pieces. 
I didn't understand why God would lead me out of my warm, beautiful Hawaii to be miserable, sick, lonely, and cold here in Utah. Why did we even leave?, I questioned, What good is this doing for anyone for me to hate my life here?

I tried all week long, despite my misery, to be happy for the sake of my children. But each day they saw me break-down, crying miserably with self-pity for my situation. I also tried watching videos and reading stories about people who's lives were way far worse off than mine, but it only led to feeling worse. (yeah-don't do that to yourself.) 
Last of all, I especially tried to think positive, be grateful, and count my blessings. I tried to pray, read uplifting talks, and scriptures. That unfortunately, didn't work either. 
The depression I felt was too strong and too overwhelming for me to be lifted. In the end I figured all I could do was wait, and hope for something to change.

Change came Sunday afternoon in Sacrament meeting. Each Sunday we attend church services where we sing hymns, hear inspirational talks, and take the sacrament. We take the sacrament each week to renew the promises we made with Christ when we were baptised. I usually look forward to it every week, but this week I felt nothing. I felt like a zombie, full of negative thoughts and nothingness. But then something beautiful happened. As I took the sacrament I felt Christ's infinite love. His love penetrated the deepest, darkest corners of my miserable soul, and forced his light inside me. I could feel Him reminding me to trust him. 
"You don't trust me," I felt Him say. "You don't trust that I know you and am leading you in the right direction."
I knew He was right. I knew that I had stopped trusting Him and was questioning His plan for me. I knew that I was letting negativity take over because I didn't trust that everything was for a purpose--that even though I was having a hard time right now, this was all part of His plan for me. Everything would be beautiful in the end.

I don't know why I stopped trusting Him, but I did. And for some reason this knowledge changed everything. Because I knew that if I could start trusting Him again, I would feel happy again. I would feel hopeful, peaceful, and excited for what He has in store for me, despite my sickness and coldness, and often loneliness here.

For the remainder of our sacrament meeting the time was turned over to the congregation to get up and share their favorite scripture and then bear a short testimony about it. One man got up and shared Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. 
I hadn't heard these verses in a long time, but they seemed to fit my situation perfectly and remind me that there is a time and purpose for everything:


To everything there is a season, and
a time to every purpose under heaven:

A time to be born, and
a time to die;
a time to plant, and
a time to pluck up
that which is planted;

A time to kill, and
a time to heal;
a time to break down, and
a time to build up;

A time to weep, and
a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and
a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and
a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and
a time to refrain from embracing;


A time to get, and
a time to lose;
a time to keep, and
a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and
a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and
a time to speak;

A time to love, and
a time to hate;
a time of war; and
a time of peace.

I wanted to add my own versus to it, to remind me that this season will pass just as well:

"A time to feel sick, and a time to be well;
A time to be freezing cold and a time to be deliciously warm; 
A time to feel lonely, and a time to be surrounded by friends.
A time to eat copious amounts of junk food, 

and a time eat healthy.

A time to be active and fit, and a time to get huge and stop exercising;
A time to carry and grow a baby, and a time to be barren and done.
A time to feel depressed and overwhelmed, and a time to trust God and feel hopeful."

The end. :)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Nu a' kea, Goddess of Lactation

In ancient Hawai'i there was a traditional weaning ritual called ukuhi (meaning weaning), which would take away the child's desire to have milk. When the child started to show signs of readiness to wean from the mother, which varied vastly from age to age, the ritual would be performed to determine if it was time to stop breastfeeding.

The ukuhi started with pule, or prayer.  A family minister, or kahuna, would then sit facing the mother and the baby. He would take 2 stones to represent the mother's breasts and place them within the baby's reach. If the child grasped the stones and threw them away, the ritual was successful and the baby was ready for weaning.
If the baby did nothing, then the ritual was discontinued and postponed for another time.
Another prayer was then offered where the kahuna asked, "Do you (naming the child) wish the desire for milk to go away from you?"
The mother would then answer as if she were the child and say, "Yes."
The kahuna then responded, "And never more will you desire milk?"
"Never," answered the mother.

And that was the end of that. The child was now weaned.

From the historical accounts of the ancient Hawaiian peoples, it was clear that breastfeeding was a very sacred practice. The Goddess of Lactation, or Nu'a kea, was a sacred title given to those who could give waiu (breastmilk) to their infants. Often wet-nurses were called in to breastfeed the babies of royalty who had problems giving milk, (what problems we don't know for sure), but we do know that these wet-nurses were held in the highest esteem and their breasts were considered sacred and kapu (off limits) to others. The wet nurses were also considered special companions to the infants because of the close symbiotic relationship they had with each child that they breastfed--a relationship that would continue long after the child had grown up. This companionship had a special name, hoa 'ai wai, or "companions at the breast."

This information is from a chapter in the book, "Emma: Hawai'is Remarkable Queen" by George S. Kanahele. The chapter is called Ulu Ke Keiki, or The Child Grows, and talks about some of the ancient Hawaiian practices in raising children. I thought the section on breastfeeding was intriguing and beautiful. I always feel inspired when a culture upholds and honors breastfeeding in this way--calling it sacred and referring to women as Goddesses. How much more lovely can you get?

I've also been thinking about this a lot lately because of the special companionship I have with my three year and a half year old nursling. He has been feeding at the breast since the day he was born and still loves his milk-milk time with Mom. Some days I am extra tired, busy, or feeling morning sickness, and feel ready to wean him completely, ready for him to move forward. Other days I look into his little eyes and can't imagine denying him one of his favorite forms of love and comfort. I'm pretty certain that if we performed a weaning ritual right now those stones would be thrown across the room one second, and the next second he'd be asking for his favorite mommy milk. 
It's not as easy as it sounds, as we know. For those that practice child-led weaning we have seen that the emotional and sensory bonding that exists between mother and child is more powerful than any arbitrary time frame or social expectation. 
And although my three year old is at a highly distractable age, and only nurses at bedtime and in the mornings, I'm pretty certain he's not ready to wean anytime soon. 

So, I will continue to be his Nu' a kea, and he will be my little waiu-drinking-keiki, and we will be two, happy hoa ai' wai, until something changes. 
(Mahalo nui Hawaiian culture for putting our special relationship into perspective for me.
 I'm feeling pretty regal right now.)

Here's Jonah below with his other two forms of love and comfort: his pet kitties.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Parallel Universe


I'm really cold all the time now. 
There's this deep, internal, freezing shiver that hasn't gone away since early November when the seasons changed. It's like my body can't catch up and I'm still in tropical-Hawaii-summer-all-year-round- mode. 
My friend who recently spent a year in Tonga said that her first winter back here was pretty brutal. She couldn't warm up no matter how hard she tried, even with all the bundles of jackets, sweaters, and fuzzy socks she piled on. I know what she means now, however, I wonder if it's mostly a psychological issue, not just a physical one? 
Like If I could just stop thinking about Hawaii, the dooming cold would go away and I could feel warm again. Perhaps If I stopped  wishing the snow was a warm, sandy beach, or if I stopped wishing the pine trees were swaying in a balmy breeze, I could live peaceably and accept the cold for what it is. 
(It's cold here and it is what is is, gosh darn it! Sally, why can't you accept that?)

But, I can't seem to do that because I think I have the curse of the islands. I figured out that once you've lived somewhere with year-round warmth and sunshine, it's hard to accept that anywhere else would choose to be different.

Don't get me wrong, there's a zillion reasons why I'm happy to be back here in Utah, and why I'm still glad we made the decision to move.... except this one: I really hate being cold. 
So, to deal with this problem, I've decided that there is a parallel universe somewhere where I am still living in a warm climate with eighty degree temperatures, bathing suit wearing all year long, and enough sunshine to keep me toasty and happy. In fact, just today I laid out in the sun and got a nice tan while sipping on a virgin pina colada with a little umbrella in it. It was lovely.

Now that I'm all situated in my alternative reality, I can better enjoy this one with my family:
(They love the snow and cold! They think we've died and gone to snow heaven)


 
 
(In love with the  Papa-made-crotchet.) Good job, Micah! 

Stay warm my friends...or cold, depending on your preference. :)


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Ready.

Week 6, a conversation between me and Odin:

Odin: How big is the baby today mom? 
Me: Oh, about the size of a large ant.
Does it have arms and legs yet?
Yes, they are starting to grow, but they don't really look like arms and legs yet.
How big will it be when it comes out?
Hmmm, about the size of your blue stuffed bear!
But how does it come out of you? Does it just pop out of your belly?
No, it comes out through a tunnel and then out of a hole in my vagina.
But isn't your vagina small?
Yes, but when it's time for the baby to come out it stretches REALLY big.
Whoa. That must hurt, mom...... I'm really glad I'm not a lady!
Well, it does hurt, but someday you might have a wife who has a baby come out of her, and then you can help her and be there for her. 
Okay, Mom. (smiling)

This sweet conversation I had with my five year old (Odin) keeps lingering in my mind. I'm holding it safe within me to remember on the hard days, to remind me how precious and important these little teaching moments are, even when I feeling super yucky and nauseous. After all, they are part of the process; part of the whole learning and growing experience of bringing another baby into our family. The boys will be learning a lot more this time around, as they are much older and can understand it all better. 

I am excited for them to ask all these questions and I'm excited to answer them, step by step, week by week, month by month, until the moment our baby comes into my arms.
We're planning another home-birth. 
I feel most comfortable this way. 
We had our first baby vaginally and naturally in a hospital with a midwife, but after that we couldn't imagine going back there. It just didn't seem to match our vision of how things should have been. Our next child gave us a chance to have the kind of birth we truly wanted; peaceful, empowering, comfortable, in the quiet of our own home. Then our third child came and proved once again how lovely the home-birth experience could be. True it was a hard, painful birth for me, but worth every moment to have that intimate, personal experience of giving birth in the comfort of my living room with the people I love most. 

So, I am excited again for the time of the birth to come, to experience, once again, the raw, natural power within me to give life to a human being. It will be four years since I last pushed a baby out; four years which I've had time to heal and overcome the effects of the last birth, four years to prepare myself for another eventful labor.
 Birth has never been an easy thing for me, but it is something I embrace, look forward to, and am mentally and physically preparing for once again.
The best part being, of course, to be able to hold that squishy, little baby I've been dreaming of.

We've been dreaming of. 

Micah is just as excited as I am. We weren't sure for awhile if we wanted to do this right now, seriously questioning our mental sanity to handle it all so soon after moving here, but it seemed the more we argued against it, the more powerful the feelings came.......The more I thought about enjoying the freedom and mobility of having older children, of not being tied down to a newborn, of being more autonomous in my life as an adult, the more I yearned for that tiny baby in my arms.  
This baby is ready to come to our family, and we couldn't ignore it any longer.

So basically we had sex and got pregnant the first time we tried. 
I am seven weeks along.
I am sick most days, and really queasy. I'm eating like a starving person ,and ballooning up like a Thanksgiving Day parade float.
Sometimes I start to get down on myself. I have to fight hard against the negative mind and push it away fast. The negative mind tells me that I'm going to be fat and miserable my entire pregnancy. The negative mind wants me to feel out-of-control and anxious about my body. It wants me to feel bad about myself and doubt myself, and question my ability to have another baby and be a good mother to four children.
But I won't let it take over. I refuse. I am putting my trust in God.
I know that He will help me, He will guide me, and He will  remind me constantly of my self-worth, my ability, my power, and my confidence in doing the things that are hard. (Even when I am feeling so yucky and sicky and can do nothing but lay there miserably.) The trick is allowing Him in.

So, this summer we will have a fourth child. Whoa! 
I am thankful today for my husband, my family, my life, and the new life on it's way.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Wishing you all the happiness in the world.
A sneak peak into 8 months from now: pregnant with Jonah, July 2010.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Wheat Berry Waldorf Salad

This is one of my favorite salads, and one I have been making for about 6 years since I sampled a taste at a Whole Foods Market deli in California. I immediately went home, looked up the recipe, and have been making it on and off ever since! DELICIOUSNESS!
 I actually brought this salad to a church potluck last night. Some people really liked  it and wanted a copy of the recipe, plus wanted to know what those little, brown, chewy things were! Funny that we eat their processed form as wheat flour or pasta, but in their true, natural form they are unrecognizable. Here's my favorite thing to do with those little, brown, chewy things:

WHEAT BERRY WALDORF SALAD

INGREDIENTS:
2 Cups uncooked wheat berries
1 C chopped walnuts
2 medium apples, cored and chopped
1 C seedless raisins
1 C finely chopped fresh parsley

1/4 C apple cider vinegar
1/4 C apple juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 Cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons lemon juice

METHOD:
Put wheat berries into a large bowl, cover with at least 2 inches of water and set aside to let soak for 6 to 8 hours overnight. Drain well.

Put 7 cups clean water into a medium pot and bring to a boil. Add wheat berries, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 50 minutes, or until cooked through. (Wheat berries retain a firm, chewy texture when cooked) Drain and set aside to let cool.

Transfer what berries to a large bowl. Add walnuts, apples raisins, parsley, vinegar, apple juice, salt, pepper, cinnamon, evoo, and lemon juice and mix everything together thoroughly.

NUTRITION:
Wheat berries are the mother grain from which pasta, bread, and flour are derived. Little wheat berries pack a nutlike flavor and are pleasantly chewy. 
*Vegetarian, Vegan, Low Sodium, Dairy Free.
*480 calories per 6 oz serving

I got this recipe directly from Whole Foods Market. Click the link to see it. I am recording it here on my blog so that I have easier access to my favorite foods. Thank you Whole Foods for creating amazing recipes for me to enjoy.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Order=Peace=Love

When my kids were babies and toddlers life seemed so chaotic all the time. It was like I never knew what was going to happen in any given hour, nor how the day was going to unfold after we first opened our eyes in the morning. 
Feeding times were sporadic, nap times were sporadic, and getting to bed at night was unpredictable! However, I didn't mind it so much because I really, really enjoyed the spontaneity of it all. I used to tell people, "I THRIVE on chaos! The more the merrier!" 
Because none of it made sense, and within the chaos there was always the knowing that this is just how life is when you have small children.
 I wasn't one of those moms that stayed home with the curtains drawn for nap time. If I had a play date that ran late or was running errands around town, then my toddler would fall asleep in the car or stroller. And I never believed in sleep training or scheduled feeding times. I saw that my children, when left to their own choices, would eat when they were hungry, and sleep when they were tired. It was my job to be flexible and understanding when it came to their needs, and  It all worked out. So, although life seemed chaotic, it was a happy sort of chaos--the kind that gave me a chance to truly enjoy the madness and crazy moments that came with raising small children. 
Micah and I both have fond memories of walking our toddler around the block, (late at night, in the mei-tai, snowflakes falling from the sky onto our heads), because we felt it was better to walk him to sleep than let  him cry to sleep. Yes, it was exhausting at times but the memories are precious. I can still remember the snow sparkling under the street lamps, as I stomped through the streets singing hymns while snuggling his little, pudgy cheeks.

Now that our children are older, however, I am seeing the joy and happiness that comes with having order and structure in our days. 
It all started when my eldest turned 3 and I realized that he needed clear guidelines in what to do in the morning or nothing would ever get accomplished. It would be 11 o'clock in the morning and he would still be in his pajamas, teeth not brushed, asking if he could watch another round of Dinosaur Train. This is not how I wanted our days to turn out.
 Thus, our first chart was born. 
It was called the Important Things Chart, and it listed all the important things we needed to accomplish before we could move on to the rest of our day: 
1. Morning prayers
2. Breakfast
3. Brush Teeth
4. Scripture Study
5. Daily chores
6. Hugs and I love yous

The order of the important things didn't matter so much as getting them done. Sometimes we did scriptures then had breakfast, or sometimes we did our chores first then brushed our teeth. The main thing was having goals set in place that we could follow, so that by 9 o'clock a.m we could feel a sense of accomplishment in our day. 
Four years later, and we are still following this morning routine. It's become such an integral part of our daily lives that our children thrive on knowing it exists and count on it happening each day. I love that I can wake up and know they will be working on these important things without me asking. My eldest will come running to me at the end saying, "Mom, I'm 100%!" with a big smile on his face. His little five year old brother often gets distracted but soon catches up. Our three year old is just now starting this morning routine, and even gets a sticker for completing things.

Sometimes it's really hard to be consistent and to implement programs in your household, because, after all, it does take precious time and energy to get them going at first. It's especially not fun if the kids grumble or complain about having to do their chores. But, I have witnessed firsthand that being consistant and staying with them through the process, pays off in the end. I no longer need to walk my seven year old through how to load the washing machine because he can do it himself now. My five year old can put away laundry. My three year old knows how to wash mirrors. They are learning responsibility  and independence, which is an important part of life, in my opinion.
Furthermore, I love having scripture study with my kids each day. This past year we've studied the Old Testament, read all the stories in the Friend Magazine, and have started the Doctrine and Covenants. Some of our greatest gospel discussions have come from taking the time to read and pray together in the mornings and allowing time for my children to ask those deep and meaningful questions. 

I've had someone say that they don't like the idea of raising little-robot-soldiers, so they avoid the charts and lists. After all, their children didn't ask to be born, so why should they ask them to do things they don't want to do?
I've found that having set rules in our house isn't a way to force control over our children, but rather a way to create peace and love in our household. When everyone helps out and does the things that are important, there is an overall feeling of unity, respect, and happiness in our home.
(I also believe that,yes, our children did ask to be born.)
For instance, In our house you have to put your dish in the sink when you are done eating. You also have to clean up your mess before you start another one. You have to keep your belongings in their proper place, and you have to keep clutter and trash off the floors. These are not hard things to do, nor is there a reward or punishment for doing or not doing them. We've all seen the struggles that come when someone can't find a clean plate to eat from, or is missing their favorite toy, or have misplaced their keys (that's usually me), and through trial and error we've found that having order replaces this frustration and madness. 
**On a side note, I can thank Micah for insisting that I have ONE special place that I always keep my keys, so I'm not always frantically searching for them. This was a huge problem for us when we first got married, but I have learned. Yep, I have learned.

Another routine we follow, which is valuable to us, is the bed-time routine. Micah has always been very adamant about the kids having a specific bed time, where I, on the other hand always felt that they should be able to go to sleep whenever they're tired. 
However, I've realized that what makes sense when they were babies doesn't work when they're 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7 years old. 
2 year old Zadok, pushing past midnight
Older children will push past their tiredness, force their wired, little eyes open, have a crazy, second wind, then interrupt the evening by needing more food, watching movies past midnight, and talking their parents heads off until they are completely exhausted. Then, the next day they are cranky and unreasonable. (Parents and Children)
Thus, the bed-time routine was born.

At 7:30pm we get ready for bed by doing more Important Things: 
1.Brush teeth
2. Put on clean underwear and pajamas (or clothes--I don't really care if they wear pajamas, just as long as they're clean when they get into bed.)
3. Micah reads them to sleep.
4. Lights off

And that's it. We've been doing this for several years now and it works for us. Sometimes I get lazy and don't wanna get the bedtime routine going, but, the payoff is that our older kids are in bed by 8pm and it has been wonderful. 
**Our toddler is hit and miss on the bedtime routine depending on what kind of nap he's had during the day, or if he's had any nap at all. If no nap, then he can go down easy at 8pm, if he's had a nap then he'll be up late hanging out with Mom and Dad. That's just the way it goes until he gets older and his sleep gets more regulated.
Daytime snooze in the swing for Jonah
Another thing to note is the type of reading material we choose right before bed, really makes a big difference. If my husband reads Harry Potter or Magic Tree House, then falling asleep is out of the question. We tried it a few times and it made them even more wired. So, he always reads scriptures from the Old Testament, New Testament, Book Of Mormon , or Doctrin & Covenants, and it always lulls them right to sleep. In fact now they can't go to bed without scriptures. They always ask for it, and can't fall asleep without the sound of Papa's voice.

All these things we have learned through trial and error, and through envisioning the type of home we want our children to grow up in. Everyone has different ideals and goals for their families-- Our ideal is to have a home where children are happy, parents are at peace, and everyone gets their needs met, and we have seen  how having order in our home meets these needs, fulfills our ideals, and brings an overall feeling of love to our family. This is something we are still working  and is a constant learning process for me. 

I am still grateful for those days of happy chaos and sporadic-ness. I loved nursing my babies at all odd hours, and watching my toddlers drift to sleep in their strollers while running errands around town. That's just the way it is with littler children. I truly enjoyed the spontaneity of it all!
Now I am enjoying the peace of knowing we can still be spontaneous and have fun during the day, but also maintain sanity in our lives. 

(And who knows, maybe my son's future wives will thank me someday for teaching them how to be organized and clean! I really do hope so. ;))