Friday, December 26, 2014

Flashback Friday- In Hawaii we say "TOWN"

We used to call the other side of the island "town”. Everyone who lived out in the country did. Traveling over to town was a big deal for most families, as it was clear on the other side of the island, and such a bustling change from the quiet and solitude of the country. When my siblings and I were little kids in the 1980's my mom would herd us all onto the The Bus, our local circle-island transit system, where we'd sit for a winding, bumpy, 45 minutes, until we reached town Kaneohe mall on the east side of the island. This was the closest city from where we lived in the small village of Laie. 
While riding The Bus I liked to sit by the window, so I could see the ocean scenery on the way there. The waves were always choppy on the eastern shore, with onshore winds blowing hard upon the sands. I could see the ocean colors change from light green, to turquoise, to deep dark blue as I followed the changing shades further and further towards the horizon. There were always fishermen lining the shores, listening for their lines to ring, waiting patiently for a big catch.
The Ko'olau Mountains towered overhead on the right. I always marveled at how lush and green they were, and how they never stopped glimmering, even under the dark, looming, rain clouds. I would practice saying the names of the towns as we passed each one of them by, starting with Laie, then Hauula, then Punalu'u, and then Ka'a'awa, with all it's seemingly thousands of a's.  Then finally we'd pass by Chinaman's Hat at Kualoa Park, then Kaneohe Bay, until we reached the small city of Kaneohe itself. 
My mom would get us off at the mall where we’d walk around for hours, mostly window shopping. The fast-moving escalators fascinated me, along with the pet store with aisles of brightly colored fish and parakeets. I always made a point to stop into the Sears department store for a catalog to take home with me. One year there was this white, faux fur coat which I desperately wanted. I could picture myself strutting down the streets of Laie wrapped in my snow-white fur, perhaps to the envy of all the kids at Laie Elementary School. I circled it in big, bold, black marker so my mother would see it and buy it for me for Christmas. (She never did, thank goodness, and I can see now why that would have been a bad choice.)
Before we left Kaneohe mall, my mom would buy us each a plate lunch at Patti's Chinese Kitchen. We'd pile our plates high with Chow Mein noodles, cabbage egg rolls, and sweet rice cakes for dessert. 
Minutes later, feeling stuffed and fulfilled, we'd get back onto The Bus to our next destination. Sometimes we'd get off at the Goodwill Thrift Store for a new pair of shoes or jams (local lingo for shorts), or sometimes we'd get off at Chinaman's Hat where we’d play on the seashore and dip our toes into the ocean. No matter what we did, it was always an exciting adventure to travel into town.

It wasn’t until years later that I was introduced to another type of town called Waikiki, on the south shore. Waikiki is still the second biggest city on Oahu, today, with Honolulu being the first. But where Honolulu is the government and business center of the island, Waikiki is the bustling center of tourist attractions for people visiting from all over the world. Most people that have been a tourist in Hawaii have stayed in Waikiki at some point on their vacation.
Waikiki is packed full of hotels, resorts, swimming pools, shopping centers, shuttle buses, and sun-burnt tourists. Restaurants and bars line the beaches. The sand is covered with rented beach umbrellas. Tourists lounge in beach chairs by the hundreds.  People gather from all corners of the planet to float carelessly on beach rafts under the Waikiki sunshine or surf the gentle waves.
Our family rarely went there when I was a little girl. 
By the early 1990's we had moved to a small house near Pupukea Foodland across from Three Tables beach on the North Shore.  As a 12-year-old girl, I could walk over to Three Tables almost any time of day and have the beach to myself. 
I remember many carefree summer days spent running up and down the sand with my brothers and sister, and my Pomeranian puppy, Pog. We’d collect  seashells, swim with sea turtles, and watch the most glorious sunsets together. I felt much more comfortable on this side of the island, away from the crowds of the city.

 In the summer of 1992, however, this would all change for me. It was this year that some good friends from California invited me to stay with them in their hotel suite while they visited Waikiki.  I had hardly spent any time in Waikiki at all, and now I would be staying in a hotel, right in the center of the city. I was intrigued to experience a different side of Hawaii, and experience it, I did! Because every summer for the next 8 years this wonderful family invited me to come stay with them in their hotel! 
They had never-ending lists of fun things to do, and invited me to join along with them.  We often spent the evenings people watching on the busy Kalakaua strip. It was easy to point out the prostitutes, as we  watched them pick up on rich Japanese men in designer suits. It was so much fun hanging out with my friend Ashley, as we made up silly things to do like butt walk down the boulevard, or laugh at tiny women in giant platform shoes. 
Many hot, summer days were spent sun-tanning on the beach, or surfing on long boards rented from the local Beach Boys. Sometimes we’d pay for a ride in a canoe, or sail on catamarans in the bouncing surf.  When the waves got really big we’d bodysurf the shore break and then spend the rest of the day picking tiny specks of sand out of our hair.

When we grew tired of the ocean we’d go shopping at the International Market Place, or grab some french fries and Mud Pie at Duke’s. On the weekends we'd sit and watch live bands play and laugh at all the drunk and sun burnt tourists, dancing in hazy circles on the beach.
There was also a pool at the Outrigger Hotel on the beach, where we would go to escape the salt water for a cool, chlorinated, dip. There was a large, glass window underneath the pool’s surface that peeked into a workout room where people jogged on treadmills. I thought it was the coolest thing ever to look in the under-water-window with blurry eyes, and watch people run.

Those sunny, happy, lackadaisical  Summers in Waikiki are something I have looked back on, cherished, and smiled at over and over again. I feel so blessed to have had those experiences in my life, along with these amazing friends that are still my friends to this day. I also have fond and wonderful memories of hanging out with my Dad when he moved to town in my teenage years.

I loved growing up North Shore, yet I also look back with warm nostalgia, of my happy memories of "town." 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Happiness is our goal

I'm still in shock over our big, recent changes! My child: my 8 year old who was once shy-as-can-be, anxious and nervous, introverted, wants-to-be-home-with-mom-child, decided he wanted to start attending third grade public school last week!
It was just several weeks ago when I started getting these feelings like he needed something more than what we were doing at home. Those little whisperings of change on the wind started to appear in my head, and I knew something would happen real soon- I just didn't know what.
It was a Sunday afternoon in the nursing lounge at church, talking to another mom, that it all came together. She was telling me that her 10 year old son with high functioning autism started out his school experience really slowly on an ILP (Individual Learning Plan). This situation worked really well for him as he could pick and choose what and when he attended school. This mom told me that the school worked with him and catered to his needs as was fit. I was amazed that a public school would be so accommodating! I started to wonder if I could squeeze Zadok into some classes here and there at Odin's school. Maybe a computer class, or a science class, or some PE, just to get some more growing experiences in. I figured he wouldn't like the idea at first, but might warm up to it if I went with him the first couple of times. Plus he would see his best buddy and little brother at school and maybe they could even be in the same science group. I went in and talked to the principle about it and he was wonderful. He said that, absolutely, Zadok could start attending whatever classes he wanted to, whenever was good for us. He was very respectful and considerate of Zadok's social anxiety and willing to do whatever we needed. He assigned him a teacher, his own desk, and basically said,"See ya when we see ya!" I didn't even have to sign any paperwork!
We started him off on a Tuesday afternoon after lunch just to attend a 3 hour section of school. *Just to get his toes wet and see how he liked it. *Just to meet some new friends. *Just to learn some new things.
Zadok wasn't thrilled with the idea, but he was willing to go along with it. Meanwhile, It felt so right in my heart to push him forward with these new experiences.
What I didn't expect was when I picked him up three hours later he would tell me he that he loved every second of it, and he wanted to start attending school full time, right away.
What?? Really?? 
I wasn't expecting this.
"Are you sure?" I asked, "Because you don't have to go full time. You can just take the classes you want," I said.
"Nope", I love school and I want to go full time," he replied.
"Okay then! We want you to be happy and if this is what you want to do...let's do it!" I said back.
 Funny, while I thought he was just dipping his toes into something new, he was actually ready to dive right in!

The next day I went in and filled out all the necessary paperwork. I watched as my once shy, anxious child ran around a soccer field kicking a ball around with other children. I watched as he walked off to his science group with nothing more than a quick wave goodbye to mom. I cried as I pulled out of the parking lot because I knew that God had led us to this moment. I knew that Zadok was ready to do something new on his life's path of progression, and that it all happened at the right time, at the right place, and according to God's plans for Zadok.

The following week was his first full week of school:
On Monday I picked up a happy, excited, and smiling 8 year old boy.
On Tuesday I picked up a happy, excited, and smiling 8 year old boy.
On Wednesday I picked up a happy, excited, and smiling 8 year old boy.
On Thursday I picked up a happy, excited, and smiling 8 year old boy.
On Friday I picked up a happy, excited, and smiling 8 year old boy, and I knew that he was exactly where he needed to be.

Two months ago if someone asked me if we would ever put Zadok in school I wouldv'e said No way. He's just not that kind of kid and he'll probably homeschool forever! But changes happen. Life happens. And you just never know when the winds of change will blow your direction and change the life's course.
Of course, If I wanted to, I could keep all my boys home and make homeschooling my ultimate goal: But I've been realizing more and more that it was never about homeschooling vs. brick and mortar schooling for our family; It's always been about happiness. Happiness has always been our ultimate goal. And if my kids are thriving and happier attending a wonderful, educational school with a supportive and positive environment, then I'm all for it!

I'm excited for my boy's futures here!  I have been impressed so far with the caliber of people we are associating with through this public school experience, and look forward to many years ahead as we actively involve ourselves in their schooly social lives and educations. I also feel like we've finally found a dedicated community of people we can depend on and build relationships with, as we are all on this path together.
I am very happy right now and thank God for this awesome  turn of events.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Sometimes I eat bugs for lunch

I try to have a big pot of something yummy in the fridge to eat all through the week, such as chili, or lentil soup, or potato soup, or Micah's delicious stir-fry. I get really busy during the week and often don't have time to cook something nice for myself. When I don't get enough food I get cranky, shaky, and irritable with my kids. Having a big pot of healthy soup on hand is the perfect thing to help keep me balanced.

Several weeks ago I was having a really hard time getting enough food in. It seemed that every-time I had a chance to prep some veggies or cut some meat, my baby would wake up and need me to hold him or feed him. Or my toddler would climb on me and need some attention. I was living on fishy crackers and apples and it wasn't doing the job. I finally asked my husband to make me a pot of veggie stir fry so I'd have some actual food to eat when life got crazy.
The broccoli harvest from our summer garden was huge this year! In fact, up until three weeks ago we still had a big bag of broccoli in our fridge on the verge of going rotten. I was so grateful when he used up that entire bag of broccoli to whip up the biggest, fullest, pot of veggie stir fry I'd ever seen! Yum! The fishy cracker famine was over!
I scooped up a bowl and immediately started shoving big spoonfuls of stir fry into my mouth. Each bite was something warm, wonderful, and satisfying to my taste-buds! I could feel the bountiful nutrients penetrating my soul and bringing life back into my deprived system. 
Then I stopped. 
Because right then I noticed that along with my freshly cooked broccoli florets, were infestations of freshly cooked broccoli bugs. And not just one or two, but 15-20 little aphids per bite, floating amongst the other vegetable and stir-fry particles.
I don't know how many little bugs I had already eaten, but It was too late-I couldn't take it back: I was a bug-eater.  
It immediately reminded me of the time when I was a little girl in Hawaii and my mom made me a bowl of hot ramen for breakfast. Halfway through the bowl I realized I had been eating boiled, dead maggots with every bite. I was so grossed out that I threw the rest in the trash. However, I didn't dare say anything to my mom because we were very poor and that was all the food my family had that day. I went to school grateful for a maggot-free school lunch. 

I suppose I should have thrown out my husband's veggie stir fry, too. I suppose I should've been thoroughly grossed out, wondering why he didn't wash the broccoli first. I could've yelled at him for feeding me bugs and stomped my feet around the house demanding a re-do! However,  I knew that it wasn't intentional and that he was just busy. When people are busy, they sometimes overlook small details like washing the small bugs off of the broccoli before serving it to their starving spouses. 
So, I didn't throw it out. And although we are not poor, and gratefully we have enough money to buy food for our family, I ate that entire pot of bug-infested stir fry during the week anyways. 

I did it because I am grateful for a husband that will take the time to make me food.
I did it because I love veggie stir-fry and didn't want to see it go to waste.
I did it because it was really delicious, and before I noticed all the critters, I had been thoroughly enjoying it.
I did it because if I closed my eyes and imagined the bugs were all gone, it still tasted the same.
I did it because I've eaten bugs before, when I worked in wilderness therapy, and they didn't taste all that bad.
I did it because I have a good imagination and could easily pretend I was a wild-bush-woman from the Australian outback who eats bugs on a regular basis.
Finally, I did it because I didn't want to be hungry all week while I ran around taking care of my kids.

So yes, I confess that I am a bug eater. 
But not this week because this week I am making chili with beans and corn, from a can.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Kids Welcome Here.

Each week we have my kid's friends over to play at our house! I think it's really fun to watch them interact, be silly, and fight over the huge plate of nachos on the table along with my own children. They all get along so well, these kids! (neighbor kids, church kids, school kids)

I like feeding all the kids! I like it when they all come running into the kitchen after a long, exhausting session on the trampoline looking for food. I cook up big pots of pasta and cover it in cheese sauce. I cut up apple slices and dish out bowls of peanut butter to dip them in. I pour large cups of milk and sometimes throw in a cookie or two. I like keeping my pantry stocked with enough food to feed my kids and their little friends. They don't eat a whole lot and I'm always impressed with the kids that say Thank You. I get after the ones that don't and remind them of their manners. Especially my own kids.

I like having a house-full of laughter and jokes and booby traps! I like looking out my back window to see kids in the trees, kids on the swings, kids in the sand pit, and kids playing with the dogs. I've always wanted a backyard filled with fun things to do for kids! 

I like seeing kids riding their bikes up and down the sidewalks and round and round the cul-de-sac, too. I also like it when the kids come in the house and engage in long games of chess, or dominoes, or marble run. Last week they had a pretty entertaining game of hide and go seek happening here. "Bounce the balls up and down the stairs" and "wizards" are other fun games they play.

I always ask the kids to clean up after themselves when they're done. It's nice to see the kids respect this wish and be mindful of our family's space. I don't allow messes to clutter up our lives, although I'm not too strict! I like the slogan I saw once on someone' family wall:
"Clean enough to be sanitary, messy enough to be happy."

I've always wanted a house where my kid's friends feel right at home. I love having a house-full of children and look forward to having a house-full of teenagers! I want my home to be a place where kids feel welcomed, safe, respected, comfortable, and loved. 

How to pay your water bill before and after kids

Before Kids:
Monday: Receive bill. Open envelope. Decide to pay it early. Write check. Lick stamp. Place in mailbox. Relax. Go on a long bike ride and think about where to eat out for dinner. Vietnamese Pho or Thai Curry will do!

After Kids:
Monday: Think about the bill. Think about it sitting on the kitchen counter in the envelope, with all the other bills, waiting for you to open it.

Tuesday: Open the envelope and stare at the $$$ amount. Did someone leave the hose on again? Was it me? Try to remember where you left your check book last.

Wednesday: Write the check, sign it, and place it in the envelope. Look in your wallet for stamps. Discover that there are none left.

Thursday: Remember that you need more stamps because you actually used the last one to pay the mortgage bill. Drive through at the ATM after school drop-off and before grocery store, and purchase more stamps.

Friday: Lick stamp and place it on the envelope which is still on the kitchen counter. Don't forget to write a return address. Put envelope next to the front door so you won't forget to drop it in the mail box.

Saturday: Before breakfast ask your 8 year old to run the envelope out to the mailbox. Remind him, "Don't forget to raise the flag so the mailman will pick it up."

Sunday: Relax knowing your water bill is payed and there are no more bills due til next month.

Monday: Check the mailbox after lunch and find that the envelope is still in there. Your child forgot to raise the flag on Saturday and the mailman hadn't stopped. Quickly get kids in the car  and rush to the post office and drop the envelope in the blue drop box. Worry that it won't get there on time and you might be charged a late fee. Run to the store to buy stuff for dinner. Dinosaur chicken nuggets will do.

*And that is how it's done!
I sure love this family of mine. Life is definitely different with four kids, but I wouldn't have it any other way. This is the season of my life where I cast aside all of my perfectionism, my high expectations, my lofty ideals, and even sometimes my common sense, and follow my heart completely. It might take me an entire week to pay a bill (or insert any other adult responsibility), but in between all those days and hours is a mom spending time with my kids.
**And  no, I didn't get a late fee. Phew!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Forget yourself and Serve (Combating the Winter Blues with Service)

I got to thinking yesterday,"How can I be happier this winter? It just won't work for me to be moping around like a turd, letting this cold weather take the best from me! I am a strong, positive person with a lot of good to share with the world, so why should I let Old Man Winter beat me down?"
My best inspiration came after I forced myself to church. I wanted to stay home all cozied up in my bed next to the wood burning stove, but I knew I had to go. And while I was sitting in sacrament meeting the thought came to me to make goals of service, even f I didn't feel like it, even if looking outside my pitiful self was the last thing I felt like doing.

Here's 5 ways I felt instantly happier, which I also think will improve my overall mood this coming week:

1. I made a goal to bring a new mom a meal. 
I saw a mom at church with a 4 week old baby. She looked tired and overwhelmed. Along with her 4 week old baby she also has two small children and two foster teenagers. She could definitely use a meal this week, I thought. So I scheduled to bring her family dinner the next day. I instantly felt happier.

2. I made a goal to beautify our nursing lounge.
I went into the mother's nursing lounge at church to feed my baby (because It's quiet in there and easier to feed a baby that squirms and squirts milk everywhere like mine.) It's a small, plain, drab-feeling room with one comfy rocking chair, one broken rocking chair, no changing pad, and many mothers who all want to feed their babies at the same time. So I made a goal to give it a face lift. I put an order in to the Bishop for a new rocker. This week I'm going to find a changing pad, a vase of flowers, a beautiful quote, and a pretty basket for all the extra diapers.  Voila! I felt even happier.

3. I organized a playdate at my house.
Winter can be lonely, so let's all get together! One of my friends on facebook had a great idea to start a winter soup group. Once a week they'll meet at a different persons house to eat warm soup and let their children play. I loved it! So, I planned my first  "Soups, Snacks, and Socializing" play-date at my house this week. I invited my LLL breastfeeding group, and am excited to open my home to others who get just as lonely as me. I feel happy already!

4. I am catching up on thank you's. 
I have so many people do great things for me! I hope I don't take that for granted. Just last week I had a friend give me bags of cute, gently used hand-me-downs for our baby. Another friend ordered me a brand new coffee grinder from Amazon for grinding up all my seeds, when she heard I didn't have one. Another friend watched my kids at a moments notice. Another friend brought me dinner when I was having a rough day. Another friend sent me a real letter in the mail with pictures from Hawaii. My goal this week is to remember to send thank yous, to say thank yous, and to express thank yous however I can. Pay it forward!

5. I made a goal to do my Visiting Teaching. Our church has a wonderful system set in place of ministering to those in need. Each lady in our women's organization is assigned to look after several other ladies each month. Those ladies we're assigned to are women that we pray for, visit regularly, keep up on the latest happenings in their lives, help in times of emergency, sickness, or urgent need, plus we also share a spiritual message each time we visit them. It's a way to make sure that everyone is taken care of, watched over, and loved. My goal this week is to visit my sisters and offer sincere love and service to each of them. I feel happy when I do this each month. 
Learn more about Visiting teaching here. 

I hope I can remember that whenever I get feeling bluesy and sorry for myself, the best way to combat those feelings is to forget myself and help other people. (It works, it really does!) Furthermore, I've worked really hard to overcome real depression-- to lift myself up from the dark places of my soul that couldn't be fixed before no matter what methods I tried. The winter blues are different  to me because, unlike real depression, I can find ways to rise above them and bring light back into my life. I'm sure there will be days when all I want to do is cry and curse the sky, but for the most part I'm going to give this winter my best effort.

I was also reminded of a story I read about our former Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley:
"As a new missionary serving in Preston, England, Elder Gordon B. Hinckley was facing a major trial in his life. He was sick when he arrived in the mission field, and he quickly became discouraged because of the opposition to the missionary work. At a time of deep frustration, Elder Hinckley wrote in a letter to his father that he felt he was wasting his time and his father’s money. A little while later, Elder Hinckley received a reply from his dad. It said, “Dear Gordon, I have your recent letter. I have only one suggestion: forget yourself and go to work.”
Earlier that morning during scripture study, Elder Hinckley had read in the Bible, “Whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it” (Mark 8:35).
“With my father’s letter in hand, I went into our bedroom in the house at 15 Wadham Road, where we lived, and got on my knees and made a pledge with the Lord. I covenanted that I would try to forget myself and lose myself in His service” (Ensign, July 1987, p. 7).
What a wonderful message to remind ourselves to be happier through service. When we covenant with the Lord to serve others, I believe it invites His spirit into our hearts and allows the light to penetrate more deeply, even on the darkest, wintry days.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Right here, right now. The school update!

      Two weeks ago our four year old decided he was done with pre-school.  It was only 2 1/2 hours a day, but it seemed to fill a little void for the both of us. For him he got to engage in fun activities and get loads of attention from the over-staffed classroom of University students working on their childhood education degrees. For me, I got to have some space to help my eight year old with his homeschooling, plus get some exercise and mental peace time in. My 4 year old talks NON-stop, and has a challenging personality for me, so having just two hours of quiet time was doing wonders for my sanity.
       Then one day after a month and 1/2, he just didn't want to go anymore. He started saying things like,"School makes me too sick." or "When I go to school I run out of too much energy."  Pretty soon I was having to bribe him to go, offering special treats when I picked him up like mango smoothies and suckers. But that wasn't working either. It was beginning to stress me out until I realized that it didn't matter anymore if he went or not. He was only four years old. If he wanted to be home with is mother, so be it.

I admit I was upset at first. This arrangement was something I had really hoped would work out.  One day while he was at pre-school I remember running down the bike path with the baby jogger, wind in my hair, and feeling a joyous freedom come over me! I felt so blessed to have this time to myself!
But, it's all done now so I have to move on. Instead of wallowing in my disappointment, I had to shift my paradigm a bit, re-do my daily routine, buy a double jogging stroller, and find the positive in this new arrangement. (It's been three weeks now and I've found the positive.) 
First of all I had been constantly rushed. I had been hurrying to get Odin and Jonah out the door at 9am to drop them off at their schools, then rushing back home to quickly nurse the baby, read scriptures, go jogging, work on stuff with Zadok, then try to squeeze in some extra "me-time" before I had to go pick Jonah up again at 11:30am. I was married to my watch, which is someone I never like to be.

Secondly, I realized that Jonah and I needed more time together, not less time. I had thought that daily pre-school would be a good way for him to get some extra attention while I was preoccupied with the new baby, but I was wrong because he just needed me: To sit on the floor with him. To play with him. To build marble runs and set up the train set with him. To make lunch together and dance in the kitchen with him. To color pictures, cuddle, read books, and watch Dinosaur Train together. To give him as much attention as I gave my older two children when they were his age. 
I realized that just because he was willing to go to pre-school, didn't mean it was the right thing for him to do. So once he decided he was completely done going, I knew it was because he needed more attention from me, more than he needed attention from pre-school. And I needed him, too. We've been bonding more, and through our time spent together I am learning to be more patient, more understanding, and more receptive to his needs. He is a headstrong, contradictory, and often honoree child, but the more we hang out together, the more I can see the positive sides of his tough personality. He needed his Mama to see him in a better light. Don't we all?

We also had to ditch the third grade K12 home school program for Zadok. It was waaaaaay too demanding, overly structured, and stressful on all of us. The daily schedule didn't match our family's learning style, and was giving us all an unhealthy dose of anxiety. Fortunately I was able to send all the curriculum and computer equipment back without any trouble, which was nice. 
Now were back to un-schooling! Zadok is a natural learner and self-directs his own. Right now he's reading like crazy. He's finished the Percy Jackson series, is working on Harry Potter, and reads anything he can find on Dragons and Wizards. His Dad has him working on math everyday. I work on grammar and writing with him. Our daily exercise is hiking the dogs up the hills, or jogging our favorite bike path. Zadok likes being home. He likes to curl up on the couch and read a good book and hang out with his Mama. Nothing wrong with that. I feel really close with my Zadok boy and love spending this time with him.

Lastly, Odin the first grader still loves going to school! He's been using the word "mighty" a lot to describe things. Like, "I need to read this mighty book for my homework!" or "This dinner is mighty good!" I love his fun vocabulary and I also love that he loves going to school so much. He reminds me a lot of myself at this age. I couldn't wait to get out the door in the mornings  to see all my friends and do my mighty school work.
Sometimes I wake up and realize that I don't know what the heck I'm doing raising these four boys. I mean right now I feel like everything is good in the moment, and each child has his needs met, but then I find that I'm terrified of the future! I can't seem to see anything past five years ahead, let alone next month.
*How long can I keep getting up every morning and driving Odin to school before I burn myself out? Will keeping Zadok home-schooled only exacerbate his shyness and anxiety or keep healing him from it? Will Jonah always be so contradictory? Will I kiss the ground on his first day of Kindergarten or miss him like crazy? Do I want to make goals to have them all home-schooled by next year or keep my mind open to sending them all to school? Will baby Malachi be my last baby? Do we want to try for a girl or have I reached my capacity?
Do I want to start thinking about making an extra income to pay off our debts? Can I handle the stress of work and family?

I honestly don't know what I/we/they want. I don't know what's best for everyone. I only seem to know what's best right now. I've been praying for some clarity but the only answer I get is:
Right now is working so just flow with it. Don't worry about what the future will bring because it will take care of itself.
So that's what I'm trying to do--be happy in the moment. Go with the flow. 
I'm happy that I have a wonderful family that I love so much, happy that we have everything we need, and happy that each one of them is thriving in their current situation, right here, right now. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Waikiki Moon

One night we went surfing under the bright, full moon. The blaring lights from the beach hotels helped illuminate the night sky. The sea stayed dark and calm, with gentle 2-3 foot sets rolling in. It was just us and the ocean out there; deep, sparkling, and beautiful. I waited a long time for the perfect wave. When it finally came I couldn't tell when the crest would break, as dark clouds covered the sky, casting a shadow over the water. The gray night sky and the gray ocean suddenly blended into one, a sudden movement of synchronistic perfection. I rose to my feet at just the right moment, gliding across the face of the wave, high on adrenaline and glory, just me and the Waikiki moon.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Minivan Floor Costume-Halloween 2014

Looking for a last-minute Halloween costume idea?
It's called, 
"The floor of my minivan."
If you're a mom and you drive a minivan, and you have any children at all, this means you don't have time to actually clean that minivan! And the clutter that builds up on the floor is disgusting, gross, and downright spooky. Hence, the perfect Halloween costume. 

Step 1: Clean out the floor of your minivan
Step 2: Superglue all the crap to your favorite mom sweats
Step 3: Add a shirt to go with it, covered in dirty footprints, grass stains, and crumbs. 

 Happy Halloween!

Here's my  cute li' Pumpkin baby to assist me on Halloween night. I don't have photos of the other 3 boys, yet. Z and O are going to be the same thing as last year (Dark Wizard and Fire Wizard, and J is a tiny Ninja. (Click here for Halloween 2013)
The boys carved watermelon-o-lanterns since we had so many leftover after the frost this year.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

4th Baby Home-Birth in Retrospect

I was digging through some boxes in storage today when I stumbled upon our home-birth kit. When you're planning to give birth at home there are certain supplies you need to have on hand, such a sterile gloves, cord clamps, and a fishing net (the fishing net is for a water birth if you can imagine why.) We weren't able to use some of our supplies because of my hospital transfer, so they've been sitting in my storage closet ever since.
I also found an empty birth certificate that is usually filled out by the midwife and an ink pad for taking prints of baby's little, newborn feet. 
I got sad for a moment imagining again how things could have turned out had the baby's head not turned onto my nerve like it did. I pictured us all relaxing at home while my midwife weighed the baby with a homemade midwife's scale, and then stamped his tiny footprints in ink and then onto the paper. sigh. Now I'll have to stamp our baby's big, 3 month old feet, which will add to the depth of the story, I suppose. 

With every hard experience there is always the retrospection to look forward to- the moments when you get to look back and see all the blessings and meanings behind everything hard that happened to you. 
One blessing I haven't mentioned before is how several weeks before I went into labor my husband and I applied for medical insurance through our state government. We didn't think we would qualify but thought we'd try anyways to help with medical bills for after the baby was born. Our midwife fees were already paid for in cash, so we were covered for the delivery at home, but to our surprise we ended up qualifying, and were granted with 100% coverage of any medical bills for up to one month before baby was born and up to 3 months afterward. You can imagine what a blessing this was when we got the big bill for my hospital stay plus epidural. It was a humungous blessing that we didn't have to go into debt over this. 

Another healing experience I had was when I realized that I had been preparing myself for this hospital transfer all along: 
Several months before I went into labor I had gone through a rough patch in my pregnancy where I decided I wasn't going to homebirth anymore. I began to fear the pain from my last homebirth, and began to second-guess my ability to birth without medication. I wanted to look into birthing in a hospital with an epidural instead, which is something I've never done.  So, one of the first things I did during this emotional crisis was call one of my best friends who recently had an epidural birth. We talked on the phone for a long time as she explained everything about epidurals-The risks, the benefits, the insertion process, the side-effects, the after-effects, and anything else she could think of. It was a very informative, enlightening conversation! However, I cancelled that epidural plan and obviously decided birthing at home was best afterall. However, when I found myself lying in that hospital bed on epidural medication, I felt extremely confident because I knew everything about epidurals. When my body started shaking uncontrollably and I could no longer feel my legs, I wasn't scared because my friend  already told me this would happen.

Lastly, several times in my pregnancy I had dreams of pushing my baby out, weather in day-dreams or real dreams, it didn't matter; whenever I envisioned our baby coming out I was in a large room in a hospital. There were people surrounding me and I could see my baby's small head emerging, full of dark, brown hair. A doctor sat at the foot of my bed waiting to catch my baby's little, newborn body. Then the dream was over.
I pushed these visions away because I knew I needed to envision how I wanted my birth to be, not this other scenario. So instead I would try to picture pushing the baby out in the birthing tub at home. I eventually pushed these other hospital images out of my mind until I was solely focused on the water birth.
It wasn't until weeks after the birth of baby Malachi that I was finally emotionally stable enough to look at the birth pictures my friend Jillian took. When I got to the photos from the hospital I started crying. The images in front of me were the exact ones from my dreams: The same room, the same layout, the same people, the same dark, brown hair emerging. 

This birth was a beautiful reminder that life is full of meaningful experiences, not just coincidental accidents. There is a thread woven throughout all of our life experiences, binding together what we need for divine growth, and enlightened understanding. I truly believe that baby Malachi was going to be born in that hospital no matter what I might have done. This was our destiny and our blessing.
I wrote a letter to our local newspaper to express my gratitude for the hospital's respectful treatment of me and my birth team. They published it in the "Letter to the Editor" section. 
I feel that there can be a lot of misunderstanding and animosity between the home-birthing and hospital-birthing professionals in many communities. My letter was also a wish to express a need to bring together our communities in purpose, tolerance, and appreciation for the good intentions we all have in bringing baby's safely into this world. I still get a lot of positive comments from people around town for writing this letter. Let's just say, I felt inspired!
I am also extremely really grateful for all the people that helped and supported our family for this birth. And every  single day I am so grateful and in love with baby Malachi. 

Feel free to read my letter below or click on the link for the newspaper version.

Appreciation for Valley View Labor and Delivery:

To the Editor:

I was recently a patient at Valley View Medical Center. I transferred to the hospital because of unexpected, severe and debilitating nerve pain during the end of my labor.

For this birth, my husband and I had been anticipating a peaceful home delivery with our home-birth midwife, DyAnna Gordon, CPM. We had previously delivered two of our other children at home with a professional midwife, and were looking forward to a similar experience with this one.

However, the type of nerve pain I began experiencing is uncommon for a normal labor and delivery, which is why I chose to seek pain relief from the nearby hospital, instead of continuing to birth at home. With the full support of my midwife, my husband and my home-birth support team, we made an unexpected arrival at the medical center late Saturday evening, July 19.

Today I wanted to express my sincere and heartfelt gratitude to the staff at Valley View Medical Center for their kind and helpful approach to my unique situation. Their level of care and concern for my comfort and safety was over and beyond what I expected.

The nurses and doctors treated us all with friendliness and respect, as they swiftly moved toward relieving me of the excruciating pain I was in. Shortly after, I was able to give birth to a beautiful, healthy, 10-pound baby boy!

An extra special thank you goes out to Doctor Travis J. Bilanzich, DO, Shawn Kinross, CRNA and Amber Morris, RN. These individuals in particular took extra special good care of me, helping to make my birth experience at the hospital a joyful and happy ending. Thank you for doing what you do so well!

With hundreds of expectant mothers birthing at home in Southern Utah each year, there’s rarely, but occasionally, times when relief or intervention is sought from a local hospital. It’s comforting for me to know that our Cedar City hospital is willing and ready to help in the event that there is an emergency in these unique situations.

I think it’s wonderful to see our home-birth professionals and hospital-birthing professionals working together harmoniously to bring our children safely into the world. I hope that this feeling of friendliness and mutual respect in our community can be passed on for generations of babies to come.


Sally Jackson

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Inner Mama-Bear Roarrrrrs

"Hey you!" she yelled down the bike path towards my eight year old son.
My son didn't respond, but kept walking.
"Hey kid, stop!" she yelled again.
Again my son didn't respond. 
She tried again, this time shouting even louder than before, "Hey stupid kid! Stop walking, so my dog can sniff your dog!"
This time my son heard her and stopped walking. She had a look of pure annoyance on her face as she stomped up to my little boy. She was an older woman, probably in her late fifties. She had shoulder-length gray hair, and was wearing a knee-length jean skirt to walk in. 
She had been following behind him on the bike path for quite sometime, trying to catch up to him, she'd explained. She really wanted their dog's to meet each other by sniffing each other. 
"Why didn't you stop when I called you?" she asked.
"Uh, I don't know," my son replied. "I didn't know you were talking to me."
"Well, who else? You're the only one here, aren't you?," she asked.
My son just looked at her blankly. He isn't one to bother with superfluous questions such as the ones she was now throwing at him.
"What are you doing anyways?"she began again.
"Is this your dog or someone else's?"
"Why didn't you stop when I told you to?"

He finally gave quick, short answers to her questions and then hoped she'd go away.
"I'm walking." 
"It's my dog."
"I didn't hear you."
 She seemed satisfied enough, lingered for a moment longer, letting her little dog sniff our big dog's behind, then continued on her way. 

Every morning after we drop off my 6 year old and my four year old at school, my home-schooled 8 year old and I spend the next hour exercising. Sometimes we take our two dogs hiking up in the hills, or sometimes I jog on the bike path while my 8 year old rides his bike in circles around the baby and I. Today was a beautiful, sunny day, and we chose to both walk the bike path, bringing one of our  Border Collie dogs with us. 
Sometimes I walk at a faster pace than my son, and then wait for him at one of our meeting points. It was there that I was waiting, watching from afar, when that woman approached my son. I couldn't hear what they were saying, so I waited until he got closer to ask him. I could tell something was wrong by the look on his downtrodden face.
"What did that lady say to you?", I asked immediately, figuring something in their dialogue must've caused his change of mood.
"She called me a stupid kid because I wouldn't stop and let her dog sniff my dog."
His voice was soft and sad. His eyes were lowered to the ground. My heart instantly hurt for his hurt feelings.

"I'm so sorry, sweetheart." I gave him a big hug. "Some people are just mean and say the wrong things," I explained. "It was wrong of her to say that to you, but all we can do is ignore her and move on. Some people are just crazy like that."  I felt satisfied with my response and could see that he was feeling better already. I know from experience that there are some very unreasonable, grumpy people out there, who will be cross with you no matter what you do. I've had to let many things go in my life that I could've taken very personally, been very hurt and angered by, but chose not to. Choosing to ignore mean people and walk away takes huge amounts of courage and maturity, in my opinion. 

This is where I wish my story ended.
But, in true Sally fashion, I'm afraid I've got more to add to this situation.

I looked down at my son again. His big, brown, innocent eyes looked back up at me. 
"But why would she call a kid she doesn't even know, stupid?," he asked.
I could suddenly feel my blood starting to boil. I could feel my calm, cool demeanor melt away and be replaced with red, hot, steaming anger. It was starting to seethe over the top of the pan, and I knew I was going to have to say something to that lady. He had a point: why would some strange lady call my son stupid? 
She had no right to say that! In fact, she wasn't going to get away with this!
 My pulse quickened, my heart-rate started soaring. My inner-mama-bear was starting to growl. I looked ahead up the bike path and spotted her 300 yards away. I smiled sweetly at my son and said,"I'm gonna run real fast and catch up with that lady. We need to have a quick chat." 

I had 300 yards to decide what I was going to say. I had 300 yards to sort out my angry feelings and decide how I was going to let this strange woman know that it's actually not okay to call my son stupid. I had 300 yards to keep asking in my head, "What would Jesus do? What would Jesus do? What would Jesus do?" I also had 300 yards to change my mind and turn around, to forget the whole thing. 

My 300 yards ended quickly, and suddenly I was right behind her and her sniffy, little dog, too. I blurted out of nowhere,"You grumpy, old witch! How dare you call my son stupid! How dare you think it's okay to call my child names!"
She looked shocked. I was still fuming. I'm pretty sure there could've been fire coming out of my nostrils. Or claws protracting from my fingers....
"I am not mean!" she responded emphatically. "I am a very nice person!" 
"Yes you are mean! You're the grumpy old hag that called my son stupid! And now you have two choices here: You need to either apologize, or go back into your house and don't come out until you learn to be nice to children!" I responded just as forcefully. I stared her right in the eyes, waiting for her next move.
"Well, I'm sorry." she replied. "But you're no better than me, calling me names like this."
"Well, I'm not a grumpy old witch out to hurt the feelings of an eight year old boy, am I?" I shouted back.
"It doesn't matter who it is," she said back.
"Yes, it does!," I said back.
"No, it doesn't," she said back.
"Yes the hell it does!," I said back, even angrier than before. "You hurt his feelings, and ruined his morning, and it matters to us."

And then we parted ways. I grabbed my son and our dog, and huffed home. She took her scowl and her dog, and huffed home. "What a terrible lady." I said to my son. "Let's make sure we never pass her on the bike path again, if we can help it!"

I went home feeling really terrible. I'm pretty sure I felt more terrible than my son even did in the first place! I'm pretty sure I felt more terrible than If I had just...moved on. Let it go. Ignored her. Walked away. When we set out for a walk that morning I never wanted to make an enemy in my neighborhood, but now I had one.
The inner turmoil I now felt was way worse than the entire situation, and I brought this on myself.  On that day I made a choice to go against my first instinct and then do the one thing I shouldn't have done--lower myself to her level.
True, that lady said a mean and inappropriate thing to my child, but it's my job as the (mature, responsible) parent to teach him how to respond appropriately in these types of situations; because they will happen again. And again. And again. That's just the crazy way of the world.

Since becoming a mother 8 years ago I've discovered an inner-mama-bear I didn't know existed. I try to keep her tame and locked up in her cage, but every once in awhile she escapes with the hungry, ferociousness of a wild animal in late winter. This mama-bear wants to protect her children from the unpredictable cruelness of the world. She wants to Roarrrrr at those who offend her children, and claw at those who may want to hurt her young, baby bears.  
My inner mama-bear is more aggressive at times depending on the level of stresses happening in my life, but that's no excuse for calculated anger and retaliation. 
I am still learning to use my mama-bear instincts as a tool for good. I think as mothers we've been hard wired to naturally want to protect our young, and when the timing is right, our mama-bear jumps to the occasion and saves the day; like the time I turned around to see a large dog about to jump on my child at the park. My instincts kicked in and allowed me to kick the dog back before he pounced. Or the time at the beach when a random kid was throwing sand at my children. My mama bear swept in and made him stop without a second thought. Or the time a kid at the park broke my child's toy, so I spoke with his mother immediately and made certain he replaced it with his own money. You see, mama-bear often just wants to protect, nurture, and make sure her young ones get treated properly in life. 
This other creature that came out that day might have been more of a mama-Mountain lion. They are more calculating in their actions. They carefully sneak up on their offenders and pounce when the timing is right. They aren't only trying to defend their young, but also trying to attack and take-down their victims with a vengeance. There have been many cases of mountain lions pouncing on people without notice in the recent news. I may be part of a growing statistic!

Over the past month we've seen "The Stupid Kid Lady," as my son refers to her, walking on the path at the same time as us. Each time we pass each other, we awkwardly look the other way. Sometimes I pretend to be on my phone. Sometimes I look down and pretend to fuss with the baby. Sometimes we cut across the grass to avoid her completely. Sometimes the collective powers of my inner-wilderness-creatures begin stirring, ready to defend the dickens out of my child once again. But most of all, I feel a knot of regret in my stomach for allowing this women's bad behavior to affect mine. 
I hope I can do better in the future. 

**Has your inner-mama-bear ever come out in a situation like this? How did you handle it and what did you learn from the experience? (tell me I'm not alone!)

Friday, October 10, 2014

So I married a Gardener

My husband plants the vegetables each year and I help harvest and eat them. I think we make a good team because I've never really enjoyed gardening. It's always seemed such a tedious and unpredictable task to me. 
I mean, you take special care to plant these little seeds, acting so carefully to water them and nurture them, and then wait patiently while they may or may not grow well according to a zillion little determining factors: such as early frost, pests, squash bugs, heavy winds, hungry animals, or bad soil. When they don't turn out, it's very disappointing! I've watched my herb plants die a thousand times over. (However, It might be because I'm highly distractible and forget to water them.)

So I'm pleased to say that my husband manages each year to grow these amazing, productive, fruitful gardens of which I am very proud and appreciative of. In fact, he's so very particular about his garden that he won't even let me touch it until it's ready. He maps out where he'll grow each plant, marks off barriers, makes walkways, rakes up the soil, then blesses the earth with seeds.
And voila! Just like that, his garden grows. And grows and grows, until we've got veggies coming out of our ears.
(I actually said that once and my 6 year old looked into my ears for veggies. He took it literally.)

My favorites this year are the pumpkins, tomatoes, zucchinis, broccoli, carrots, and basil.
I LOVE pumpkin everything! Our pumpkins get turned into pies, cookies, muffins, breads, smoothies, and pancakes. And later on, Jack o' Lanterns.
The zucchini most often gets turned into zucchini garlic stir fry. I also put it into smoothies for a nice, smooth texture, and bake it into breads. I like it raw dipped in hummus, too.
The tomatoes get turned into salsa fresca and tomato soups!
 The carrots get used in stir frys, salads, and just for PLAIN eatin'. The boys love eating them even more, knowing they helped to clean and scrub them.
 Finally, my basil gets used in salads, soups, and lasagna. And the broccoli gets steamed and eaten nearly every night with dinner. Next year when we have more time, money, and resources, we're going to can and preserve the vegetables for later. That way, we can enjoy the garden goodness all year long and not let as much go to waste. I see hundreds of quarts of salsa in my future. 
*This year he also grew corn, bell peppers, delacata squash, green beans, sugar peas, several types of lettuce, spinach, and cilantro.

I love vegetables so much that I would marry them, if I wasn't already married to the world's greatest vegetable farmer. Thank you Micah for providing wholesome sustenance for your family. We love our yearly gardens and look forward to many, many more to come.