Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Time to get Real. (Last term of pregnancy)

I can feel a strong pull to bring my mind and thoughts to a positive plane, and stay there for the duration of this pregnancy. It's time to prepare, like really prepare for the mental, physical, and spiritual ending to this journey--the birth of our baby boy this summer. 

My footsteps are heavy, and I'm growing extremely uncomfortable in my body, but when I think of the incredible strength of my form, the power of fertility and femininity, and the God-given ability to give birth to new life, I am overcome with confidence. 

I know this last 3 months won't be easy, but the labor and birth will be my joyous end.
 The intense mental and physical work I'll perform, will be my finishing reward. And then the baby will be here.
I keep envisioning the baby-- with his soft hair, his tiny, wiggly fingers, his perfect lips, and that glorious baby smell. I can almost see him now. I feel him, and know him already. I can't wait to meet him.
It's getting closer and closer to the end and It's time to more fully fill my vessels with positive energy. 

Mental positivity: In the form of inspiring books, and videos, and truth. To surround myself with friends who support and understand the natural process of pregnancy and birth. Start envisioning the room and space where I will labor and birth, and prepare that space for our family. Remember positive birth support from before. 
Physical positivity: Surrender to the changes and growth inside me and let it define me. Become comfortable with the uncomfortable nature of my body, and embrace the last term of pregnancy with joy and grace. Daily stretching, daily walks, pregnancy floor-exercises, raspberry tea, wholesome foods, and me.
Spiritual positivity: Stand grounded in the faith that God will walk with me on this path--that I can do what thousands of my ancestors have done before me, as my great-grandmothers, my grandmothers, my mother, and now me, can and will do. Trust that God will guide me in this experience and I will feel His love through the birth of this baby.

I searched around on the net for a collection of pregnancy and birth art to inspire me. I am captivated by the whimsical colors and shapes, and the ability these pieces have to connect me to other birthing women. I know I'm not alone in this because we are all in this together. 
Here's a few of my favorites:

                         Found on themandalajourney.com                    
by Julia C R Gray

                         Found on spiritysol.blogspot.com                    

                         Found on amandagreavette.blogspot.ca                    



Thursday, March 20, 2014

Jam-packed-week


 A lot can happen in a week. Or even a month. But this week happened to be really action-packed and felt like an entire month. 
It amazes me the constant variables in family-life: the ups and downs, the highs and lows, and the tos and fros, and all the little things that can happen when you are more than one person, and not a single entity. Because I often feel like 5 people packed into one body! My mind is constantly racing from one person to the next, jumping from mind to mind, trying to figure out what each person needs.



Is Zadok getting the attention and encouragement that he needs? He's always been our neediest child, bless his heart. He requires a lot of extra TLC, which I hope I've been able to give him more of since Odin's been going to school. 
He just turned 8 this past week, and I know without a doubt that he felt pretty darn special on his birthday. His grandpa (my dad) was on the mainland  on a business trip from Hawaii, so he stopped over for a few days. Zadok was super stoked that both of his grandparents (Micah's mom and my Dad) were here to celebrate with us! We had a fun, family birthday party for Z, complete with the most extravagant ice-cream cake Micah's ever made, as well as presents galore from his family. He is such an awesome kid. My firstborn son is 8! Unbelievable!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY Z-BOY!

Is Odin adjusting well to Kindergarten?  He seems to be excited to go to school everyday! He loves doing his little homework pages and comes home talking all about his fun activities. It's still strange for me to not be there for all the things he's experiencing. The other day when he came home and I asked him what he did today in school, he answered,"Today we went to that one room where we put all the shapes together!"
I don't know this room so I ask curiously,"You mean the gymnasium?"

"Nope" he replied.

"You mean the skills counselor's classroom?" I ask again.
"Nope." he responded again.
"Was it on the rainbow rug, or in the computer room, or in the cafeteria?" I asked again.
"No, no, and no," he said again.
"Well which room was it?" I was trying so hard to picture where my son was and what he was doing, and starting to get frustrated that I couldn't have that image in my head.
"It was the room where we put all the shapes together! It's a room you don't even know about, mom!" he answers smiling.
And then it occurred to me that this was another part of him growing up. I'm not always going to be there to see every room, or every moment, or every shape he puts together. This is his path, and his experience, and I'm here to love him and encourage him along the way. (Although, I still might make him show me where that secret room is next time.)



My sweet, little Odin at his school-All smiles. :)

Is Jonah feeling loved? Is he learning not to hit and how to be nice to his older brothers even when they leave him out? Jonah is the littlest of them all, and often gets left out of the fun, big brother things. While the older boys are busy doing Legos together, or playing Minecraft together, or playing rough, Jonah is often left to his own devices. When he lashes out at them, kicking and hitting them for no reason, I know it's because he needs more attention. However, with Grandma Sandy visiting this past month he has been getting more than enough attention! I can tell by how happy he is every day, and how the hitting has gone down significantly, and how smiley and cute he is lately, that he feels loved. I need to be able to keep it up after she leaves.....
Happy Jonah building a castle in Kolob Canyon.
Is the baby healthy?  I haven't heard him kick in a couple days so I lay still on the bed until I feel that gentle, subtle movement. This is always a worry and concern for me because my mother, and my paternal-side grandmother both had still-births. Their pregnancies were going along just fine when suddenly the baby just stopped living. There was nothing that could have been done about it. So when I don't feel the baby move for awhile I instantly start thinking the worst. 
Up to this point I haven't had any complications in pregnancy or birth--no miscarriages, no pre-term labour, no premature babies, or problems getting the baby out of me. I keep wondering when my turn will be? Is it my turn now to experience heartbreaking loss? Is it my turn soon to know the empathy that other mothers feel towards each other-with those that have lived through these trials? Is it my turn to bury a child? I don't know what God has planned for me, and it might seem morbid and insane to think about the worst, but in some ways I want to be honest with myself  about the ever-changing- variables of life.

Like this crazy-jam-packed- week, with all it's goods and bads, and funny things. 

Funny:**Friday night we got a babysitter so Micah, Grandma Sandy, and I could go see the second Hunger Games movie at the cheap theater. Except when we got there it wasn't playing anymore (because some forgetful pregnant-lady forgot to check the times). So then we decided to drive to St. George to go gun shopping. After that adventure, we stopped into a Mexican food dive for dinner. I ordered a California Burrito. I had asked the woman at the counter what exactly was in a CA Burrito and she told me Carne Asada, rice, and vegetables. It sounded good enough. However, when I opened it up it was full of Carne Asada, vegetables, and French Fries. French Fries? I've never had a burrito filled with French Fries! So I asked the lady again. Apparently when she said fries, I heard rice. We had a good laugh about that. It was a serendipitous evening out.

Bad:*I left the hose on in the front yard on Monday morning and it flooded one of our downstairs bedrooms. Micah and I spent hours (mostly Micah) on Monday night sucking up water from the carpet, instead of going to the Lego Movie with our family like we had originally planned. (Zadok still went with Gpa Bill and Gma Sandy, so at least a few of us had fun!) Micah was really worried that it would cost thousands of dollars to fix, but luckily it just took some hard, Monday-night-labour. Thank you Micah for vacuum-sucking my mistake.

Good:***We had a lot of fun with Grandpa Bill while he was here. We celebrated Z's birthday, then we showed Gpa around town. We showed him Micah's school where he works as a science teacher, our new home that we're moving into next month, and then took him down to our favorite creek to play. The next day we went and saw some sights we've never seen, such as Silver Reef and Red Cliffs State Park. Then Grandpa treated us to a Golden Corall buffett lunch. They have a chocolate fountain surrounded by strawberries and gummy bears. And they have cotton candy. Grandpa joked that the kids ate 1% lunch and 99% dessert. It was kinda true.
Grandpa bill and his two little grandsons, Odin and Jonah.
Micah and his name placard.
Micah showing the boys his cool science room stuff.
Pretending to be students in Micah's class.
Birthday boy playing in the creek.
Bad:* Our sneaky, mischievous dog, Thunder, has figured how to get out of his fence. We can't keep him in and it's been a daily challenge to run after him and keep him safe. Dogs are a lot of work!
Good:***Our sweet, loveable dog, Brownie gets along well with our cats.

Good:***This boy loves his grandma:

Bad with Good outcomes:* I caught another stomach bug the day after Grandpa Bill left, which left me writhing in pain for an entire day: Cramping, diarrhea, vomiting, and lying miserable in bed-- it always feels like I'm going to die.  As I laid there feeling horrible and sorry for my already uncomfortable, pregnant-self, I finally asked Micah for a Priesthood blessing. He gave me the most beautiful blessing of hope and healing. It really touched my soul. God reminded me to let the light in--to focus on the good things and appreciate the blessings. Immediately afterwards I felt inspired to turn off my mindless TV show, and read an article on Power Of Moms called, "Light in the Tunnel.  Click here to read. It was exactly what I needed to hear in that moment. Sometimes I find myself looking ahead at the light at the end of the tunnel, when I really need to focus on letting the light seep in now. Which is hard to do when you get the stomach flu for the second time in your already-tough-pregnancy, but like the article says, "An answer always comes." Especially if you actively seek the light.


Whelp, that's all for now. I'm glad I got some time to myself to write. It's important to my well-being. Actually, all 5 of us benefit. :)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Daily Beauty Regimen

 One day recently I discovered that I've become a creature of habit when it comes to my daily beauty regimen. I was standing in front of the mirror, doing the same things I do day after day, realizing that I've officially become "set in my ways." It must be a sign of middle age (I just turned a whopping 35)! 
 For example,  I pluck my eyebrows every Wednesday and Saturday and shave my legs and pits every Saturday night. I wash my body with the same body wash, then after the shower I dry my entire body off in the same pattern, then my hair, then I detangle and brush my hair in the same fashion every time, using the same leave-in-conditioner. I lather the same moisturizing lotion onto my face, rub on my regular deodorant, slab on my favorite lip balm, and then moisturize my hands. Lastly, I spritz a lovely blend of essential oils onto my neck and voila-I am done for the day! Oh, and  I brush and floss my teeth twice a day, everyday, and clean and file my nails almost daily. I don't bother much with nail polish because I paint my nails maybe 2-3 times a year when I'm in a funny mood. And I only wear make-up on Sundays when I got to church, or on a fancy date, so I don't bother with that much, either. At night I wash my face with my usual soap, and call it a day.

So basically I'm a minimalist when it comes to daily maintenance and product usage. I'm sure there's a zillion more things I could be doing everyday, and a bazillion more products I could be convinced to try that may increase my health and beauty, but I like to keep it simple. Simply natural. I believe that a little daily dose of sunshine, a wholesome diet, lots of water, daily exercise, and adequate rest is the foundation for a happy, healthy person. 
So, I regret to say that I don't have any phenomenal secrets to staying young and beautiful, but I have found that staying happy and healthy along with some products that I really like, keeps me feeling pretty awesome.

In the shower:
Dr. Bronners Pure Castille, 18-in-one Hemp, Magic (liquid) Soap. It's not tested on animals, certified fair trade, and made with organic oils. Micah and I both use it! We buy it in 32 oz bottles, then squeeze it into a smaller plastic bottle for easier application. We always dilute it because it is so strong, and then one bottle can last 6-9 months at a time. I use it in the shower as a body wash and a facial scrub. I also use it every night to wash my face and neck. It leaves me feeling fresh, tingly, and amazingly clean! My favorite scents are lavender, eucalyptus, and rose water. My husband just recently bought almond, which I am getting used to. It's almost too sweet for my senses, but It still feels really good on my skin. 
**For a good sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner I prefer Melaluca's Sei-Bella. 
I don't have any right now because I've been lazy and cheap and have been using Tre-Semme (which I actually like, except for those darn sulfates), but Melaluca's products are all natural, safe for the environment, and cruelty-free. Note to self: Order some soon. 

After the shower or daily (if I don't get a shower):
I use KISS MY FACE, in Peaches and Cream, as a daily moisturizing lotion on my face. It's all natural, using gentle fruit acids to exfoliate. It's not tested on animals, phthalate free, and no synthetic dyes or colors. It feels soft and creamy on my face, and leaves a refreshing after-scent. I rub it around my eyes, and on other potential wrinkle-forming areas.
My absolute favorite antiperspirant deodorant is Tom's of Maine in Fresh Apricot flavor. Talk about aromatherapy! Every time I put it on I feel instantly calm and happy! It's made with natural fragrances, organic oils, aluminum-free, and not tested on animals. I love this stuff and kinda panicked when I couldn't find it here in Cedar City right away. Luckily I thought to check Wal-mart and found they carried it, even when the local health store didn't. Who knew?
On my lips I apply a mixture of essential oils mixed with beeswax. Right now I am using this Magical salve made by Ho'omana Royal Mana Oil, which we used to purchase at the Hilo Farmers Market. It is made with Hawaiian beeswax plus a blend of peppermint, oregano, teatree, and spearmint essential oils. It feels tingly, cool, and soothing on my perma-chapped-Utah-lips. I'm thinking that when I run out I will have to either make my own, or order more in bulk! This stuff is amazingly addicting to my lips. 

I use a leave-in conditioner to de-tangle my wild mane. My Avon-selling-friend in Hawaii got me hooked on Avon's Damage Repair-3-D Rescue-Leave-in-Treatment.  It claims to repair chemical, thermal, and mechanical damage. It feels amazingly smooth, smells great, and adds a little bounce to my wavy curls. And did you know that Avon doesn't test on animals?  I am almost out and need to order more! I need a new Avon lady! p.s I also use their make-up on those days when I want to feel extra purdy.
I like to spritz a diluted blend of lavender essential oil on my neck everyday. Lavender is soothing, and relaxing. It is known to relive stress, tension, pain, and enhance blood circulation. I also like to add a few drops to a warm bath when I can. Recently my dear friend Melissa dropped off an essential oil blend called Joy that I've been spritzing on my entire body. She brought it over when I was having a hard time in my pregnancy. I love the way it makes me feel-Pure joy every time I take a whiff of it!
As far as toothpaste goes, I rotate through lots of different brands, such as Arm n' Hammer Baking Soda, Tom's of Main Spearmint, or AIM. I wish I could find one that I really liked, felt good about, and could stick with. I have friends that make their own toothpaste, with all natural ingredients, but I haven't felt motivated to take that route, yet. If you have any recommendations of a toothpaste you love, I'd love to hear it!

So that's pretty much it! Don't ask me why I wanted to write this down, but I did. There's so many things out there we can absorb into our bodies! Our skin and hair is so fragile and  delicate and will soak up whatever we put onto it, good or bad! I feel pretty confident in my choices right now, and think I'll probably stick with this regimen for awhile. 

I'm curious to know what your favorite products are that you feel good about using?? Do you have a daily beautifying regimen that you love?

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Three weeks=HUGE difference

It's amazing what can happen in just 3 little weeks. I feel like a new person! The changes we've made in my life have definitely made a difference in how I feel, how I act, and how I get along in the world. I was feeling pretty darn crappy before, and now I have energy, optimism, and enthusiasm. Life is good.

Depression is such a selfish disease. It takes hold of your mind and forces you to think only of yourself. For the past several months I've been dwelling on how miserable I am, and how much happier my life would be if this and that, and so on and so forth, and yadda yadda, could happen for me....when all I needed was to be content in the moment. There's a wise saying from the Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu:

I like living in the present. I like focusing on my family, my current responsibilities, and the important things I am doing right now. It feels good to be able to look at each one of my children and to know that I am here for them, and that there is purpose and meaning in raising them where I am right now. These past few weeks I've been extremely happy to be here in Utah. I've been feeling an overwhelming gratitude to the Lord for leading us back here (even far, far away from one of my favorite and most beautiful places on the planet,Hawaii).  I know that when I am allowed to be at peace in the present, I can glory in all the goodness around me. 

Some things I'm pretty sure have helped lift my depression:

1. Changing my pre-natal vitamins: I have more energy now. I feel lighter, bouncier, and happier. I needed the natural folate and not the synthetic folic acid. Although I haven't done the genetic testing, all symptoms pointed to MTHFR.

2. Lessening the guilt, pressure, and stress in my life: I feel an amazing release of pressure  since our middle child has started Kindergarten. 
Just those three little hours he is away (being entertained and busied by another responsible adult), has helped me calm down immensely. I've realized that with having three children my mind can get three times more cluttered! When just one of them is gone, (and it doesn't matter which one) I immediately feel more peaceful and relaxed. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE each one of them and wouldn't ever want them gone for longer than a few hours at this point, but dang--those few hours help me get centered again to the calm mama I need to be. Furthermore, I'm not sure that moms are meant to do this alone. I certainly can't! I need other wonderful people in our lives to help me on this often challenging journey of motherhood! Which leads me to #3:

3. Having someone here to help me through all these hard transitions: Since Micah's mom has been here to stay, I have felt immensely happier, probably because she is always happy! She has been here to play with the boys, which she always makes time to do. She has been here to babysit and care for the other two, while I helped Odin get used to school. She has been here to talk me through my doubts and fears, and give wonderful motherly advice. She has been our biggest help and blessing and I am so grateful to her! (we get her for a whole month!)
4. Buying a house: We bought a house with large, sunny windows, and a humongous backyard, in a great location that's all above ground! We get to move in at the end of March! I am so excited! I feel a deep sense of peace with our new permanence, and excitement for our futures here.

5. Finding out the gender of our baby: It's a boy!  No doubt about it!
And I'm so happy that we know! Just knowing what to prepare for has me feeling happier and more settled in the future of things. It has also lessened my anxiety and enabled me to live in the present! I know I was hoping for a little girl, but I feel warmth and love for this baby boy already! I am proud to be a mom of ALL boys!
Funny story: When Micah and I came home from the ultrasound we wanted to surprise the boys with the gender of the baby by doing something fun (well, it was my idea as Micah would've been happy just to tell them). So we stopped at the grocery store and bought some blue cupcakes. I wrote on the top of the box, "Boy=blue. Girl=pink," then told them that whatever color cupcakes were in the box, was the sex of the baby.  The boys slowly opened the lid to reveal the color. Jonah was standing right there looking very confused and said very sadly,"But these cupcakes are turquoise..."  We quickly clarified that they are closer to blue and therefore it is in fact, a boy, and not some kind of strange alien baby. Phew!
6. Exercising daily: I gained a lot of weight this time around. In fact, at 22 weeks pregnant, I weigh the same as at the time when I last gave birth! And I have 18 more weeks to go! Yikes. So,  I'm carrying a lot of weight with me and it can be a burden on my mind and body. However, when I get outside everyday to walk, I feel healthy, energetic, and forget that I am so excessively large. Exercising helps me to center my mind and focus on how amazing my body is at growing a human, and not on how big and uncomfortable I am. I like to walk in the sage and juniper hills near our house. We also got a pool pass to our local aquatic center. I take the boys swimming 2-3 times a week, where I get to submerge myself underwater, and feel more like me again. 

7. Serving others: When I am in the service of my fellow beings, I am only in the service of my God. (Mosiah 2:17) When I am helping other people, I feel happier overall, and closer to my Savior. I have been making a point to be more diligent in my callings, and more aware of the needs of those around me. I try to smile more at the grocery store and make a new friend wherever I go. I'm reminded of that quote: 

"Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others, cannot keep it from themselves." James Matthew Barrie


I am also happy with the level of volunteer work I am doing in my community with LLL. There's a lot more I'd like to be doing, but I know my limitations and am keeping it minimal until I have more time and energy. I received five breastfeeding help calls in the first week of March, which was a record for me! I love helping other moms and feel the joy in seeing happy mommys and positive results. 

Most importantly I love serving my family. My little boys need me. They are still so little and love being with their mama so much. When we go to the pool they all hang onto me, crowding their little bodies around me. They want me to play games with them, to be silly with them, and to give them lots of undivided attention. It can be exhausting, but also very flattering. I know they won't want me like this forever, so I try my best to be present in the moment!
Overall, I'd say things are going great! I am looking forward to the future, grateful for the past, and peaceful in the present!

p.s.**I did a baby-stuff inventory in my house and found that we don't have any baby items left! Not even a single onesie, cloth diaper, or baby toy! So with the exception of a few slings and carriers that I was saving for my daughter-in-laws, we are starting from scratch! It's like the first child again! 
So I am having a lot of fun perusing craigslist, the local facebook selling sights, plus the thrift stores and consignment stores for gently used baby items. I bought a bag of baby boy clothes yesterday and came home feeling so excited for our baby to come. Only 18 more weeks to go. Stoked.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Kindergarten for Mama

My first day of Kindergarten was scary. It had been 30 years since I stepped foot in a Kindergarten classroom, and I was nervous as heck about what to expect. 
The first thing I did when I got to the school was go into the office to talk with the secretaries. I had lots of questions that needed immediate answers: Do I pack a lunch? Do I bring an extra set of underwear? Who is the teacher? Is she nice and friendly and understanding? What happens if there's an accident and medical help is needed? What if it's just too big and scary? Can I back out? Can I cancel everything and start again another time? Will you be understanding with my needs?
I was on the verge of tears and feeling so uncertain about the future.

The office ladies gathered around me, their warm, caring faces reassuring, ready to calm my deepest fears. They didn't have fangs or claws like I'd half imagined--they didn't come at me with stacks of frivolous papers or useless worksheets, ready to stuff the latest in common core down my throat. They came with eagerness and excitement for this new journey ahead of me, making me feel that no matter what, they would support me on my path and comfort me when I needed it. 

I went to the Kindergarten classroom feeling more confident. The Kindergarten teacher welcomed me with open arms. Her friendly, caring smile calmed my fears once more. I could tell she had years of experience calming down first-timers, and I was probably one of the worst of them. All I could think about was how strange this all was. For years all I talked about was homeschooling and more homeschooling. I didn't prepare for this! I didn't check out books at the library about what to expect on the first day of school, or what to do in an elementary school classroom. It was always freedom, and creativity, going at our own pace, and doing things on a whim. But here I was in a Kindergarten classroom, ready (or not)to take on this next adventure in life.

I soaked in the classroom around me. It was brightly decorated, covered with artwork and whimsical images made by cute and clever little 5 and 6 year olds. There was a soft carpet on the ground made of squares of rainbow colors. I was invited to sit down on the blue square and join with in the rest of the class. I listened eagerly as the teacher spoke. She was talking about Dr. Seuss, one of our family's favorite authors! His birthday was coming up and she was planning some fun things to do. We would create Cat in the Hat letter books, make a giant Cat in the Hat cut-out, and read Dr. Seuss books in our pajamas. There would even be a special program in the classroom, where Thing 1 and Thing 2 would come in and read stories and do a puppet show. 

This wasn't so bad, I thought. I can do this. I can be a part of Kindergarten and not be scared! After-all, It's only three hours long! There will be new friends to play with, new things to learn, and new fun, activities to try! There will be computer class, playground time, musical assemblies, and interactive games in the gym for P.E.! Kindergarten was starting to sound like a fabulous escape from the mundane! 

****Today started the second week of me and Odin going to Kindergarten. I sat in the corner reading a book, making myself almost invisible. My goal is to gradually disappear as Odin becomes more and more comfortable with it. The first day I sat in a chair next to him, and on the blue square, but I've slowly moved farther and farther away. I can stay as long as I need to, because Grandma is home taking care of the other boys so I can do this. But, pretty soon I will fade completely out of sight and won't be attending Kindergarten any longer. 


But Odin will be going every day. And he will love it! I can already see the eagerness and curiosity in his eyes as he takes it all in. He comes home on a bouncing high of happiness, as he spills out all the fun things he did at school to his family. He is proud of the things he makes and proud to be part of a group of kids his age. He even made a new little friend all his own. I can tell that he feels more independent, and not so shadowed over by his big brother. He is doing his own thing and loving it.

Starting Kindergarten was really scary, but now I know it was the right thing to do.
I've decided not to send my 3 1/2  year old to pre-school, just yet. 
Afterall, I just got used to Kindergarten, I don't know if I'm ready to take on pre-school!