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.

Warmly,

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.
THIS IS ONLY THE FIRST BARREL OF PUMPKINS!
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!
BUCKETS AND BUCKETS OF TOMATOES. WE GAVE SO MANY TOMATOES AWAY BECAUSE WE COULDN'T EAT THEM ALL
 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.
ZADOK GIVING THE CARROTS A WASH.
THIS CARROT REMINDS ME OF A LITTLE TEAPOT.
 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.
MICAH MAKES BIG CARROTS.
AND BIG BABIES.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Sometimes you just can't breathe....

Our four year old started doing this thing several months ago where he gets really upset and starts crying and then says that he can't breathe. As four year olds often are, the smallest little irritations can set him off-- perhaps one of his brothers knocks over his lego creation, or someone takes a bite out of his sandwich, or his pancakes are cut the wrong direction, or his mom tells him not to karate chop his brother, and on and on it goes. These episodes often start with hiding in a corner and crying, then escalate into  full-blown panic attacks, where he is arching his head back, stiffening his entire body, and grunting through foaming lips that he can't breathe. My husband and I are used to them by now and know how to deescalate the tantrums, or even better--nip them in the bud before they start! But today he got set off at the wrong place and time where mom and dad couldn't help him: at pre-school.

Our little buddy loves going to pre-school, and absolutely loves his teachers, Cassie and Kayla. I drop him off everyday with the ease and comfort of knowing he's going to have a wonderful time and come home happy! However, today when I walked up to the front of the school to pick him up at the normal time, he was surrounded by four paramedics. My heart dropped through my stomach. I got out of the car and ran over to him as fast as I slowly could, what with carrying a 20 pound 2 month old, sleeping in his car seat. It was all in slow motion. Even though I could see my four year old sitting up, all my worst fears started to surface-Perhaps he had a seizure and will be stricken with seizures the rest of his life! Or he was stung by a bee and went into epileptic shock! Or a psycho kid in his class stabbed him with scissors! But soon enough I found out that he simply got really upset, went into his "I can't breathe" crisis mode, then his teachers called 911.  Phew! I calmed down immediately. I looked him in his big, brown eyes, gave him a huge mommy hug, and felt so much love for my little drama boy. (Who apparently got upset because his teacher had asked him to please try pouring his own water before she could help him pour it. You just never know what will trigger a meltdown...)

Now I'm not saying his tantrums aren't important or real, because they are very important and real to him. In his little mind he probably feels so upset that he feels suffocated beyond reason. By saying "I can't breathe, I can't breathe," over and over again, he is telling us that he needs help coming out of this dark and scary place where his feelings are so vulnerable and unreasonable that he can't make sense of anything! So even though it seems funny and overly-dramatic, I understand his behavior completely. I also understand that it could be very terrifying for his teachers to not be able to help him. The paramedics checked his vitals, gave him a sticker and a pen, and made him feel all extra special.
The worst part for me was that they couldn't get ahold of me or Micah because they didn't have the correct prefixes for our phone numbers. So they sent two policemen to get my husband at his work-place high school. They interrupted his classroom to say,"Your son had an incident at school and you need to come with us." I'm sure his heart dropped, too. By the time Micah showed up, I was still sitting in the grass with a happy, talkative four year old, a sleeping baby, four paramedics, one teacher, and now two policemen. 

All for our little boy who just can't breathe sometimes. 
We love you little Jonah. 
Sometimes I can't breathe, either. 
WEARING BANDAIDS FOR FUN.