Thursday, November 30, 2006

Thursday Thirteen - Gratitude

Thirteen of the Many Things I'm Grateful For

In no particular order...

1. My Family - Grandparents, Cousins, Siblings, Nephews, Nieces, Parents, Children. I am blessed in spades with wonderful family on both my side and JDub's side.

2. My Health - I am grateful to be strong and healthy, able to do the things required of me.

3. My Faith - My faith in Jesus Christ and my knowledge of the Lord's plan for me is an anchor I could not live without.

4. My Home - Though it is often messy and takes a lot and of time and care, I am so grateful that it is a haven from the world for me and for my family.

5. Motherhood - What a breathtaking and joyous season of my life this is. I am trying daily to revel in the joy of being the mother of young children. I hope that I can continue to enjoy the seasons of motherhood in my life.

6. My Friends - Through many miraculous twists in my life, I have had the honor of meeting and being befriended by phenomenal people all over the world. I learn so much from the amazing women and men who grace my life and often feel unworthy of their friendship.

7. My Work - My work with Birthing From Within and as a doula has been a marvelous blessing. I get to do work that I love, that touches lives, that teaches and touches and stretches me and helps me develop greater compassion and tenderness. And I get to witness miracles on a regular basis.

8. The Internet - It is a double edged sword and I often feel my dependence on the computer drifting toward addiction level, but I am still so grateful. My life would be very different without the easy access to others and to limitless information that the internet affords. Thank you, Mr. Gore! *wink*

9. My Mistakes - I am who I am and often I am better than I ever would be because of mistakes I've made. My many weaknesses are an important source of humility for me, without which the Lord would never be able to help me be better.

10. Prayer - Again on the weaknesses, prayer is a blessing that I under-utilize terribly. I would like to learn to pray more frequently and fervently. But now, from where I am, I still feel a deep sense of gratitude for this connection to my Father in Heaven.

11. My Country - I am grateful to live in the United States of America and for ALL that entails (current political climate and craziness included).

12. My Husband - I already mentioned family, but he deserves his own line. What a remarkable man he is. He is my best friend. He makes me laugh. He lifts me up. He just makes my heart happy.

13. Words, Language, Poetry, Art - I have felt so grateful lately for all of the beauty in the world. And especially for the beautiful ways in which we, as humans, are able to express ourselves creatively and communicate with the world around us.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

My Morning To Do List

Just a few of the things I needed to do this morning before taking kids to school.

-Write a note to Scud's teacher to let her know that Scud would be going home with a friend today.
-Sign Kaitybean's homework return folder.
-Sign off Scud's book from last night.
-Make sure Kaitybean finished her homework.
-Look through and sign forms for my appointment with my midwife.

Not too exciting, right?

The scary part?

I got all of this done during the 15 minute drive to school.

In the car.

And I was driving.

One more reason for me to get a bit more organized.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Baffled About Breasts

Unless you've been living under a rock for the last decade, you probably remember seeing this lovely little dress. On national television.

And who can forget this? I'll spare you the image of what came next. Whether you were offended or not, it just wasn't pretty.

No doubt you've seen something like this or this in all kinds of public places. Museums, restaurants, schools, churches.

And you can always find these anywhere near water.

When it's very public, as it was in the first two instances, many people are offended. They write angry letters. Conservative action groups chime in with cries of "Off with their heads!"

But even those who are offended are usually glad to let these things blow over.

When the skin-baring is right in front of us, we wouldn't dream of saying a word. Especially not to the person's face.

That would be rude.

First of all, it's none of our business.

And it's just a little skin, right? They have a right to express themselves.

And what's wrong with being sexy?

Truly, the extent to which the female body is exposed and exploited in our society is staggering.

We're exposed to a mind-numbing daily stream of skin.

Breasts, it seems, make cameras especially happy.

Breasts are really very useful. Add a little cleavage and you can sell anything.


Those breasts are quite versatile.

And lucrative!

Ask any advertising exec. A couple of double D's can come in really handy.

Most of us go placidly and unquestioningly along with all of this.

That's just the way it is.

Many would argue that the baring of skin and a fascination with the nude female body is hardly a modern, western phenomenon.

And they'd be absolutely right.

From the dawn of time the body of the female, the goddess, has been painted, sculpted, passionately honored and adored.

The earliest societies were filled with images of the nude female.

And most of those societies went far beyond our level of fascination. They worshipped the female body outright.

Some might bandy the word "worship" around when describing our society's current attitude toward women's bodies.

They'd be wrong.

There's a vast difference between worship and fixation, between appreciation and exploitation.

Once upon a time, both men and women held an endless sense of awe and gratitude for all that a woman's body could do. Intimacy was sacred. There was deep adoration and reverence for a woman's ability to bring forth and nurture life.

Last month, a woman named Emily Gillette found out just how much attitudes have changed over the centuries.

Apparently this is a perfectly acceptable way to associate breasts with food.

But this is offensive, inappropriate and disgusting. Grounds for being asked to leave an airplane.

You see, as a society, we are mostly interested in what a woman's body looks like and what that kind of eye candy can sell for us, or do for us, especially for men.

And that has turned a woman's body from something sacred to an object of either passion or disdain.

We can see a woman's body as dirty or lucrative, provocative or beautiful.

But many of us are completely incapable of seeing a nursing breast, whether covered or not, as amazing, nourishing and worthy of simple respect.

I'm astonished at how far we've come.

And I'd like to think that we're better than this.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Happy Birthday JDub!

Today is my wonderful husband's 31st birthday! We got married when he was 21 years old. So, this is the 10th birthday I've spent with him!

He is such a good, wonderful man. It's been an honor to share my life with him all of these years. I'm looking forward to many, many more.

So, I made this video for him for his birthday.


Okay, just watched this and it's a bit pixelated. Loses something. I'll see about using a different codec or some different settings to get it looking better. And maybe I won't. Maybe I'll just take a nap. :) We'll see. JDub can see it full quality on my computer when he gets home.

Oh, the music on the video:
I Need Love by Laura Pausini
I'll Choose You by Stephanie Smith
I'll Follow You Into the Dark by Death Cab For Cutie

Croup Stinks!

So, I'm home with two boys who have croup today. Yucky, yucky, yucky! Last night was the second night of it and croup is ALWAYS much worse at night. Scud was bad the first night, but aside from feeling icky, he slept well last night. Mashuga, on the other hand, was pretty severe last night. He was barely breathing. Once morning came and I was coherent enough to think about it, I think a visit to the ER might not have been a bad idea. But, alas, I didn't think about it. And he and I both made it through the night. Lots of bed-switching and sitting right by the humidifier and spending an hour in the steamy bathroom and a nice warm bath.

So, I took him to the doctor this morning and they gave him a steroid that should take effect by tonight and open up his airways more.

So, I'm sure hoping for a peaceful night tonight. Or at least some rest.

And hoping that my guys will start feeling better very soon. I hate seeing my sweet little ones sick.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Friday Wrap November 17th

Wow, it has been one VERY fast week. It feels like it should still be Monday. Or Wednesday at the very least. I went to pick up kiddos at noon today and was doubting myself the whole way there.

"It's not Friday, is it? It's not a half day today. It can't really be Friday!"

But, alas, my friends. It is in fact Friday. I shall see if I can come up with some sense of what's happened during this blur of a week.

  • I talked with Scud's teacher this week about his progress in school. She says that he is FAR ahead of his peers academically. They are just beginning to blend phonograms. He's already reading. And in math, he already knows a great deal of addition and subtraction. So, she tries to challenge him when she can. This was one of my biggest worries with sending him to Kindergarten at 6. He's probably ready for the academic work of 1st grade, but I really felt that he was not socially or emotionally ready for a full day of school. I'm sure it should all work out. On the behavior front, she said that he is obedient and eager to please. But he does have some problems with self-control (ie: he occasionally tackles his friends during class just because he feels like it), can't seem to keep his chair on the floor and tips over at least once a day and can often be found poking his neighbors. Yep. Sounds just like home.

  • I got to go help in Scud's classroom this week. I'll tell you what, every time I've helped in a kindergarten classroom I think that kindergarten teachers must be the most patient souls in the world. And I usually come home with a deep appreciation for MY kindergartner and his unique quirks and habits. I'll keep him.

  • I had an appointment with my midwife on Wednesday. Everything looks good. Baby's heartbeat is strong. I could tell you that he's healthy just by how busy he is. At my last appointment I was measuring rather large for dates. At 30 weeks I was 35cm (standard is an average of 1cm per week of prengnancy). But now, at 33 weeks I'm measuring 34.5cm. So, it's all evening out.

  • So, I'm excited to meet this baby. He still doesn't have a name. We just call him Coco most of the time. We're really leaning toward Jack, but I don't feel a clear pull toward a name for him like I did with Scud and Mashuga. So, we'll probably just wait until he's born and name him then.

  • The rest of the family is excited to meet him also. Scud has to hug and say hello to the baby every time he hugs me. JDub and I have a nightly routine where, after putting kids to bed, he listens to the baby's heartbeat through my tummy and talks to him and rubs his back. Coco loves it and is always happy to hear Daddy's voice and moves right over and into JDub's hand. It's been nice to really enjoy and appreciate this pregnancy in ways we didn't as much with our other three.

  • JDub has been VERY busy at work. Every year the store he works with does a BIG show and sale. This is the only time of the year that they really clean the store and organize it. So, he worked from about 6am until 10pm on Saturday, Monday and Tuesday. The show started Wednesday and he's worked until 8pm on nights since then. The overtime pay will be nice for Christmas and for paying for baby stuff. But, I'll tell you what, I'm done. I don't remember being this tired with other pregnancies. But, by 4pm I'm already ready to fall into bed. Then, by 8 or 9 when I get kids to bed, I'm exhausted beyond words. And by the time JDub actually gets home and I've fought with Mashuga to stay in bed for a while, I'm tired to the point of tears. I'm ready for this week to be over with.

  • Okay, this is starting to really sound depressing. But, all in all, I'm in a good place. I'm getting back into the swing of things and enjoying the rhythm of my daily life. I'm feeling changes and growth and new ways of being seep slowly into the little things I do.

  • After writing about my struggles and disappointments of coming home to a less than miraculous life transformation, a dear friend that I met at Ghost Ranch gave me words of advice that were like honey for my heart. "Be patient. It will come," she reminded me. "In little ways, a little at a time, you will notice how you've grown and see yourself in a new light."

  • She also reminded me of how very precious and fleeting these years with my small children are. Truly, this is a blessed season in my life and I would be foolish not to feast on these days and revel in the glory of being a joyful mother of children. There will be time for so many other things. It does not all have to be NOW. And I certainly don't want to squander now by wishing it to be different than it is.

  • And that has been part of my disappointment on leaving Ghost Ranch and not being able to fully and immediately integrate the things I learned there into my life. I want to be better FOR my children. If nothing else in my life changes, if I touch no one else, I want my family to feel deeply of my love for them and for my self. To see in me and example of courage and strength and open tenderness. Through my willingness to allow myself to be big, to be fully the wonderful woman I know I can be, I want to give my children permission to do the same. But, I keep reminding myself to slow down. To be patient. And to know that, in this moment, I am enough and I am doing my very best. And I am loving those around me fiercely.

  • I finished reading The Horse Whisperer today. It was a touching story. I'm not sure I'd recommend the book wholeheartedly, as it has a bit more sex and language than I'd like, but the story was engrossing and interesting. One thing I especially loved was a part where one of the main characters says something to the effect of "All of life is really a long string of nows. And the best one can do is to live this now as fully as possible with out giving too much thought to the previous now or the next now."

    And I'll leave you with that. I'm sure I could find more to say, but I feel like the best use of this particular now for me has nothing to do with continuing to type on the computer. Gotta go see what the clanging and banging upstairs is about.

  • Tuesday, November 14, 2006

    I'm back...

    And I'll tell you the truth.

    I feel like I've returned from a different planet.

    From a world of howling coyotes and labyrinths and warrior initiation and Inanna and huge red and orange rocks and hearing my powerful voice.

    And now back to a world of laundry and kids and driving to and from school and missed parent/teacher conferences and homework and primary programs and dishes.

    Re-entry has been more difficult than I'd like to admit. Integrating the marvelous things I learned about myself last week with my life, that is set up to allow me to shrink and stay small and comfortable, has been painful. And interesting.

    It has been quite a study in who I am and how I've looked at myself for so many years and how disparate the two are.

    So, I'm moving on with great faith, great love, great doubt and GREAT determination.

    I'll probably be processing a great deal here. Or on my other blog.

    I hope it proves to be worthwhile for others, rather than just me.

    Thursday, November 02, 2006

    Leaving on a Jet Plane

    And I'm off...

    Tomorrow morning I will be flying to New Mexico to go here for this.

    I've heard that a Birthing From Within Advanced Retreat can be quite life-changing.

    So, I'm terribly excited. But also feeling a bid of trepidation.

    Partly about the possible intensity of this coming week.

    But mostly about leaving my cute kiddos and my husband for an entire week. It will be the first time I've left them for this long.

    So keep us in your thoughts and prayers.

    My sister will be helping with kiddos for most of the time. So, I know they'll be in good hands. She might take them to Grandma's house over the weekend.

    If that's the case, then JDub will be a lone man. If you see him, please feed him. Otherwise he might not eat all weekend.

    Wish us all luck.

    Over and out.

    Wednesday, November 01, 2006

    Photo Journal of the last few months

    So, I've been teasing you all by promising photos. Then, I've never actually posted any. So, here you go. Some of the interesting moments of our last few months.


    Remember me telling you about the hurricane-like storm that blew down our 50-foot pine tree and knocked down powerlines all over the city? Well, here are some of the pictures. It was quite an experience.

    First Day of School

    Kaitybean and Scud in their school uniforms. I LOVE school uniforms. Not only are they cute, they completely cut out morning arguments and the need for me to shout "You are NOT wearing that to school!"

    Kaitybean and Scud show off their backpacks.

    Mashuga and Scud on the first day of Kindergarten.

    On the first day of school, the kids all came outside for a flag ceremony - complete with members of the Army National Guard providing music and flag raising. Pretty cool.

    Scud's 6th Birthday
    Ah, my Scud boy. What a cutie he can be. Here are some pictures from his 6th birthday.

    Oops, I did it again!
    Um, I have oven issues. We now have a strict rule against plastic in the oven. This is the second time I have melted a great deal of plastic in the oven. JDub had put a bowl of rolls in the oven a few days before. I turned the oven on to preheat and soon the whole house was filled with smoke. Smoke detectors went off. Mashuga ran outside crying. There were little fires all over the bottom of the oven. I felt like a complete dork. Here's a picture of the after math.

    Just one more. So glad to have happy kids.

    The Warm and Fuzzy Feelings of Election Day

    I wrote this last year and thought I'd repost it for your enjoyment and encouragement. Mashuga and I took advantage of early voting on Monday. So, I'm done!


    My main message for today could easily be summed up in just one word: VOTE!

    My secondary message could be summed up in three: Take your children.

    Hopefully you'll read farther, but if all you remember are those four words, I'll be happy.

    Election days always remind me of my mother. Some of my fondest childhood memories involve walking home from school to our high school auditorium. There my mother, who was usually a stay-at-home-Mom-extraordinaire, worked year after year as an election judge. I'd walk in to find her flanked by two sweet, gray-haired grandmothers, each of them taking names and handing out ballots. I always felt spoiled on election days. My mom had fun snacks -- licorice, Wheat Thins, peanut M&Ms -- and she always shared. The other women, who always brought candy for me, were happy to see me each year. So, even from a young age, I got the sense that election day was a special day. I knew that this voting stuff was important and I felt very honored to be part of it through my mother.

    My parents did many other things to help me understand the importance of being involved in government. I remember them having a meeting at our house once, I believe it was a caucus meeting. I remember them going to other meetings in the months leading up to November. There are very few years that I don't remember having at least one candidate's sign posted in our front yard.

    Most importantly, my parents always voted. In 2000, when George W. Bush was running against John McCain in the primary elections, George W. Bush had already won before Utah had its Republican primary. I remember talking to my Mom that year and she confessed to me that she hadn't voted in that primary, because it had already been decided. Then she told me something that really blew me away. That was the first election she'd missed since she turned 18. That's 27 years. What a testimony to me of the importance of exercising our right to choose our elected leaders and have a voice in our government.

    I know my mother voted faithfully because her parents voted faithfully. I've heard many stories about my Grandma, who died long before I was born. One of my favorite stories is one my mother tells about going to vote with her mother. She was standing in the booth when her mother leaned over and whispered, "Don't tell your Dad I voted for Kennedy." I smile every time I think of that. It seems that not only do I have a rich heritage of faithful voters, but that I come from a long line of strong women as well.

    This tradition of mothers taking their daughters with them to vote seems to have had a huge impact on my family. As I got older and visited my mother each year when she was an election judge, my interest in voting and politics grew. I began to read the notices posted on the wall, trying to understand the issues that were being voted on. I listened to my parents and others as they talked about why they thought a certain candidate would be best for the job. The joyful feelings from my childhood grew to a full-fledged interest in politics, in government and a deep sense of patriotism. After years of training and being joyfully welcomed into this mysterious adult world of government participation, it is second nature to me to go to the polls, to call my representatives about issues, to research bond proposals and other initiatives. It has been a very organic process, years of covert (and possibly unintended) lessons in political science and civic responsibility.

    Best of all, the warm fuzzy feelings are still there. Today I dropped my daughter off at school and walked inside with my boys to vote. Seeing the smiling, gray-haired election judges, watching people file in and out and stepping into the blue and red voting booth was incredibly nostalgic. It felt much like going home for Christmas.

    I let my boys take turns using the puncher and told them what we were voting on and why I'd chosen each candidate. I explained to them about taxes and bonds and how the roads we use are kept in good repair. They listened, but I think they mostly thought that punching out chads was pretty cool. Then, we took our ballot to the election judges and we each got to choose a cool "I Voted" sticker to wear all day.

    I hope my children will learn about government as we talk about taxes and mayors and presidents and take field trips to the state capitol. I hope they'll develop a love of their country and an interest in politics. What I wish most for them, though, is that election day will always remind them of their mother. I hope that stepping into a polling station will fill them with the same warmth and joy as cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning.