Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Go to My Brethren, and Say Unto Them, I Ascend Unto My Father, and Your Father; and to My God, and Your God

I love Easter. Growing up, Easter was always a big deal in my family. To me, Easter means coloring dozens of Easter eggs, having a huge Easter egg hunt (for real eggs, none of that plastic filled with sugar nonsense)  and brunch with neighbors, friends and family on Easter Saturday, and an Easter basket with new church clothes (and hopefully a chocolate bunny!) on Easter Sunday.

 I want that for my family, but I also want more. I want my kids to REALLY understand the reason we celebrate Easter. So, In an effort to make Easter more about Christ, Ash and I have come up with a plan to do an Easter activity every day starting the Sunday before Easter (Palm Sunday). 

Palm Sunday
We went to church! When the sacrament came around, I briefly explained the story of Easter. 
This is a fantastic Sacrament talk written about the use of palm leaves. It was great for me to read, and repeated a few simple concepts while doing this craft for the donkey, and simply cutting and slicing green (and purple, because it's Ash's favorite color. And why not? Purple is a royal color!) construction paper into palm leaves and then gluing them onto the paper.


For FHE we colored Easter Eggs! It's good family time. 


We printed out and colored this coloring page. We talked about Christ being resurrected  and how that made Mary happy, and how Christ dies and was resurrected for Mary, and also for Ash, and also for me. 

This is about as fancy as I get with crafts. First, we colored and cut out the tomb and stone from the image below. 

Then, inspired by this craft,  we cut a paper plate in half, stapled the two halves together, and pasted the tomb onto the paper plate. We then cut out the door of the tomb and glued He is Risen by Del Parson  inside. 


All the while we talked about the Resurrection, and how Jesus dies and was resurrected so when we die, we can be resurrected. 

Maundry (Holy) Thursday
Watch the movie The Last Supper

Color and cut out the images below, the whole time talking about Jesus's Last Supper and the sacrament. 

Good Friday
Today we decided to try watercolors! We painted the images below, talking about the story or the atonement, the crucifixion, and the Resurrection. We then cut them out and glued them on Popsicle sticks!

We also made Hot Cross Buns. They were cooked too long, so they turned out harder and crispy on the bottom, but they had such great potential! 

Easter Saturday
Easter Egg hunt and Easter Brunch! 

Easter Sunday
Go to church! In the March 2008 Friend, on page 30, is the Story of Christ. Print out on cardstock and fit together with a metal band. Give to Ash right before church. Read it during Sacrament meeting and look at the pictures during the Sacrament. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

This morning I got a text from a number I didn't recognize. It said: "I'm on my way"

I didn't remember setting up anything with anyone for today, and I didn't have anything on my calender.

I'm going to say that text was from the baby.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

You're Wasting Your Time, Man. If You Pick the Lock on a Halliburton, I'll Put You on My Back and Fly us to L.A. You Better Find Yourself a Runway, Daddy, 'Cause there Ain't a Lock I Can't Pick

Guys, I've been so good lately! I haven't lost my keys in over a year! I haven't lost my credit card in over four years! I haven't lost my purse, and I've even managed to hang on to my phone!  I lost Drek's keys for a few days, but not mine, so it doesn't count!

And so every streak must end.

First, let me just say that Ash has really been on a power struggle lately. She will argue with everything I say, no matter what. I've tried to teach her to say "Yes, Mama." whenever I tell her to do something, instead of arguing, but it's not working to well. The other day she offered me one of her grapes and I said "No, thank you." and she said "No! You say 'Yes, Ash!'" Sigh. I've been having a hard time figuring out where the line is between "pick your battles" and "be consistent."

Ok, enough excuses. On to the story:

Ash and I went to the post office. We needed to wait in line to mail a package, and then ring the little buzzer to pick up a package. The former usually takes a while, the latter takes around a minute.

So we got out of the car, struggled to take the boxes inside, and waited in line. It was our turn and Ash was tired of waiting  so I gave her my phone. She has a few Sesame Street episodes on the phone so she happily watched those while I finished up with the clerk. Upon finishing, I realized I didn't have my little slip to pick up the package, so we went back out to the car and I dug around in the front seat and emptied out my purse until I found it. During that time, Ash (who was absorbed in her show) had climbed from the front seat to the back seat, and buckled herself into her car seat (because she is just that amazing). After I found the paper, I realized what she had done, and told her we actually weren't ready to leave and had to go back in to the post office. She argued. Of course, she argued. She told me she would wait in the car.

I think I've had Ash wait in the car once. Actually, now that I think about it, twice: once when she was a baby, asleep, and I was dropping off dinner to someone, and then once a few months ago when I needed to run inside the post office and drop of a package in the package drop. Both took less than two minutes. I really don't like having her wait in the car because I am afraid with our tinted windows, someone will steal the car without realizing there is a child in the backseat.

But I was tired. I'm very pregnant and walking around the car to unbuckle her (she can buckle herself in but can't get herself out) and argue with her for a less than two minute errand didn't seem worth it. It was a nice cool day, so against my better judgement I locked the doors and ran inside, leaving Ash in the car to watch her show.

You see where this story is going.

I came back out, around a minute later, and realized when I emptied out my purse, I had emptied out my keys. My car keys were locked in the car. Along with my daughter. And my cell phone.  Worst. Parent. Ever.

So I tap on the back window to get Ash's attention and explain she needs to unlock the door. She tries reaching, but of course can't reach the button from her seat. I tell she needs to unbuckle herself from her car seat. She sets the phone down and follows my directions for about a minute, until she announces "No, I don't want to. I want to watch my show." She picks the phone back up and ignores me.

Well, at least she isn't panicking, unlike me.

I go back inside the post office and ask to borrow someones cell phone. I call Drek at work and tell him what I have done and where I am. He doesn't have the car, but says he will borrow one and come rescue us.

I go back out to the car, find two bobby pins on the ground and spend the next twenty minutes alternating between trying to pick the lock on the trunck, and trying to convince Ash to get out of her car seat. I am unsuccessful at both attempts.

Finally Drek shows up. He seems surprised at how calm I am, and even more surprised that Ash isn't screaming and crying from neglect. He unlocks the door, opens it, and Ash looks up and blinks at him.

"Oh! Hi, Daddy! Do you want to watch this show with me?" The inside of the car is a comfortable temperature and she didn't appear to be suffering from malnutrition or dehydration.

Lesson learned: it doesn't matter how secure your car is against thieves if you can't get in either. Just avoid the whole thing and don't leave your kids in the car. Especially if you have a history of losing things and very especially if you have pregnancy brain.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

I Suppose in the End, the Whole of Life Becomes an Act of Letting Go

Happy Pi Day!

For obvious reasons, I didn't have a party this year. Although we did have shepherd's pie for dinner with fresh blueberry pie for dessert.

Still no baby. We were hoping it would come today. If he was a boy, we would name him Percival Ichabod (First name after the Scarlet Pimpernel; can't get a better hero than that) and he would go by his initials. And for his birth announcement it would say: Introducing the Life of Pi. And every year on his birthday we would celebrate Pi's day.

Sigh. These children. They just never cooperate.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Breastfeeding in Public

The really worried over is breastfeeding thing.  I couldn't breastfeed my first, but I am determined to breastfeed this next one (whenever it decides to show up!) Breastfeeding this one will mean the opportunity to breastfeed in public. (Breastfeeding in public means not using a cover or a blanket when you breastfeed in a public area or in front of other people. It can be very discreet, but not hidden). I feel that breastfeeding in public is a very personal choice, and there isn't a right or wrong decision. If given the choice, I will choose to breastfeed in public. And this is why:

Back in the 80's, in a zoo in Ohio, a female gorilla born and raised in captivity gave birth. That gorilla had never seen another mother gorilla feed a baby gorilla. Her instincts told her she should, but she had no idea how. Unable to feed it, she killed it. A while later, this same gorilla became pregnant again. The zoo keepers, not wanting this newborn to be killed, decided to try something new.  They called the local La Leche League and asked for volunteers. Those volunteers came to the zoo, sat on one side of a glass wall, and breastfed their baby in full view of the female gorilla who watched from the other side of the glass wall. This was done throughout the gorilla's pregnancy. When the baby gorilla was born, the female gorilla could do what she was unable to do with the last baby: breastfeed it.  Monkey see, monkey do.

I feel a lot like that gorilla. Before my baby was born I never saw a woman breastfeeding. I knew breastfeeding was important to me. I knew I wanted to breastfeed my baby. Yet, when my baby was born, I couldn't. I utterly failed at breastfeeding. How could I have been expected to succeed when I had never seen it done?

For thousands of years, women breastfed their children. It was, and still is, the natural thing to do. Historically, breastfeeding was never an issue of modesty. In certain cultures walking around without a shirt was completely unacceptable, but in those cultures, having one breast exposed to a suckling child was normal. That's how babies ate. There was nothing immodest about it. That holds true for the Mormon pioneers. Exposing your ankle was immodest but exposing a breast to feed a baby? No one thought anything of it! They believed very strongly in modesty, but breastfeeding your child in full view of other adult males simply wasn't an modesty issue. It was normal! LDS Women openly breastfed in sacrament meeting and while crossing the plains.

Why? Why didn't they think that exposing a secondary sexual organ has anything to do with modesty? Because it's just that: a secondary sexual organ, just like a mouth. You eat with your mouth in full view of others and don't think anything about it being modest or immodest, because it's not a modesty issue. Babies eat with a breast (so to speak). It's the same thing.

The more you read the scriptures the more you get the idea that God thinks a breastfeeding is a beautiful, wonderful, GOOD sight.

"Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb." (Genesis 49:25)

"O that thou wert as my brother, that sucked the breasts of my mother! when I should find thee without, I would kiss thee; yea, I should not be despised." (Song of Solomon 8:1)

Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all ye that love her: rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her:
That ye may suck, and be satisfied with the breasts of her consolations; that ye may milk out, and be delighted with the abundance of her glory.
For thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will extend peace to her alike a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream: then shall ye suck, ye shall be borne upon her sides, and be dandled upon her knees.
As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem. (Isaiah 66:10-13)

Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. (Isaiah 49:15)

Clearly, God does NOT think breastfeeding is immodest.

Early LDS men and women picked up on that language and held the image of breastfeeding in high regard, as we can see in LDS works of art which are prominently displayed at Seagull Monument in Salt Lake City; in a wall mural in the Cardston, Alberta temple; and even in the Book of Mormon Reader (That image is on Page 31 [Enos 1:11-12] if you want to look it up yourself!).

So what happened? Formula has been around since the late 1800's, but  it was generally considered  inferior to breastmilk. In the 40's and 50's science was the hero of the modern world. In 1951 scientists announced that formula was the better than breast milk. If you wanted the best for your child, you gave them formula, not breast milk. And who wouldn't want the best for your child? Every parent wanted to do the best thing, and most parents thought the best thing was formula. But formula was expensive, and not every mother could afford it. Suddenly, a mother could not breastfeed her child in front of other, because that would be admitting that she wasn't feeding the baby formula; she wasn't "giving her baby the best". Breastfeeding became a status of low income, or of the uneducated. It was hidden away in back bedrooms where the ashamed mothers could feed their babies without the disapproving looks of society.

And then, years later, scientists realized, "Hey, wait a minute. Formula is NOT better than breast milk. It's not even the same as breast milk. Formula is worse that breast milk. Breastfeeding is actually way better. For a lot of reasons. Sorry about that." But the damage was already done. Breastfeeding was no longer the norm and when mothers began to once again nurse in public, suddenly there was an issue of modesty. But  modesty was never the reason women breastfed in private.

Still, seeing a women breastfeed had become a rare sight, and seeing an exposed breast was no longer normal. In our modern society breastfeeding is once again becoming normal, but with nursing covers or with blankets. Especially in church, it a rare sight to see an exposed breast nourishing an infant. That makes it immodest in society's view, but not in God's. How do we change that? How do we make breastfeeding in public normal again? How do we overcome that bias of immodestly? We breastfeed in public. It wasn't so long ago that women wearing pants was considered immodest by society. How did that change? Women wore pants. Simple.

Why is that important to me? Why do I want to make breastfeeding in public accepted, encouraged, and considered normal?

Women need to see other women breastfeeding. Just like that gorilla, they need to see it so they can do it. They also need to see it to know that it's normal, that it's how babies eat. If more women breastfeed in public, more women will be able to breastfeed. That means saving billions of dollars and one thousand lives a year.

Little girls are taught from such a young age that their breasts are to tantalize boys. Everywhere they look women are sexualized. In the words of  M. Russel Ballard: "It is, unfortunately, all too easy to illustrate the confusion and distortion of womanhood in contemporary society. Immodest, immoral, intemperate women jam the airwaves, monopolize magazines, and slink across movie screens—all while being celebrated by the world. The Apostle Paul spoke prophetically of “perilous times” that will come in the last days and specifically referenced something that may have seemed particularly perilous to him: “silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts” (2 Timothy 3:1, 6). Popular culture today often makes women look silly, inconsequential, mindless, and powerless. It objectifies them and disrespects them and then suggests that they are able to leave their mark on mankind only by seduction—easily the most pervasively dangerous message the adversary sends to women about themselves."

We have to fight that! Little girls need to see breastfeeding to understand that breasts are not (only) for seduction! Breasts produce an antibacterial, antiviral liquid that nurtures babies with a perfect blend of nutrients. They make a liquid that builds immune systems, expands life expectancy and cures cancer. They are a completely green, renewable resource of food. Little girls need to see that so they can respect it.  So they can respect themselves. So they can demand more respect.

The sexualization of a women's body is everywhere. You cannot shield your little boys from all the graphic images, immodestly dressed women, and degrading videos seen everywhere.  Every little boy will be exposed to those images. The best you can do is to teach them how to respond to those images.

Little boys need to see breastfeeding so they can see the proper use of breasts. They need to see breasts in a context that is not sexual, but nourishing. Not degrading, but peaceful.  If little boys could see that as a common sight then when they saw a degrading image of a woman's breast they would not think that was normal. They would think something was very, very wrong. They would have a way to fight off those offensive  images. They might even have a way to avoid the plague of pornography.

This study showed that when a man sees a women in a bikini, the part of his brain that responds is the same part that responds when he sees a tool like a hammer. He doesn't see that women as a person, but as an object. In our society, scantily clad women are everywhere. That is all a man sees.

But when a man sees a women breastfeeding, he sees her not as an object or a tool, but a human being; as a mother. That is huge! He is looking at an exposed breast, and seeing a human woman, not an object. THAT is how we raise the level of respect for women. THAT is how we stop crimes against women.

I've never breastfed in public before, and the thought of it is scary, but I know that it is my choice to make. I am choosing to breastfeed in public becasue of these issues. I want to help other women breastfeed their babies. I want to help a little girl understand her value. I want to help a little boy grow up with respect for women. I want to help men understand that I am not a tool, but a human being. I think there are other ways to accomplish all of these things, but this is how I feel I can help change my little corner of the world.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

What to Expect Says That Readying the Baby's Room is an Important Process for Women. It's Called "Nesting."

When I was pregnant with Ash I had a dining room set that needed to be sanded and stained. I'd never done anything like that before and was a little hesitant to take on the project. The day after I thought she would be born I dragged the eight chairs and table into the driveway and began stripping, sanding, varnishing  and whatever else you do to wood. My neighbor thought I was insane. I probably was. I just felt like AI had to get it done! 

Well, I didn't get it done. It was a huge project and the baby came before it was completed, leaving the sanded half-finished chairs in the garage to rot. I never did finish that project. 

This time around I've once again had that feeling that I just have to get things done! Since finding out I was pregnant, I've repainted the entire front room, kitchen, hallway, and bathroom. I really, really want to paint the doors in the hallway, but since I'm now full-term, I'm thinking I should wait until after the baby is born, lest the project go unfinished forever. 

The bathroom was a real challenge. I hated the way our bathroom looked. The whole thing needs to be remodeled, but that costs money. Paint is cheap.  Here are a few before shots: 

 And after:

I'm stuck on the towels. Should I have black towels? Cobalt Blue towels? White towels?  What do you think? I am obsessed with this towel thing. I MUST finish this project!

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Do We Have Enough... Bread-Making Vikings, or Small Home-Repair Vikings...?

We've been in this house for one year, eleven months, and one week. During that whole time, I haven't had and oven, and the stove has been risky to use.  Also, the whole range is ugly: 

Well, after one year, eleven months, one week, lots of trips to Sears Outlet, a fantastic President's Day deal, a visit by the delivery and installation people, a visit by the propane company, a visit by Sears repairman, another visit by the propane company, and several phone calls to both Sears and the propane company, I have this:

And the best part is that IT WORKS. 

I will use this new power to bake cookies.  Or will, as soon as I get some cookie sheets. 

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Dance, You Squealing Goat!

Drek finished the play structure last Saturday. This Saturday he bought sand for the sand box. He was supposed to just dump the sand in, but he wisely noted that that would add lots of weight to the play structure, and then it would be immovable.

The play structure is massive:

I thought it was immovable already. And why would we want to move it? 

Drek pointed out it would look better more to the right, and then we could have a bigger garden. Still, I estimated you needed at least ten people to move that beast. Where were we going to get ten volunteers together at the same time? 

I shouldn't have worried. I am married to a genius, after all.  With his technique, he could have built the pyramids all by himself. 

We moved it about fifty feet. Drek broke it down into three piece and moved it piece by piece.  My job was to move the slats under the structure so it would slide, and add support to the bridge so it wouldn't topple over while being scooted across the yard. Ash took the position of task master and yelled "SUPPORT!" from the porch whenever I wasn't supporting the bridge with both hands.  We both gave up our jobs at the end to film. 

And it worked! Drek assembled the three pieces back together and added the sand to the sand box. It really does look better on the right side of our yard. And it's easier to push Ash on the swings. 

And now we can make the garden bigger! That will be next Saturday!

*note: Several years ago Drek and I were watching the Ten Commandments. At one point the Egyptian task master yells at the slave making bricks to "Dance, you squirrely goat!" Drek and I thought that was so funny. We've quoted it to each other several times over the years. Today, when I looked up the quote to use as the title, it turned out to be "squealing" not "squirrely". Not nearly as funny. 

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Erin Go Bragh

I wanted one last party before the baby was born. I also wanted to make St. Patrick's Day a big deal this year. So I threw a  St. Patrick's Day party at my house for all the mothers of young children in my ward. We had about fifteen adults and thirty kids. I held the party on March 1st, way to early for it to be a real  St. Patrick's Day party, but I wanted to make sure it happened before the baby was born! I tried to make it more of a "Irish Heritage!" theme. Well, more like attempted. 

The invitations said "please bring a healthy green, white, and/or orange snack to share!" (the colors of the flag of Ireland) I wanted to do a fruit salad, so I picked green apples for the green and white, kiwi for the green, and oranges for the orange. While making it I realized the oranges were more white then orange. I paused. This fruit salad was siding dangerously with the Protestants. Maybe I should use mandarin oranges? Mini oranges? What other fruit is orange? Carrots? Not a fruit, but would it taste good in a fruit salad? Are there really no other orange fruits besides oranges? Drek passed by after I had puzzled over this for a few minutes.

"Drek! What fruits are the color orange?" I asked. 

"Mangoes, cantaloupe, tangerines, papaya, apricots, peaches. " He rattled off without hesitation. 

My mouth dropped open. 

Drek shrugged "Orange bell peppers are technically fruit. Orange tomatoes." 

My husband is a genius. Sadly, I used his resource too late, as I didn't have any of those fruits on hand. I think it still turned out ok: 

Next time I would add some mangoes to have a little more Catholic representation.