Oct 30, 2010

Things We Say: Halloween

(setting--NSG has bought a few discount wigs for Halloween, thinking they would add some fun to the littler girls' princess costumes. She bought a black one for MayMay, and a blond one for Jaws, and, like she ought to have predicted, each girl immediately reached for the opposite color hair.)

MaMay: (preening in front of the mirror) Mommy, I wanted and wanted you to buy me beautiful blond curly hair.

Jaws: I love my black hair! (stroking it with her hand.)

(Pictures will follow.)

(setting: the girls are in the car on the way to a music-class-halloween party, full Halloween regalia)

Jaws: I'm--We're all pretty.

Loli: Yeah.

Jaws: I was going to say I am the prettiest, but I only said it in my head.

NSG: Walks out of her room on Halloween morning.

All the kids see her and begin jumping around, making sounds that are half-joyful-shriek and half-gleeful laughter.

Kids: It's Halloween, Mom! It's Halloween!

NSG: I think there are a bunch of little piggies in my living room.

MayMay: (laughs with unrestrained glee) And you're the Mommy Pig!

Loli: *Smirks*

NSG: I walked right into that one.

Oct 28, 2010

My Post About Breasts

I was in voice class last night. My baby needed nursing. I have a nursing cover. I grabbed the baby, hoisted her under my nursing tent, and began doing the thing that I am biologically inclined to do as a mother of an infant under age 1.

"How was singing this week, [NoSurfGirl]?," My voice teacher asked. "I don't mean to catch you at a delicate moment."

"No, not at all," replied, suddenly feeling all delicate and tense, and aware of the fact that I have breasts and some people think of them as more than baby-feeders. "No... uh... good. Singing was good."

Here's the thing.

Breasts ARE baby-feeders.

Babies get hungry.

And they need to eat.

Babies are not like adults-- they don't have much ability to control themselves when they are upset about something, and they have a very low self-denial threshold. So I feed mine, when she gets hungry.

I understand that people could have moments of discomfort, seeing me take out my nursing shield and slide my baby under it. I understand that our society has sexualized breasts and there is no escaping the fact that people might be uncomfortable/horrified/titillated at the thought of breastfeeding, and might feel vaguely assaulted (or just downright assaulted) to see it take place in front of them without warning.

Here's the problem I have with that: God created my breasts to feed my babies, not to grace the cover of a men's magazine. My breasts have ducts in them that create milk. They are functional organs. I don't give a crud if some people have decided that they are too sexy to mention, or acknowledge in polite company. I don't care if the world has relegated the act of breast-feeding to the same level as bathroom functions, and therefore unfit for public consumption.

One time I was participating in an online conversation about breast-feeding and church. Someone brought up that all-too-familiar dilemma-- the sacrament is being passed. Unruly toddler won't keep a blanket on. Mom just has to make do, and hope nobody looks her directly in the breast.

Someone complained, in response to this, that while passing the sacra ment, her 14-year-old son always struggled to feel "spiritual" and not titillated when this happened, and so it was wrong of women not to leave the room, even if it meant they would miss the sacrament. The spiritual need of her son trumped the spiritual need of the nursing mother.

The response I had, but did not write, was this: Then you've taught your son wrong.

You've taught your son that breasts are objects of sexuality, forbidden fruit. You've taught your son that the sight of a child receiving nourishment from his mother is a lewd act, one that ought to be kept firmly closeted.

How will your son handle the reality of having a living, breathing wife, with functional breasts and a baby to feed them with? Is he going to be as horrified then by breastfeeding, as he is now?

And one more question: do you go and hide from your kids when you breast-feed them? If so, you've done them a real disservice.

I can't help the fact that I am a woman. OK... I'll refine that statement. I LOVE the fact that I am a woman. Women come blessed with an extra set of functional pieces that provide for and cause motherhood, which is supposed to be our divine calling... our stewardship. Its our equivalent of priesthood bearing; it is how we fulfil our roles as queens and priestesses.

One of Satan's biggest lines of attack has been to objectify women's bodies... to make them sex objects alone. And to emphasize the sexual nature of women, to OVERsexualize women. Satan's done a good job with us when we make breasts a dirty thing, something to either laugh about or run away from when encountered in a non-sexual setting.

Is this how God would have it?

There are some cultures where breasts are not so sexualized.

I mean, I think Latin men probably find breasts beautiful, because they are womanly--they are a symbol of womanhood. I'm sure that, in India, breasts are an attractive feature on a woman, noticed and admired by men, like any stereotypical trait of womanhood--long hair, rounded faces, larger eyes. But they're not dirty.

It's not dirty, in Latin America, to feed your babies in public. And guess what? Babies are able to get a far larger amount of nourishment from their mothers in this way, in countries where breastfeeding is more accepted as normal, as something that is just mundane, a piece of living life. Toddlers and children on up to age 4 or even 5, sometimes, are able to receive the nourishment that God has designed so perfectly for young childhood.

I've been in situations many times, where someone tells a mission story of a four-year old boy running up to his mother, flipping up her shirt and nursing. The person telling the story always acts horrified about it, or like it's amusing for some reason. And I usually chuckle and nod, but behind it all I'm thinking... this is so wrong. To be laughing about this. To be treating it as dirty or ridiculous somehow.

I'm a mother. And I'm coming out of the closet and saying: I feed my babies with my breasts, and I'm not ashamed of that fact. I'm grateful to the Lord for blessing me with organs that produce an inexpensive source of perfect nourishment that cultivates immune health, brain function, bone and muscle development in my child. It's an amazing mercy of God, that he created women this way, and it's beautiful and a touching example of everything that motherhood physically symbolizes. It's also, as with so many things Heavenly Father has created, a powerful spiritual symbol: the umbilical nourishment in the form of the spirit, that runs between us and God. And our closeness to God: chest to chest. Face to breast.

As a woman and a potential queen and priestess, I say: let's take the breast back.

Oct 24, 2010

Healthy Chocolate Milk substitute

I looove chocolate milk and I crave it sometimes. My favorite is Ovaltine, the chocolate malt flavor. This combination tastes, to me, very similar.

8 oz of milk (any kind--soy, almond, cow,etc)
1/2 tsp blackstrap molasses
1/2 tsp barley malt.

mix well.

the nice thing about this drink is that, while molasses has sugar, blackstrap molasses in particular has a huge "bang for your buck" as I like to call it. Meaning... it's nutritionally dense. In ways that are important to My body.
For instance, it has potassium (17 % DV in a tablespoon) iron (20%), calcium (20%). of course, you'd never have a tablespoon in one sitting. But as we vegetarians know, every tiny bit of iron and calcium helps.

So you're drinking chocolate milk, but, when you also count the nutrients in Milk, Soymilk, or Almond Milk, it's nutritionally almost as good as drinking V-8 or any other nutritionally dense drink (except there is a bit more sugar :)

How To Make Your Own Barley Malt

I have wanted to try making malt for a long time. It's one of my favorite flavors, and I read in lots of places that it can make a really good sweetener when you combine it with other sweeteners... it somehow enhances other sweeteners, something about its chemical composition.

Well, I read a few websites. Most of them were related to beer-making. After reading up, I tried it three different times, and my last try was most successful. SO I thought I'd lay it out here in case anyone else had the same desire I had, so that it could be more user-friendly and less beer-related.



barley (uncooked, unpearled).
A jar
a dark cupboard or closet
a sieve with very small holes.
a good grinder--coffee or wheat grinders would be best.

Sprout your barley by putting it in the jar, filling it with water and letting it sit overnight in a dark cupboard.

THen rinse 2 times a day with water, setting it back inside the closet afterward, until you see little bumps forming on the ends of each grain.

When these bumps are as long as the grain itself (Half-grain, half sprout, usually takes a few days) then spread your barley out on a cookie sheet and roast it the same way you'd roast grains, at a low heat (I did 200), taking the pan out to mix the grains around every 15 minutes or so for even drying. You could also do this the long way in a dehydrator.

When the grains are all dry (sprouts included--they'll be withered and brown and will fall off very easily) put the whole mess into a sieve or sifter. sift, sift, sift until the sprouts are separated from the grains entirely (put something under the sifter if you don't want a giant mess on your counter.)

Throw the sprouts away. Take the grains, and grind them up into a fine powder. I use a coffee grinder, you could also likely use a standard wheat grinder.

You can use malt in any recipe where sweetener is required. The best recipes are ones that are cinnamon/chocolate/rice-pudding type recipes---anything that might use vanilla, for instance. just try 1/2 to 1 tsp in any recipe where you'd like to use a little less sugar, maybe, or are using other kinds of sweeteners to replace sugar.

Oct 21, 2010

Things We Say

NSG: Snack time!

All the girls: Apples! Can we have apples mom? Can we have apples?

NSG: *frowns in confusion* You don't want bananas this time? Not even you, MayMay? You never finish an apple when I give it to you.

MayMay: *Shakes head vehemently* No Mom. I want an apple. A RED apple. I'll finish it, I promise!

NSG: Well, OK then. (hands out apples.)

Bella: I want the reddest one, MOM!

Jaws: No, I want the reddest one!

NSG: They all taste just as sweet, girls. Here. (randomly hands out apples)

MayMay: *Gleeful chuckle* Look how RED mine is.

Bella: Ok, now die!!

Loli: I'm going to die first.

NSG: *whips head around, just in time to see Loli slink gracefully to the floor, apple-hand outflung, eyelids fluttering.*

NSG: *Baffled stare* Are you OK, Loli?

Bella: Now MY turn. Watch me, mommy! Watch me die! *takes a bite from apple, falls to knees, then crashes to the floor, allowing the apple to roll from her hand*

NSG: What are you doing?

MayMay: We're snow white, mom!

NSG: Ah. *Walks back to kitchen sink.*

NSG: Well, at least they'll finish their apples this time.

Homeschooling and Incorporating the Gospel

Because I have realized that I trust Diane Hopkins implicitly when it comes to curriculum, We chose to do the "package" curriculum with Latter Day Family Resources this year for Loli. This means we just bought a "packet" for third grade which included texts and workbooks for every important subject.

It was a good choice. Overall, I am very happy with what we have, and how Loli is learning this year.

Some of the books I have loved: singapore math. Story of the world, the middle ages text and activity book.

Some of the books, I have liked, but have found them a little strange. You see, they're Apologia curriculum. Which means.... Christian.

Well, you know. I'm a Christian. I love the idea of having the spirit while learning, and learning religious truths while learning science, history, etc. We do children's scripture stories before math every day, and read scriptures at night before bed, say prayers at every meal, do family home evening. One great thing about homeschooling is, I find I end up bearing my testimony in some small way, every day, to my kids.

But there's something wierd about these books sometimes.

Apologia science has this giant chip on its shoulder about evolution, it seems. I skip at least a paragraph every day we do science, where the text is asserting that evolution never happened, the world was literally created in seven days, here is the evidence that there were no dinosaurs, etc.

*sigh* I can put up with it.

But GRAMMAR? Does this really have a place in Grammar?

Technically, yes. God should have a place in every piece of our lives. I agree. I get it.

But this passage from Loli's grammar book struck me as a little odd:

c) Prayer is the way we talk to God. The Lord's Prayer is an example of a prayer. (Read it in Matthew 6:9-13.) Is there something you need Jesus to take care of? Write down a prayer, asking Jesus for help.

**what the?**

It came RIGHT AFTER adding suffixes to words.

And cursive.

That was my reaction as I read it. But I didn't say anything to Loli. I didn't want to give her the impression that I thought that it was silly, to say a prayer to Jesus in a textbook... See, I'm a pretty skeptical person, sort of sarcastic sometimes, but I try REALLY HARD to tone this down around my kids, especially when it comes to religious things. I don't make fun of Janice Kapp Perry... I realize that, while she's smarmy and gooey, she can teach important messages, and, yes, a small child might feel the spirit while singing, "A child's prayer."

anyway. So I didn't say anything to Loli, I just gave her the assignment.

When I got the assignment back, I was delighted to realize that, genetically, I must have passed some of my skepticism on to her.

Again, here was the question:

c) Prayer is the way we talk to God. The Lord's Prayer is an example of a prayer. (Read it in Matthew 6:9-13.) Is there something you need Jesus to take care of? Write down a prayer, asking Jesus for help.

And here was Loli's Answer:

I ask thee to help me ride my wobbeliy bike.

I snorted as I read her answer, then looked at her, and found answering amusement in her eyes.

"I know it's silly," she said, trying to hold back a grin.

"Loli, I love you," I said, and squeezed her, hard.

And then I proceeded to engage her in a discussion about different religions and how they handle God, and this textbook and its origins. I told her that if one of those questions makes her feel weird, she can talk to me about it or possibly even not answer, and we can just have a discussion instead.

I don't know about you, but I have always felt religion to be extremely personal.

I guess my daughter is the same way.

It's not a bad thing, I don't think. There is that whole section about the pharisee who prayed for people to hear, and the humble man who smote his chest and prayed quietly to himself.

Anyway, I want to hear from you homeschooling moms. How do you handle the spirituality/school balance?

Oct 19, 2010

Adoption and HIV +: it's not as big a deal as you think

This is an amazing blog about HIV and what it really means.

My kids do not happen to be HIV +. We've had them tested here in the US, and they were also screened in Ethiopia before they came home. SO we don't have to deal with HIV. But the more I learn about the need of HIV + orphans to be adopted, and the more I learn about how manageable/low risk a condition it really is when treated properly, the more I feel a need to share messages like these with friends and loved ones who might be considering adoption

Oct 16, 2010

My beautiful, Big-Eyed, Crazy-Haired baby

I realized I haven't posted any pictures of Rose yet. With a family full of photogs and her amazing blue eyes, she gets a lot of pictures taken... so I have no excuse.

These two were taken when she was about 2 weeks old.



Here are some more recent ones. All these except for the last were taken by Emily, my sister-in-law who is rapidly becoming more than just an amateur photographer. The last was taken by my other sister in law, who told me she entered it into her county fair and won first prize. ;) But we don't care much about that. We just love Rose. A lot. She gets a LOT of love from everyone in our family. All her sisters and her brother, her mom and dad. There's hardly a minute when she's not being held or paid attention to. And then there are the aunts, uncles, grandmas and grandpas that she has been around so much these past few months because of all the family events.

Maybe her pictures turn out so well because all that love is somehow visible on her.




Oct 14, 2010

Things We Say--Natural Remedies

(Setting: Baby Rose has just thrown up.)

NSG: (feeling Rose's forehead) I think she's got a fever.

Skywalker: Hmm. (feels her forehead.) Yes, she does feel a little hot.

NSG: Maybe we should put some peppermint on her feet and tummy.

Skywalker: Do we have any?

NSG: Maybe not. I think we used it up. Maybe lavendar instead?

Skywalker: And some fennel.

NSG: Maybe some oregano would help, too...

Skywalker: We should grate a little ginger, put a drop of the juice on her tongue...

Dave: (looking up from his computer, and giving NSG and Skywalker a strange look) Are you treating her, or seasoning her?

Oct 10, 2010

How's Life?

Gosh, life is funny sometimes.

I guess I want to hear from all of you. I talk about my own experiences a lot, the things I figure out and the things I work out that make life more emotionally satisfying.

My family has a genetic tendency to anxiety/depression, and I've somehow eked my way through some stuff, and am continuing to eke, and it's comforting to talk/write about it. Getting it out there makes it seem less drastic and difficult when there are difficulties, but it also makes things funnier and happier when I take time to write about them.

My friends are all becoming more adult-like, with bigger families and/or established careers, so I figure a lot of you are starting to settle into yourselves, figure out what makes you happy and fulfilled. I figure that a lot of you are also starting to think about the big picture and set some long-term goals.

So, to those of you who read and might take a moment to comment... how's life?

What is it that makes life worth living for all of you?

Have you had any epiphanies lately (even small ones) that have propelled you into greater happiness?

Were there any general conference messages this time around that hit you hard, and why?

This is my attempt at non-omphaloskepis, but whatever form of skepsis would be reaching out and connecting and learning from others' experiences.

Oct 7, 2010


Maybe I shouldn't think this is funny because my family is composed of children whose first language doesn't happen to be English but I kind of do. Think it's funny. (in case you lost track of the first part of that sentence.

Oct 6, 2010


I feel like I'm closing out some accounts I've held onto during my life.

"Trauma" is one.

"Neediness" is another.

"Self-Consciousness," "Fear of Failure," "Fear of Others' Opinions" are some more.

Thirty has been very good to me. For some reason I've gotten past some important hangups I've had in life. I've realized, No, I Am A Good Person and this has improved my relationship with a lot of people. Unfortunately, it has made things a tad more strained with one or two people, though. I'm still figuring that out, because while I don't Care What Others Think Of Me, I do Care About Whether Or Not I Hurt Others, particularly those I care about.

I wrote a couple important letters this week. And I feel suddenly like I'm standing on top of it all, that I can say I'm finished dealing with the things that make me "different" from everybody else in Mormon culture because of what I've been through.

I've grown. I'm different from who I was. I'm not innocent anymore. But, (in the words of my bishop) I am more compassionate and also I feel like my faith has grown, because I see that God works in spite of and through imperfect vessels. And I'm starting to feel compassion and charity for those imperfect vessels, too... something I wasn't able to grasp before because of the strangeness of trauma and its aftereffects.

Anyway. Some serious omphaloskepsis and I guess this post is also self-indulgent, if the point of this blog is to entertain readers. But it really isn't, so, yeah. Thanks for reading.

Oct 3, 2010

The passing of a generation

Skywalker's last remaining biological grandparent passed away this morning. He was 95, and pretty much going strong until he started failing this last year. We all knew it was close, in fact, have been preparing for a while. The opportunity to come out for the girls' sealing provided an opportunity for my mother-in-law to say goodbye. I watched her, during the visit... she was saying good-bye every day. Every minute. She spent as much time as she could with Grandpa C., kissing him, cuddling him, showing him how much she loved him. And now he's passed, and I think everyone feels peace and resolution. This has not been a tragedy, it's been like a coming of age, a next-step sort of thing.

This all hits me in two ways.

1) I'm about 20 years behind, generation-wise. I've only lost 1 grandparent,but I have to face the fact that we're going to say goodbye to all of them in the next 20 years. I'm not sure I'm ready for that.

2) Skywalker is a lot like Grandpa C. They look alike, and they have similar personalities, likes, and interests. As an example, this is something my sister-in-law, Emily, wrote regarding a picture she took of him holding our youngest.

"With Grandpa's failing health he hasn't known who we, his children and grandchildren, are anymore. It's been awhile since I've seen the grandpa I remember, the old man with that smile in his eyes. He didn't have to be reminded that he can't remember any of us anymore, as soon as he saw this baby he knew what to do, just hold her!"

When our kids were sealed to us and blessed the next Sunday, everyone came over afterward for a get-together. Grandpa was in and out of reality. He didn't exactly know who everyone was all the time. He was sitting under a tree in our yard, and Skywalker came up to him with baby Rose. Grandpa was asking about the baby. Finally Skywalker said, "would you like to hold her?"

"Well, yes!" Was Grandpa's prompt response.

Grandpa loved children, and he had a soft spot for his little girls.

He is kind, a peacemaker. He had two wives. One of them passed away when his family was still young, the other kept him company until he died this morning, at 95.

I look at Grandpa C. and I see my husband in 60 years. And it makes me happy. How blessed I was when I married into this family, and how blessed our children are to have a great-grandfather and a father like Grandpa C. and Skywalker.