Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Baking Regrets

Thank goodness I have a fabulous visiting teaching companion who is good at baking. My poor sisters I've been visiting have been quite baked goodie deprived until she came along. Don't get me wrong. I actually like baking. It's cathartic and relaxing. Nothing makes me wish I could bake more than this time of year when, if I was a good neighbor, I'd be bringing plates of cookies to my neighbors. But truthfully I worry that most of what I'd give them would be unpalatable. I am sure that the problem is that I just refuse to follow the recipe and even when something comes out great, I never write down what I did so I can reproduce it. I have a little bit of a control issue when it comes to food. I think that following a recipe is kind of cheating, for me anyway. If I follow a recipe exactly then I can't really call it my genius now can I?

I do have 2 cookie recipes I always follow when I want cookies and have disciplined myself enough to follow the darned recipe. PB cookies and sugar cookies. The problem comes when I'm wanting something besides those two (which is often), or if I want some other form of desert, or if I want to bake bread. Oh I wish I was a cookie genius. I wish I could make light and fluffy rolls... but I can't seem to bring myself to use only white flour so my rolls are always heavy bricks. I wish I could have chewy cookies... but how do you really know if a recipe is for chewy or crunchy cookies... maybe if I add a little ____. NOT! Sometimes I think to myself "I am craving some kind of cookie with nuts and citrus" so I make up something and it comes out like some kind of fruitbread instead of the cupcake I was hoping for. I really have baking issues. I think I need to attend some kind of baking boot camp to steer me clear of my wayward baking ways.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Low-Down on having Number 4

So as an update, I  had 3 good days in there where I felt pretty fantastic only to go back to feeling terrible. So I have been fairly useless but today I am feeling a bit more energized (probably thanks to those B vitamin/folic acid tablets my fabulous midwife Lorell recommended). So, it's blogging time! I've had lots of things I've wanted to blog about but no motivation to sit in front of the computer long enough to do it.

So I thought that, as promised, I would give you the low down on the fourth child and how/why I came to the conclusion to have another one. As some of you may know, after I had Novan, I decided I wanted many many kids, like more than 6. Then, I had Beya and decided 6 would be enough. Then I had Iyov... and well... I didn't want ANY more, not really. Then after I discovered a love of writing, I really wanted to be done with kids. It sounds a little selfish if you make assumptions about the nuts and bolts of that decision. I didn't want any more kids after I discovered that something else could bring me fulfillment. If I didn't have any more kids, I could sooner pursue my OWN interests and so on and so forth. Well, that's just  simply not the case. It's not the reason anyway for why I was so against having a 4th child.

The real story is that I have been trying ever since Novan was born to be the best at being a mom that I could be. And I was always disappointed with myself because I was never living up to what I wanted to be as a mom. We are counseled that being a mother is a divine work. We are told how much of an impact we have on future generations if we take our role as parents seriously. And sure, after the first child, I could really see how much fulfillment and joy kids could bring. It's all true. But the incorrect assumption, that I made as a new mom, was thinking that I could fill my life entirely with children and relishing in my accomplishments as a mother in order to bring myself fulfillment. I thought, "As long as I raise my kids in righteousness and see them all serve missions, get married in the temple, etc., then I will be fulfilled as a woman." I have a lot of interests and things that I am passionate about. I have studied a lot of subjects. I love being in school and learning, but I never tried to make anything serious of those things. I never tried to develop my talents beyond simply using them in my home. I didn't want to. I just wanted to be a good mom. Wasn't that enough of a desire? Shouldn't that bring me enough self-fulfillment? No. It didn't. And I never realized it until I started writing, and I realized that other things in life could bring me closer to an understanding that I really am a daughter of God with divine potential. I am excited to know what more there is to me as a daughter of God. What other talents has he blessed me with that I have yet to discover?

I now know that there is more to me than just a mom and a wife. I can live for myself without being selfish because through appreciating myself more, I appreciate my husband and my kids more. I SEE the wondrous beings that they are more than I ever have before because I can now see that in myself. I have much much higher hopes for all of them. I EXPECT greatness from my kids, not just a temple marriage and kids of their own. I EXPECT them to discover the divine potential in themselves and USE it to bring joy to others.

And so back to the kid decision. I didn't want a fourth because I wanted to be sure that the reason I would choose to have one would not be because I was still trying to live up to my ill-conceived dream of perfect mom-dom. Because that pursuit was not making me happy. In fact, it was making me UNhappy. If I brought another child into the world, it would be for the simple joy of wanting children. I wanted it to be out of unselfishness and a desire to serve more. Because let's face it, you do nothing but serve your kids and if you aren't ready to do that, then you should not have kids. And most importantly, I wanted to make the sacrifice of having another child without the fear that I would resent that child for the sacrifices I made. In some sense, trying to be such a perfect mom and failing was making me resent my own kids. And in turn, I knew that wasn't right and so I disliked myself even more. But now that I have relinquished my death-grip on my visions of being a perfect mom, I have found a peace and satisfaction in my children that I was never able to appreciate before. I'm OK with my shortcomings as a mom. I'm ok with the fact that I am not cut out to be the mother of 8. I'm ok that sometimes I lose patience with them. I don't beat myself up when I lose my temper and yell at them over something trivial. I really believe that I am a good mom now and I know that I am doing my best. And my best is enough for me.

Brad really wanted another one because he has this thing about even numbers and he always felt like there were at least 4 spirits up there who were destined for our family. I was rather opposed. I didn't want to be pregnant and sick. I didn't want to devote months to breastfeeding service to a newborn. I thought that our 3 were just wonderful and I never felt compelled to have more even after I corrected my thinking when it came to children and myself.I was afraid of falling back into that cycle of focusing too much on my kids and myself as a mom.

Well, I love my husband and I did this 95% for him. But the other part of me is excited to have kind of a second chance at taking care of a baby with a new and improved attitude of myself. And I REALLY want another girl. I want Beya to have a little sister. I want both Brad and I to both feel truly done when this is over and I don't want to live with "what-ifs" and I certainly don't want to look back in 7 years or something and decide that I really should have had that 4th child and decide to get pregnant at 35 when my kids are all finally grown up to a more self-sufficient age.

I'm excited for the challenge and if there's one thing you learn as you have more and more kids, it goes by WAY too fast. A few years of my life sacrificed for a new spirit needing guidance in this world is well worth it. It's funny that with each child I've had, I've wondered, "How is this one going to be different? How can they possibly be as fabulous as my other kids?" And somehow they always are. They may not start out that way. But the older they get, the more in awe I am over the magnificence of the human soul. How perfect and wonderful they are when they first set out. How much is my desire that they never forget where they came from and who they are. I don't want them to have to go through the same crisis as myself in having to rediscover it. I'm grateful that I understand that now and hopefully I can have a hand making sure that they always do.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Survival Mode

This is me all last week. Nauseated. Tired. Beya took this picture of me hence all the blurriness. But it just goes to show you how lackadaisical I've been in my parenting lately. I don't even remember her taking pictures.
Want to take a guess as to why? Yep, I'm pregnant. Number 4 is officially on the way. Don't ask me the due date because I always go early and I keep more track of getting safely to 37 weeks and less track of when the baby is coming. But it's in June, that's all you need to know. And I have been SOOOOO sick. Today, actually, is the first day that I have not been completely miserable and hoping that someone would come knock me out and not wake me up for another approximately 5 weeks. I have managed somehow to keep myself and my children fed and Novan to school. That's pretty much it. I don't remember what I ate all week except that it was disgusting and made me want to gag every time and had me wishing that you could get a feeding tube put in on an outpatient basis with no questions asked. If there had been anything on earth that didn't sound completely nauseating I would have had it delivered to my front door. I even threw up twice, which I have never done in the past. This has been the WORST sickness I have experienced to date in the pregnancy realm. I have wondered what state I would be in at the 13 week mark (when morning sickness typically abates for me). But today, HALLELUJAH, I have been reminded that I am human. I've certainly had the nausea and the tiredness but on a much smaller scale. I did not lie in bed in a nauseated stupor all day. I cleaned. I cooked. I took my kids to the park. Amazing! I'm hoping Brad's fast for me did the trick and days like today are here to stay.

So, LAST and FINAL baby #4 has already given me quite the trial. I have had a hard time being excited about another child or anything that might merit excitement or joy whatsoever. I probably could have won a million dollars or something and still would have had a hard time mustering the energy to smile. Never fear though. I'm sure I'll be excited soon. I really want the last one to be a girl. I really didn't care about any of the past ones in terms of gender. But this one I care. I'm having a hard time convincing myself not to be disappointed if it's a boy. And no I'm not finding out. It's kinda hard to do that if you don't actually pay a visit to a doctor's office and an ultrasound machine. Cuz this baby is going to be at home just like Iyov was.

So why do I want another girl? Because Beya is the sweetest child on the planet and I'm wondering if it's just her or if it's girls in general. My sweet Beya has taken such good care of me this past week. She knew I was sick and that the new baby was making me sick. So she would always include "And help momma to feel better" in her prayers and she would always ask me when I looked a little more lively if I was feeling better. I only had to ask once and she would bring me whatever I asked for with a cheerful "Ok Momma!" She'd bring me a diaper and wipes so I could change Iyov in my bed. She would bring me everyone's toothbrushes with toothpaste so I could brush their teeth while I was laying in bed. She would bring me an apple if I was lying on the bed, too sick to move but knowing I needed to eat something. She would get socks out of my drawer and put them on my feet if I was cold. She would brush my hair and smooth my face or hold my hand when my eyes were pinched shut from a particularly bad bout of nausea. And while Brad is gone, she's been sleeping with me, because I just sleep better when someone else is in the room. I've kind of depended on her. She's just such a little ball of sunshine that her presence just seems to make me feel less lonely and less hopeless. Yes, that's how sick I have been. It's been awful! Oh please, oh please, let today last!
Here are a few other pictures I found on my phone this week which I believe are Beya's handiwork. You can tell what's important in her life. I think the close up of Novan is actually pretty neat. =)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Some Birthdays Are Important to Reflect On...

We're not big birthday people around here but I think 5 years old is probably a big deal in terms of life stages. Novan turned 5 today and so I thought a little reflection was a good idea. Of course, I thought about when Novan was born. It was beautiful, terrifying, spiritual, horrifying, and sad time all at once. Just thinking about it makes my head spin. Golly, 5 years ago Novan made Brad and I a real family.

The story probably starts when Brad and I offered to babysit our friend's 5-year-old son for her while she went to a Make-A-Wish Foundation vacation for her would-be sister-in-law for a week. I was 34 weeks pregnant at the time. I gotta say, I had babysat all of maybe 2 times prior to that in my lifetime and was not that excited about kids. In short, I disliked kids a lot. I was rather nervous about having my own child, worried that I wouldn't like him. So while I agreed to watch this 5-year-old, I wasn't excited about it... AT ALL. Having 5-year old Ethan for a week wasn't so bad but I proved to myself once again that I still did not like kids much. They just didn't do anything for me, ya know what I mean? So I remember having a couple dreams during that week that included PTAs and chaperoning field trips. That made me even less excited. In short, I was down right terrified that I really was going to hate this parenting thing. What was I thinking getting pregnant when I didn't even LIKE kids?

Musta been the nerves because literally the day after I delivered Ethan safely back to his mom, I went into pre-term labor at 35 weeks. I was disappointed to not be getting the birth center birth I had planned on but in the midst of labor I wasn't caring much one way or the other. When labor went rather faster than expected, Brad and my doula Lorell drove me to the hospital in Fontana, CA where I was passed from the first doctor on call to another because the first doctor didn't want to deal with a mom doing natural childbirth. I have no idea how long I was in the hospital before he started crowning but I am pretty sure it was under 20 minutes.

Phew! What an amazing experience pushing a baby out is! Anyway, because he was preterm, they never let me hold him... well correction, Brad yelled at the nurse for like 5 minutes while she was cleaning off his vernix and they finally let me hold him wrapped in a big blanket for all of 5 seconds before they whisked him off to the NICU. I'm still a little bitter about that. Why was it too risky for me to be able to hold him for a few minutes yet they could take the minutes to unnecessarily wipe his vernix off BEFORE administering breathing help? I have a lot more to say on that but it's not soapbox time.

OK, so I remember right after they took Novan away and I was left alone in the delivery room with Lorell while Brad accompanied Novan, I delivered the placenta all by myself... that was weird. But I do remember being totally endorphin high despite the feeling of having my body flattened by a Mack truck. I told Lorell, "Man! I could so do that all over again!" It was so amazing, that feeling of pushing a person out, bringing a separate life into the world, and doing it all on my own strength and ability, enduring every painful feeling and good feeling together... and having control over it all. *sigh*

I said exciting AND sad, right? Yep, cuz the sad part is Novan in the NICU for 2 weeks. I was an emotional wreck those 2 weeks. There's something about not having a newborn to keep you awake at night and having to set an alarm to get yourself up every 3 hours to have a machine pump your breasts that is incredibly UNsatisfying and emotionally depriving. I know I still suffer a measure of guilt imagining my poor baby bonding with a plastic bassinet box, IV tubes, and monitoring equipment. No wonder the poor kid has some emotional issues. But what the heck did I know. If I were able to do it over again, I probably would have found some legal way to stay there 24/7 with Novan in my arms the whole time instead of getting kicked out all the time for shift changes and visiting hours. What a crock. *sigh* This time, it's a sigh of frustration.

Two frustrating and depressing weeks. And finally we brought our baby boy home. I will NEVER forget the first hour he was home. I was changing his diaper and when I took it off, he let out a huge number 2. I mean projectile style. I thought it was hilarious. Brad thought it was horrifying. Seriously, I am laughing out loud at the memory. THEN, when we finally got everything cleaned up and we laid him in the crib, he throws up all over the place. Novan was always a big spitter-upper, but this was like... big, ok? Or maybe in my new parent memories, it just seemed huge. So Brad, who was already freaked out by the poo projectile, thought we had done something horribly wrong. He gets his mom on the phone to I guess tell her how unequipped we were to have the sole care of a newborn baby. HAHAHA! I remember just thinking it would make a great story one day... and it did, see? Thank goodness Brad's mom talked him out of returning the baby to the hospital to pick up at a later date when we were more ready to be parents. Thrown into the fire, that's what you are as a new parent. But let's face it, it's usually mom who is REALLY thrown in the fire. I know there were sleepless nights, frustration in breastfeeding which I thankfully conquered, and lots more blow-outs and ruined outfits, but I do know that Novan was the BEST baby ever. He was abnormally good, bizarrely good. No wonder Brad and I had another one as soon as possible. We wanted like 7 more after that because Novan was so good. (For the record, we do NOT want that many anymore)

And my Novan is so special to me, my firstborn, my first love, my refiner's fire. He's so subtly brilliant in strange little ways, ways that you wouldn't notice if you weren't with him all the time like I am. And he's fiercely protective of his brother and sister and loving to them, his Dad, and I. I get to be privy to how much he loves his siblings and how he really is getting the hang of being the oldest finally and having a little responsibility. He's so fun! His stubborn focus is astounding. I can see this usually annoying and daunting trait in youth developing into a person firmly grounded and continually in pursuit of Gospel truth, undeterred by the direction of the general populace... an unusual man, one comfortable in his own skin and steadfast in what he knows to be true.
  Happy 5th birthday Novan; you were the beginning of real life and real joy and fulfillment for Dad and I. We are so thankful to our Heavenly Father for sending you to us!

Friday, October 8, 2010

I LOVE this place

I cannot tell you how happy I am, how exited about and mostly how grateful I am for Novan's school ABC of NC. Novan hasn't even been there for 2 months yet, and he can not only already write his letters (upper and lower case) but also his name on demand. He also knows and can write his numbers. He knows what day of the week it is, the season, the weather, count and write numbers and he also can HOLD A PEN properly. That is SO huge. I had been trying to teach him that for months and they taught him in a couple few weeks. It sounds easy to most people but unless you have had a child with little to no fine motor skills, you have no idea how frustrating it is for you to try and train them to get their muscles to work properly. Beya, for instance, learned to hold a pen without any prompting. She started doing it without direction. But Novan never could get it right. But now he now doesn't need ANY prompting to hold the pen correctly. His motor skills are vastly improved and I know it might be TMI but he can now wipe himself without my direction most of the time. (not that they work on that at school of course but it just testifies his improved motor skills)

A few weeks ago we were at the Dr's office for Iyov's checkup and the doctor pointed out how much more engaged Novan was socially. Novan spoke to the doctor and looked at her in the eye and smiled. He rarely would do that with strangers and the last time the doctor had seen him he didn't do any of that. She had suggested getting an assessment for him. I never did though and decided we were going to work more on his motor skills at home. But when the Dr pointed it out this time I told her it was the school he was going to that was specialized for Autistic kids and he was going as a "typical child." I swear, it's like he gets occupational therapy and school as one 5 days a week except that he's not labeled and it's MUCH cheaper.

I can only imagine how wonderful it must be for those parents whose kids are actually diagnosed on the spectrum. No wonder the school is growing so much. They do such an amazing job helping kids with disabilities on every level.

And Novan LOVES school. He absolutely ADORES it. We get out of the car every day so I can walk him to his class and he always has a big ole' smile on his face. Novan is generally a reserved person when it comes to excitement and so to see that just makes my heart glad. They have these one-way glass windows looking into all the classrooms so parents can observe without their kids knowing, and today I watched him (like I do most days) run in and drop his lunchbox off and go to the table with the other kids... just grinning ear-to-ear. Just happy to be there. My heart swelled and I shed a few tears there watching him, just so grateful that Heavenly Father answered my prayers that I could help Novan be ready for public school, that he would help me to find a way to make Novan's growth and development a little easier. I felt so bad about all his tears when we were trying to get him to write and his emotional breakdowns when he got so frustrated that he couldn't get his body to work right. I worried for him to be in public school where teachers are outnumbered 20 to 1. Novan really needed someone to understand his needs and be able to focus lessons around his needs with innovative teaching styles. I love it. I love it. I love it. I love that school. I wish I had more money and I would pay them what they're really worth... soooo much more than $165/month.

Brad said to me this morning "Man, that place is so great. How long can he go to that school?" Yeah, my thoughts exactly.
I replied that unfortunately they don't have inclusion classes for higher than preschool but I now feel like Novan is well on the way to excelling in kindergarten and beyond where he won't get as much specialized help and personal attention. He's being taught coping skills and learning methods that will be applicable wherever he goes... which will hopefully be Moore Magnet Elementary where they use the 5 intelligences alternative teaching methods. Yep, that's another thing on my prayer list right now. =)

I also have Gammy to thank for sending the play-dough and hole punch stuff for Novan's "at-home-therapy." I am sure that helped/still helps as well.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Calling all Avid Readers

Hello my friends. OK, so I am looking for volunteers to read Chapter 1 of book 1 of my 3-book trilogy. I will be submitting book 1 soon to my favored list of literary agents and I need chapter 1 to be especially fantastic because that's the most I can send most of them that they will allow/read. If you are interested please let me know via the comments or my e-mail (rachelelizkelly@yahoo.com) and I will e-mail you chapter 1. No, you don't get to read any more than that. If you like it, you'll just have to buy it when it's published =) Only a select few are actually able to read the whole manuscript and I won't be giving you any more information about the book other than the first chapter. So if you can stand the suspense I would love some honest and critical feedback.

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Not-so-Healthy Me

Since I have made this whole book writing thing a major endeavor of mine I have been a big fat slacker in terms of my health. I have pretty much taken a sabbatical from the health nut that I was/still am. The only thing I really have stuck to is being vegetarian. But I've been a very unhealthy vegetarian. And I've been a poorly rested person. Those are two things I still believe play the biggest role in a person's health.
My only excuse is that I have been desperately busy. On top of trying to get my first book ready to submit to a literary agent, I have been studying to pass my securities licensing exams. So I have sacrificed many things.

One is having a relatively clean house. It's not that I was the best housekeeper before, but I would reckon I am even worse now. I generally clean when I can't concentrate because the pile of dishes are bothering me too much, or Novan has no clean clothes to wear to school. That's hardly my main issue though, just a mildly annoying one.

I used to spend a lot of time cooking, and I made weekly visits to the grocery store, and I planned out my weekly menus. Eating healthy was at the top of my list. Now, partly because of budget restraints pending our RIA deal I mentioned in an earlier post, but mostly because I spend my time studying or writing/editing, I make meals that I am ashamed of like grilled cheese, scrambled eggs, pasta pasta and more pasta, rice and beans, rice and beans, and very few veggies. Ok so the rice and beans aren't so bad health-wise, but I'm rather sick of them. In any case, I haven't had the usual vibrant diet that I am used to. Dinner, I would say, hasn't been so bad. I have begun making more effort there once I finished the first drafts of all three books. But I hardly eat any breakfast, and lunch is an annoying interruption in my day and I usually fill my annoying grumbling stomach with something unhealthy like crackers and cheese, or toast, or the leftover crust pieces my kids leave behind from their PB&J. It's sad. It's really really sad. Yes, I feel like a slob a little. It is evidenced in my weight as well. I have lost around 7 pounds from my usual constant weight. People don't generally see weight loss as a bad thing. It's a shame though that that weight-loss has mostly occurred because I've starved myself-- not eating breakfast much and very little lunch.

The other thing, a big thing, is sleep. I used to swear by 8+ hours of sleep. Now sleep has moved down several notches on the priority list. There's simply no other time to get things done except in the middle of the night when kids and sometimes husband are asleep. That madness has toned down a bit since I finished first drafts. Editing is far less consuming so I seem to be able to convince myself to get to bed at a semi-decent hour now. Before, I was staying up until 2 and 3 in the morning on a regular basis and waking up at 7:30. That time took quite a toll on my overall health. I could literally feel the physical difference, and I experienced weird signs of my ill-health like odd heart rhythms at weird times, fatigue in my limbs, and feeling generally drained physically. Mentally I was and am better than ever. I have been on the high of my life getting those words on paper but I saw my sacrifice real-time. So while my sleep has improved a little and I cook a little more than I was during that crazed-obsessed woman period, I still have a general feeling of unwell. The most obvious thing is my skin which has been plagued with all kinds of zit-nastiness. I rarely got zits before but now I get them on a regular basis. The other regularly noticeable thing is headaches. I only ever got headaches if I spent too much time out in the sun. Now I get them every other day or so. Not migraines or anything but headaches are something I never had to deal with before.

Ok, so stop whining right? Yes, I definitely need to make a change here soon. I have to find some kind of balance because I am literally feeling like there are just not enough hours in the day. Why are there not more hours in a day??? I could really use a minimum of 2 or 3 more. I might be able to swing all this craziness at once then.

There are two things I have learned through this whole process though. You are what you eat and what you eat has a definite impact on your health. I have probably shortened my life span or something just by abusing my body the way I have these past 3 1/2 months. The other thing is that passion and zeal for what you do has a way of making bodily ills seem inconsequential. I wouldn't go back and change any of the past months. I know that my current poor health is not permanent, but I have to say that I would give it up permanently in exchange for a life as fulfilled as I have had in these past months. Give me my writing, my new appreciation for myself, seeing my kids in a new light and appreciating my husband the way I have these past months and you can keep my former perfect health.

Good thing I don't actually have to do that... but I'd sure be willing if that sacrifice were really necessary. As it stands, I just have to figure out how to get more hours in the day....

On a totally unrelated note, I have to share this conversation I had with Novan:
I cleaned Novan's room today, putting all his toys back in the toy-box, etc.
This evening, I hear Novan grumbling to himself in the other room: Where's Optimus' other leg? I don't know where it is...
Novan appears in the kitchen where I am folding laundry and says: I don't like cleaning.
Me: Me neither Novan. Yet, somebody's got to do it.
Novan: I don't like it when you clean my room. I can't find my Transformers.
Me: (laughing) Oooooh.You find them better when they are all over the floor?
Novan: Yes mom. I don't like cleaning. Can you not clean my room anymore?

You got it kid. Note to self: Next time make Novan clean the room, that way, he knows where he put his own toys.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

CNBC article and some more funny stuff

CNBC thought our parody was funny as well and featured it in their "Funny Business" section. You can read that article by clicking HERE.

Also, we put the outtakes together and you can watch those below. Some of them are actually pretty funny, like us leaving the kids because we didn't stop the elevator in time. The elevator scene was really hard to shoot cuz those darn things kept leaving before we could get the shot. I also love "the worm" dance move in real time. Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Manners according to Beya

The other day Brad instructed Beya on saying 'excuse me' when she farts. She thinks farting is hilarious and she always tells you and starts giggling. The other day though, Beya burped.
Beya: (giggling) 'Scuse me!
Me: Thank you for saying excuse me. That was very nice. (I was thinking how intuitive of her to know to say excuse me when she burps since we only told her about farting)
Beya: (still giggling) I farted out of my mouth so I said 'scuse me! (more giggling) I'm silly!
 Ah, I see where the intuition came from now.

Today the kids and I were swinging on the front porch swing. Beya was pushing us.
Novan: Beya, push faster!
Beya: Novan, don't talk to me that way!
Me: Novan, if you want Beya to do something, how do you ask?
Beya: Novan, can you say, 'Please can you go faster?'
Novan: Please can you go faster Beya?
Beya: Yes Novan. Thank you for saying please Novan.
Uh, ok. So apparently Beya would do a better job being the mom.

Man this girl cracks me up.

Friday, September 17, 2010

If you ever wanted to learn something about the markets....

Brad and I did a Ke$ha/Jim Cramer parody video with our summer interns that I think is hilarious! You should watch it, you might just learn something about the capital markets!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Love, Hugs, and Wal-Mart

I wish I could rig a video camera to follow Beya around all day and catch all the things she says. She is such an example to everyone who is around her. I would venture to estimate that 75% of what she says is love related. Hugging is probably in her top 5 favorite acitivities... that and going to Wal-Mart apparently. Here are some examples of some things that she says on a daily basis:

I'm afraid Beya has staked a claim on her brother. She's quite protective apparently.
Today after I was took Novan to school:
Beya: Momma, is Novan going to play with boys at school?
Mom: Yes Beya.
Beya: Novan can't play with the girls though.
Me: Novan can play with girls too.
Beya: No mom! Novan only likes me!

Beya must say the sentence "I love you." fifteen times a day, no joke. She tells everyone she loves them, multiple times. It's usually accompanied with a hug and she even finds new and original ways to say it.
This morning Beya hugs my leg while I'm making oatmeal and says: Momma, I love you. You're my best girl!
Me: Awww! Can I be your best girl forever?
Beya: (nodding) Mmm Hmm.

I always chuckle when I hear Novan and Beya interacting. When they actually converse and don't think I'm paying attention, they are quite civil. It's like listening to a little gentleman and lady and I am reminded that I really have managed to teach them some manners.
I'm making Novan's lunch for school and Beya asks me to turn the transformer she's holding into a car)
Me: I'm busy making Novan's lunch for school. I bet Novan can transform it for you.
Beya: Novan, can you turn this into a car? (hands the transformer to Novan)
Novan: Ok Beya. 
Beya: Oh thank-you Novan! (Hugs Novan and gives him a kiss) Novan, you're my best friend! I'm going to miss you when you go to school Novan.
Novan: Sorry Beya, this transformer's missing a piece. I can't do it.
Beya: Oh. Ok, Novan. I still love you.

Beya's regard is not limited to Novan. She points out to everyone she sees that Iyov is her brother. "This is my brother Iyov." "Iyov is my brother" "That's Iyov. He's my brother." and so forth.
Beya: Momma, I was a baby like Iyov!
Me: Yep, you were little once just like Iyov.
Beya: And Iyov loves me!
Me: He does love you.
Beya: I love my brother Iyov, he's my friend.

I have no idea where Beya got her ideas about Wal-Mart because I rarely take any of my children there, instead preferring to have Brad look after them while they nap and I go to the store. But here it is... the girl is a walking Wal-Mart advertisement.

Beya comes to me one morning.
Beya: Momma, I can get some wings and I can be a butterfly girl!
Me: Well you can get wings but you won't be able to fly with them. But you can look like a butterfly.
Beya: But momma, they have wings at the store...at Wal-Mart.

Beya: Momma, can I have a cookie?
Me: I don't have any cookies.
Beya: We can go get some cookies Momma.
Me: We don't have enough quarters to get cookies right now Beya.
Beya: But Momma, we don't need quarters to buy cookies. They have cookies at Wal-Mart!

Beya: I need to have a magic wand so I can be a fairy.
Me: A magic wand?
Beya: Yes. Can I get a magic wand?
Me: Well I can try to make a wand for you but I don't think it will be magic.
Beya: But they have magic wands at Wal-Mart Momma!

Yes, apparently Wal-Mart carries pretty much anything the mystical creature might need or want... including cookies that are free. But man oh man, do I love my little beetle-bug Beya.

<--Beya's fashion accessory for this particular day was jackets. She was intrigued by how many jackets she owns and was changing in and out of them all day. Then she had me put new batteries in Tickle Me Elmo and decided that the "safest place" (her words, not mine) for him was in her jacket, and then she said I should take a picture. There you have it. She's the rockingest little girl I know. Man oh man, what a lucky man she will marry one day.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Things of Eternal Worth

Brad and I recently started trying to start what's called an RIA for our company, Magnum Opus Financial. RIA stands for Registered Investment Advisor. There are a number of reasons we have started trying to do this, and perhaps one of the biggest and most necessary reasons is because as an RIA, Brad can manage money without having to go through a broker dealer and thereby handing over a huge cut of his advisory fees. It would increase our income by almost double. It is an intensive process, lots of confusing paperwork and also me trying to get my securities licenses again so that we can hang on to his smaller clients and also continue to receive life insurance commissions. These type of accounts cannot be moved over to an RIA. The reasons are all complicated and I'll spare you the details.
So, why am I telling you this? Well because in order to start and maintain an RIA according to NC state SEC requirements, we have to keep a pool of $10,000 in our corporate account. For years we have managed to scrape by with Brad's income, credit cards on and off, student loans, and every now and then we have had to pull from our rainy day savings. We now have no savings left... except our retirement accounts which we have been absolutely strict about never touching. Being an investment adviser and financial planner, Brad and I both know how important it is to start saving small early, that way you don't turn 40 and find you have to start saving massive amounts in order to retire with an adequate yearly income. You just can't beat time as a means of accumulating a large retirement account. So, I bet you can guess where this is going. In order to start our RIA we are going to have to liquidate a large portion of our retirement savings.
I'm not worried really, because Heavenly Father has ALWAYS looked out for us, and also because I know how much more we will bring home and will almost entirely cover our monthly expenses, whereas now we do not cover them. BUT, liquidating these retirement accounts will dissolve the last safety net we have in place. It is a HUGE risk, but a necessary one. I suppose I was feeling a little desperate, and sad, and worried, and unsure, and mostly I was upset over having to take FURTHER risks with our family's financial well-being. Brad and I have lived on taking risks. We've spent money on things to promote our company and Brad has taken trips to conference after conference to meet influential people in our business and promote the company, sleeping in his car because we couldn't afford a hotel room, staying away in California to take care of and gain new clients for weeks on end just so we could maintain the meager income we enjoy, and working endless hours in his office away from us, just so he could figure out how to make it all work. He does all this even though we really couldn't afford any of it, even though it meant our kids didn't get Christmas presents and even though it meant we had to put our monthly expenses on a credit card from time to time. It's simply because we have both believed that in the end, the risk would be worth it. Some people probably think we're crazy for it, but success always requires risks, just like the stock market, the bigger the risk, the bigger the return.
Anyway, I'm not trying to get sympathy cards from anyone or depress you or gain pity, I just wanted you to kind of get where we are, my state of mind, etc. So today, while Brad and I realized that the retirement account liquidation was necessary, I went downstairs from his office to have lunch with the kids and started to say our meal prayer. I started crying partway into it, praying for things to turn out ok and that I trusted Him to get us through this, to be our safety net since we would no longer have a monetary one. When I was done and I'm all sniffling and wiping the tears away, Beya says to me, "Don't cry Momma...Momma, you're not supposed to cry when you pray."
I explained to her how sometimes when we talk to God we're sad about things that are happening, and that it's ok to tell him how we feel and its ok to cry if things make us sad. God doesn't mind.
So Beya looks thoughtful, and after a minute says, "Well maybe we should pray that you can not be sad anymore Momma."
Of course I agreed and she said a prayer for me that God would help me to feel better. It was hard not to cry at that. I wanted to answer her prayer and not cry anymore but it was just so touching, and I had to try my darndest to keep a stoic face.
 Look, I have faith that things are and will be ok, and even if we suffer an even bigger financial flop, we will still be ok. It doesn't take a house and good credit score to be happy, and I realize that. But Heavenly Father distributed one of his many tender mercies through my daughter to reiterate that I already have so much that is of infinite worth. What wonderful children I have; what a wonderful church and restored gospel I am able to share with my children so that they are in tune with the Spirit enough to in turn share the Spirit with me when I need it. I have a hardworking husband who understands what sacrifice is and how it can and will transform our lives if we simply stick to it and stand by it. His perseverance astounds me every day and makes me believe in myself. As Dieter Uchtdorf said, "You are no ordinary beings, you are glorious and eternal." Brad has shown me this more than anyone else, and I am thankful to him for that. How blessed am I!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Select the Channel Which You will Attune Yourselves To

I think that many people do not understand the LDS concept of "The Spirit." We believe that the Spirit, AKA Holy Ghost is what gives us inspiration and guides us when we are living our lives in such a way that we have attuned ourselves to hear it. The Holy Ghost is NOT God, but a separate being, as Jesus Christ is. The Holy Ghost gives us guidance and direction under the direction of God. The Holy Ghost is part of the three members of the Godhead; they are separate but one in purpose and mission. Oh, how grateful am I for the inspiration of the Holy Ghost; it is more prevalent in my life every day.

Friday, August 27, 2010

A McScreamy Update

As you know, I have not been a big fan of my youngest child's infant behavior. So I thought I would let you all know that things are marginally better. It is mostly due to this:

That's right. I was starting to wonder if Iyov would ever have an interest in walking and he finally does. In fact, he started doing it in just the last week. He actually now spends more time walking than crawling and I think it has been huge for him emotionally. Every time he walks around, he just giggles at himself because he thinks he's so funny and he's also really proud of himself. It helps that Brad and I make a big deal every time he would take a few steps. I also think walking has made him feel like part of the group and hasn't had the constant need for me to carry him around. Thank goodness. He also has rudimentary ways of communicating his needs like nodding and shaking his head... and grunting of course. And also, now that Novan is in school, Beya plays with him more and so life with my third child is actually getting easier. *Phew!* I couldn't be happier. And for those of you wondering... we ARE planning on having one more although it has been an unsure thing for some time. That story to come at a later date though, maybe when I actually get pregnant... yuck. In the meantime I am going to enjoy my non-pregnant, non-breastfeeding, non-attached to a baby time for as long as it goes on.

Monday, August 23, 2010

First Day of School

I had been on the fence a long time about preschool and its necessity. I never went to preschool, neither did my sisters yet we all excelled academically. Perhaps my only failing as a student was being inept at making friends. But preschool is the norm now and probably just as well considering all the kids with developmental problems, reading comprehension problems, and so forth. While I don't think preschool is strictly necessary, I had been open to the possibility of Novan going simply as a means of transitioning into kindergarten next year. Novan has a bit of a hard time changing routines, and participating in a structured classroom type setting. He is only just now starting to enjoy primary at church after having been in it for a year and a half. He also has some delays in his communication and in his fine motor skills. I had looked for preschools but they all were just too far out of my do-able price range. I looked online and found one school, ABC of NC development center for $135/month, but it catered to Autistic children. Then the very next day, I was outside with the kids and this girl with a toddler comes walking down the street and I say hi and we have a chat. I came to find out that her name is Cindy and she works at a school for autistic children. I said "Oh? What's the name of the school?" and she said "ABC of NC." I was like "No kidding, I was just checking that out online while I was looking for preschool." Anyway, to make this dialogue shorter, Cindy ended up explaining that ABC has an inclusion program that integrates autistic spectrum kids with typical kids and it was only $135 for typical kids. It's actually in the thousands on a monthly basis for Autistic kids. Wow. I finally understood that the price I was seeing online was for these typical kids. They are actually the only Autistic school in NC and it just happens to be 4 miles from my house. Huh, how 'bout that?

So anyway, things just fell into place. Novan got the fifth spot of five available slots for typical kids in the "advanced readiness class." I couldn't be more excited about it because for Novan, it seems like the perfect fit. He needs a little extra help in areas, the same areas that many autistic kids struggle with and now I only pay $165/month for specially trained teachers and a super fantastic facility. (It's 165 because it is the class for older preschool kids which is fine. Seriously, you won't find that price anywhere). Seriously, the place looks like more fun than Chuck-ee cheese.

The only drawback is how sad Beya has been at the prospect of A. She doesn't get to go and B. She's misses Novan. Since my kids understand the "saving up quarters" concept, I explain to her that mom and dad don't have enough quarters to send both her and Novan to school but she will get to go next year. On many occasions, when we mention school, Beya will say "Momma? Can we get some quarters for me so I can go to school with Novan?" Yeah, it rips my heart out too. This appears to be as much an adjustment for her as it is for Novan.

So today was Novan's first day. I packed up his backpack with a change of clothes and sunblock and gave him a lunchbox with PB&J, apples, and popcorn and dropped him off for 4 hours. He was super excited to go.

I can't say the excitement lasted. As soon as I picked him up, he demanded in his best whiney voice, "Where's Beya?" (at home napping while dad worked) then he asked "Where's my Transformer?" (I don't have a clue which transformer you are talking about Novan) and when I tried to ask him about his day he just gave me a grunt whine. You might be able to imagine that. His teacher informed me he was really tired and admittedly, he has recently been weaned off of naps because he was staying up too late. I think last night he stayed up too late. So I'm going to have to be stricter about getting him in bed and asleep. Well, we'll see. It was only the first day and at least when I asked him if he wanted to go back to school tomorrow he answered in the affirmative. Small victories, right? Well, that's all for now. Apparently Novan's bad temper has worn off on Beya. Or maybe she's still rebelling because she didn't get to go to school. It's kind of hilarious. She's having a three-year old screaming fit in her room at the moment.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Immune System is More Capable than You Realize

I know I've been absent for a while, but in my defense, I did explain. And it's not for lack of wanting to post. Plenty has happened that I would love to blog about. But I tell you, I spend every spare moment I possess in front of this computer writing, writing, writing. I don't stop at night until weariness claims my eyelids and I wake every morning full of ideas and anxious to get back in front of my computer. It's a sick obsession. Hi, my name is Rachel Kelly and I'm a write-aholic.

That is not what this post is about though. At the moment, I am taking a short break from my other writing by writing. Ha! Somebody save me! Anyhow, the subject of this post is something I caught on the news. I have to say, I ABHOR the news. I think watching it is a huge waste of time. That's not to say that there aren't, on rare occasions, snippets of news that are worth watching. But I would venture to say that 99% of it is pure crap that nobody needs to watch. Sorry mom and dad Kelly. I know you are big fans.

So, that being said, I was NOT watching the news, but the power went out and my DirectTV receiver reset and I had turned on the TV for Novan. I guess the default channel is channel 2 which is like CBS or something.  While I was fiddling for the remote, I heard the words "A recent study shows that acetaminophen can inhibit the immune system." These various studies that news is always airing like "Tomatoes can reduce your chances of prostate cancer" and "studies show dogs can reduce your chances of getting dementia" and "Studies show wearing flip-flops can be hazardous to your health" are one of the many reasons I hate the news. They're just so useless. They never give you any information that is actually useful. But this study, in regards to acetaminophen, caught my attention because the reporter actually made it sound like this was incredibly ground breaking news. Ok, let's face it, they always act like everything is groundbreaking news, but in this case, I laughed out loud at the sheer ridiculousness  of it, and then lamented the horrifying ignorance of the human population at large.

I realized then, that I give the human population a hard time on a regular basis about being ignorant, when everyone is really just doing the best they think they can. The problem I see is that what people "think" is the best is usually not. We can always do better. We can be doing good, but there's always doing better. That aside, I'll get back on topic. So I realized, while listening to this study, that people generally have no idea how sickness works, and they also have no idea what Tylenol does. So, me being the astute person that I am, have decided to expand your horizons if you are one of those people.

In the case of a viral infection, a foreign body is introduced into the interior of the body. Our immune system, the amazing intelligence that it is, begins it's counter-assault always in the same way. First, the respiratory system reacts by producing mucus to coat the insides of your airways and lungs in order to "trap" the foreign body. I know, having a cough or snotty nose is really annoying but it's your amazing body at work! Sometimes this simple process is sufficient to rid the body of the infection. If not, the body then raises the interior temperature to a point in order to "burn out" the foreign body. We call this a fever. Sometimes the foreign body makes it's way via mouth, into the digestive tract. What happens then is throwing up and/or diarrhea in order to "flush out" the foreign body. Gross uncomfortable stuff that is not a result of a virus but a result of your body fighting a virus. So our primary immune system does three things: trap, burn out, and flush out. And 99% of the time, this is enough.

So back to the study. Acetaminophen's primary purpose is listed as "fever reducer." So you tell me, knowing what we know of the immune system, does acetaminophen supress the immune system? Heck yeah! You don't need a study to confirm that. So would you say that if your kid has a fever, should you give them tylenol to reduce their fever? Heck no! Unless said fever gets far too high, which I have only ever had happen once in the hundred of times someone in my family has been sick. And even then, it was borderline. I always laugh when the nurses tell me after one of my kids gets a vaccine, "ok now if he gets a fever just give him a little tylenol." I always want to ask, "Uh, isn't that kind of the point of a vaccine? To stimulate the immune system?"

So what can I say? Back. Away. From. The. Tylenol. Bottle. And pretty much all of the other drugs we like to take while sick to make life a little more convenient. If you continually suppress the immune system with all that junk like fever-reducers, cough suppressants, and mucus reducers, then the immune system never gets a chance to build up. It is just like a muscle. It needs to be flexed often if it is going to build up strength. It never gets as strong as it could be if you are always doing things to counter it's effects. And then one day, when you are fifty and you get cancer, you wonder why your immune system is so weak. Immune systems fight the bigger nastier stuff like cancer too. And considering how many people die from the flu, don't you think a strong immune system could help? Knowing how fearful people are of such things, don't you think it makes sense to boost our immune system with the little stuff like colds? Getting sick like that is good for you. Annoying, but good.

So give your fever a hug and vow to not suppress your immune system anymore. It knows what it's doing... 99.99% of the time. And stop watching the news. It's hazardous to your health. =)

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Where, oh where has that blogger been?

On an ordinary day in April of this year I said an earnest prayer to my Heavenly Father to help me to discover my talents. I felt like I had many interests, many passions, lots of things I wanted to learn more about. I love school, love learning. I think being a student is one of the greatest joys in life. But of talents I felt like I had few, and nothing that gave me any get up and go. I can sew, I can read, I'm decently smart, I like to garden, I like to cook. Perhaps, I thought, maybe I need to ask for motivation to find a way to share my interests with the world in a unique way. But I was feeling shafted on the talent scale, like I was doing what I could with what I had, and I wasn't finding any increase.
Then it was June and I had finished reading a book. Actually, I had finished reading a lot of books. Reading is often like that. I take sabbaticals from reading most of the time because if I don't, I never get anything done. Anyway, the last book I read was a fascinating concept but a poorly executed plot, a terrible use of prose, and too little dialogue. I started thinking of all the ways that it could have been improved and then I started thinking of good books I'd read that were actually good. You know, the ones you don't want to put down, the ones that make you think about life, about your reality, and that push your mind to extremes, making you ask questions, considering things you have never considered before. And then I was struck with a feeling "I can do that. Really, I think I could. How hard could it be? I had lots of truths I wanted to tell the world. What better way to tell them than in a story?
I spent all the next day trying to figure out a concept I could work with but everything seemed done already. I thought of ideas that at first I thought were original but upon further thought seemed like something I had already read or watched. Being weak in confidence I chastised myself for thinking I could come up with an original idea on my own. Despite my feeling of weakness I was still confident so I said another prayer. This time I asked that if God thought I could write a book, such as I was, that He would give me an idea, something to go on. Maybe, I thought, He could send me a dream. My dreams have always been bizarre contradictions and sometimes had me waking up and wondering "Where the heck did that come from?" What better source of inspiration, I thought. So I went to sleep, confident that an idea would come. And so it did.

That idea was a concept with no plot or philosophical basis, just an idea, the barest of inklings.
It is hard for me to describe exactly how the plot or idea came about, how the characters developed, how the little nuances of the story came to life. Every time I sat down to brainstorm and write out ideas for the plot, they came like I had turned on the creative water hose in my brain. I stayed up late at night just writing my ideas, thinking of better ways and little by little vagueness became more specific. And even before I had completed the plot, or even a theme I began to write. Every day was a revelation. Characters took on a life of their own and every time I sat down to write I was excited to find out what would happen because I had no idea what would happen. I tell you, it is many times better than actually reading a good book. Every day a character would say or do something that surprised me and I thought "Where in the world did that come from?" but it was always perfect, fit right in with the story, sometimes in ways that I didn't even realize until later.
I have never felt so alive, so capable, so confident in myself as a spirit daughter of God. I have thanked Him every day for the joy I have discovered in writing. Because through my story, fictional as it is, I have found a way to share my testimony in a way that I feel is beautiful and unique. Writing has become like a daily bearing of testimony. I have learned more about Him, communed more with Him, and never thanked Him more than I have in these past weeks.
How true is the Psalm that says "And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee." He has given me increase beyond what I thought possible, beyond what I thought I could comprehend and so, my friends, that is where I have been. Writing my heart out elsewhere. I have finished the first of what I believe will be a trilogy and am 3/4 of the way through the second. Well, at least I think right now it will be a trilogy. Who knows though, things in the story change so drastically from day to day and when I think I have told a good story I am impressed with an even better one, one that builds beautifully on the one I have already written so there has been little plot change from the very beginning.
So, my friends, I suppose I can now add "writer" to my profile description, yes? So cheerio for now readers, my head is practically bursting with words for my next chapter. More to come, I promise.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Obedience, a Divine principle

A trend has occurred to me, since becoming a parent, a trend that has taken shape that has made spanking a bad word. I have many friends, probably some that read this blog, who do not believe in it. Even my husband, when we first were married, said that spanking was demeaning and inappropriate. I have found that the consensus, among those who do not believe in it, to be that it is some type of abuse. It sends the wrong message. It tells children, "If you don't like a behavior, just hit the person to make it stop." It is possible that this may be the case on a very basic level. I have seen many many many kids, some whose parents don't believe in spanking, and some who do. I have not observed any trend in their behaviors to indicate that children who are spanked hit other people more than those who aren't. I have made it a study. I have worried and prayed over the appropriate use of physical punishment with my kids and have found that despite the message I may send to my kids about when to use physical violence and when not to, I see very real and observable results with using spanking as a parenting tool. It teaches a foundational principle that supersedes any other idea they may form.

As a parent, my primary goal is to teach obedience. Obedience is such a basic characteristic and is defined by action. God says, "Children obey your parents in the Lord for this is right." I think that it is not only interesting but vital that this one of the only counsels that the scriptures outline specifically regarding parenting, by including the words both "parents" and "children" in it. In no other place is it so readily obvious that God is talking about what kind of behavior should be expected of children. It is not just passing advice. Learning to be obedient, like no other principle in the gospel, lays the foundation for a successful and provident life. Upon this characteristic of obedience, the rest of the gospel builds. God demands our obedience before our understanding. He knows that if we will just do what he asks, whether we understand the reason or not, we will be changed people, and understanding will come as we continue to do.

So when I say my primary goal as a parent is to instruct obedience, I mean that it takes precedence over every other characteristic that I might want to instill. I don't go about correcting Novan's taking his sister's toys with the goal that I want him to understand why taking from someone else is not right. The message I first want to instill is that he is not allowed to do it and that I am the authority. I don't care if he understands that taking something hurts Beya's feelings. I want him to know that if I have told him not to, he had better obey or there are consequences. So he learns that failing to be obedient merits consequences and I want to send the message right away and swiftly. As Novan grows and learns, probably by having things taken from him, he will begin to understand why he is not to take things away from people. Understanding comes after obedience.

I have heard various parents relate to me about their kids doing this or that behavior in school and the teacher says "Little Johnny didn't have a very good day. He hit little Susie and when I asked him why he said [insert some rudimentary reason]." The new age of parenting says we have to learn about our child's feelings and try to get to the root of the problem, find out what kind of home situation a child has that might be causing them to act out, or maybe see if there's some kind of neurotransmitter imbalance to determine if his emotional responses are out of whack for a biological reason. We are disturbed when Little Johnny says he hit Little Susie because he wanted to. Oh goodness, it must be a conduct disorder so we better get him into therapy before it turns into antisocial behavior in adulthood! Well of course he did it because he wanted to! Children are curious little cave people and experimenting is how they learn. They are looking for what kind of response their behavior will illicit because that's what they do. It is our job, as the authority figure in their lives, as the one who knows far more than they do, to show them the consequences. We simply have to be the authority just as God is to us. God can't be here to teach those hard and fast lessons to our Children when they take something from another child or hit you because they don't like that you told them 'no.' God has given that job to us and he says to teach obedience so that's what we have to do. Love, understanding, compassion, charity, faith, perseverance, and all those wonderful characteristics we hope they'll have will come if they see us as the authority in their lives. Then, when we have established ourselves as the person to look to for what behavior is acceptable and what isn't, they will take notice of and practice our examples.  They will watch how we handle hardship and difficulty, how we show them compassion when they fall and skin their knee, or how we kneel down to pray to ask for Divine help. But obedience must come first.

So back to my point about spanking. I spank because it is an immediate response to an unwanted behavior. It sends a clear and concise message that bad things happen when you don't obey. I've said it before and I'll say it again, understanding comes later. So it's not that I look to spanking as violent enough to make my child feel bad and not do it again but I have found it the quickest means to deliver a quick message. If I take my child's arm, come down to his level, look in his eyes and say in a firm voice "Don't hit your sister again." then I am simply telling him what the desired behavior is in a different way and he is learning that his behavior doesn't have consequences. If I put him in time-out for the purpose of giving him time to think about his actions or to take away his interactions with others as a punishment I am only giving his child mind time to get distracted by something else. He may not repeat the behavior immediately because he has had time to become distracted. It will only crop up again later because I have failed to send a message that disobeying has consequences. If I tell him, "Don't hit your sister or you can't have a treat after lunch." The consequence has been placed too far from the undesired behavior. He fails to form a connection. Some may say that consistency is the key but how many treats after lunch can I take away in the same day? This is not to say that spanking is one hundred percent the absolute best punishment all of the time but for quick behaviors that I am trying to stop, it is the best response, after an initial warning of course, unless it is a behavior they already know is unacceptable.

Ok, so as a final note. Mental illness does exist. Abusive parenting does exist. Children who have had physically abusive parents, parents that repeatedly took punishment too far or hit their kids because they felt like it, have grown up mentally scarred and such behavior is abhorrent in the sight of God and all that is right. An imperfect world full of harmful substances and harmful practices have resulted in debilitating mental illnesses that sometimes require medication and therapy. These things are real, not imagined.
But please, let's not complicate the simple and Divine principle of obedience.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth...

This morning I had made the kids grits for breakfast. I was cleaning up the kitchen when I caught sight of Beya, sitting properly in her chair (a rare occurrence) and playing with her hands, literally. Her little make-believe session was so intriguing I watched her quietly to see what the plot was. Apparently her bowl was "the house". The bowl has a wide overhanging edge and underneath was where her hands could take refuge. Now her hands were people, and the right hand was a girl and the left was a boy. They were fighting, you see, over who would be able to go into the "house." I got the impression that the boy hand was the bad hand and the girl hand was the good hand. The boy hand kept trying to oust the girl hand and the girl hand would say, "No! No swiping!" (dialogue courtesy of Dora of course) and the boy hand would steal the house. Girl hand would say "Get out of my house!" and some such things. Unfortunately there was no happy ending to this story. Boy hand killed girl hand and she lay lifeless on the table and boy hand continued eating. It was so strange and intriguing that I asked Beya what she was doing.
"The boy killed the girl." she informed me sadly.
"Which is the bad one, the boy or the girl?" I asked.
"The girl." said Beya, "She died." Still the right hand lay lifeless on the table quite literally like it was dead.
"Oh no!" I said. But a few minutes later she informed me the girl hand was all better.
Phew, it would have been hard to live with only one hand but seriously, I gotta teach that girl about happy endings, good prevailing over evil, and the stuff good stories are made of. We ought to teach left hand some manners.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Princess Hair

I think I posted before that I couldn't wait until Beya's hair was long enough to do things with. Well, apparently, it finally is. It's not very thick, which makes it difficult to work with but it's so cute and curly. It's very much like mine, but cuter. This morning, before church, I was doing my own hair and Beya wanted me to do hers like I had done mine. She calls it "princess hair". I thought it was cute that we both had our hair done the same way so I got Novan to take a picture of us. (Brad is out of town for a couple weeks). I had to bribe him with candy to take the job seriously but he's obviously capable.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Thursday, July 1, 2010


I have to throw this out there despite the fact that it may embarrass my child one day. I just think it's so hilarious and...well, I'll let you decide. I bought Beya a little Ariel princess doll some time ago. I also bought her Sleeping Beauty and Belle. As I have mentioned before, she's really into the Disney princesses and her favorite is Ariel. I'm not sure why but it may be that she is just enthralled with mermaids in general. This particular doll has interchangeable outfits made out of some kind of rubber/plastic that make them much more durable. I like it. You can take off Ariel's tail and put a dress on her and Iyov has found that if you bite hard enough, you can pull her head off too. Well, that's beside the point. Someone else in our family also thinks Ariel is the best princess:

Yeah, that's right. I'm not talking that he just thinks Ariel is the best, I think he might have a little boy crush on this doll. When I first bought Ariel he would find opportunities to take her when Beya wasn't looking and hide her in his pocket. Beya would come crying to me that she couldn't find Ariel and I didn't realize what was going on until one of the neighbor boys was over and saw it happen. When he saw me helping Beya look for Ariel, he told me Novan had taken her. Sure enough she was in his pocket. The little stinker knew I was looking for her and had gone inside to avoid me. Sometimes he tries to take her from Beya outright. When I see this I ask Beya if she will share a princess with Novan and she tries to hoc Sleeping Beauty on him or something. He cries and throws her aside. "I want the RED one!" he says to me. I can only assume he's talking about Ariel since she has red hair. It doesn't take rocket science to figure that kid out. I thought maybe he thought it was cool that she had a fish tail and that's why he was so intrigued but he could care less about whether she has her tail on or not so it makes me think it's something else, like I don't know, maybe he has a thing for REDHEADS? That's entirely possible, I think to myself. If attraction is genetic, maybe he got that one from my Dad who I am sure preferred redheads.
On the plus side, Novan is interested in her modesty, or maybe it's just her wardrobe he cares about. Ariel's dress comes in 2 parts, a top and bottom and one time we lost the bottom. He cried and cried, "Her bottom! Her bottom! I can't find her bottom!" Seriously, I am cracking up the whole time but I know he's distraught so I help him find it so his precious Ariel can have her dignity. It was getting pretty rough around here with Novan and Beya always fighting over her. Brad thought I should just go buy another one for Novan to have. No way! I was not going to buy this kid a princess doll just so he'll leave Beya in peace. So finally I told Novan he wasn't allowed to have Ariel anymore even if Beya said she'd share it and if I saw him touching her I was gonna break bad on him. It seems a little harsh but there was simply no middle ground that he would tolerate. I think he got the message because he hasn't fought with Beya over Ariel in a while but I still see him sneaking a peak and he enjoys the Little Mermaid cartoon on TV as much as Beya does, probably more.
So I'm pretty sure I know what color hair his first HUMAN crush will have. Hopefully he doesn't try to stuff her in his pocket.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

So, what is a whole grain?

I think I assume sometimes that people know the same things I do. Often, when I am posting, I feel like I am posting a bunch of stuff that people already know. The reality is that most people don't know about the stuff I am talking about. I apologize if I lose some of you in the midst of my meanderings. It simply does NOT occur to me that I might be talking a foreign language. No matter though. Writing about eating, cooking, and being healthy is something I enjoy immensely even if some of the material seems obvious to me.
So the question I wish to answer is: "What exactly is a whole grain?"
The word "whole" means something like "containing all parts" or "all inclusive" or "lacking none of the essential parts." A grain is essentially the fruit of a grass or more specifically a monocot. A monocot is basically a plant that sprouts with one seed leaf (versus a plant that sprouts two seed leaves). Soooo, that said, grains include all kinds of seeds such as: wheat, oats, barley, buckwheat, rice, corn and less common grains such as quinoa, amaranth, millet, and sorghum. There are way more grains than just those one but it is more likely that you will run into those before the more obscure ones.
A WHOLE grain means a grain whose parts have all been retained. In the case of flour (flour is the ground up seed) a whole grain flour means that the ENTIRE grain is in the flour versus a refined flour in which part of the grain (usually the germ which is the part containing all the nutrition) has been removed.
In answer to your question CB, whole wheat IS a whole grain. Whole wheat just happens to be a type of whole grain. There are lots of different types of whole grains as I said earlier.
Grains are not to be confused with other types of edible seeds like flax, sunflower seeds, and beans which are all dicots.
Phew! How's that for a biology/herbology lesson?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Top 10 Nutritional Boosters: A Better PB&J

I don't know about you but we eat a LOT of PB&J at our house. It is one of the 10 things that Novan will actually eat and it's a quick and nutritious form of protein if you do it right. I have three rules for PB&J:

1)Use a good hearty whole grain bread. For some reason I have always remembered the "Whitewheat" commercial from when I was a kid. I tried to find it on YouTube but they didn't have it. It featured two loaves of bread, one white, one wheat, and they are supposed to be trains traveling on a track. One is chanting "white white white white" and the other is chanting "wheat wheat wheat wheat" and finally they collide and the chant says "WHITEWHEAT!" The idea of course is that whitewheat bread is supposed to be as nutritious as whole wheat bread but taste like white. I suppose I certainly fell for that one being only 8 or so but the reality is that white bread, whitewheat bread, and whole wheat bread are not, nor will they ever be equals.

This commercial makes me laugh. The truth is that food companies are still trying to pull this one over on us and they are getting better and better at disguising how bad off we are in the food department and what it's doing to the health of the human race. We've missed something essential that science has not told us about the benefits of getting our nutrition synthesized straight from the plant source versus man-made synthesized nutrition that you may find in not-so-wholegrain breads. Then there's all the processing that went in to making the whole grain supposedly more palatable. One time, try this: Take a dab of bleached enriched flour and put in on your tongue. Really try to taste it and pay attention only to the taste. Then take a dab of whole wheat flour, preferably fresh ground, and put that on your tongue. There really is a BIG difference, that is, if you still have taste buds. There is a LOT more flavor in whole grains. The texture is very different but texture is a person to person preference and is generally reinforced by whatever you are "used to" or "what you were raised on". Ok, so I am gonna leave it at that. Put your PB&J on bread worthy of your amazing body that was gifted you by Heavenly Father.

2) When it comes to PB, use the good stuff.

Get one whose ingredients are peanuts and salt. Fortunately, more and more brands now have a natural alternative. Just check the label and make sure they're not throwing something else in there they are considering "natural" that really isn't. None of that hydrogenated oil crap that runs rampant in your peanut butter jars. Yeah, there's oil on the top and you gotta stir the stuff but these are GOOD oils, not artery clogging, butt enhancing hydrogenated this and that that is ADDED in to make your PB fluffy and spreadable. They only invented that kind of PB so that it would spread on soul-less wimpy WHITE BREAD. White bread can't stand up to the real stuff. Treat your whole grain goodness to good sturdy PB full of wondrous nutritional treasures. You may not realize it but by itself, PB is NOT a complete protein because it is a legume. BUT, if you eat that legume with a grain, like say, whole wheat bread, you are getting a COMPLETE protein. This means your body is getting ALL of the necessary amino acids it needs.

3) Now that you've got superior bread and PB for your sandwich, please, don't ruin it with Smuckers grape jelly! It's like putting ketchup on your T-bone steak because you don't have proper steak sauce in the house. Please, use a jam whose main ingredient is fruit and one that is sweetened with something wholesome like, fruit. Then, you get those lovely antioxidants that are all the rage these days. Stay away from high fructose corn syrup and other refined sugars. I like Polaner All-Fruit and Trader Joes also sells some good jams that are sweetened naturally.

Not that I don't appreciate those lovely summer homemade jams and jellies but I wish someone would really figure out a better way to sweeten them. When I am forced to use jam sweetened with corn syrup I try to use it VERY sparingly. Yuck. Anyway, it is more expensive but you'll feel much better with your high quality PB&J and you won't feel like a bad mom feeding it to your kids so much.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Share Bear

If Beya were a care bear, this is the one she would be. She may be even better at sharing than share bear herself and she's certainly better than me. She is absolutely AMAZING when it comes to sharing. When it comes to Novan and Iyov she will share everything from her toys to her treats. One treat in particular that she gets is a twizzler when she does number 2 on the toilet. (She doesn't really need it and would go anyway but I want to drive the message home and never have an accident again) She will undoubtedly share a good half or more of her twizzler with Novan and Iyov if he is around.

Even if Novan already has some of the same thing she's got and he finishes his first she will give him some of hers. A few days ago I gave them little individually wrapped packages of cheese cubes. Novan wolfed his down in like 2 seconds and Beya was still daintily picking hers out of the package. I watched and she must have shared half her bag with him. Let me tell you, Beya loves cheese just as much as he does.
When we are with other kids she will always share as well. If she has a toy that another kid wants she will almost always give up her toy and find another one. At the Children's museum she was playing outside where they have water bins with paintbrushes, funnels, and a watering can. She was enamored with the watering can. One little girl tried to take it from her and Beya prevailed (she does NOT approve of kids trying to snatch things from her) but all it took was for me to tell her she could play with it just a little bit longer but then another little girl wanted a turn with it. If someone asks her for something nicely you can see the little wheels turning in her head. She will undoubtedly give them what they ask for. I didn't even have to remind her. Not 2 minutes later I saw her find the little girl and hand it over. I honestly think Beya just likes to give people things. She likes to help me take food up to Brad and she likes to "distribute" like when I give the kids vitamins. She always reminds me to get one for Novan and one for Iyov. Then she finds them and gives them their vitamin.
She is so sweet and thoughtful. Brad says she's the "glue" that holds our three together. She loves Novan incessantly even though he's a jerk to her on a regular basis and she plays with Iyov and loves to make him laugh. 
With all the sharing and caring she does, nothing bugs her more than when people don't accept what she's giving them. Sometimes she will offer something to Novan, like a peice of cheese she's already taken a bite of and he refuses it because he's all hoity toity and can't eat things after other people have had their mouths on them. Sometimes she offers him a toy she thinks he might want and if he's not interested he says "No Beya!" to which Beya starts crying. It breaks my heart that she tries to be so thoughtful and he couldn't care less. It makes me want to shove whatever it is down his ungrateful throat. Buuuuut, anyway, Beya has learned to say "Novan's being a jerk!" when stuff like that happens and I say "Don't worry about it Beya, he still loves you." Then of course I have to try to explain AGAIN to Novan how sad he's going to be when Beya stops sharing with him one day, when she doesn't want to hang out with him anymore and stops trying to give him hugs all the time. I think though, he's catching on a bit to her example and getting him to share with her in return is getting easier bit by bit. It's wonderful to have such a good little example in our house. I love my little share bear!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

That's Just the Kind of Mom I Am

He did this to himself, I swear, no siblings were involved. I'm sure it's all unsanitary and stuff. There's probably all kinds of grossness in the dirt but honestly, no more than probably my bathroom or kitchen floor. I think people think a lot of untruths that are not really justified when it comes to sanitation. While I am sure my kid is coming in contact with any number of bacteria I have more confidence in a superb immune system not to mention the strengthening of said immune system during such activities as playing in the mud.
Playing in mud is a childhood right! Just look at the joy on that sweet face! Could you take that joy away? I can't because that's just the kind of mom I am.
 What inevitably happens to Beya's shoes no matter where she is. I don't mind. It seems kind of silly to have kids wear shoes in situations that they are clearly not necessary. I lived the majority of my childhood shoeless I think. I still prefer the open shoe-less feel of flip-flops these days. Brad is always trying to get shoes on my kids. He thinks they're going to step on something. Like what? A bug? A tree twig? A thorn? A nail sticking up from the ground? Right. When you go barefoot your feet get tough and a few rocks and thorns aren't going to slow you down. Besides, that's just the kind of mom I am.

Like most kids, mine love water. I don't have a pool but I do have this big muck bucket that I fill up with water. It is much easier to clean and my kids prefer water experiments to actually playing in the water in a swim suit and swimming around. They like to see how much dirt it takes to make the water turn opaque. They like to see what happens when you throw rocks in. They also like to see what kinds of leaves and twigs float. It's messy and dirty but that's just the kind of mom I am.

Monday, June 14, 2010

My 4th Child

No, I'm not pregnant. I'm referring to my garden which I love like it's my child. I get an enormous amount of satisfaction out of it. I love getting my hands into the dirt out there and helping something grow. I am super happy that this year I have been able to give my garden the proper amount of attention. Last year it kind of ran wild while we were living 8 miles down the road while the house was getting fixed. Brad was pretty worried about the size of it when we first moved in here. I extended the size of what was obviously the previous owner's/renter's garden and now my garden takes up a large portion of the back yard. I don't really care what he thinks though. It's not like he likes to be outside anyway. We have discovered that he is very much an indoorsy person and I am very much an outdoorsy person. I love to do the chores outside, mowing, weed-eating, weeding, gardening. I don't mind getting dirty and there is something very satisfying about coming into my cool air-conditioned house covered in sweat, dirt, and lawn clippings feeling exhausted yet accomplished. And I do sweat. A. LOT. Got that one from my mom. Thanks Mom.
Well here is my beautiful child number 4. Actually this was taken a week an a half ago and now the plants are even bigger.
That giant stalky monstrosity in the middle is kale. It's kind of my experiment. It has been there since February of last year and i am just curious if it will stay alive indefinitely. Most garden plants don't stay alive more than a season but this one pretty much thrived all through summer, then winter, then spring again. It just gets taller and taller. I had to actually stake it to keep it upright.  Hmmm, I should really reset the date on my camera.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Destruction Part II

Sometimes I wonder if I should write a book about my life. It's like a freaking circus at times and I can't help but be both entertained and horrified by it at the same time. Less than a year after our great house catastrophe we got a clog in our plumbing. No biggie right? We called our trusty plumber up so he can come fix it. Not real sure why our brand new plumbing would have a clog but hey, who knows.

So this is our driveway. I suppose the plus side is that we won't have to hire a bobcat to come and break up the old driveway when we finally get around laying a new one. The downside is $3200 worth of a giant trench and new water and sewer main piping. I would not have thought that roots could actually grow into a galvanized pipe but apparently roots really can infiltrate anything. Ok, so the water main was still working fine but if I am gonna dig up my entire driveway, it's best to make it worth it and replace everything that might need replacing at some point in the nearer future.
Ok so here's the fun part. We are putting our kids to bed at 8pm or so and hear what sounds like a loud hissing sound comming from outside where work is still commencing with the bobcat. We peek out the window and I think that he must have nicked the water main connected to our meter. But as we go back to putting the kids down Jeremy our plumber comes inside and tells us to get out of the house because he just hit the main natural gas line. We tow all our kids out to our neighbor's house while Jeremy and his other help try to block off our section of street covering about 50 yards on either side of our house to keep cars and their combustion engines out of range of gas spewing  out of the line. I would have gotten a picture of the fiasco but I was a little concerned about being that close to that much gas. I'm sure you can understand. But I can tell you that it looked like how water misters look like that they have all over the place in Southern CA. It disipated quickly some 5 feet from the actual leak and the only place you could really smell it was in front of our house. Nevertheless an entire crew of firemen came out to quarantine the area with caution tape and advise our neighbors to abandon their residences for a time. We ended up going to another neighbor's house even farther down the street.
It must have taken Piedmont Natural Gas 45 minutes or more to actually get to the site and another 45 minutes for them to figure out how to turn it off. Seriously? They take 45 minutes to turn it off? That had to have been a lot of gas spewing out and I heard our plumber ask the gas guy how much this was going to cost him, because obviously someone has to pay for that gas. It sure as heck wasn't going to be us. The gas guy had no answer. So it was at least an hour and a half of free flowing gas out of this hole in the pipe.

That's the peice of gas piping they replaced and the damage that was inflicted by said bobcat.
It is difficult when one has seen as many misfortunes as I have to not wonder if we are somehow doomed and that doom spreads over to other innocents with whom we become involved with. I don't actually think that but it certainly feels that way sometimes. Poor Jeremy, I hate that he will probably not make any money off this job when it's all said and done.