Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Don't Miss this Christmas Classic- A Movie Review

We watched It's a Wonderful Life last night as part of our Christmas traditions. Every time I watch it I pick up something new. I love the idea in that movie that every person has a unique contribution to make; if he or she doesn't live then there is a hole in the universe. You've all heard of that movie, plus A Christmas Carol and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. How many of you have heard of The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey?

This is a picture book that has been made into a movie. I've been reading the picture book to my kids almost every year for years. I was delighted to find out this year that it has been made into a movie. I give it five stars! This is one case where the movie is better than the book. The film's writer did a great job of fleshing out the story to make it into movie-length without compromising consistency. It seems like most Christmas stories are about having a change of heart to become more Christlike, and this one is no exception. Jonathan Toomey is a lonely, bitter man, but by the end of the movie he has been transformed, because of the Christmas spirit of a little boy and the boy's mother.

I love how the story is so simple. The boy and the mother want a nativity set to replace one that they lost so they ask Mr. Toomey, a woodcarver, to carve a new set. As Mr. Toomey carves each figure the boy lets him know how special and expressive each figure should look because they were there when Christ was born. I also liked the theme presented that Mary and Jesus shared a special love for each other. It's that love that reaches into the bitter Mr. Toomey's heart and changes it. At Christmas time, we celebrate the love that God has for all of us, as evidenced by the birth and life of His son, as it says in John 3:16. At the end of the movie, the widow McDowell says, "Christmas is very special." It's not special because of the material goods we get, it's special because we know we have a Savior, Jesuc Christ, to rescue us from pain and death. Not just at the end of our life, but every day. This movie is so lovely. Be sure to watch it this holiday season.

The theme ties into Tree of Life Mothering, the title of my book which will be out soon, but I will have tow write about that another time.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Adult Leadership Education on a Mother's Budget of Time and Money

I've been thinking about this topic (mentioned in the title of this post) a lot lately. Many times when I am thinking about something, somehow the vibes go out to other people and then they start talking about it. So on one of the TJED email lists I am on some moms were talking about how to get a leadership education when you can't afford classes at George Wythe University (GWU).

I would really love to get my master's and PhD from GWU just so I have the knowledge about government and history and economy, based in the classics, guided by a mentor of liberal arts. All of those subjects fascinate me. I want these degrees even though the school is unaccredited. (I already have a bachelor's from an accredited school, BYU, but I have to confess, I picked my major based on how fast I could be done with school and get on to real life, not how much I was really interested in the subject. And no, it's not Family Life or Psychology.) But I don't have the money for the degree program right now. The time is not really right anyway with my new baby. I think one more obligation would make me go crazy. I am still figuring out how to get the six older kids to get the laundry all folded and put away. (I refuse to do it all. My days of folding laundry while nursing with two little kids running around are over.)

I would like to attract this education into my life, and the best way to do that is to organize my life and set up forms and systems that will allow this education to flow easily along with my homemaking, homeschooling, and mothering. So I am practicing studying what I would be studying if I were taking GW classes. The school has started an online program for students anywhere in the world that allows for interactivity in real time. Sounds cool. I can't wait to do it. Are any of you doing it?

Perhaps you want this education too. You, like me perhaps, want an education that will help you redeem this country from socialism and allow you to stand for liberty. small government, and strong families. You want to inspire your children to get a world-class education. Remember, an education is not so much about a degree from a fancy institution as it is studying words, getting great ideas into your head, thinking about them, asking the right questions, then recording your answers. Here's a strategy. Remember this is coming from a real life mom with seven kids who only sits down to eat, nurse, and drive. (I blog standing up...just kidding!) Having time to sit and study for an hour is impossible on a daily basis.

1. Contact the school and ask them to send you the booklet that details the curriculum for the undergraduate, master's and PhD programs. This is the booklet they pass out at their "Statesmanship Retreats" which is a fancy term for a two-day advertisement to sign the dotted line and become a student. I went to one two years ago and enjoyed it, despite the commercial aspect.

2. Pick the degree program you want.

3. Pick a book in the degree program and get it from your public library or bookstore. Put this book in a place where you nurse the baby. That way it's always there.

4. Pick another book to have in the car to read while waiting to pick up kids at classes. Have another book in your diaper bag or purse for pack meeting time.

5. Pick another book to have at any other place you nurse.

6. Find out if any of the books on the list are on CD from your library. Listen while fixing meals. You can also find many things, like Democracy in America, and The Federalist Papers, at librivox.org. I got my tech assistant (16-year-old son) to put these on my iPod and am so grateful for that.

7. Have another CD in the car to listen to while you drive. I have listened to the 5000 Year Leap about three times through now over the past year and a half just from all the driving around I do. It only put me to sleep once while driving. On second thought, listen to the 5000 year leap while in the house.

6. Have something handy to record the epiphanies you get. I just happened to have recently replaced my cell phone since the old one died. The new one has a voice recorder. i keep it in my pocket and record what I am learning. I can even record ideas while I am changing a diaper or nursing.

7. Have one time period a week where you transcribe what you record into a notebook. I am still figuring this one out. This time might be while I am waiting in Bountiful during my son's dance class. Maybe I will have one or two pages in my book devoted to each book I am working on and then eventually I will put them in a three-ring binder.

8. During your mealtimes, tell your children and husband what you are learning. Ask them to ask questions and see if they can stump you. This might be hard since they aren't reading what you are reading and don't know the answers they are examining you for. On page 120 of the book, Leadership Education; The Phases of Learning Rachel DeMille tells the story of realizing that she was spending four hours a day fixing meals. She decided to turn that time into study time. I am not sure what that looked like, I am wondering if that means she started listening to books on CD and then had Oliver quiz her over mealtime. We don't all have Oliver for a husband but I bet our husbands and kids are smart enough to get into the spirit of oral examinations for the benefit of our liberal arts education.

9. Sign up at goodreads.com and find reviews of the books you are reading/listening to. Email those people on goodreads questions about their comments. Check out the favorite quotes from the books as well. You probably know a few GW grads or current students who you can find on goodreads or just plain email and ask them questions. If you don't know any and want some names, let me know.

10. You can maybe find some people at libercommunities.com in your own town to ask questions or join their book discussion groups

11. Rachel DeMille has a ning network for TJEDers. You could start a discussion there. Contact her at to find out how to join the ning.

12. Email me and let me know the exciting things you are learning! celestia_shumway@yahoo.com.

13. If you are having a hard time getting into these books, which admittedly can be as dense as bricks, then take a break and read from a book geared more for love of learning, like all of Glenn Beck's books. They are funny and teach you history, politics, and government at the same time.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

I Want to Be Like Her When I Grow Up

A few weeks ago my husband and I took our daughter on a special date to celebrate her birthday. We got to see Janeen Brady, of fame, in concert! My girlfriend Shauna hosted this rare treat. Janeen wrote all the music and lyrics to the Brite Music. She played several songs for us on the piano, all completely from memory. I was so amazed. She said we could ask her to play any of her songs, and she could probably do it from memory. After she did her prepared part, one person asked her to play "It's a Family" and she played it without a hitch. I want to be like her when I grow up!...to be able to play lots of songs on the piano with chords and embellishments, all from memory. Not just any songs, but songs that I wrote! (I have a girlfriend in my ward who writes songs and someday I hope to take some lessons from her. Hi Rachael!)

One of her songs is "When I Grow Up." It's about the dream of having babies and being a mom when you grow up. She asked everybody to sing with her and I couldn't for the lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. My grandma bought the sheet music for that song in a book of songs about being Mormon and gave it our family as a gift in a care package she sent up with our cousin one fall. I remember singing that song while I played it at the piano. (See .)Now that dream has come true! I do have seven babies of my own.

Janeen shared that she didn't start writing music until she was near 40 (sounds like Janice Kapp Perry). Also, that she had a big family of 9 children. I fit both of those, I'm pushing 40 and I have a gaggle of kids too. So there's hope for my creative talents! Janeen also shared that she wrote her songs because she wanted her children to have music that was uplifting for the other six days of the week, besides Sunday. They were starting to sing things like "I Love Trash" from Sesame Street and she wanted an alternative, jazzy, with a beat. All of her music is bouncy and bright. I have loved it for decades (wow, am I really that old?). I even once sold Brite Music, when my two oldest were real little and life was a lot less complicated.

Believe it or not, Janeen is still cranking out songs. Her daughter, a friend of mine, Michelle Brady Stone, is a homeschooling mom like me. Michelle asked her mom to write some songs to teach the multiplication tables for her kids. So Janeen has done it again. Her new CD is "It's Time to Times" and just like all the other Brite songs, it's a delightful hit! The above picture features Janeen and Michelle singing the cute football song that goes to the 8 times table. I don't think this new CD is available on the Web site yet because it's so new but will be soon hopefully. Janeen has got to be nearly 80 yet she looks much younger and has the health to still produce. Yes, I want to be like her when I grow up.

If you want to hear her sing and play, come to my friend Shauna's house on Wednesday December 9th. Bring your little ones and get inspired! You can also order the Time to Times CD there and buy her Christmas CD. Call the number below to let Shauna know you are coming so that she isn't surprised by too many people. The children will be sitting on the floor and adults are to bring their own chairs. She lives just off 106th South. Take that exit and go west, turn south at the bridge by the Maverik gas station and then turn left at Koradine Dr.

11:00 AM to 12 noon
1133 Koradine Drive
South Jordan, UT 84095

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

John Locke on Babies

We live in an exhilarating time. It seems that more and more, our freedoms are expanding with the advance of technology and societal mobility. Every time I pick up my cell phone I marvel at the capability of this teeny box to allow to me to take pictures, listen to mp3 files, and talk to people across distances. On Thanksgiving Day it was so fun to take pictures of my relatives and send them to other family members across the miles. Yet for all our freedom we have because of technology, we still have yet to appreciate the freedom that comes from the basic biology of simple, ancient things like mother's milk.

I was listening to Democracy in America yesterday. Alexis de Tocqueville wrote about how in America, we have thrown off the rule of royalty but people are still figuring out the rule of law. I think that's true even today, over a hundred years later. Even though we have lots of freedom to do amazing things with our technology we are still learning to obey natural law.

John Locke is credited with putting forth the natural law that is involved with good government. The founders studied his writings and developed a government based on natural law in order to preserve freedom for the people.

I've been thinking a lot about the natural laws involved with babies since I recently had a darling baby boy. After having seven babies, I have observed some natural laws involved with babies. Like, babies don't reach their hands to meet at the midline of their bodies until they are about three months old. Babies like to lie with their head to the side and one arm extended and the other arm bent, the classic "fencer pose." Babies also always develop their motor control from first their head and then down to their toes.

I am also a La Leche League Leader so I think about breastfeeding a lot, even when I don't have a new baby around, because people call me with breastfeeding questions every month, and I have monthly meetings for breastfeeding support. Two cool ladies, who happen to be La Leche League Leaders as well as board-certified lactation consultants, already have developed the natural laws involved with breastfeeding. See them here If John Locke were to be around today and wrote what natural laws governed the flow of mother's milk, these laws would be it. It's crucial for society to understand these natural laws related to breastfeeding. The natural laws of breastfeeding relate to women's lib. A woman can't be truly free if she is forced to feed her baby a product, inferior to what her body is capable of making, because of ignorance. If she chooses to do so, fully aware of the consequences, that's fine, but if she is forced to use artificial baby milk because of lack of information that's sad.

As Anna Johnson, writer and fashionista, wrote in her book, The Yummy Mummy Manifesto:

"Nursing at will wherever and wherever she and the baby please is just about the most ancient and the most modern stand a mother can make. And it's important for one reason alone: Mothering is felt by everyone, but it is rarely seen. Society makes very little space for mothers, so we have to claim that space ourselves. What better way than engaging in a little gentle lactivism?. . .It's an amazing freedom that every mother should be able to try, enjoy, and fiercely protect.

Something like 70% of all babies are breastfed at birth but then that number drops considerably as time goes by so that around 10% of American babies are still nursing at a year old. I could google these numbers but I'm feeling a tad lazy and it seems like last time I checked that's what they were. Breastfeeding is incredibly important, but these numbers reflect that moms don't think it's as important as it is.

What would happen if someone on the 6 o'clock news came out and said the following... "This just in--fabulous substance is available to new moms. This neon pink liquid with sparkles kills germs, lowers the risk of baby and mom getting hundreds of diseases, including ear infections and breast cancer, feeds the baby as well, and has no environmental impact. Give it to your baby 8-12 times a day, even in the middle of the night when you would rather be sleeping. You will have much fewer doctor visits if you follow the directions properly. Warning: scientific studies shows that If you don't give it to your baby exclusively for at least six months he may be less intelligent and will be sick more often. Michael Jordan was fed this substance for three years. Michael Jackson wasn't." People would be all over it, asking where to buy it and and outbidding on eBay for it.

Well, here's a news flash: Mother's milk IS that substance, but because it is free, pale white and watery, and comes from our own bodies and not a conveyor belt, people tend to discount its incredible, unbeatable, lifesaving properties. Obstacles also come up. Sometimes there's not enough information and support for a mom to turn to in order to keep this liquid gold flowing and into baby.

I wonder why this is? I guess because society in general doesn't understand the natural laws that govern the making of mother's milk. Remember what de Tocqueville said. We have thrown off the rule of royalty but we still are learning to obey the rule of natural law. One of the laws is that "more milk out means more milk made." Even though this is my seventh baby I still marvel at how often new babies want to nurse. If I weren't an experienced mom and a La Leche League Leader, I can see how easy it would be to pass off the baby and have someone else feed him. But just like you have to go grocery shopping often if you are going to have food in your cupboards on a daily, continual, basis; you have to nurse often if you are going to make enough milk.

With a new baby, it's normal to be nursing whenever the baby is awake, and sometimes when the baby is snoozing too. I have a girlfriend who calls this the "sore buns theory:" You know you are nursing enough when you have sore buns from sitting so long. Why do babies have to nurse so much? Babies have stomachs the size of marbles on day one. They grow to the size of a shooter marble by day three and then a golf ball by day seven. They also need to triple their weight in a year. If you had to triple your weight in a year and had the stomach the size of a golf ball, you would be eating constantly too. I had to continually remind myself of these facts with this current baby.

"What, he wants to nurse again?! Didn't I just nurse him 5 (or 10 or 15) minutes ago? I want to finish cooking or getting dressed! (Forget painting my nails or annotating War and Peace.)" Mother's milk digests quickly. That fact along with the infinitesimal size of the baby's stomach means you have to nurse a LOT, like more than you ever would think is a lot. But the rewards are priceless. For example, with all my seven babies, we have only had one ear infection. I credit that to nursing my babies a lot, exclusively for at least the first six months for each, and limiting dairy in our diets.

So what do to? Embrace the spring season of mothering, that of breastfeeding and mothering a new baby. Settle in with a baby latched on and a "chick lit" book in the other hand. Enjoy the yummy life of a breastfeeding mom. One chick lit book I really love that celebrates the reality of life as a nursing mom is the one I mentioned above, The Yummy Mummy Manifesto by Anna Johnson. See I also like the Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, although it's not quite as fun as Yummy Mummy, and So That's What They're For. If you want a nonbreastfeeding book, try something light like a Jack Weyland Novel. If you want something more meaningful try The Anatomy of Peace.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Seasons and Systems

I got some great epiphanies while listening to a fascinating mp3 file a while ago while I exercised. Aneladee Milne and Tiffany Earl are two of my homeschooling friends who have formed a company called LEMI which stands for Leadership Mentoring Institute. They train mentors for scholar phase in Leadership Education.

(If you don't know what I'm talking about and want to know more, go to and order the book and read it. Don't worry, it won't make you feel bad for not homeschooling! It will inspire you to get a better education for yourself and your children, which is not so much dependent on geography of the classroom as it is on relationships, passion, and inspiration.)

Anyway, Aneladee and Tiffany do conference calls with the mentors. They have placed this particular call, called "Seasons" on the website . They talk about the frustration they have felt with typical time management seminars. These seminars assume that life is always the same, on a linear path, with the same "get it done" excitement burning in all of us. But that's not how life is, especially if you are a woman. Life is cyclical, with seasons. We have times to be productive in the outer world, and times to be productive in an invisible way by resting.

I've given a LOT of thought to this topic. The topic of seasons involves several chapters in my Tree of Life Mothering book, volume 1Y. I hope to publish it sometime in the next decade, but first I have to get Volume I out. (I am in mommy mode with seven kids including a new baby so hobbies like writing and publishing have to be done in seasons--I am practicing what I preach.)

So Aneladee tells the story of being in a season of "winter." She had some physical and mental issues to deal with, basically what she calls a nervous breakdown. It reminded me of a similar thing I went through last summer but that topic is for another post. The typical time management seminar tells you to set your goals of getting up before the crack of dawn, go jogging, come home and shower and dress, and be out the door and at work by 7:30 to be productive.

Aneladee mentions that that doesn't take into account the winter seasons of your life. During winter, it's best to focus on getting lots of sleep and rest. So she would wake up in the morning, and then many times go back to bed and sleep until she was done sleeping. That is what exactly what I have done in the past three months with my new baby if I had a rough night and I had to sleep with him in my big overstuffed rocker. This is not the best thing to sleep in, but works if you have a fussy baby who won't sleep lying down, not being held, despite all of your Attachment Parenting, co-sleeping, breastfeeding in bed efforts. I have other children and I homeschool so I would assign an older sibling to watch the younger ones and relied on the electronic babysitter as well. It is amazing how life looks so much better when you get more than enough sleep.

I have a planner but it has been somewhat blank in this postpartum time, compared to my previous life. I wonder if Franklin-Covey will ever realize that not everyone who uses their planners are CEOs or even office workers. (When is Stephen Covey's wife going to start doing those seminars? She has a large family. We need to hear from the feminine/real life mothering in the trenches side of time management! I guess she is off being a grandma, enjoying this season of her life.) Sometimes it is SOOOOOO wonderful to have nothing planned but meals and sleep and play and the bare minimum of chores, bothersome things like shopping and cooking and washing dishes, to facilitate the meals.

Tiffany mentions in this talk how important systems are for time management. I totally agree. The problem is, when you are a mom, just when you get your systems down, the seasons change. Now that I am emerging from the unpredictable postpartum time, a winter, to a postpartum time with some semblance of a schedule (the baby has somewhat of a rhythm to his life) I am figuring out some systems for my new life as a mother of seven.

It's only taken me three months to figure this out in a new school year of driving my older kids to different classes, but hey, that's OK. That's what living by the seasons is all about. You go with the flow, observe, and adjust. i would love to be here writing more blogs but I have come to realize I need to spend a lot more time homemaking and mothering in the afternoons, less time on the computer. When you are a stay-at-home homeschooling mom it is so easy to get seduced by the accessibility of the computer to read too many emails. (Oh- you want to know the definition of "grapeshot"? Well, let me just check wikipedia, and then I check my email too of course, and then I get more distracted and start reading someone's blog linked to their signature line..and my time disappears)

OK, I want to write these down so I don't forget:

-mornings are for exercise, scripture reading, chores, and school. No email!

-Spend Monday afternoons thinking about, planning, and getting food for my family for the week and also long-term storage.

-Tuesday afternoons are for clothes. We have clothes coming out of our ears! I could clothe the whole ward's Primary and Mutual combined, what with my storage of boy and girl clothes from 0-16. We don't need all of them, we don't have the space, so it's time to do some serious organizing, paring down, and mending. My little boy just learned how to sew by hand in Knights of Freedom (a boys' club). Imagine that! He is excited to practice so I might be able to milk this by having him do some mending for a few times.

-Wednesday afternoons are for other stuff, like organizing toys, and hall closets and the family room, and all those pesky projects I keep putting off.

-Thursday afternoons I can play and do whatever I want, which for me means computer time (working on my book and this blog) and going to the library. When I pick up my two oldest from their commonwealth classes I drive right past a library in another town. I have always gone to the library two blocks from our home, but since I drive right past this one every Thursday twice, I should start putting the books on hold that I want for developing our family culture on Sunday (thanks to the miracle of digital library catalogs and the Internet. Then I can pick them up Thursday afternoon at this other library branch in a different town after I pick up my two scholars. That way I have two teenage babysitters captive in the car who can watch my baby (after years of taking the baby in with me either in the baby bucket or sling with toddlers following me I just want to zip in and get the books and get out.)

-Fridays are for driving and eating. My kids are so busy on Fridays there is no time for anything else.

-Saurdays are for chores. Sundays are to rest and do planning, with mentor meetings and FEC, putting books on hold, doing family history research, and attending church.

-have book to read on my end table by my nursing chair, a book that stays in my diaper bag, and a book upstairs in my bedroom. So whenever I stop to nurse I have a book handy. I get a TON of reading done when I am a nursing mom.

-have my iPod and my cell phone on my person throughout the day. While I do the kitchen cleanup with my eight-year-old after breakfast and lunch I can listen to Democracy in America on my iPod. As I get epiphanies I record them using the voice recorder on my cell phone. Then when I have a chance to sit down and write, during our school time, I will transcribe these thoughts to my notebook.

With the above systems we can have a somewhat smoothly running household and I can get an education at the same time. My children can have fun, learn how to work, and get an education too.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Red Letter Day

From fall pics

From fall pics

From Kodak Pictures

"Every member of the church of Christ having children is to bring them unto the elders before the church, who are to lay their hands upon them in the name of Jesus Christ, and bless them in his name."

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter=day Saints, we are blessed to have the direct guidance of the Lord Jesus Christ. The above words came straight from Him, in a revelation given to Joseph Smith in April of 1830. They are now part of our holy scripture, in the Doctrine and Covenants, section 20, verse 70. They are the reason why we give babies a blessing in front of the whole congregation during our sacrament meeting. I remember discovering these verses when I was studying at age 15 in seminary, the youth program of the Church which teaches the scriptures. Up until then I had thought that baby blessings were just some cool thing we did. They are more than that, they are based on revelation from Jesus Christ.

"And again, inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents...And their children shall be baptized for the remission of their sins when eight years old, and receive the laying on of the hands." (D&C 68:25-27)

These words also come from Jesus Christ, in a revelation to Joseph Smith. It's why we baptize our children at age eight.

"The priest’s duty is to preach, teach, expound, exhort, and baptize, and administer the sacrament.." These are also words from Jesus Christ, in his revelation on how our church is governed. My firstborn just turned 16 so he had the privilege of baptizing my eight-year old.

What a red-letter day! One son, recently born, received his name and his blessing, and another son received the ordinance to allow him to be born into the kingdom of God. I know that God speaks to us these days through his son Jesus Christ, the head of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We have his words in the scriptures, thanks to Joseph Smith, a prophet called by God. It's really amazing when you stop to think about it.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Baptized on halloween?

Finally I felt ready to have the big event. A baptism and a baby blessing the same day. My son turned eight last July but we felt he wasn't quite ready to get baptized right away. I also had a baby the next month, in August, and that consumed my brain for the month before and after. Finally we felt up to it and asked the bishop. He gave us permission to do both events the same day. I also finally had my camera back from getting fixed so I could take pictures of the family who would come up. The great thing about deciding to have my son baptized on Sunday, the same day his baby brother was blessed, was that he didn't get baptized on Halloween, like the rest of the stake candidates. So two days ago we had the big event for our two sons and it was a glorious day with extended family. The pictures of this red letter day will be up here soon.

I used to love Halloween as a kid but then when I was about 13 I read an article about it in Dear Abby about its negative aspects and that planted a seed to boycott it. Two years of trick or treating with my first two kiddies in the cold was enough to cure me of it. I've haven't been since my oldest daughter was 1. I've always wanted to have a big Harvest Party in its place but when the time comes I hardly feel up to it. I did organize one last year but it was basically a flop. So I am thrilled that Lara Gallagher from lazyorganizer.com is doing a Harvest Carnival next year. Go to her blog to read more about it. If you are in northern Utah, please plan on coming!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Surprise in the Mail from a Sweet Sister

OK, as a reward for staying up with an awake baby after everyone else got to go to bed, I get to blog. He was asleep before everyone else and if I had been mean and left everyone else to their own devices, as in no bedtime stories, then I would have been asleep too. But as others got ready for bed they woke him up. Grrr. The result is that I get to write this. I wonder what mothers did to stay sane with babies before the Internet.

A few weeks ago, I got a delightful surprise in the mail. A package addressed to me from an unfamiliar return address in Ohio. What could it be? Money? Jewelry? Tickets to a cruise? It turns out it was something fun and a total surprise, the book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. My sister had mentioned this book to me just a week prior. There was no message or card so I figured she was the sender. A telephone call confirmed my suspicion. It wasn't even my birthday, what a nice treat from her! This is a picture of her and her darling family.

If I hadn't have been so greedy I would have stopped to take the picture of the gorgeous artisan bread she made using one of the recipes. She sent this bread home to me the week before when my husband and kids went to visit her. But no, I saw that bread and had to dive right in and eat some. It looked like something straight out of Martha Stewart's magazine.

So now Emily, my sister, makes all her own bread and it takes only five minutes a day. She is a busy young mom of four little children ages 6 and under, so if she can do this, anyone can. The authors of this book met at their children's Kindermusik class- I love it! They have designed a recipe that teaches you how to mix up bread dough, keep it in the fridge, and then whenever you want fresh bread you cut off a hunk of dough and bake it. Sounds heavenly!

You can check it out at artisanbreadinfive.com. The authors have a new book out called Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. So I guess we can have either artisan or healthy but not both at the same time? Either way I love their concept. Why didn't someone think of this before? Why has homemade bread always been such a chore, unless you used a breadmachine? It's kind of like suitcases on wheels. It's amazing they just came out in the past decade. Our society just keeps getting better and better, it makes me giddy wondering what great advancement will happen next.

The Gift of an Ordinary Day

I have so much to write about! Last week I finished three books: They Loved to Laugh, Paradise Vue, and Anatomy of Peace. I will give a review of each later. I got my camera back two days ago, all fixed and ready to go so I will be able to put more pictures on this site. It has been hard to be without a camera for over a month! Especially with a brand new baby. Two of my children broke it because I let them use it to take pictures. (Note to self, don't let them touch it, ever.) My son is working on a new web site for me, a sister site to this blog, that I am so thrilled about it. When it's done I will have ebooks for sale about natural mothering as well as the audio and video files for sale from my Christ-centered natural family living conference that I held last spring.

I saw in the Chinaberry catalog a new book called The Gift of An Ordinary Day by Katrina Kenison. I read Katrina's other book, Mitten Strings for God, eight years ago and LOVED it. This book looks like a sequel, with her kids as teens. I can't wait to read it. I have been thinking about the idea from her title. Yesterday was an ordinary day and what a gift it was. The night before that, we took our baby to the hospital to get his blood drawn. He's eight weeks old and had a fever on Monday and Tuesday.

I don't normally rush off to the doctor when my kids have fevers, thanks to what I've read in How to Keep Your Child Healthy In Spite of Your Doctor by
Dr. Robert Mendelsohn. But I've heard that fevers in young babies warrant action. Dr. Sears says that if a baby seven weeks to four months old has a fever over 101 degrees to take him to the doctor. So off we went on Tuesday after a miserable Monday night of my baby sleeping in my arms most of the night. The doctor wanted to test the baby's blood to rule out a bacterial infection such as meningitis.

So Tuesday night after the appointment with the doctor we went to the hospital. It's not so easy to draw an eight-week old baby's blood, we found out. The phlebotomists worked for over an hour with my screaming baby. They poked him three times in his arm but could not get the vein to bleed enough to get blood. It was so heart-wrenching to watch my crying baby. Finally they poked him in the heel and were able to get enough after milking it for over half an hour. I was able to nurse him through the heel poke and that helped. What an ordeal the whole night was..

So yesterday, with the fever gone and the results in from the lab saying that his blood looked normal, I reveled in the ordinariness of the day. No one sick, no appliances were broken, the baby was sleeping with regular naps, the kids didn't fight too much, and I could actually work on processing some apples and fix dinner, instead of going to the doctor and then the hospital. So thank you God, for the gift of an ordinary day.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Done Any Family History Lately? It's Actually Fun!

So, to follow up on a previous post about family history, I found out that the temple work has been done for my great-grandmother, who was orphaned at age 12. This was a painless procedure. I didn't have to leave my home to go to a family history center or even finish taking the family history course at church or read the accompanying booklet from cover to cover.

I simply went to the new family history website for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is new.familysearch.org. This site is sooooo cool! You can sign in and in a jiffy you can see what ancestors of yours are in the Church's database as well as what temple work needs to be done for your people. From what I can tell, the old family history website doesn't show what temple work needs to be done very clearly. I am a novice to family history and even I could use this site very easily! It is totally user-friendly.

I had to go far back in the generations to find out where some temple work needs to be done. I am descended from the famous reverend John Lathrop like over half of Utah Mormons and I was surprised to see that for some of his family, temple work still needs to be done.

One of the amazing things about this site is that you can see who else is out there, working on the data and instantly connect with them to send questions if you see discrepancies arise over dates and names. Email and the Internet were just made for family history work, I'm telling you.

I feel more connected to my fourth great grandmother. i have this book about Sudweeks (my maiden name) family history but I never knew exactly how I was connected to the different people in it. It tells the story of Mica Martina Margretta Katrina Pedersen. She joined the LDS Church in Denmark back in the 1850s because she gained a testimony from hearing the missionaries. She was persecuted for this. She would walk down the street and get pelted by eggs and rocks for becoming a Mormon. Still, she persisted in her new faith in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. When she heard the Mormons were moving to Zion, she told her husband she wanted to go to. Her husband didn't want to go. She begged and pleaded. He refused. Finally she insisted that she go and he said he didn't want to be married to her anymore or be part of this new religion. She left, taking their baby. She gave up her homeland and her husband for her newfound faith in Jesus Christ.

By looking at the pedigree charts at new.familysearch.org I was able to quickly figure out that this rock of a woman was my fourth great grandmother. Wow! All these years and I never knew I had such amazing female heritage.

I encourage you to all set aside your excuses and go do some family history work. It's as close as your favorite blog or website. It's a huge blessing that we can do it right in our own homes now from our favorite entertainment device, the Internet. This is a prophecy fulfilled. My sister-in-law, the family history guru extraordinaire, showed me this prophetic quote from Archibald Bennett from decades ago. He remarked that someday there would be a system that we would all use that would connect people from across the globe and generations in order to do family history. That time has come and you can give up some of your blogging and gaming on the Internet to do it!

A great story in the Ensign appeared a few years ago. It told of a busy mom of a large family who took time every day during her youngest child's nap to do family history. She was extremely blessed for this. I'm not ready to give up naptime every day to do family history but I'm going to shoot for once a week and hopefully still get some blessings.

I Feel Humbled

After that last post I had a revealing thought. I realized that the woman who wrote the sickeningly sweet blog that I was complaining about (the wife of the classmate I had a crush on in sixth grade) was willing to share a problem on her blog that I've had and haven't been willing to publicize to the world, let alone my closest friends. So I feel humbled to know that and I will stop feeling harsh about her.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Somebody Slap Me

When I have the rare free moment, like in the middle of the night when my newborn won't go back to sleep, I take a peek at a blog written by the wife of the guy I had a crush on in sixth grade. I thought about giving you the link but that just seems so voyeuristic. I don't know about you all, but I don't like the typical mommy blogs, especially the "Molly Mormon Mommy" Blogs. They are disgustingly and annoyingly shallow. Brimming with pictures of perfectly groomed, smiling children at overly-commercialized birthday parties or outings, they present the scenario that life is all about what we look like and what we consume for parties, holidays, and outings.

Just once, I would like to read a blog that presents some problems. "The dishwasher is broken and it will be next month before we have the money to fix it. I couldn't afford a birthday present for Sally so we gave her homemade presents. Our Dad is out of work but we are fasting and praying that he will find something. I took our only queen-sized bedspread to the laundromat to wash since it won't fit into our washer at home and it got stolen. The dog ran away and after months of praying he came home, but was injured. We had to take him to the vet to get checked out and the bill came to be $800. The kids are constantly fighting and I can't get Jr. to stop picking his nose..."

OK, OK, so it's no fun to read a list of complaints. I agree. I guess I don't really want to read negative stuff either, but I would like to read more than just an entry about what people did or ate or got for presents. I would like to read more about what other mommies are thinking, what they are reading, and how they are connecting with their children so they see a sparkle in the child's eyes that doesn't come from something that was bought. If my life ever becomes so shallow that all I write about is my daughters' hairstyles, their clothes, or outings we go on, somebody please slap me.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Become a Dr. Mom

Want to become a "Dr. Mom" in your own home?

Dr. Steve Doughty, naturopathic doctor from St. George, will be giving a natural healing webinar. Come learn with me!

With current trends of proposed legislation towards controlling healthcare along with growing virus concerns, it is time to become educated & prepared. This class is designed for people just like you and I - individuals who are ready to become self reliant in becoming our own doctors (or at least much more so). Specifically the course will cover:

* 30 herbs every home should have on hand & how to use them
* 6 skills of a natural herbalist (teas, tinctures, capsules, salves, poultice and jellies)
* Healing & Preventing (everything from the common cold to pandemic virusess)
*Crisis Cures bleeding, shock, fevers, blocked airways, etc.

Saturday mornings from 6:00-8:00 a.m. MST
October 10th - November 14th
Cost is $100 for the 12 hour class.

Please email me privately at celestia_shumway@yahoo.com and I will get you signed up.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What Do You Do if Someone Gives You Her Fat Clothes?

If someone gives you her fat clothes, what do you do? In my case I smiled and said thank you, but I also took it as another hint that I need to lose some weight. I have been exercising some since I had my baby five weeks ago and I am thinking about eating a lot more vegetables and seriously cutting down on my grain consumption.

This picture is of my sister. I think this is the second time in ten years or so that she has given me her fat clothes. She had a baby over three years ago. Before she had the baby she got thin. Then she got pregnant, gained a lot of weight, and now she has slimmed down again. We women sacrifice a lot to have these babies. I gained around sixty pounds when I was pregnant with my last baby. I just get so incredibly hungry when pregnant and eat a LOT.

But I also get incredibly hungry when nursing and eat a lot as well. So since I have been either pregnant or nursing or even both all of the time the past 16 years (except for a brief three month stint) I have been chunky. Except for after I had my first daughter, I got thin. I think it's because I hadn't discovered butter. I have so many clothes for different phases of my life: a little bit pregnant, really pregnant, nursing but fat, nursing and not so fat. I am tired of all these clothes and want a complete wardrobe overhaul. I guess my sister picked up on these vibes and that's why I attracted her clothes. I tried one of the skirts on yesterday, and thankfully, it is actually loose on me. Hooray!

I am looking at two different eating guides. One is The Original Fast Foods book, which Lara Gallagher mentioned at the retreat I was just at last weekend. "I have that book!" I thought. "I should go home and actually use it." It recommends eating a pound of greens a day. That sounds hard but I am sure I would be healthier for it. Another eating guide is The Body Ecology Diet. My friend is into that. It would be really nice to get my body's ecology into balance so that my cravings are down and I lose weight.

Monday, September 28, 2009

A Weekend of Feasts

Over this last weekend I got to experience three feasts. First I went to a retreat for moms organized by my friend Katie Hansen of Bountiful, Utah. Around forty moms from Utah and Idaho spent the night in cabins up in the mountains close to Ogden Valley. For $30 moms got to have dinner and breakfast served to them, have a sleepover with other moms, and listen to fabulous speakers to nurture their souls. What more could you ask for? I have pictures of some of the speakers here. I took these pictures at my conference that I held last April. My camera is currently broken, thanks to some children of mine who will remain nameless, so I couldn't use my camera at the retreat. But here are some of my archived pictures of Aneladee Milne, Diann Jeppson, and Jodie Palmer, who spoke at the retreat.

Those of us with nursing babies slept (?) in one cabin and those without in another.
You can see pictures of these cabins at my friend Lara Gallagher's website http://www.lazyorganizer.com/blog/ under the heading "I Wouldn't Change a Thing" if you scroll down a bit to get the subheading "The Book."

I wondered if any of us sleeping with the babies would get any sleep. We did. My baby, at five weeks old, was the noisiest. He woke up only once to nurse (after I finally got him to sleep after midnight) and settled back to sleep. The sleepover featured a colloquium (a fancy word for a discussion of a book we all read) and simulation the night before and then three speakers on Saturday morning. What a feast for the mind.

When I got home from that I was suffering from carbohydrate overload (the chocolate chip muffins, poppy seed muffins, and cookies at the retreat were hard to resist). I wanted to crawl into bed but instead I got a foot massage from my husband while I nursed my baby and then I fixed dinner with some food my body was crying out for: greens and protein. We had fish and salad. That was my second feast. I ate the dinner while I watched the Relief Society general broadcast on byutv.org. That was my third feast. If I had gone to the church to watch it I would have slept through it and I wouldn't have been able to eat dinner while watching. The food offered at the "light dinner" at the church beforehand probably would have been jello salad, anemic iceberg lettuce and white rolls which are the last things I needed. So I am glad I stayed home to watch and eat.

Anyway, I learned so much at this retreat. The official name of what it was about is "The Hebrew Way." See http://www.gatheringplaceformoms.com. What is the Hebrew way? This is what I figured out from listening to the speakers. The Hebrew way is the covenant way. This is the way the ancient Hebrews lived. We can still live this way today. One of the speakers, my homeschooling mentor, Kelli Poll, said that if you are a member of the LDS church you are surrounded by the Hebrew way. She also mentioned that simultaneously we are surrounded by the Roman way. I pondered this a lot because Kelli didn't go into details. I think what she meant by the Roman way is the contract way. The covenant way is the way God calls us to live. He invites us to make covenants with Him. The contract way is the man-made way.

It is amazing to think about how we live in this dual world. If we really think about it, the covenant way can apply to everything we do and are. It affects what we do, what we say, where we go, where we marry, whether or not we have children and how many, our educational system, our political system, what we eat, and who we are. If we make covenants with God we acknowledge that we are His, that we are made by Him, and that we want to go back to Him, and that he has provided a Savior to bring us back.

If you really want to understand the contract way of life read the book by Richard Maybury Ancient Rome How it Affects You Today." He points out that the prevailing trend in today's culture is to think that the government can and should take care of everything for us. This results in too many laws that are man-made instead of being based on natural law. Maybury never mentions God, but I believe that natural law is God's law.

So the Hebrew way is the covenant way, or living by God's laws. It is acknowledging that there is a power higher than ourselves, God. God knows the best way for us to live and He reveals that to us. God calls us to live his way. He will strengthen us to do this if we turn to Him. By coincidence I had been reading about the covenant way in Elder Todd Christofferson's talk from last General Conference before I went to this retreat. I love the remark he made, that if we live the covenant way our faith is enlarged, and we feel the Spirit communicate to us God's pleasure in us. This pleasure helps us to want to live the covenant way even more. The contract way often involves only going so far and then giving up. The covenant way involves commitment and asking God for help. It's a choice we are faced with every day.

When I was much younger if you would have mentioned "The Hebrew Way" to me my eyes would have started glazing over. It sounds like living in the desert the way the old guys from the Bible lived. I am so excited to realize it means so much more than that. Latter-day Saints have so many connections to the Hebrews. Joseph Smith received the golden plates at a time of year held hold holy by the Jews. You can read more about in an Ensign article by Lenet Hadley Read entitled "The Golden Plates and the Feast of the Trumpets." Just do a search with her name at lds.org and it will come up.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Product Review: Dunstan Baby Language

I thought it would be fun to review a product. Since I am in the new baby mode, this product has to do with babies. It's a set of DVDs to teach how to understand crying, the language of babies. "Dunstan Baby Language" comes as a set of DVDs with a pamphlet. The creator, Priscilla Dunstan, claims that babies cry in a universal language. She has boiled all babies' cries into five meanings. I am sure you are dying to know what they are. OK, here you go...

"Neh" means "I'm hungry...feed me!"
"Owh" means "I'm tired...help me go to sleep."
"Eh" means "I have upper wind...help me burp."
"Eairh" means "I have lower wind...help me pass gas."
"Heh" means "I am uncomfortable...help me find a new position, change my diaper, or get me warmer or cooler."

Wow, if only it were that simple. I have been trying this out on my new baby and I can't always hear those distinctive sounds in his cry. The DVDs show babies making these cries and I can hear them there but they don't always match up with my rour week old baby's sounds. Last night I think I figured out that my baby's "eairh" sounds more like "hah."

The creator claims to have a photographic memory for sounds, which she has had since she was a little girl. I guess that makes her an expert on sounds. She became an opera singer and then had a baby. She noticed her baby made these distinct sounds when he cried and thus her baby language system was born.

The DVDs could be consolidated into one. They could be jazzed up a little with a slightly quicker pace and quicker music. Some people might think they are rather boring. My husband and I went on a date over a week ago and the meeting we were goint to for our date got canceled. I suggested we go back home and watch these DVDs for our date. He wasn't too excited about that. He ended up watching the replay of the BYU-Oklahoma game which was much more exciting.

I think the creator should have a little test at the end of the DVD where you are shown the different cries of real babies and you get to guess which sound they are making and then you are told the answer. That would really help those of us nonexperts on sounds.

These DVDs are worth watching and learning about, but I would borrow them, like I did. Fortunately my public library has them. I encourage you to find them there or see if your friends have a copy. Don't shell out $30 for something you are probably only going to watch once or twice. Check out dunstanbaby.com for more info.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The End of an Era

Today I went to Relief Society. "Oh wow," you are probably saying sarcastically. "What else is new?" I know, you think that R.S. attendance is typical of me, but actually it was maybe only the fourth time in over two years. Right up until my baby was born four weeks ago I had a nursery calling, and I had it for two years, so that's why I haven't been attending R.S. I went once or twice during those two years of nursery because we had an overabundance of nursery workers for a week or two.

So today I actually got to sit still and feel bored, which is rare for a mother. It happened during the break between Gospel Doctrine and Relief Society. My baby was actually asleep in the sling and no one was sitting by me, and I didn't want to get up and move and risk waking the baby up. I wished I had remembered to bring my scriptures or my Joseph Smith manual so I didn't feel like I was wasting my time. Where are those unfinished thank you notes for baby gifts that I have been working on? I actually had some time to work on them. Finally someone came in and sat down by me so I got to have a conversation with someone besides myself in my head.

I saw my former nursery leader who was my "supervisor" in nursery across the room. it occurred to me that we have experienced the end of an era, the era of our nursery service together. This friend of mine, Sara, and another friend, Elissa, were there in nursery with me and we had some great times connecting and doing crafts with the little children. Elissa even brought her fancy tablecloths and cake trays and we had a party for Mother's Day, right in nursery, with all the mothers of the nursery children who played hooky from Relief Society and came and ate sugar in nursery. I have included some photos of this. Nursery can get a little monotonous. I so appreciated Elissa's gift of livening it up with chocolate-covered strawberries and all. No more parties in nursery for us though, we all got released right after my new baby was born. We had each been in for over two years, and it was definitely time to let someone else do the service, if you know what I mean.

The teacher today passed out chocolate. That was fun. Relief Society has improved! The lesson was on baptisms for the dead, using Joseph Smith's words on the topic. I felt inspired to find some of my ancestors who need this important work done. I have always fallen for the myth most multi-generational Mormons do, that the temple work of my ancestors is "all done." But how could that be? I asked my dad about it today and he said that his mother's mother's line needs some work done. He also said my great-grandmother was orphaned at a young age. Wow, I didn't know that.

I was thinking about starting family history research to learn more about this great-grandmother, Etta May Jensen Hansen, and I felt overwhelmed. Then I remembered that a new family history class is starting in our ward next week! Maybe I will start attending. I have learned about family history work before but I have forgotten so much and I have never actually done any research on my own. (shhh, don't tell my brother and sister-in-law who are gurus about family history, they would disown me!) I can pretend that I am learning all of this the first time. Yes, a new era is beginning, an era of time when I am feeling the spirit of Elijah and I might actually have time to do something about it since I don't have a new calling yet, other than the one of being a mom to a new baby. (I have a great story from Stephen Covey about that but I will save it for another time.)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Shift in Seasons and Happy Birthday

This week we have had rainstorms. They definitely mark a shift in the seasons for me. I feel a crispness in the air that tells me fall is here. This totally fits my life, as now that I have a new baby (4 weeks old on Sunday) I have had a shift in the personal seasons of my life. I now have a little buddy again who is with me constantly, snuggling with me in bed at night and coming with me in the car as I drive older siblings to their classes and riding in the sling next to me during the day. Before this baby was born, my youngest was 3. I was feeling a lot of freedom! As much freedom as a homeschooling mother of six can feel. Now I'm back to feeling like one hand is tied behind my back as I go through the day, navigating through nursing and burping and changing and getting enough sleep for myself and fixing meals for my family and refereeing sword fights among little boys and encouraging some semblance of learning in our homeschool. It's a good thing though; I love my new little guy and there's nothing else I would rather be doing.

It was sixteen years ago today that I gave birth to my firstborn. I am feeling lots of deja vu feelings. The day my firstborn was born, we had a major storm, the first storm of the fall season, just like the fall storms we had on Monday and Tuesday of this week. My new baby woke me up early this morning. It reminded me of waking up at 1:30 AM on September 16, sixteen years ago, to "birthing time surges" (aka labor pains) with my firstborn. I still have all the baby clothes and blankets from when he was a newborn which I am now using with this newborn baby. Both babies are boys and they look a lot alike. As one of my friends remarked to me after I had my third boy, "You just keep having the same baby." Yes, my boys do look like they came from the same cookie cutter.

I can't believe my oldest is sixteen! He's a great kid and has brought a lot of light into my life. He's been very easy to raise and fun too, what with his active, inquiring mind. He never was a kid who asked, "why?" He was a kid who told us the answers. You know what he wants for his birthday? A facebook account. Talk about easy to give. I am not sure that's what is best for him, his dad and I are still discussing that. My son has been a huge blessing in my life, I'm so glad I get to be his mom. In three short years he will be on his mission. I'm pleased he is doing so well with his education and spiritual preparation. Happy birthday!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Boys, Boys, Boys

As luck would have it, just the week I wanted to hide, when I was 40 weeks pregnant, we had a Cub Scout pack meeting on Tuesday and a court of honor on Thursday, my actual due date. I would have stayed away but two of my boys were both getting rank advancements and would not have been happy if I said I couldn't come. I didn't plan this very well 8 and 11 years ago when I had these two boys did I? They are 3 years apart and I've got a five year old boy too so I am in for YEARS of scout meetings without a break. I also have a 15 year old so I've already been to years of scout meetings and the novelty has worn off. (I have learned that the secret to enduring pack meetings and court of honors is to have a good book tucked in my purse.)

One of the most uncomfortable things I've done is waddle up in front of the whole stake (for some reason the court of honor for my 11-yr-old Scout involved the scout troops of the whole stake) on my due date to get the rank advancement pin with my son. One of the sisters in my ward came up to me afterward and told me I looked miserable. Well, thanks! Yes, I was miserable. Just three days later I had my newest son and he weighed in at 10 lbs! I've included a picture of me at the pack meeting, very pregnant, getting the pin for my son's Wolf rank.

Now that I am the mother of five, yes, count them, five boys I think I am finally getting the message that it would be a good idea to learn more about how boys think. Decades ago when I was 12 or something I pulled a book off of my parents' bookcase, So you Want to Raise a Boy by Cleon Skousen. I learned some amazing stuff from that book. Maybe it's time to reread it. I am learning that boys like weapons. I am learning that they like to be wild. That is OK. One of the Scout leaders in our ward says that the reason he LOVES Scouting is that he gets to play with fire, climb the face of cliffs, handle knives, and do all the dangerous things his mother told him not to do. I think Scouting is the way for boys to channel their wild energy in a safe way.

I have been reading the book Wild at Heart by John Eldredge. He is Christian, but not LDS. Despite the theology that I disagree with, I agree with a lot of what he says. His main point is that God is wild at heart and He shows that through the wildness of nature. Every male is wild at heart and wants to be part of some adventure. If we accept this wildness and let each boy/man discover that he has what it takes to be a wild man then we will be happy.

So I am letting go of telling my boys to be quiet and I have always let them have their weapons. I give up the idea that my home is a sedate place. Things won't always be in perfect control or order. I have trained my boys in doing dishes and housework and baby tending and I also encourage their Scouting adventures. I hope someday my future daughters-in-law will thank me for raising such wonderful boys who are loving and disciplined, yet in touch with their wild side too when it is needed.

Monday, September 7, 2009

A Fabulous Alternative

A few weeks ago my friends treated me to a blessingway, which happened before my baby was born. Not every pregnant mother needs a baby shower, but every pregnant mom could be blessed by a blessingway. This is where the guests come and instead of bringing material gifts, they bring good wishes, a wish for the mom and a wish for the baby. It sounds rather romantic, doesn't it, like it's straight out of Sleeping Beauty. Instead of playing silly games, like guessing what baby food is in which jar, the guests can engage in meaningful activities. This is something every mom could benefit from, whether it's her first baby or her ninth.

I have been to a few blessingways. I've enjoyed the activity of writing down the wishes and then taking turns sharing the wishes aloud, so that's what I wanted to do at mine. KeeNan, my good friend, brought a little photo album and had the guests write the wishes down on small cards to slip into the album.

We enjoyed a potluck dinner and shared birth stories. (No fair telling horror birth stories to pregnant women. Fortunately, my friends shared happy stories.) My friends who organized the blessingway, Sally and KeeNan, provided a tray of beads. As each guest shared her wish she picked a bead to string on a bracelet for me to wear to remind me of my friends' good wishes. Rebecca, one of the guests, gave me a foot massage with some lotion and scrubs provided by Sally. That is one treat that a pregnant woman with edemic feet can't get enough of! Bless you, Rebecca. If you google "blessingway" you will find some other ideas for activities.

So if you have a friend who is pregnant, consider giving her a blessingway. If she already has children she probably already has plenty of baby clothes and doesn't need a baby shower. A blessingway will bless her in ways that a baby shower doesn't.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

It's a . . .

. . .BOY!

My baby was born last Sunday. He's here! A Boy! He was 10 lbs. and 21 inches long. I am so glad that pregnancy is over! I got to go to the Oquirrh Mountain Temple dedication the same day too. What a sacred day!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

He's Here!

It was eight weeks ago yesterday that my baby was born. I put this post up earlier and then pulled it off, thinking I needed more time and perspective before I published it. That's why the date says August 29th. I now feel ready to publish it again, but today's date is October 19th.

On a Sunday in August when I woke up, I had the thought, "Maybe today is the day! My last two babies were born on a Sunday. Here it is Sunday again...we'll see."

My due date was Thursday August 20. Here it was three days later. I am not going to go into it all the details now, but I had finally decided just the prior Sunday to have my baby at the hospital, instead of at home. My last four babies have been born at home so this was a major shift for me. So I had spent the week readjusting my mind, grieving the loss of a home birth but feeling somewhat relieved, I admit, that I didn't have to finish organizing my bedroom and ask my husband to finish dejunking his dresser top to provide a pristine condition for the birthplace of our new baby.

I was feeling peaceful about my decision and not having any more bad dreams. I have always felt that a woman should be able to choose where to have her baby and that it should be where she feels the safest. For this baby, I felt safer at the hospital. I never thought I would ever think this way after having had four wonderful home births but you never know how things will change in your life. I only made this decision after a lot of prayer and a confirmation from the Holy Spirit that it was in accordance with God's will. I am learning that some things are absolutely true, like the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, and other things, like childbirth and mothering, can have variations.

Anyway, I decided to go to the Oquirrh Mountain Temple dedication. Nobody else in my family wanted to go to the morning session with me, as they were all wanting to sleep in. So I went alone and enjoyed the Spirit. To think, 13 temples in Utah! What a blessing. I especially enjoyed President Uchtdorf's talk. Yes, God our Father wants to give us all that He hath, and temples are needed for Him to do this.

I came home and took a nap while the rest of the family finished their late breakfast and played. I woke up at 12:10 and was lying there in bed awake when I heard a pop and felt a "stitch" break in my cervix, like a loose basting stitch keeping a bag closed. My bag of waters had broken! The fluid came gushing out.

I called to my husband to get me a chux pad between my legs and waddled to the bathroom. Then I started calling people, my lay midwife, Chris, my doula, my parents. Eventually I got to the hospital around 3:00 PM. I didn't want to leave right away because I wasn't even having contractions when the water broke. After an hour they started coming every 10 minutes. I was at a 4 when I got there. I asked to wear my own clothes to labor in (a maternity top and an imitation Binsi skirt) and we played some lovely Christ-centered music on the CD player to help bring the Spirit into the room. (It was my brother-in-law Michael Dowdle's beloved hymns on guitar, see michaeldowdle.com) I am thankful for my Bradley childbirth class over 10 years ago and all that I have learned from childbirth books and my home births which kept me from having a conveyor-belt based birth. One of the nurses actually was ready to give me Pitocin and I had to adamantly refuse.

The baby was born at 6:53 PM. A boy! He was 10 lbs. That's my biggest baby. He's such a cutie! I hemorrhaged a lot, the nurse estimated it was 2-3 pints of blood. I don't know if I had been at home if we would have been able to control the bleeding. Maybe that's partly why I felt I should be at the hospital.

So now we are nine: my husband and I and our seven children, five boys and two girls. The four little ones spent a whole week at Grandma's following the birth. I had a luscious babymoon taking two or three naps each day with my baby in bed with me to catch up on the sleep I lost the first two nights, at the hospital. I am grateful for hospitals and that they are there for when they are needed. I think this whole experience was to help me be nonjudgmental of women's choices in childbirth. Yes, it is possible to have a Christ-centered birth in the hospital.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Secret of Organization

I have found the secret of organization. Here it is in 10 easy steps.

1. Have six kids. (Don't laugh! You'll see my point in a minute.)
2. Get pregnant with #7.
3. Have a mother-in-law who is in tune with the Spirit.
4. Live in an 1800 square foot house with a one car garage. Therefore feel like there aren't enough shelves, closets, or cupboards for storage.
5. Have edemic feet that are so stiff they feel like bricks.
6. Have a mother-in-law who calls you up one day and says she feels prompted that she needs to show her love to you by helping you organize and nest before the baby comes.
7. Let her come up. She helps the kids pick up the apricots from the tree in the backyard. She takes one look at your edemic feet and announces she is coming back for another stay the following week.
8. Tell her thank you and let her come, even though she wants to work the day you have a lunch planned with your girlfriends.
9. Go to your lunch, then your prenatal appointment, then the temple.
10. Come home and find that your garage, pantry, and fridge are cleaned and organized! Bless and pray that she won't get sick from this huge energetic output.

There it is. May you all be blessed with the gem of a mother-in-law that I have.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Looking Backward and Forward

While lying awake after a disturbing dream at 4:30 this morning, I realized that I was awake for the day. Even though I am eight months pregnant, went to bed after midnight, and I could use the rest, my body just wasn't going back to sleep. Great! I thought. I will go blog about my high school reunion. I have been meaning to do this all week.

If you are planning on going to your high school reunion then you are in for some fun, if it is anything like mine was. A week ago I went to my 20 year reunion for the American Fork High class of 1989. It was in two parts. The first part was an icebreaker family picnic at a park in Alpine, Utah. The second part was a fancy, adults-only dinner at a hotel in SLC. That part I couldn't go to. The icebreaker picnic was fabulous though. My husband, who has been to many high school reunions, since he is ancient (50) thinks this reunion was the best, because there was so much mixing and mingling.

It is so hard to believe that it's been 20 years. I grew up in Highland, Utah, and back then all of American Fork, Alpine, and Highland went to the same junior high and high school. Our class had over 400 people. It was amazing to see so many familiar faces and most of the time, I could even remember the name that goes with the face.

Most of the girls have resorted to hair coloring, I noticed. When you see the pictures on Facebook, it is like a peroxide parade. I don't think any of the guys have. A few guys were bald and some of the guys had gray hair. I have to say that one of the guys with gray hair actually looks better. He has some depth and maturity to his looks that flatter him. In three hours' time I had my picnic dinner with my husband and two youngest children, (we left the four oldest at the family reunion we had been having all week in Park City because I knew they would be bored- I get a little bored at my husband's high school reunions and I'm an adult) and then circulated around to talk with at least a dozen people.

It was so liberating to remind myself, "You are not shy anymore. You can talk to whoever you want." Amazingly, labels don't seem to matter much twenty years later. I could talk to the girl jocks, and the cheerleaders and football players, the in-crowd. I was painfully shy in high school and talked more that night to these dozen people than I did through all three years of high school. I was afraid that I would be the only pregnant one there but one of my classmates is also pregnant with her seventh like I am, another with her eighth, and two of my classmates who got married to each other are expecting number 10! Wow! Ten kids in 20 years is not something I want to attempt in this life.

One of my classmates came all the way from Switzerland to attend. I was saddened to hear that one of them had his temple marriage end in divorce when his wife chose an alternative lifestyle. But hooray for him for making it work as a very committed stay-at-home dad. It turns out that one of my classmates plays guitar occasionally with my brother-in-law, Michael Dowdle. Another classmate is a colleague with my brother at BYU as a professor. I am very good friends with another classmate's cousin. It turns out that a handful of my classmates live in Davis County, Utah, like I do, one is even in the same ward here in Layton as a good homeschooling friend of mine, and knows here well. One of my classmates, a scrawny thing who seemed to look prepubescent all three years, now has the girth of Tim Allen in The Santa Clause movie. It was fun to see which classmates had married each other, that is just something that I can't relate to.

If you go to a high school reunion, it helps to bring along an extroverted, garrulous spouse. My dear husband was constantly urging me to go mix and mingle, assuring me that he was watching our two little kids on the playground. Whenever anybody would walk by us while we were eating he would say, "Who's that?" or "Do you know her?" I excused myself to go the restroom (quite a jaunt) and when I came back he was yakking it up with one of my classmates, a person he has never met before, as if he was the one who went to school with him! It turns out this classmate knows my dad, a BYU professor, through his profession as a textbook salesman. I never said anything to this classmate in all my years of knowing him since fourth grade, but he treated me like an old buddy and we had a good time visiting.

I told this story to my sister and she said, "Well Celestia, it looks like you still don't need to do any talking, just have Dan do it for you!" She was referring to a story from my high school days. One of my classmates thought that I couldn't speak because he had never heard me say anything. He told this to another classmate, who knew I could talk because we was in my ward and went to Sunday School with me. The second classmate set out to prove that I could talk. So, across the room, one day in our honors math class, he asked me how many I got wrong on the recent test. Instead of responding verbally, I answered by holding up two fingers. So to this day that other classmate probably still thinks I am mute.

It was soooo fun to visit with all these people. I was not social at all in high school, and I regret that, looking backwards. I think I missed out on what could have been deeper friendships with some quality people. My class had so many good, hard-working, talented kids. Yet I am grateful that I eschewed all the silly social shenanigans kids go through to impress each other and focused on studying hard. I feel I got a great education which opened the door for me to attend and graduate from BYU. I am also grateful that I had nothing to be ashamed of as I faced people at the reunion.

It still seems strange to me that we put over 1200, hormone-raging kids, ages 15-18, in one building, give them textbooks and a lot of distracting extracurricular activities, and expect them to get a high quality, classical education to prepare them for the rest of their lives. Most of them are distracted by their hormones and the social activities. i have never liked the social circus aspect of high school and if I were in charge of secondary education in Utah I would somehow revamp it. Those kids who wanted to play at athletics and social games could have opportunities to play all they wanted, with some service projects involving hard physical work thrown in, and those who wanted to study hard would be in a separate school, which was gender segregated. Looking forward, I am grateful that my kids don't have to endure all the negative aspects of the conveyor belt social circus we call high school.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Almost Heaven, Yet Stressful

What do the following all have in common?

-living within 100 yards of a swimming pool
-playing Boggle at 9:30 PM
-seeing people I haven't seen in 20 years
-sleeping in every morning
-cutting ten inches off of my daughter's hair
-someone breaking into my house, and then police coming over to check the scene
-packing and then unpacking for a week away from home for our family of 8
-watching BYUTV
-connecting with a brother and his family who have been in China for over two years
-hearing my children complain that they are bored despite being surrounded by siblings and cousins
-sending a son off on Scout camp to go rappelling and hiking for three days
-reading one of Dr. Laura's books
-having a birthday party for my son
-walking in on a room full of teens and tweens at 10:45 PM who have no adult supervision and hear them claim that they can't go to bed yet. This is because they haven't started their "game night" because they have been talking. (This is the night before a 10 AM checkout and nobody has done any packing.)
-feeling deliciously buoyant at 8 months pregnant
-going swimming again after we got home because of one more party
-not having to fix dinner every night
-getting a foot massage from my little sister

All of these things happened in my life this past week. I think I am ready for another vacation! Needless to say I hope I don't see this much excitement all in one week until the birth of my seventh child in a month. Every year my parents invite my four siblings and me and our spouses and children to come vacation at condos in the Marriott timeshare vacation system. It is always a lot of fun to escape the routine of everyday life. Each family gets their own unit and we are usually all on the same floor. It seems almost heaven to be on vacation with my parents, siblings, and the cousins so close.

I have to say this year was the most eventful one yet. We slept in almost every morning, went swimming almost every day, and visited with family. My mom helped the grandkids do beading projects and watercolor paintings. I listened to two of my kids complain about their cousins not wanting to do anything so therefore they were bored.
Halfway during the trip we got word that our house had been broken in to, but it turns out it was just the little neighbor boy coming over to play with my kids. He got too curious and decided to slip in through a back door that was accidentally left unlocked after no response came from knocking. Thankfully, all he took (as far as we can tell) was a Buzz Lightyear toy and a light saber, which he left on our grass. My husband came home during the middle of the week to send my son off on Scout camp to find all this out (and make sure the door was locked when he came back).

My third son turned 8 so we had a big party for him. He got a skateboard and pegs to put on his bike. Now the four-year-old thinks that when he turns five next month we will come back to Park City to celebrate. I got to talk about China with my brother who has lived there for the past 2 1/2 years. I connected with my family but also had some personal and alone downtime. I got to learn about J. Reuben Clark and Henry Eyring by watching BYUTV. I watched a DVD presentation by Leslie Householder. I read a lot of one of Dr. Laura's books. My daughter wanted her hair cut so I cut 10 inches off for locks of love and then my artistic sister evened it up. We each took turns fixing dinner and that was heavenly to have such a long break from thinking about what to have for dinner and preparing it. I enjoyed playing Boggle with my siblings and talking with them about what books they are currently reading. My son left to go hike in the Uintahs. When he got home on Saturday I found out he did a lot more rappelling than hiking and he even did it "Aussie style." (I am glad I was not there to watch that- Google that one if you want to know more.)

To top it off, on Friday night, I left the family enclave and went to my 20-year high school reunion with my husband and two youngest. How strange to see people from my past 20 years ago. I enjoyed mixing and mingling. I probably did more talking with a dozen people from my class than I ever did in high school, as I was extremely shy back then. See my next post for more on that. Then after we got home and unpacked we got ready to go out again and attend a picnic and swimming party for all of my midwife's clients, past and present, at North Ogden's water park. So, I think my pregnant adrenals and edemic feet have had enough fun for a week and it's time to enjoy the routine life.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Best Independence Day So Far

Now that I am on vacation and things have settled down a bit in my life (last week was for getting ready for a week in Park City for my family of 8, no easy task to be done in a single day, and attending a homeschooling seminar) I can catch up on my blogging. Thanks to the gift of a used laptop from my brother-in-law who didn't want to pack it up to move, we can now be online while on vacation. Hopefully it will prove to be only a blessing. I don't want to be addicted to our electronic pastimes.

Happily, I report that our Independence Day was the best we've had so far. (In our family, we stress the importance of saying "Independence Day" not "the Fourth of July" because we want to remember that this holiday is about a concept, a very important one, and not just a date. Just like we want to keep calling Christmas, Christmas, not, "the 25th.") The reason it was so great was because it wasn't full of self-congratulatory patriotism, gluttony, and a pacified feeling of "all is well in Zion" but a reminder of what our Founding Fathers truly founded (a republic of republics, not a democracy). We also learned about the serious trouble our country is in. At a "tea party" that our neighbor organized in our hometown of Layton City, Utah, we became aware of resources we can use to learn more and do more. To top it all off and lighten it up, we had some delicious food at two different picnics, one with a lot of our neighbors.

My husband and I attended a presentation the night before Independence Day, by Stephen Pratt, from libertyandlearning.com. I was so excited, I felt I was going to a rock concert. He is a celebrity in my mind. I have listened to and watched all of his videos available on his website, which I just mentioned. He taught us about what sovereignty is. We learned a lot about early American history, about Federalists, anti-Federalists, the Massachusetts school of thought, and the struggle between advocates of states' rights and those who pushed for a centralization of power at the federal level, especially Hamilton, Daniel Webster, and Lincoln.

"What do we celebrate on the Fourth of July?" asked Mr. Pratt. After teaching us a bit, he answered his question. He said that we celebrate the ideals of Jefferson that have been lost in a Hamiltonian world. In other words, we celebrate the idea of independence that we don't truly have in this nation of increasing socialism and restrictions of freedom at the federal level. It was a sobering thought to ponder.

The next day we attended the Tea Party that our civic-minded neighbor sponsored. Please see teapartypatriots.org. I learned that Layton has many people who feel like I do that our federal government is out of control with too much spending, too many regulations, and unwise proposals, like "cap and trade." Here are some resources that were spoken of to learn more:

Google "Obama deception"
Google "Bob Basso" and watch his portrayal of Thomas Paine and his plea for a second American revolution

I haven't researched these so I can't vouch for them completely, but I am thinking there is some truth in them. If the people in Book of Mormon days struggled with men who were seeking for too much power in government (read the book of Ether, it's amazing) and forming secret combinations to threaten liberty of individual, average people, how could we not have that problem today? We are no more righteous than they were.