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Tonight as I picked him up out of bed and walked him around the house, I was groggy and sleepy, and in no mood for this. However, after he calmed down a bit, we sat on the couch and relaxed together. He cuddled up to me with his little, fuzzy head, snuggled into my chest, and smiled up at his mommy. I looked down at my big, 23 month old boy and felt nothing but love and patience for him. My grogginess faded away. I tried hard not to see him as a screaming invader, trying to rob me of sleep, but instead a human being, in need of love and affection at 12am. "He needs me," I reminded myself, and snuggled him a little closer.

He pointed to my chest and said,"Mamas" which is his way of telling me he wants to nurse. I pulled up my blouse and let him snuggle into his favorite curl on my lap. "He's so big now," I thought. At twenty five pounds, and 32 inches tall, he's not the little baby that once fit into the tiny nooks of my arms. He's now sprawled out across my entire lap, feet dangling off the edge of the couch. I re-position him, and gently remind him to hold still while he eats. He smiles up at me again, now with a silly grin on his face. When he's in a really silly mood he pats my face with his foot while he nurses, and looks up at me with big eyes, just to see my reaction. It always makes me giggle, and cherish him even more. He looks so happy, and so comfortable in this moment.

As Jonah will be turning two this month, I am excited to see what happens this next year, in terms of nursing an older toddler. Our two older boys both weaned at 2 years old, just weeks before their new, baby brothers were born. Nursing during pregnancy was such an emotionally and physically-difficult road for me to take each time I was pregnant, that I am eager to nurse Jonah freely and without worries this time. I know with all my heart that he is not ready to wean yet, and neither am I. Nursing a toddler is such a special experience, and one I am not going to give up until we are absolutely ready. It's so wonderful to be able to put Jonah at the breast when he's tired, grumpy, hurt, or sick, and know that he's not only receiving antibodies and nutrition, but receiving emotional security and validation for his needs. He is a wonderful little boy. Extending our nursing relationship is my way of saying,"Take your sweet time little Jonah, Mama has all the time and milk in the world for my baby boy."

Last year on his one year old birthday I said we were "going strong with nursing, and here's to another year!

Stopping for a milkies break at the Panaewa Rainforest Zoo here in Hilo.

If you yourself are thinking about weaning your baby, and are unsure about it, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, American Academy of Family Physicians, and essentially every pediatric health organization in the world recommends a minimum 24 months of human milk for human babies (with at least the first six months being exclusive breastmilk). If your unsure about weaning, perhaps it's because you and your baby/toddler/child are just not ready! There's absolutely nothing wrong with nursing longer than you think!

Sometimes I forget that people don't know this information (for whatever reasons,) and I get caught up in my own, little world of nursing a toddler. The other day a Mama I don't know very well stopped over at our house for a visit. I plunked down next to her and started nursing my naked toddler, then realized a moment later that he was doing some gymnastics at the breast, while tugging at his little-boy-parts, while poking me in the face. I'm sure she went home with something interesting and new to talk about! But honestly, I am happy to expose anyone to the joys, challenges, humors, and benefits of extended nursing!

This week at the Salt Lake City Breastfeeding Cafe Blog, they're doing a blog carnival, with daily posts about breastfeeding for the last two weeks in July. Today's post is "Wordless Wednesday" and I have four pictures on there. See if you can find us! (Warning to boob-weary-folks-There's lots of boobage)
Here's a few resources I love:
A Natural Age of Weaning ~ Katherine Dettwyler

Natural Weaning Age ~ Linda Palmer

Mothering Your Nursing Toddler ~ Norma Jane Bumgarner

How Weaning Happens ~ Diane Bengson

Baby-led Weaning: Helping Your Baby To Love Good Food ~ Gill Rapley & Tracey Murkett

Adventures in Tandem Nursing: Breastfeeding During Pregnancy and Beyond ~ Hilary Flower

What are the benefits of nursing my toddler?-La Leche League International

The Joy of Nursing Toddlers Photo Gallery-Peaceful Parenting

Happy Nursing!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Staying Present with my Kids

Our boys are outside eating popsicles and running around with a friend, so I thought I would take a moment to jot down some thoughts I am having.
Micah brought it to my attention yesterday that I haven’t been very present with my children lately, and he’s right. At first I tried to defend myself by explaining that I am trying the best I can with what little time I have, that I am with my boys all day long, every day, and that I have needs that are important, too. All of these things are true, yet this past month I’ve been going about it all wrong.
I have a tendency to get really distracted and consumed with things, and if I’m not careful, it starts to take away from my family.
I want to present two true scenarios that might be helpful in explaining my situation.

First scenario: I wake up at 6am to the sound of my four year old yelling to me from his bed because he’s had an accident in his sheets. I roll out of bed and get to the boys room to help him out of bed, put his soiled clothes in the hamper, and start him in a warm shower. My six year old is on the couch reading a book so I say good morning to him briefly before I notice that the bathroom trash is full. I take the trash to the kitchen, then notice the counters are still dirty from last night. I clean the counters off then notice there’s dust on windowsill, so I quickly wipe it off. I then see that my camera is on the table and stop to look at the pictures I took yesterday. My six year old asks me a question about his book but I can’t stop because I’m now thinking about the soiled clothes in the hamper, so I tell him to hold on. I haul the hamper outside to the washer where I notice the recycle box is full, so then I bag up the recyclables and place them in the back of the car. While I’m in the back of the car I see that my church bag is still sitting there from Sunday so I grab it and take it into the house to clean it out. I empty the contents on the kitchen table and then remember that I never called Sister Santos about our activity next week for Young Womens. I pick up the phone to call her then realize it’s 6:15am and too early to call so I quickly run to the back room to write her an email. While I’m on the computer writing an email I remember my 4 yr old is still in the shower so I quickly go turn it off. He asks me for a towel and I quickly tell him to please get his own because I’m in the middle of something important. I finish writing my email, then look to see that my toddler is up and collecting toys from around the house. He comes to me for milkies but I turn him away because the boys are getting hungry and I haven’t even made breakfast yet! I convince him to go to the kitchen and find a toy, while I quickly say my morning prayers. As I’m praying I remember I forgot to email my friend Breanna about the Babywearing meetup, so I quickly end my prayers and turn the computer back on. As I’m finishing my email on facebook I notice my other friend posted new pictures from her kayaking trip on Kauai and I am now looking at those. My six year old comes in and asks when I’m going to start breakfast and I tell him exasperated, “As soon as I can!” I then realize I haven’t brushed my teeth yet so I put on some clothes and brush my teeth, then notice my eyebrow hairs are getting too crazy, so I start to pluck them, after-all it only takes a second. As I finish plucking I notice my jewelry is disorganized, so I quickly organize it again in its box. My husband is leaving for work now so we do a quick family prayer, then I give him a quick kiss and goodbye.
Finally I find myself back in the kitchen where the table is cluttered with the contents of my church bag! I feel irritated and start to quickly clean it up, mumbling under my breath about all the messes around the house. I get breakfast on the table, and then tell the boys it’s time to do our morning chores. Toddler starts to scream and cry, then the boys start whining at me and complaining , so I shout at them with frustration,” I’ve been working hard ALL MORNING, the least you guys can do is get your important things done!”

They look at me with confused, sad eyes. I look at them with overwhelming frustration. I feel resentful and unsettled, and go back to my room for a computer break. I don’t even realize that I’ve spent the entire morning neglecting them and pushing them aside for other things.

Second scenario: I wake up at 6am to the sound of my four year old yelling to me from his bed because he’s had an accident in his sheets. I roll out of bed and get to the boys room to help him out of bed, put his soiled clothes in the hamper, and start him in a warm shower. While he’s in the shower I go sit with my six year old who is reading a book on the couch. We give each other morning hugs and kisses, and I answer any questions he has about his reading. My toddler gets up out of bed and happily runs into the living room. He climbs onto my lap and we have some morning milkies, and cuddle time. After a few minutes I get up and turn off my four year olds shower. I get him a towel and wrap him up in it. He snuggles up to me and giggles in my ears. He smells so yummy and makes me want to squeeze him more! We go out in the living room where my husband and other two children are waiting to have family prayer. We pray as a family and feel the peace of the Spirit enter our home. I excuse myself to the back room to say my own prayers, and come back minutes later feeling refreshed. I start breakfast, and sit down with the kids at the table to eat. We have a fun discussion and make plans for the day. After we are done I clean up the plates, wash the table and counters, and start helping my kids with their chores. Everyone is happy, cheerful, and ready to start the day. We hug and kiss Micah goodbye, then sit down to have scripture study. I feel happy, fulfilled, and excited to spend the day with my children, whom I adore.
Later on in the day when the kids are busy or my toddlers asleep, I sit down to check and respond to emails, write on my blog, or make phone calls. I also use this time to take out trashes, wipe up dust, pluck crazy eyebrows, or clean out my church bag. It doesn’t take me long, and I’m able to get it all done without many distractions. We all have a much better day, and feel a happy flow and rhythm in our home.

Thank you Micah for reminding me of what makes me happiest. It’s so easy for me to fall victim to that first scenario; to run around thinking I am getting all the things done that I need to do, and that if I move fast enough and work hard enough, everyone and everything will be taken care of.

It’s simply not true.

Happiness and peace comes to me from doing what I love most, which is spending time and energy with my husband and children. Afetr that, everything falls into place beautifully.

Today and forever I promise to be present with my kids.

Monday, July 16, 2012

"Delicious", Nutritious, and a Zucchini snack!

The downtown Hilo Farmers Market is one of our favorite places to shop for local produce. (It's so fun, even Flat Stanley likes to go!)
Not only do we buy fresh, locally grown produce like papayas, bananas, garlic, kale, zucchinni, string beans, and dragon fruit, we also occasionally indulge in some sweet, Asian treats! This picture below is of our 3 boys stopping for a snack of Biko and Mochi, a.k.a. sticky-sugary-fried-coconutty-rice-flour-treats. MMmmm...

One of my absolute favorite snacks to make when we get home from the Farmers Market is something I like to call "Rebekah's Sauteed Zucchini" because I had it for the first time at my friend Rebekah's house a few years back. I've been hooked ever since! Here's the super-easy recipe:

All you need is 2 large zucchini's, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and as much minced garlic as you can handle! (I like 4-5 cloves)
*First mince your garlic into tiny pieces.
**Next chop your zucchini into bite size triangles.
**Now heat your pan to medium-hot, and add olive oil and garlic.
**Let garlic sizzle then add zucchini pieces immediately.
**Stir around for several minutes until zucchini is coated thoroughly with oil and garlic.
**Cover for ten minutes with a lid, to let zucchini steam and soften, turning heat down to low..
**Take the lid off and stir for a few more minutes.
**After about 15-20 minutes of total cooking time, zucchini should be soft, infused with garlic, and ready to grind!

Speaking of nutritious, healthy food, I was the lucky recipient of a blog giveaway last month, where I won a personally autographed CD from the band Orange Sherbert! The giveaway was from the Cherry Blossoms blog, and you have no idea how stoked I was that I actually won! (Thanks Cherry Blossoms!)
When I read about the contest, I clicked right away to the Orange Sherbet website to check it out. The album is called "delicious" and the music definitely lives up to it's name! At their website, I listened to the songs, read about the inspiration behind the music, and fell in love with this band immediately! Not only do they deliver a delightful array of jazzy melodies and sweet lullabyes, perfect for children, but their music is all about the celebration of eating foods in their seasons! It’s genius!
I've been playing it in the kitchen as our kids wait for morning breakfast. I look over to see them rocking and dancing to the rhythms of "Waffle day" and "Farmers Market." I hear my four year old shout out excitedly,"I just heard them say pumpkin and garlic, Mom!!" We all love the cute, little ditties about the four seasons, too. We made up a game where at the end of each song we try to name as many fruits and vegetables as we can remember. I can't get these tunes out of my head throughout the day and find myself rapping to the beat of,
"Tomatoes on the vine, tomatoes love to climb, tomatoes smell delicious in the warm sunshine!"

I would recommend this CD to anyone who loves music, loves kids, and loves teaching them about the natural cycle of eating healthy, local foods, in their seasons. Although we live in Hawaii where a lot of our same foods are grown all year long, I think my kids can appreciate the educational value of learning about growing and eating a variety of foods. Thank you Orange Sherbet for a wonderful contribution to the world!
Sincerely, the Jacksons in Hawaii who eat a lot of avocados.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Hilo Humidity vs. Cedar City Sun

Hilo is a very rainy city. In fact, according to Wikipedia, it is the 3rd rainiest City in the United States and one of the wettest in the world. It has definitely been very wet and humid here, more than I expected it would be!

First of all, because of all the moisture, I have become obsessed with laundry. Since we don't own a dryer, there is this constant worry that my laundry will stay forever on the clothesline, molding itslef to death. There are days where the sun is beaming down, and I've just finished hanging up the laundry, when a downpour of rain soaks everything. It's pretty comical, really, to watch my clothes get wetter than they were when they came out of the washer.

I'm not sure why I figured the rain would let up during the Summer months, because it's already July, and just as wet as ever! It rains everyday. It comes in bursts and downpours, at the most inopportune moments. Like, right when we set up all our stuff at the beach for a morning of basking in the sun, or right when we head out the door for a sunny walk to the park, or right when we decide to jump on our bikes and head down the street.
I've convinced myself that we can't let the rain get us down, though, or stop us from getting outside. We have to keep going, or we'll be stuck in the house forever.
Our kids are getting used to the idea of continuing with activities, even when it's raining out. We don't leave the beach early when it starts to sprinkle, we keep on walking to the park, and we stay on our bikes, even when it's pouring buckets. You just get used to it after awhile. (And you keep extra, dry clothes and umbrellas in your car.) In fact, when it hasn't rained for a whole day I start to feel something is missing in my life, until I hear that old familiar pitter-patter, and feel balance has come to the world once again.

This is Hilo. It rains here constantly. But, the weather is warm, the people are friendly, the landscapes are beautiful, the fruit trees grow in abundance, and life is good, even in the rain.

These pictures below are from when my little brother and his family came to visit last week from Seattle. They didn't mind the rain at all!

It was on a rainy day here in Hilo last week, that I started to miss Cedar City, Utah. I think the nostalgia was triggered by seeing pictures shared on facebook from a friends' recent hiking expedition through Zions National Park. Zions was one of our favorite places to explore with our family, while we were living out there. Looking at these pitures brought back such happy memories of our little children, and our old adventures down in sunny, Southern Utah. As I stared out the window at rainy, humid Hilo, something opened up deep inside me; a longing for the life we left behind.

That night my husband and I stayed up until one in the morning talking about all the things we missed there. It was like we had held our breath for all things Hawaii, until the moment came when we could let it all out again. It was like a rush of wind coming through our bedroom, as we blew our memories of Cedar City, back and forth to each other; "I miss Canyon park and watching the kids play in the creek!" I cried. "I miss hiking up Rattlesnake Canyon, and finding snakes in the desert,"he said! Then on and on we went, "I miss riding the shuttle at Zion's and climbing the big, red rocks in St. George!" "I miss the trails going up Kolob Canyon, and watching the tadpoles turn into frogs!" I miss the long bike path winding along the river!" "I miss watching the Green Show at the Shakespear Festival, and leading La Leche League meetings at the library!" I miss making snow-men with the boys! "I miss watching the leaves change color in Fall, and sledding down snowy hills in the Winter!" "I miss making bonfires on our land, and camping in the Juniper tree forests!" "We miss......Cedar City!"

These pictures are just a few from the two years we spent there:

Over the following few days I felt torn between two places. I hadn't realized how much I would miss Cedar City, now that we'd stopped to analyze it. I started to feel uncertain about our future here, and I hated feeling this way.
I want to feel settled in one place. I don't want to ever move again, or worse, feel like where I'm living is never going to be good enough. I don't like feeling like "the grass is always greener on the other side," when I'm already getting settled on this side!

Micah and I spent the next few days envisioning what our lives would be like if we moved back to Cedar City. There were so many happy things to talk about, and good points were made about moving back there. We also talked about all the negative things we didn't like, and good points were made, as well. We then talked about all the things we love about Hilo, and all the negative things we don't like about Hilo. I don't want Micah to think we have to stay here no matter what, just because I am from Hawaii. I want to stay open for all options, especially what is best for the good of our entire family.

As we mulled this all over, thinking and considering all the possibilties for our lives, I came to a grand conclusion. I decided that there are pros and cons to both places, and we will never feel fully complete in either place. So, the best thing to do is to continue to create lives for ourselves here, and be happy wherever our feet are planted.

In essence, here in Hilo I will always long for the snowflakes of Cedar City, and there in Cedar City I will always long for the seashells of Hawaii. My heart will never feel fully settled, as long as I have loved and left each of these beautiful places.
(My husband, on the other hand, is still trying to figure this all out. I suppose he'll let me know when he decides something, and we'll make a further decision together someday.)

My ultimate wish for this life is to raise happy children, to teach our children to love God, to strengthen our family and our community, to love my husband, to serve in the church and serve our neighbors around us, to be responsible stewards over this earth, to enjoy the beauties of nature and the great outdoors, to make friends and have active social lives, and to be the best person I can be in each of these capacities of life.

This, my friends, can be done just about anywhere.

I can't say for certain that we'll never move again, but I can say that the Hilo humidity and rain is growing on me. My laundry even dried in the sun yesterday, in under 8 hours. Now that's something to celebrate, no matter where you live!

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