Better Mother

6.28.2011
That little face is trouble!
Jed really likes these bright balls, so we went to the tennis court one afternoon.

Have you ever spent the entire day with your child but felt like you were never really there? Today I went through the motions of caring for Jed: I fed him, changed him, read him some books, and went for a walk. As evening approached, I realized I had never really connected with my son all day long. Even when we played together, my mind wandered. I kept thinking of the list of things that needed to be done, something I read, thought about a friend, or what’s going on this weekend. I had a hard time clearing my mind and concentrating solely on my little boy.

So tonight, after I washed the suds from his hair in the bathtub, I made it a point to really play with Jed; to interact, to make him laugh and see his eyes light up, to balance that silly plastic cow on the faucet before making it splash into the water over and over again because I want my son to know—that for at least ten minutes today—there was nothing more important in my world than him.

More than anything, I want to be a good mother. No, I want to be a great mother. I want to create moments, that though they may be forgotten in the stream of everyday life, the feelings of love still linger. My family is my world and I want them to know that. It’s dumb to let the clutter of everyday living interfere. So from now on, my goal is to drop what I think may be more important at the moment, clear my head, and connect with my child at least once a day. I hope it becomes a habit, a part of who I am. My family is my priority, not the dishes or my pictures or this blog. Bron and Jed are the center of my world and I ought to treat them as such. Perhaps Jed will become a better man if he has a mother who lights up when he enters the room and a mother who truly listens to him and knows him.

But really, it doesn’t matter how Jed “turns out”; I will love him regardless. I just think the joy and satisfaction I feel from truly being with the people I love will be more than worth any effort.

Tonight, Jed hugged me. He laid his head on my shoulder and let me just hold him. I patted his back. He patted mine. Those are the moments I want to wrap up and save forever.

"Jed, What Does a Cow Say?"

6.26.2011
"Moo!"
Jed purses his lips and tries to say it.  I just can't get enough of this face.

The Graduate

6.22.2011
The New Master of Dairy Nutrition

Bron did it! He defended his thesis and PASSED! Aside from a few details, Bron is officially done with his Masters Degree! Wahoo!!!

Yesterday, as I sat there watching Bron present, I felt overwhelmingly proud of my man. This entire two year journey has been a labor of work, sweat, and even a few frustrated tears. But I think the rewards are going to be totally worth his efforts. Bron is so smart! He has an awesome job lined up. This degree has opened up so many new opportunities for him. It feels like the world is at his feet.

Bron was grilled by his advisors for a couple more hours after his presentation. When Bron walked through the door of the overpriced restaurant on Church Street, I immediately knew he had passed. I could see it in his face and body, a weight had literally been lifted. The food tasted delicious!

So last night, instead of working till the wee hours of the morning, Bron relaxed in front of the television and talked with an old friend on the phone. I think we’re all going to enjoy a little less stress in his life.

Bron, I am so incredibly proud of the man, husband, and father you are! You are more than I ever dreamed of marrying. Your potential is limitless; I can see it. I love you!

P.S. I left Jed with a pair of babysitters yesterday. It was the first time I’d left him all afternoon. It was liberating, but I missed my little man! By the way, my babysitters were awesome. I came home to a sleeping baby and a clean house!

Let's Hear it for Dad!

6.19.2011
My dad with little me and my brother, Joey

I know my dad beats himself up with regrets and about his shortcomings—like being horrible at remembering birthdays—but I couldn’t love him more! Much of who I am today is because of this man.

My dad calls me Jessie Baby. I think he would still hold my hand if I would let him. When I was little, I thought every man in camouflage uniform was my dad.  Nothing held a candle to my dad!  He did many things that dads are supposed to do, like teaching me how to throw a baseball so I never had to embarrass myself at recess in elementary school. He also taught me how to ride a bike. One of my favorite childhood memories are of our family bike rides every Sunday afternoon around Pearl Harbor. We stopped to chat with the fishermen on the pier, stick our fingers in sea urchins, and play at the park.

We’ve had a lot of adventures like that together because, well, that’s just who my dad is: outgoing and adventurous. He has many hobbies and interests that keep him interesting. I’ve been to countless places across the United States because of him. I don’t know how many old military forts I’ve visited or how many air shows I’ve seen, but most of them were pretty cool. I remember when he was learning to sail; he took my brother and me out with him in these tiny eight foot sailboats and we almost always tipped and went swimming in the ocean! My dad loves old cars, motorcycles, airplanes, and boats. He built a plane once or twice. And that time he tried to cruise “the berg” (his 98 foot yacht) from Victoria, Canada down the west coast will go down in history! He is pretty much the epitome of a man’s man.  But as I've grown up, I've come to realize that he is much more than that.  He is a sensitive and caring man too!  I know he loves me very much.

My dad has taught me what it means to work and to take responsibility for my own actions. He has taught me how to listen and communicate by example. I appreciate that we can have open, honest conversations about anything—nothing is taboo! It has helped me grow and be confident that my opinions are valid too. On top of all that, my dad has shown and continutes to show me how to live my dreams; how to dream a dream and just go for it! Life isn’t perfect. And it isn’t the destination that counts; it’s the adventure in the journey.

So thanks, Dad, for a wonderful childhood and memories that will live on forever. I love you and am so grateful to have you for a dad!

   
Jed and his Daddy

And it wouldn’t be Father’s Day if I didn’t honor the father who lives under my same roof. There is so much I could say about how awesome a daddy Bron is to Jed; about how hard he works, about how his instincts are often right on, about how well he takes care of Jed in the evenings when I’m working, and about how fun it is to have someone to share the joys of being a parent with, but I just can’t seem to find the right words.

Bron truly enjoys being a parent. He is so good at it that he sometimes makes me a little jealous. Jed loves his dad tremendously because when Bron comes home, he gets on the floor and plays! Jed laughs and chases and wrestles him. I can only see these moments getting better and better! Bron helps make us a complete happy family, and that’s what matters most.

I love you, my handsome man!

Arizona or Bust

6.16.2011
Have I ever mentioned how my life rocks and that I am spoiled? Well, to illustrate that point, I got to fly to Arizona—with Jed in tow—to see my sister sealed for time and all eternity in the Gila Valley LDS Temple to her husband, Don! It was an awesome weekend! I was only gone five days, but it feels like I’ve been gone a lot longer.

Compared with New York, arriving in Arizona was like arriving on another planet! It is so barren and desolate, but beautiful in its own colors. I flew into Phoenix Thursday evening where my cousins, Necia and Rachel, picked me up. We had a nice three hour drive to Pima in which to talk and catch up. It was great! I love my cousins. They’re much like sisters to me.

It's may be a desert, but it's its own kind of pretty!

Jed and I stayed at my sister’s apartment. Lauren and Don went out of their way to make us feel comfortable; Jed had a crib to sleep in and a high chair to eat in. Wonderful! We had all of Friday to play and catch up—just my sister and me. We went shopping, swimming, ate delicious banana milkshakes, hung out with Rachel, and watched movies after Jed went to bed. It’s crazy; even though we live thousands of miles apart and only see each other every once in a while, we sound exactly alike! We said the same things, at the exact same time, in the exact same way! Crazy! It made us laugh. I love my sister so much! I really cherish our relationship—it’s very special to me.

We must've been a sight at the pool!  My sister was nine months pregnant and I was pasty white!

My cousin, Rachel, with her two boys
It took a while, but Jed eventually liked the water!

Lauren made me laugh because every time she got herself a popsicle, she always grabbed two.  When you're a pregnant lady in Arizona, you always need two; might as well save a trip to the freezer!  haha

  
The prego ladies: Lauren 38 weeks, Rachel 29 weeks
Jed took off walking this week.  His new found (lack of) balance scares me sometimes! 

Then Saturday morning, friends and family all gathered in the Gila Valley Temple to see Lauren and Don sealed, or in other words, have the opportunity to be together forever! It was a powerful feeling to see so many people I love in the temple; I think it was a glimpse into the eternities. Our family is quite dysfunctional from time to time, but there in the temple, I felt nothing but love. I am sooo happy for my sister and her husband and their baby-to-be!


The rest of the weekend was spent eating and swimming. After church on Sunday afternoon, the entire family gathered again at Rachel’s house for dinner and heavenly trifles for dessert! Jed played outside with my little brothers all evening while the rest of us talked and ate and laughed.

I love my family. Thank you all for a wonderful weekend!!!

Jed with his 2nd cousin, Grady
Apparently, driving the jeep is serious business!

   
When the jeep runs out of battery, get out and push!
My uncle Jeff with his grandson, Traejan

We will forever be "the cousins"!
Me, my sister Lauren, and cousins Rachel and Necia

Prego ladies MUST. EAT. DESSERT! 
Okay, so I went back for seconds too.  The trifles really were that good.

Jed at play outside.
13 months old

A Peak at the Real Family Deal:

My mom and family took us to the airport on their way out Monday morning. Picture this: Eight people in a Sequoia. My stepdad up front is sick with the flu and driving. I’m sitting in the middle seat between my grandparents. My grandpa doesn’t have his hearing aid in and can’t hear a thing. He also suffers from mild dementia, so he starts rambling on about random things. My grandma is on the other side of me singing her heart out, trying to keep everyone entertained. My brothers are in the back seat singing their own gory version of what happened to Santa Clause when he went crazy. And Jed threw up all over himself. Needless to say, it was an eventful morning, and it all happened before 9:00AM.  Reflecting back on it, I can't help laughing.

Also, one word to sum up flying with a one year old: Ugh. It’s exhausting trying to entertain someone so busy in such a tiny area ALL DAY LONG. Luckily, Jed is a happy little boy and a great traveler. He fell asleep gnawing on pretzels more than once. Jed also made friends with everyone we met. And even strangers are nice to a lone young woman traveling with a baby. The gentleman making runs for the airport shuttle dropped me off right in front of our car and waited for me to reassemble Jed’s car seat before leaving me alone in the dark parking lot. Just another one of those tender mercies, I guess.

Jed and I were ready for a lot of this when we finally got home!
I love my sleeping child.

17

6.15.2011
This little colt is so brand spanking new, he doesn't even have a name yet!

Camp Overlook

6.07.2011
Saturday I got to attend the MOST AWESOME YOUTH ACTIVITY EVER!!!  Youth from all over the LDS Potsdam District sacrificed some sleep to to come to a Super Saturday held at Camp Overlook that lasted all day long.  It was totally worth it!  It was so much fun!  At times, I even forgot I was a leader and felt like a kid again.  (P.S.  This is why I love being a youth leader: I get all the privileges of being an adult but still get to hang out with the cool people.)

The morning began by meeting our three camp instructors and doing some team building games, including this classic trust game seen below.

Learning to "spot".  Oooh, please catch me!

Next, the youth got to take on the low-ropes course.  They had to work together to get everyone through it without any falls.  Well, they had a few falls, but they stayed positive and did it!  I enjoyed just watching them.

Some snapshots from the low-ropes course

Yup.  My little man got to come along and hang out outside all day long too.

I love how when Jed squats his little tush is only an inch from the ground!
Jed also has a thing for potato chips.

My Seniors: BFFs Karin and Samme

After lunch, our camp instructors busted out the harnesses and then came the REAL FUN!  One by one, we each took turns embarking on the high-ropes courses waaay up in the trees!

Karin and Carissa showing us how to wear those cute red helmets.
I didn't know Karin was so hard core.  She says she "lives on the edge".  Haha

The adrenaline junkie, Samme

On one course (seen above), we had to scale a tree and cross a wire from one tree to another using another wire--or harder--ropes hanging from above, for balance.  I, personally, conquered the ropes! 

Photographic proof that I was there and did it too!

Do I look nervous?  I was a little.  But the jump was exhilarating!

The other challenge was to climb this wobbly pole (or tree) to a platform and jump off.  Totally against all laws of nature.  Awesome!

Flyers!!!  We rock!

Last, but not least, we all had the opportunity to rocket down a zip line from 65 feet up in the air.  What a rush!

The Youth

It was an awesome day!  The youth are still talking about it.  Some of them even want to become camp counselors themselves one day.  But better yet, Saturday's activity helped accomplish exactly what we wanted: to build a little more unity among the district's youth.  We all learned a new name or two and we all cheered each other on during each challenge.  There was a spirit of encouragement and comradery.

And it doesn't hurt to feel on top of the world after you have stepped outside your comfort zone and accomplished something hard.  What an adrenaline rush! 

Got Milk?

6.05.2011
Can someone so closely related to me really have this reaction to a strawberry?

There is a health trend sweeping the nation. People are becoming more aware of where their food comes from and how it gets to their plate. They are concerned about fat and calories, pesticides and hormones, and whether or not the piece of meat they are eating was treated humanely before it died. This awareness has apparently made food everybody’s business.

For example, before I went grocery shopping one evening last week, Jed and I stopped at McDonalds for something to eat, because as we all know, grocery shopping on an empty stomach is a fiasco. I justified that spending $6 dollars on a fast food meal was going to be much better than spending $50 at the store.

Well, as I got Jed situated in his high chair and sat down to eat, a stranger boorishly accused, “You're starting him a little young on McDonald’s, aren’t you?”

“Did that man really just say that?” I thought. “Since when is it his business what I feed my child?” I chose to ignore him and brazenly stuck a fry in each of Jed’s hands. Then I made sure Jed took a nice long sip of my strawberry milkshake just for good measure.

And that man wasn’t the first to give me the stink eye.

“Hypocrites!” I wanted to exclaim. “You’re eating here too! ”

When did it become everyone else’s business to judge what I eat and what I feed my children? I can probably count the number of times I eat out at a fast food restaurant during an entire year on my fingers. There is nothing wrong with some yummy greasiness from time to time. Anyhow, my BMI is teetering on the far left side of the chart and so is Jed’s. I’m conscious of the food we eat and how much I exercise. We are healthy and we look it. A few extra gross calories now and then is just a good treat.

So get over it, folks. Don’t pass judgment so quickly. I think I’ll still fit into my jeans next week and Jed will still grow up to be strong and healthy.

Which brings me to my next point: I think that this new healthful awareness is a wonderful movement as a whole. But the tough part is, there is a lot of information out there and many times it's confusing and many times it's misleading or just plain wrong.

There has been some concern about hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, and other residues in the milk we consume. Right now there's a big debate brewing in some states about whether or not raw (unpasteurized) milk should be sold to the general public.

As a wife to a dairy nutritionist and a daughter of a family that runs a dairy farm, I want to do my duty and set the record straight; I want to give you some facts about milk. (Click HERE to read the article I’m summarizing. And HERE and HERE for other articles about meat and eggs.) Scroll down to the last paragraph if you want this summed up in, like, two sentences.

HARMFUL RESIDUES IN MILK:

• Bovine somatotropin (bST) is a protein, and like other proteins, it is digested in the human stomach. It’s denaturized by those toxic stomach acids that can literally burn a hole in the floor, but by some miracle don’t eat us alive from the inside-out. Our bodies are amazing.

• A study comparing 334 samples of whole milk from rbST-free organic dairies, milk labeled “rbST-free”, and conventional milk sold at the retail level in the lower 48 states found that there was minimal difference of rbST, insulin-like growth factor-1, progesterone, and estradiol between all three kinds of milk.

• Another concern consumers have voiced is about antibiotics in their milk. By law, all bulk milk tankers must sample and analyze their milk for any animal drug residues before the milk is processed—that’s before it’s pasteurized, turned into cheese, etc. If any residues are detected, the entire tank must be dumped. In 2009, 861 (.026%) tanks across the country tested positive—all were dumped.

• Multiple studies in multiple nations have compared levels of organochlorine, PCB residues, lead, cadmium, iron, copper, zinc, (any other bad stuffs?) in milk from both conventional and organic dairy farms and found insignificant differences. Mercury levels were highest from the organic farms. None of the levels were in violation of any standards.

• Ultra-high heat treatment (UHT) is more effective than pasteurization; it kills all organisms in the milk, therefore it does not need to be refrigerated. Many organic farms use this type of pasteurization, especially in Europe, but it alters the milk’s taste. It’s said to have a nutty flavor.

NUTRITIONAL QUALITY: Conventional vs. Organic

• A study showed that urea content and somatic cell counts (both undesirable things) were lower in organic milk, but so was selenium, an important nutrient found in milk. Organic milk generally had slightly higher protein levels though. Conventional milk had a slightly lower bacterial count.

• Milk Fats: In one study, organic milk was found to have slightly higher levels of PUFAs—fats that aid in the prevention of cancer—than conventional milk. A study by Cornell found the opposite to be true. However, the differences were considered minor. If you want those PUFAs, drink whole milk!

CONCLUSION:

From a nutritional standpoint, it doesn’t matter whether milk is organic or conventional, rbST-free or not, all levels of harmful residues are in check and the nutrient content is comparable. So drink what you think tastes best! Support the industry and support a healthy body!

Ahh, see?  Strawberries aren't so bad after all! 

Farm Boy

6.02.2011
The cows unanimously voted that Jed be their new herdsman.
So Jed climbed into the skid steer and began working.