Wednesday, September 24, 2008

We're still here

A not very good picture of my not very good haircut, but here it is:
Norah is bright-eyed since she's finally sleeping through the night!!! I am so full of sleep I don't quite know what to do.

Amira's hair is officially long enough to wear in braids and she is quite vain about them. She's developed a crush on a 7 year-old boy down the street and is under the delusion that he cares about her hair. Mohamed is quite distressed about the whole thing.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Suggestions, please

My good friend Cindy called today to offer me a job in her new store. Cindy owns the natural parenting store where I am currently working on Saturdays. In September she'll be moving to a new, much larger location. Her new store, in addition to selling cloth diapers, baby carriers, and such, will also have a play area for kids and a small kitchenette for preparing food. My job (and I accepted eagerly) will be to manage the entire food-side of the the store. So, in the next few weeks I need to develop a menu, and that's where I need suggestions. The requirements are these:

-food must be healthy, vegetarian fare
-the only cooking appliances I will have are a blender, microwave, panini press and the like (no oven or range)
-many of the customers we have are small children so I want some items that are particularly targeted to children (small containers of edible playdough is one idea, so far). Anything that can be presented in an appealing (but easy to prepare) way is great. Also, kids like to dip things, so dip-able food is another good way to go.
-I am planning several different salads, all with homemade dressing. Anyone have great dressing recipes?

My brain is full of a million ideas, but I keep getting stuck on not having a stove. Anyone out there still reading my blog, suggestions are greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Summer Fun

A good list.

That's why

On something akin to a whim I've started back to school. Sadly, that makes me too busy to blog or sleep. Just in case you are wondering. (PS to Caroline-I noticed your "tag" and have had a partly finished response prepared for about a week. Give me a few more.)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Happy Loving Day!

On June 12th, 1967 the United States Supreme Court made the decision to legalize interracial marriage. The case, Mr. Loving vs. Virginia, began with Mr and Mrs Loving (he was white, she was black) being removed from their beds and arrested for the crime of interracial marriage. At the time of their arrest, interracial marriage in Virginia was a crime that carried a one year minimum prison term. During one of the trials leading up to the supreme court's decision a judge had this lovely "wisdom" to impart:

“Almighty God created the races,
white, black, yellow, Malay, and
red and placed them on separate
continents, and but for the
interference with his arrangement
there would be no cause for such
marriages. The fact that he separated
the races shows that he did
not intend the races to mix.”

I can't even begin to comment on that statement. It makes my thoughts stutter.

On this day,41 years ago, the supreme court declared it unconstitutional to ban interracial marriage. In this history of this country, 35 states have had laws against interracial relationships at one point or another. It wasn't until 2000 (??!!) that Alabama removed their law banning interracial marriage (it wasn't enforceable after the supreme court's decision, but the movement to remove the law barely passed the popular vote.) Good job, Alabama.

Information is courtesy of

I first heard of this day, and resultant celebrations, on NPR this morning. And while I certainly appreciate the work of those who fought the evil laws, and intend to celebrate them for that, it feels like a day tinged also with sadness. It seems so downright crazy to me that 50 years ago my love for my husband could have been deemed illegal. Illegal because his skin has more melatonin than mine? Really? Illegal because he was born in a different place, where the sun shines down all day without a break? I don't want to try and wonder what the arguments against interracial marriages were, I don't want to learn of the hate that, to this day, still exists. I guess, in a way, it seems bizarre to say "Yeah! for June 12th, the day in history that said it was okay for me to spend the rest of my life with the man I love! How generous and wonderful of our country." What I really feel like saying is, "What in the world took them all so long?" That said, I am grateful that a large part of our country has gotten over their crazy race hang-ups. Hawaii, in particular, is a wonderful place to live as an interracial couple. Most of the people living on this island are a mix of at least a few races, so we are nothing out of the ordinary. Hawaii is also one of the very few states to never have restrictions on interracial marriage. (check-out the website for a map showing which states had laws and for how long.)

ps- The similarities between the "issue" of interracial marriage, and gay marriage are not lost on me. Gives me a lot to think about.

Monday, June 9, 2008

A little horn-tooting

I know I haven't posted in ages. Mohamed had 6 online quizzes to take this weekend, which means he spent the entire weekend staring at/talking to the computer. I was forced to read several books. One of the books I read inspired me to try some new things in the kitchen. Here's where my little brag comes in. I am proud to say I've done (or am working on doing) the following things today:

-grocery shopping
-planted strawberries (organic strawberries are $6 a pint, and it takes Amira all of 3 minutes to finish a pint)
-made my own yogurt, out of almond milk. I will try soy milk, next. Yep, I'm cool.
-hung up my clothesline (finally) and pinned-up all Norah's diapers to dry in the sun. Very satisfying.
-Both my girls are now napping, so I'm going to get a head start on dinner.

I've decided I find it extremely satisfying to do things the slow, old-fashioned way. It makes me feel grounded, and I know it may sound corny, but also connected to the generations of women before me who did things the same way. I enjoyed the time I spent out in the sun, hanging Norah's bright white diapers. Amira handed me the clothespins and Norah tried to eat the dirt. It was nice.

Oh, and I've been away from the computer so long I forgot to mention a new blog Amy and I started (okay, it was really Amy, as you'll see) but I fully intend to post soon. About sprouting seeds and beans. Check it out.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Birth Talk

I think doctors who perform elective c-sections should have their licenses revoked. Excellent post, Ame.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Let the discussion begin

So, I've been hesitant to post about vaccines for a few reasons:
1- because I know what a controversial topic they are, and both sides of the debate can get quite heated.
2- because I have so much information about vaccines that it is hard for me to organize it in my head, much less in a blog post.
3- I'm not sure that the few of you reading my blog have much desire to learn about vaccines.

That said, I do feel passionately about the importance of making educated vaccine decisions, and I wish I'd had more information when Amira was a baby. Let's start the discussion with the first vaccine babies are given: hepatitis B.

Hepatitis B is a serious disease, I am certainly not going to argue against that. It is a disease that affects the liver, and according to the CDC website is more likely to lead to an acute infection in adults and a chronic infection in infants and children. Children who develop chronic Hepatitis B can eventually die as a result of liver failure.

After listing the dangerous symptoms of HepB, the CDC lists the means of infection for the disease. Not surprisingly, they are not as thorough, or explicit, when they discuss the means of transmission:

A person can become infected by:
- contact with a mother’s blood and body fluids at
the time of birth; (this should read: contact with a HepB carrying mother)
- contact with blood and body fluids through
breaks in the skin such as bites, cuts, or sores; (translation: for your child to get HepB in this manner the blood or semen of a person with HepB would have to come in contact with an open sore on your child)
- contact with objects that could have blood or bodyfluids on them such as toothbrushes or razors; (don't let your baby brush their teeth with a HepB infected toothbrush. No shaving, either)

and, we vaccinate babies against these other frightening possiblities:
- having unprotected sex with an infected person;
- sharing needles when injecting drugs;
- being stuck with a used needle on the job.

Obviously,the italics were added by me, but the bullet points are all courtesy of the CDC's HepB vaccine sheet.
Just to be clear, HepB is a sexually transmitted disease, and is passed along by the same means as HIV. To be fair, HepB is viable outside of the body for longer periods than HIV, making it a bit more likely to contract (if a pool of HIV infected blood is sitting on your kid's toothbrush the virus will die more quickly than HepB, which can live outside of the body for a long time).

So, has the CDC lost their mind? Is that the point I'm trying to make here? Not at all. Although most of the ways to become infected by HepB are clearly not relevant to newborn babies, it is true that babies born to mothers with HepB can contract the disease during the birth process. If a baby is exposed to HepB during birth and is vaccinated for the disease immediately after, it can keep the newborn from contracting the disease. Clearly this a great idea and well worth the risks of the vaccine.

I imagine the large picture for the CDC employees in charge of immunizations looks something like this: a mother with hepatitis B can pass it on to her baby during childbirth. Vaccinating the at-risk newborn is an effective way to prevent the spread of this serious disease. It is not feasible to give the vaccine to only the babies of at-risk women (you can't very well say to a pregnant woman, "you look like you may be a promiscuous drug-user, we would like to vaccinate your child") so in the interest of protecting the at-risk babies, it is advisable to vaccinate all newborns against hepatitis B. This is where the problem lies, for me. (as a side note, I don't know why they can't test pregnant women for hepatitis B and only vaccinate the babies at-risk? They already test for HIV during pregnancy. Just a thought.)

I do not have hepatitis B. As a monogamous, drug-free, non health-care worker I know I am not at risk for getting hepatitis B anytime soon. Because of that I would like to make the argument that is not only unnecessary, but ludicrous(and even dangerous), to suggest that I should have vaccinated my just hours-old infant against a sexually transmitted disease.

At Norah's 2-month appointment I discussed this issue with her pediatrician:
me: I really don't understand why someone as low-risk for getting the disease as my 2-month old should have to get a vaccine.
Doctor: There are other many ways Norah could get HepB.
Me: What kind of things should I be worried about?
Doctor: She could be infected by needles or by other bodily fluids in a daycare setting.
Me: (not believing the conversation has gone on this long) My daughter doesn't go to daycare. She just doesn't have any contact with needles or infected bodily fluids (read:semen). Are there other things I should worry about.
Doctor: mumbles a few things, starts to discuss other vaccines.

I would like to say that I actually really like my pediatrician, and appreciate her openness to some of the information I have. I know she is under a large amount of pressure to encourage vaccines.

One final point, and then I should probably go back to taking care of my kids :) I recognize that vaccines are not only about protecting the individual child, but protecting the community, at large. I appreciate that need, and consider "herd immunity" very strongly when making my vaccination choices. Due to the fact that hepB is an STD (have I beaten that point to death) concerns about un-vaccinated Norah infecting someone else are minimal.

I haven't mentioned any of the possible side effects for the hepB vaccine (of which, sadly, there are many) because I think the arguments against the vaccine are strong enough, on their own. Any risks of the vaccine are too many, in my mind, since the vaccine is not at all necessary for low-risk children, in the first place.

I can't help but post one last section from the CDC's website that illuminates, once more, the risk factors for hepB:

All unvaccinated adults at risk for HBV infection
should be vaccinated. This includes:
- sex partners of people infected with HBV,
- men who have sex with men,
- people who inject street drugs,
- people with more than one sex partner,
- people with chronic liver or kidney disease,
- people with jobs that expose them to human
- household contacts of people infected with HBV,
- residents and staff in institutions for the
developmentally disabled,
- kidney dialysis patients

According to Dr. Robert Sears (from his book called The Vaccine Book, in which he actually recommends the importance of most of the vaccines) Dr. Sears advises against giving your baby the hepB series unless you have "one risky baby." My point, exactly.

ps- I am constantly learning in this aspect of parenting, as in all others, and am very much open and grateful for additional information. If you have information to refute or support my assertions, I would greatly appreciate your input.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Couldn't it have a prettier name?

I believe I would like to live in one of these.

It really isn't fair

I just watched a documentary called "Motherland Afghanistan" about the work of a US/Afghani doctor and his efforts to improve the women's health care crisis in Afghanistan. According to the documentary 1 in 7 Afghan women die in childbirth (due in large part to vitamin deficiencies leading to pelvises that are too small) and 18 percent of babies do not survive their first year of life.

So very many thoughts ran through my head as I watched the documentary. I thought about how much Afghanistan reminds me of both India and Morocco and the film left me aching for both places. I thought about how sure I am in my decision to become a midwife, and I felt frustrated that I am not able to start my program, yet.

And then, I just felt guilty. As heart-felt as my last post was, and as important as I believe certain issues are, the documentary put some things in perspective to me. As the film showed a mother hold, care for, and then grieve the death of her premature baby, I thought what a luxury my struggles are. I worry about preschools for Amira and buying organic food and how to lose weight. Meanwhile a mother in Afghanistan will never get to hold her child again, a child who could easily have been saved had she been born in another part of the world.

So, I'm going to take a step back from the issues I previously found so pressing. I am going to work towards my goals with a renewed energy and promise to be grateful for my challenges. If you could even call them that.

Friday, May 23, 2008


The truth is, I guess I'm not entirely comfortable with who I am. I have five posts saved in my draft folder that I haven't had the courage to publish- things I have written from my heart and about which I feel very passionate. I promised myself I would publish this post, unedited and raw. Here goes:

I like people to like me. I have strong opinions, very strong about some things, but I don't like to share them, certainly not in their most potent form, because I don't like making people uncomfortable. I feel this division in myself- one side of me is full of dreams and convictions and the other is just trying to fit in. Whatever that means. And I don't know why I try SO HARD to fit in, when it doesn't really make me happy. I know I'm different that a lot of people, but why does that have to bother me so much? This is my blog, for heaven sakes, and the people that read it are my friends and family. So why do I limit myself to posting about parenting (and occasionally food) when what I really want to talk about is how I want to start my own natural living community, and a women's-health non-profit group and teach my kids Arabic? Sometimes I feel myself trying to cram the "real-me" into a box that doesn't really fit. Because the fact of the matter is, that, yes, I am a wife, a mother, a latter-day Saint and an American. And I love all those roles, but they do not define me. The truth about me is that I am also a lot of other things: a breastfeeding activist, a liberal, a vegan cook and a writer. Sometimes I get up in the middle of the night to type out my thoughts, just to get them out of my head. I read everything I can get my hands on, sometimes several books a week. I use cloth diapers because I like the way they look and I care about the earth. I worry about my kids being exposed to plastic and pesticides and too many commercials. I try to be kind and to teach my children kindness. I try to eat spinach at least once a day. I love God, and I love that I don't always have to have the answers. I plan to wean Norah when she is ready, whenever that is. I believe that moms should be allowed to give birth without doctors poking and prodding and pestering them. I believe this so strongly I plan to devote my career to making this happen for as many women as I can. If I had my way, and I hope I do, I want to live in Morocco once Mohamed is out of the military. I want to build a large house and fill it with a million family members and have my kids grow-up knowing the love of their family and knowing their culture. I want to have a women's health clinic near the house and train Moroccans to be midwives in their villages- and work to protect their birth traditions while still making birth more safe for at-risk women.

I have never vaccinated Norah. It's true. I took her to Morocco and back sans vaccination and am at peace with my decision. I may give her some vaccines, someday, and I may not. I have spent at least four hours per vaccine researching each one and although I think some vaccines are a good idea for some children, I do not believe all vaccines are for all children. There, I said it. Whew. I will post about that, later, don't worry.

Sometimes I get tired, as you, no doubt are from reading this blog and its preponderance of commas. I wish, sometimes, that I weren't so passionate. Or so hopeful. Or so. . . something. I don't know. Maybe I just wish I weren't lonely. More than anything I wish for a house full to the brim with people. All kinds of people from all kinds of places. I love seeing the different ways people live their lives, what is important to them, what makes them angry or happy.

And maybe this post made you angry or happy. Maybe you just skimmed at rolled your eyes. That's okay, because I feel better now. I feel like I've come out-of-the closet (are there hyphens in that?) in a sense, and I feel stronger for it. If you find yourself particularly drawn to my way of thinking, you know where I live. My doors are open, and we have a guest room.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Nightime Parenting

Due to the fact that I have both an extremely loud family and extremely thin walls our neighbors were probably able to hear the following conversation last Thursday night around 1:30 AM:


"Amira, we have looked everywhere in your room. There are no snakes. There are no snakes in Hawaii at all. If there were snakes I would NEVER let them come in your room. We are asleep next door. Everyone is asleep. You need to GO TO SLEEP."

15 minutes later, same deal except this time I sound more like this:

"If you go to sleep and forget about the snake/Grinch/cockroaches I will give you 5 pieces of pink gum in the morning. If you don't go to sleep you won't be able to play with any of your friends and we will stay home ALL DAY. DO YOU UNDERSTAND? You MUST go to sleep and be quiet. Love you (said begrudgingly, as I closed the door tightly)"

As indicated by the all caps lettering, I wasn't exactly whispering most of my speech. I was exhausted and frustrated and out of ideas. Although I wasn't exactly yelling at Amira I knew my parenting wasn't at its best, and as I cuddled up to Mohamed and hoped Amira would finally be quiet, I found myself crying. I cried to Mohamed about how frustrated I was at myself for treating Amira like that. I was so irritated with her I thought my head would explode, and all I wanted to was make her be quiet. I felt myself completely out of patience and ideas. (note, although it seem like a logical solution, we couldn't just bring Amira in bed with us because she is truly a violent sleeper, and we knew none of us would sleep.)

So, I prayed. I said a simple, pleading prayer for God to help me see Amira as He sees her. And for a moment, I think I really did. I thought of my sweet baby, afraid in the other room, not wanting to sleep and certainly not wanting to be alone. I recalled the feeling of injustice I had towards bedtime as a small child, and how I would hold onto my mom's shirt as she laid by me so that I would wake-up when she tried to leave.

I climbed out of bed and went back into Amira's room. I told her stories and sang her songs and even left her lamp on all night long (sorry, Earth). I crawled in bed comforted and awed by the honor it is to raise my stubborn, complex, beautiful daughter.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

My Beautiful Girls

I really should be in bed, but I actually got to nap for an entire hour today and am therefore wide awake. My friend finally got her website up and running so here is a link to the rest of the pictures from the girls' photo shoot:

my babies, and me

When you get to the website click on the "clients" tab and then put in "Kimball" as the password. I've never changed my name on my hotmail account, so my friend thought my last name was Kimball, in case you are wondering.

A few of the pictures of me aren't that great, and I didn't do a very good job with Amira's curls (I sprayed them with water right before the shoot, and they didn't have time to dry for a lot of the pictures). However, I really love a lot of the shots. One of my favorites is the one where I'm nursing Norah.

I will post pictures of Norah's birthday, soon. I can't stop watching the photo slideshow. Gosh, I love my girls.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Happy Birth Day Norah!

At this time, a year ago, I was calling Mohamed at work and asking him to come home early. My labor had really started to pick-up, and I knew that my baby was coming.

I knew a lot of things about myself and about childbirth before I had Norah. I'd read every childbirth book I could find, had surrounded myself with women who believed in the power of birth. I had the support of a wonderful group of midwives and Mohamed was fully on-board with my decision to have a natural childbirth. I knew I was strong enough to handle any pain I would face. I knew my body would lead me through the labor process. I knew I would be safe and so would my baby.

I thought I got it. Before experiencing Norah's birth I thought I understood what it would mean to me, what it would feel like, how it would change me.

But I couldn't have known. I couldn't have known the intensity of each mounting contraction, without actually feeling them. No amount of reading could have prepared me for the vulnerability I felt, for how much I needed Mohamed by me, touching me at all times. I had no idea that I would push her out slowly enough to feel first her right shoulder and then her left. That pushing would be such a relief, and that it wouldn't hurt, not even for a moment (the pushing that is, not the entire labor).

And then, of course, came the moment when I got to hold my sweet baby. This moment I knew, having done it with Amira. That time when the rest of the world really does disappear and I hold my babies, and whisper to them, "You are here. You are here." Yet even this most sacred of moments was so different the second time around. My joy was increased by the absolute physical euphoria I felt. I felt so powerful, so full of light and strength. I nursed Norah right there on the kitchen floor, with her still attached to me by the umbilical cord. She kept eating while the paramedics arrived and busied themselves with their silliness. She nursed through the entire ambulance ride and arrived to the hospital so pink and alive and alert that even the people who thought me irresponsible for daring to give birth at home, couldn't argue with the outcome.

The memory of Norah's birth is still with me these many months later. Her birth changed me more than I could have imagined, more than I knew was possible. Those sacred moments are something I will carry with me always. That is my daughter's gift to me.

PS- "Happy Birthday" to Ryan, too

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

Since it is next to impossible to get ANY of my immediate family members to read my blog, I lured them here with a promise of adorable pictures of my girls. Before I get to that, I want to say, "Happy Mother's Day" to my mom.

Mom, as I was thinking about you today I thought about all the memories I have of growing-up. The nature hikes you led through the creek near our house, the neighborhood plays you directed, the strange salads you would make us before seminary (so we could get our veggies first thing in the morning) and that time I blew off studying for finals so we could watch the entire 6 hour version of pride and prejudice.

And even now that I am grown and gone, I continue to learn from you and count on you for everything from recipes to parenting advice. I remember when I called you a few months ago, stressed about a difficult parenting choice I was struggling with. I asked if you would support my decision, even if things didn't work-out how I hoped and I was harshly criticized by others for my choice. You paused for a second, and your voice caught as you told me, firmly, "I am your mother, Jami, I will always support you." I've thought about that many times, since. It brings me so much comfort to know even when my choices as a mother feel hard or lonely, you are there, with me. You have always been so able to love me. Thank you for that gift.

I have many wonderful memories, Mom. A lifetime full of them. But the one
thing I have to thank you for, most of all, is this: thank you for your faith. Thank you for knowing and loving the Lord so much, that I never had to wonder how you felt. Thank you for the prayers you have said with me, and for me. I am grateful that my earliest experiences with religion were of a mother who really lived her beliefs, and was made happy by them. I pray everyday that I may be that same mother to my sweet girls.

I love you so much, Mom.

Finally, on this mother's day I am also grateful for the two girls who made me a mother. The girls ran around in the rain this morning, and then I put them in a nice, warm bath. As they were playing I thought of all the little things I love about them: the perfectly round birthmark on Norah's shoulder, how Amira never wants to take off her pink running shoes (except for bath time) and the special bond the two of them are already developing. They adore each other. And I, them. On that note, Mom, here are the pictures I promised. Your copies will be coming shortly:

I couldn't post them directly, so click here

Oh, and here is a video of Norah walking and carrying a box as big as she is!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Catching up

I've decided that I should probably blog about something else besides food, in case any of you are worried I spend my days fixated on new ways to cook tofu or how to make kale taste less disgusting. So, here's a much overdue update on our life:

At the beginning of April our neighbors moved to Louisiana. Amira cried and cried the day the left, and still likes to tell anyone who will listen about her friends Zoey and Alexis. She is comforted only by the fact that Norah will never move away. Here is a picture of "the girls" at the park the day before they left:

The week after they left Mohamed's friend, Bob, came to visit us all the way from Canada. We loved having him, and he helped cheer Amira up after the departure of her friends. The only problem with Bob's stay was that it was far too short and we hope he can stay much longer next time. Here are some photos: This photo below was taken at the Polynesian Cultural Center. If you look closely you can see Amira looking awfully tiny and confused among all the dancers. After demonstrating a Tahitian dance, the dancers asked for volunteers and Amira hopped up and ran onto the stage. She was the first one up and stood there with her hands on her hips, so cute and full of confidence that everyone in the audience started clapping and cheering and hollering just for the joy of seeing her. She really wasn't too great at the dancing, but she didn't have to be. She was so adorable, and very proud.

A few weeks after Bob's visit my parents and siblings (all but David) came to stay. We love having visitors, and it was WONDERFUL to have my family here. Sadly, I inherit my inability to document life events via picture taking from my parents so I have exactly 4 pictures of their stay. Here's Andrew watching Amira blow out the candles on her Ariel cake:

I'm so MAD that I don't have any pictures of my adorable little sister, Anna. She is growing so quickly, and is such a happy, laid-back, sweet little baby. In my defense we did try to take pictures once we got to the beach only to discover both my camera and my parent's camera were out of batteries. And since I have no hope of my parents ever sending me pictures of my little sister, I don't know how I can ever blog about her and her cuteness. Amy, maybe you could take a picture and email it to me? I'm so pathetic.
Anyway, the trip was great. We spent four days at a cabin about 20 steps from the beach. We setup an umbrella and little baby tent right on the sand so the babies could nap on the beach while we played. Amira and Andrew (with Mohamed's help) dug a huge hole and spent several hours just sitting in the hole and laughing. Ben and I enjoyed quality time catching the waves and Mom and Dad even got to go on a moonlit walk while I sat with the sleeping kids. Have I convinced anyone else to come visit us, yet?
Whew- catching up was a lot of work. A few more things worth noting:
Norah walks now! She is so proud, and she especially loves that she can carry objects around with her while walking (something that is much tougher to do while crawling). Norah has really started to play with Amira, and is wonderful to watch them giggle and "chase" each other. Norah even gets in on the imaginary play. Today we were playing "Ariel," as usual, and while I was Prince Eric and Amira was Ariel, Norah waddled after us with a shark in hand, making growling noises. Apparently sharks growl.
Amira spends her days in a world of imagination. Be warned, however, that she switches from one character to the next very quickly and if you call her Ariel, when she has clearly changed to Cinderella, she will be very upset. I am always forced to be her romantic interest in these games (I always have to be the prince, never the princess) and Norah is the loyal sidekick. When she is Peter Pan, I'm Wendy and Norah is called, affectionately, "stinkerbell." So go my days, filled with princesses and growling sharks and babies growing up entirely too fast.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Crying and writing

I went online today to look for some cooking inspiration. I've been in a cooking rut for the last week, due mostly to the lingering cold we all have. Yesterday we survived on bananas dipped in peanut butter (Amira and I finished off 6 bananas between the two of us). I started glancing at recipes on the fat free vegan blog and ended up reading this article a few clicks later. I followed the article's link to the videos on the humane society's website. (to find the relevant videos click on "factory farming" in the channel navigator. Then watch the movies called "cheap meat" and "overlooked.")

I am still crying from those movies I just watched. Those of you who know me well, know that I've really never been an "animal person" in the traditional sense. Our only pet is a fish, I think it really weird when people dress up their dogs and I can't stand house cats (due to my extreme allergic reaction.) I've also never had a desire to live on, or even visit a farm. I didn't even like the petting zoo as a kid. That said, I found those videos so repugnant I will never eat another factory-farmed animal product as long as I live *. The video titled "overlooked" explained how baby cows get to see their mother for one day before they are separated forever (can't let the baby cow have mommy's milk, when people need to drink it instead) and put into cages where they can't even turn around. Pigs, who some people say are as smart as dogs, go mad due to the tiny cages they are forced to spend their existence in. I can't really talk about it anymore, as I feel myself about to vomit. Just watch the movies. Please.

The recent scandal about mistreatment of factory farmed animals is nothing new to any of us. Tales of animal cruelty- birds' beaks being sawed off, animals being sliced while still alive- have been around for a while. The change, for me, is that I have decided to listen. For a while I managed to push the knowledge to the outskirts of my consciousness (and conscience, for that matter) and chose not to think of where the frozen chicken breasts actually came from. Being a mother has heightened my awareness of, and respect for, all forms of life. I know that animals don't have the same level of intelligence as human beings, I get that, but I also know that on a basic, primal level those animals have a desire to live, and move. I don't doubt that those mommy cows feel the loss of the babies they carried and nursed for the one day they were allowed their calf.

I have a been a vegetarian for a while- but loosely so. Last night I had a bite of Mohamed's chicken (we got take out) and I have still been buying milk (occasionally) and eggs (often). No more. I do feel sort-of panicked and lonely in my decision to be vegan. Even among my very "natural" friends here on the island, I don't know anyone who is vegan. I find part of me wishing I didn't know, wishing myself back into ignorance. But I do trust that as I live my life with increased awareness of the world around me, I will be happier and so will my family.

Anyone who reads this and watches the videos, would you please comment? If you eat meat and find my thinking too extreme, would you let me know? I would really like to hear the counter-argument to my thinking (not to criticize, I promise, just to understand).

*The asterisk above is to indicate that I will still follow the Lord's advice as revealed in the Word of Wisdom (the LDS instructions on how to care for our bodies). The scripture says:

nevertheless they are to be used sparingly; (animals, that is)
13 And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.

In other words- if I am starving to death in the middle of a frozen wasteland, I will certainly kill an animal to keep myself alive.

One more interesting scripture, for my fellow LDS friends:
21 And wo be unto man that sheddeth blood or that wasteth flesh and hath no need.

Please note, I am also aware of the scripture, oft quoted against vegetarianism:

18 And whoso forbiddeth to abstain from meats, that man should not eat the same, is not ordained of God;

And I'm honestly not really sure what it means? Seems like a double negative? Anyone want to chime in on that one?

Alright, I'm off to eat some more bananas and peanut butter.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day!

Yep, I care about the Earth, now. I'm becoming such a cliche.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Farewell, my sweet addiction

Goodbye, delicious chocolate cake. And brownies. And Mrs. Field's chocolate chip cookies. As of today I've added sugar to the list of foods that I don't eat. My addiction to sugar is so out of control that yesterday, in a pre-sugar fast binge, I made and ate almost an entire half-batch of chocolate chip cookies. It was not my finest moment.

So, friends, I am posting this to keep me accountable. I already made a bet with my parents, as we are all giving up sugar and caffeine, but a little extra support won't hurt. I'll let everyone know how it goes.

Monday, April 7, 2008

This past weekend was General Conference, a special time for members of our church, where we get to hear from our leaders via a worldwide televised conference. We had been talking to Amira all week long about the importance of General Conference, and had also spent time talking to her about the passing of our beloved former prophet, President Hinckley. As conference was about to begin we encouraged Amira to play close attention to the words of our new prophet and asked her, "Amira, do you remember the name of our new prophet?"

Without skipping a beat she gave us a big smile and said, "Yep. His name is Obama."
PS- if you are wondering what relevance the rather strange Moroccan picture has to this post- the answer is "none." See previous post for my "random picture" disclaimer.

Friday, April 4, 2008

So, what do you eat?!

It always makes me smile a little bit when I tell people I don't eat meat and their response is, "So what do you eat?!!!" Well, I eat all the other food that isn't meat. Mainly a whole lot of beans.
Becoming a vegetarian was like this, for me: my research into healthy-eating led me to decide I would only eat organically-fed, free-range meat. That kind of meat is both insanely expensive and very hard to find in Hawaii, so we just stopped buying/eating meat. Also, my religious beliefs advise that meat should be consumed during "times of winter, or of famine" and since it is always sunny here, and we aren't starving, I figured that supports my decision.

My primarily financial reasons for becoming a vegetarian have evolved, over time, to include many reasons to not consume meat. Here are a few of them:

- More than 70% of the grain raised in our country is used to feed farmed animals. "The world's cattle alone consume a quantity of food equal to the caloric needs of 8.7 billion people—more than the entire human population on Earth. About 20 percent of the world's population, or 1.4 billion people, could be fed with the grain and soybeans fed to U.S. cattle alone." quote from here

-I've done quite a bit of research on factory farming, and the way meat is raised and slaughtered in our country is terrible and disgusting. If you really want to stop eating meat, but don't know if you can kick the habit, try watching some of the mini-documentaries on youtube about slaughterhouses.

-Due to the way meat is slaughtered in our country, our meat supply is unsafe. Read Fast Food Nation for more information on that subject.

-It really bothers me to buy meat at the grocery store and have no idea where it came from. There is no way to know how the animal was slaughtered, how long ago the meat was processed, how long it has really been sitting on the store shelf.

Let me just add, that while we were in Morocco I did eat meat, without feeling guilty at all. In my mind it is very different to eat a goat that was raised by Mohamed's family, allowed to graze and wander around like goats were meant to do, and then ceremoniously and respectfully slaughtered. I still didn't love the taste, but at least I knew where the meat I was eating had come from, and how long the animal had been dead.

A few quotes on vegetarianism:

"The question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? But rather, Can they suffer?" - Jeremy Bentham, 19th century Philosopher, Oxford University

"Many things made me become a vegetarian, among them the higher food yield as a solution to world hunger."– John Denver
And my favorite:
"You ask people why they have deer heads on the wall. They always say, ‘Because it’s such a beautiful animal.’ There you go. I think my mother’s attractive, but I have photographs of her." – Ellen DeGeneres

Monday, March 31, 2008

Happy Birthday, Amira

Faithful friends who still check my blog after all this time, take heart. I am posting again! Although, I am quite tired, so this will be short and lazy style.
Amira turned 3 today. We are waiting to have her official birthday party until my family comes to visit next week, so I will post pictures of the party, then. Still, Amira ended up having a great day. Her best friends from next door are moving out of their house, so they spent the day at our's. I let Amira pick out a bunch of snacks (strawberries, goldfish and lollipops are what she picked) and some movies. She spent the day playing with her new ponies (presents from her friends) and watching Aladdin.
I know I really should include pictures of my beautiful daughter on her birtday, but I'm worn-out from baking and decorating sugar cookies with 3 toddlers. No small task, I assure you. I recommend, if you ever have a kitchen full of kids and decide you want to make cookies you either 1) make chocolate chip cookies, they don't require decorating or rolling or 2) you eat strawberries, instead. Kids like those just as much. At least mine do.
Oh, and since I never got around to posting the rest of my Morocco pictures, I figured I'll just randomly post them, on occasion. Hence the picture of Amira and the palm tree.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Where good ideas go to die

Is how Obama described DC in his "opening statement" during today's debate in Texas. His words got me thinking.

On Tuesday I voted in Hawaii's caucus. I went with three of my "hippie mom" friends (what Mohamed calls them). We made t-shirts
and the other moms brought their children since all their husbands are currently deployed. We stood in line for two hours, with kids tired and cranky, to cast our vote. I think it is clear who I voted for.

But Obama's statement made me wonder, how is he really so different? What if his good ideas go to die in Washington? What if he becomes corrupted by power? What if he already is, and he's just fooling me (and a lot of the rest of the country)? Can I really have any clue who I am voting for?

My uncertainty is compounded by each passing minute of the debate. Hillary is making some excellent points, and Obama's answers seem REALLY repetitive. Have I judged Hillary too quickly? Perhaps she is the better choice? What about when all the hype fades away, will Obama be true to his word?

Four years ago I made the wrong choice when I voted for our president. I take seriously my responsibility to vote for the right person this time.

ps- if you are wondering what "crunchy" means (from the t-shirts we made) it basically means "natural." Think hippy, but without the drugs and promiscuity. Want to know how crunchy you are? Go here:
I scored 117

Norah is 9 months old!

I can't believe my baby is growing up so fast! I just deleted the last post about Norah, due to the rather pitiful, outdated pictures. Here are some new ones:

Some things that I love about Norah: her impossibly soft baby cheeks. Her throaty giggle when I kiss her belly. How much she adores Amira. When she wakes up at night she calls mamummmmmmm, mamummmm until I go in to her. She says nananana when she wants to nurse. She puts her hot, chubby hand on my face and closes her eyes while she eats. She is such a happy, mellow little baby. She likes to cuddle.

She can stand on her own for a few seconds at a time now. She can also climb the stairs, even though she understands she's not supposed to. Oh, and she finally got her first tooth. It is not far enough up to be visible, but I can feel the little points of it poking through her gums. Well, that's it for now. Oh, and here are a few more pictures of things that make me happy.

The flowers are from Valentine's day, and are pretty much dying but I don't have the heart to throw them out.
I took the picture of the oranges just a few hours ago and Amira and Mohamed have already eaten half of them.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

I went to Costco this morning because Amira had eaten every piece of fruit in our house, and she simply cannot survive without bananas. During our fruit buying frenzy I walked by Costco's display of roses. Several men were searching through seemingly identical boquets, looking for the perfect bunch for their sweethearts.
Let me just say, Mohamed doesn't really buy flowers. He thinks it is a strange American tradition, a distant cousin of the even stranger tradition of Christmas trees. Once I noticed the flowers in Costco it seemed that every man in the store had some in his cart and I began feeling sorry for myself. For so many boquets of flowers not bought- not because I actually wanted the flowers, mind you, I just wanted Mohamed to buy them. So I made a show of telling Amira that we were going to buy flowers for our neighbor, knowing full well I planned to keep them, myself. I figured if Mohamed saw me buying flowers for myself, he would get the hint.

On my way to the check-out aisle I realized how crazy I was being. I felt the same way I do when I see commercials for diamond rings, and for a moment wish I hadn't given mine back. I don't want a diamond, I returned my engagement ring several years ago, but when I watch those stupid "diamonds are forever" commericals, I start to think I do.

I put the flowers back, and started to think about the love Mohamed and I share. I thought about the millions of ways he shows me his love. The first things that came to mind:

When we came back from our trip to Morocco, Mohamed had stocked the fridge full of my favorite foods (or at least the food I try to have us eat)- bags of organic spinach, several pounds of oranges, hummus, you get the idea. Not even food he really likes.

He rocks Norah to sleep every night.

He always kisses me exactly three times when I drop him off at work.

If I like his meal better at a restaurant, he trades me.

He pretends he doesn't mind eating lentils and beans every night.
A few nights ago I told him I wanted to find a way to revolutianize childbirth in the US. (this was probably the fourth time I have changed my career goals in the last month). Mohamed said, "You would be really wonderful at that, sweetheart. Sounds great." Not, "How will you do that?" Or, "will you just make up your mind."

And finally, I often think about how well he loved me during Norah's birth. He was completely present with me, and strong when I needed him to be strong. He rubbed my back, and brought me water, and encouraged me continuously. I asked him the other day if he ever thinks about Norah's birth and he told me, "all the time."

I love you, my husband. I love you for all those reasons and countless more. Happy Valentine's day to my true partner and best friend.

And, as it turns out, Mohamed come home from work with a dozen pink roses.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

"The South"

Mohamed's family's house, in the south of Morocco. The house is made of dirt and palm trees and has stood for over 100 years.
This is where Mohamed's parents sleep. His mother was proud to show us the bed they had just recently gotten.
This is the kitchen. The women squat down on the floor as they prepare delicious, elaborate meals using the simple utensils seen here. I could write a whole post about the amazing meals we ate while in Morocco. Maybe I will.
The above picture is where the women cook the bread. Several of the neighbor women gather in this room once a week, and they make large batches of bread for each family. Moroccans consume more bread than any other country in the world (according to Mohamed, that is).
The woman holding Amira in this picture is my mother-in-law. She is always smiling, and is the social centre of the village. She loves to laugh, and travel anywhere she can (around Morocco, so far, but we hope to have her visit here next year.) She rocked Norah to sleep every night during our stay. That was a special time for both of them.
Mohamed and his Aunties.

David and I getting sprayed with rose water at the end of a meal. David was a little suprised when she started dousing (sp?) us with perfume. Norah wanted to give it a try.

Well, that's all for now. Norah is whining "na-na-na" at me, which means she is hungry. Again.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Missing Morocco

So, we have been home for over a week now, but I just can't seem to put into words how our trip to Morocco was. I think it has something to do with the fact that I'm not really ready to be back home, yet. I keep wandering my house in a daze, waiting for someone to show up with dinner, or for some of our Moroccan family to knock on the door. The other day I saw a grandmother and her grandaughter in line at the grocery store. The grandmother was speaking to her little baby grandaughter in a foreign language, and something about the way the two of them interacted reminded me so much of the way Mohamed's mother played with Norah that I found myself crying in the grocery store. Not just tearing up, actually crying. Our last three weeks in Morocco were spent with 13 of our family members crammed into a 3 room house. I loved every chaiotic minute of it. See, I told you I couldn't write coherently about our trip. My thoughts come out in a crazy ramble. I'll just post some pictures and save you all the trouble of my rambles. At least for now.

I will post pictures in chronological order. I'm sure it will take me several posts, and therefore several weeks (I have two small kids, forgive me) to tell the whole story. Anyway, the people in this picture are some of Mohamed's closest family friends. When things got tough between Mohamed and his evil stepmother he would ride his bike and visit these people (in Casablanca). We stayed with them for a few days as we recovered from the LONG flights to Morocco. Please don't look at me in this picture. Really. Oh, and David devloped quite the crush on the girl sitting to my left.

After recovering from jet-lag for a few days and buying some warmer clothes for the girls (turns out it was a lot colder than we had anticipated) we got on the road to Mohamed's village. Mohamed thought we should drive all night, hoping the girls would sleep and therefore make the drive easier for everyone. Well,the girls didn't sleep and neither did we. By 3 in the morning we were all too tired to drive, so we pulled over and slept for a few hours in our cars. In the middle of the desert. Before we went to sleep we got out to look at the stars and I couldn't breathe, there were so many. Or maybe that's just because I was so tired.

After our little nap we finished the drive and finally arrived in Mohamed's village. Everyone was still asleep as we snuck into his family's house. Mohamed called out to wake everyone up, and suddenly his family was surrounding us in a flurry of hugs, tears and kisses. Mohamed and his father held onto each other through it all, crying tears of joy. Mohamed's village:

Mohamed's father:

Oh, and please be aware that Moroccans don't like to smile in pictures. It is strange because they are a very smiley lot, in general, just not in pictures. Just didn't want everyone to think all our relatives are unhappy. In fact, Dad is the smiley-est of all!

Well, that is it for Morocco post #1. The girls are waking-up from their naps. I promise more pictures and less rambling for the next one.

Oh, and GO OBAMA