Settling In.

Ah, it feels like home. The Christmas tree was the first to go up, the beds are made and the fire has been roaring. Somehow, I’ve been able to keep the house mostly tidy, but I think I’m attributing that to the fact that we’ve spent less than half of our waking hours IN the house. I am so happy to be settling in to our farm house, and farm life, but let me suggest that moving the week before Christmas is not the best plan. In our case, it was mostly unavoidable. Lease terms and home rental legalities reigned in our decisions, but honestly?….

Sparing the rant, the past two weeks have been fueled by coffee and support from the incredible people in my life, including Sterling, my threenager. Yes, he has had his moments and napping has been sparse but I’m genuinely impressed with how well he has handled this extreme change in life style, and how much he is thriving! I shouldn’t be so surprised, but it’s been a joy watching him love this new season of life as much as I do.

We’ve overcome impressively low temperatures and serious snowfall on moving day, maintaining a 40 hour work/preschool week while adding in about half of our committed farm chores, last minute Christmas shopping and gift crafting, Staying up until all hours of the morning to finish the days’s “to-do” list, all while navigating life in a new town. It’s been awesome to see what I am capable of in an adaptive capacity, and has revealed strength in an area I should have been expecting to be challenged. I’ve learned a lot about myself, and its only been 12 days.

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Helping Ms. Beckie collect eggs

The end of December is a naturally reflective time of year. I do my best to live a thankful life and have found this wild, busy season to still be overwhelmed with things, moments, and people to be thankful for. In this moment I am incredibly thankful for learning to go to bed even if I haven’t put that rewarding check mark next to every task on my list for the day. Personal fact, I have a hard time going to sleep before tidying my room. Most nights, if I haven’t already, I’ll even make my bed before crawling in. I’m not so uptight about everything, but one of my quirks is obsessively tidying my room. I’ve even come to appreciate letting go of that.

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Peacocks on the roof.

In learning to stretch my adaptability, I’ve discovered a deeper thankfulness for the serenity prayer, and applying it a little more practically (as opposed to theoretically) to my life. Parenthood, and adulthood alike, demand people take more responsibility in life and I think I’ve been mistaking that as demand to be in control. I do not have control, nor do I need to take control of many aspects of life. I believe that to be a vital differentiation. Control puts the outcome of all things on your shoulders while responsibility only requires you to manage how you respond to the world and events around you. Many things are outside my control, but I can take responsibility for how I respond to those things and stop holding myself accountable to the things in which I have no sway anyway.

Danny Silk speaks about relationships in his teaching called Loving On Purpose and it struck me when he said, in regards to a parent responding harshly to a child’s poor choice,

” you say, “I do this because I love you” but that’s not true. You’re doing it because you want to control me.”

Two days later, I should have remembered this a little better, but thankfully I have someone I love to gently remind me.

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Perhaps his favorite, the baby chicks.

Sterling was eating cereal for a quick snack before a VERY late attempt at a nap. I was exhausted and wanted a nap myself. I sat on the couch while he finished up and as his hunger was quickly appeased he turned into his over-tired-silly-self. He started shoving his whole face into the bowl and looking up at Alex and I with the drippiest milk goatee and cheerio ‘stache I have EVER seen…. The grin on his face was adorable but my exhaustion lead me to tired-plea with him to stop goofing around, making a mess, and just eat. Without missing a beat Alex leans over and kindly reminds me to let him be 3.

I supposed in this situation I could have (and would have) tried to control Sterling, and hurry him off to a nap. I guarantee it would have led to a stressful fight toward the bed and absolutely no nap. Instead, we laughed at his silly personality, celebrated his goofiness and then he bounced off to a brief nap. I had no business controlling him, nor do I want to teach him that he should be controlled. I did take responsibility for how I responded, and turns out, we all had a better day for it. I wanted a peaceful surrounding, and went about it by trying to control my son, when instead I was much more successful by instead taking responsibility for my reaction, my inside world.

“If you put a pauper in a palace he will turn the palace into a prison. If you put a prince in into a prison he will turn the prison into a palace. That’s the story of Joseph. You always reproduce the environment around that you cultivate within you. ”
– Kris Vallotton

There is so much more to that quote, but for now, I’ll leave it at this.

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Grown-up/Toddler Translations

Children are notorious for hearing things differently than we’ve actually said, and for perceiving reality as different than it is. Last week my three year old son came timidly out of the bedroom a mere fifteen minutes after I had finished singing him a lullaby, explaining that he had slept and was ready to play. We spent the next fifteen arguing about whether he had actually slept of not. “I know that you didn’t sleep, now it’s time to go take a nap!” I would repeat. It was important to me that he didn’t think he could get away with lying to me. Quite instantly, it hit my like a load of bricks as I slowed down to actually hear his plea. I heard him to understand, instead of listening just to respond. There was genuine belief in his words. His expression was desperate and I could see that he just wanted me to believe him. He truly believed he had slept, and our conversation (for him) was not about the nap, but was about hoping I would trust him. Now my insistence that I knew he was lying was teaching him that I don’t trust his word; that I think he’s a liar. Suddenly that afternoon nap was much less important than laying a foundation of trust in my relationship with him. Our conversation quickly changed, “are you sure you napped?” I asked through squinted eyes. His simple response was heavy with relief, “yes.”
“and you feel, rested and ready for this afternoons adventures?”
His response became slightly more energetic while I could see he was still leery of getting his hopes up, “yes!”
“Okay, then lets go turn off your sounds.”
Our tiny ritual which seals the deal of sleep time being over. Turning off the white noise machine.

In the past month we have moved, changed daycare/babysitter plans three times, lived temporarily at my moms house, and have otherwise been incredibly busy and detached. It’s been a rough transition for both of us, but of all things, valuing communication has eased the season more than I ever imagined. It’s no secret that adults struggle to communicate efficiently and a well known fact that children often gesture and grunt instead of actually talking. It’s also well known that only 20% of communication is actually words. listening for that other 80% of communication destroys frustration and has overall significantly improved my relationships on every level.

It’s All In Your Head

I’m comforted to know that my heart is in the right place. There’s a guy who works at the restaurant with me and every time we interact, or I even walk near him, I have to seemingly restrain my body from reaching out to grab him while my mind screams “SEXXXXX!!!” That’s where the thought ends, immediately, And the red flags go up so I re-center my thoughts to a more productive frame. I am fully aware that this is not what I’m really looking for, and though I’ve been here before I’m certain that I’ve learned from my mistakes. Carnal instincts can be strong but my mind and spirit have grown stronger. Knowing too intimately the consequences of even entertaining these thoughts, it’s a lot easier to move away from this state of mind than it has been in the past.

Other times I am sitting alone and a group of young men walk past. They seem nice and I can’t help but acknowledge that I am deeply hoping they will strike up a conversation, sit for a moment – or a while and even if we don’t exchange names….maybe we could just exchange a few thoughts? It never happens. Not more than a single “hello” anyway. I don’t mind, I’m used to unfulfilled hopes at this point.

Occasionally I’ll meet someone who really sparks my interest. Maybe he’s a musician, dancer or some other kind of artist and I am intrigued. Maybe he has traveled to, or has a passion for the same countries as I. Maybe he’s just a genuine person and his transparency grabs my attention. In these sort of encounters I often imagine what It could be like to simply be taken to dinner and treated well for a change. Most of the time this happens when I see how happy my other friends are, in their adoring relationships that round out a lovely, happy family where even their new baby is smiling in the photo. I’m not ignorant to the natural challenges and struggles of relationships, but I do know that despite the rainy days, the rainbows are worth it.

Sometime a it’s as simple as sitting around a campfire with my whole family, having known all of these people since the day I was born, and still feeling un-known. Are you picking up in the theme? Intimacy, in any instance outside that of a mother and her son, is about as vivacious as the high desert.

No matter which of these circumstances I find myself in, numerous times each day, I always come to this thought: that my longing is so misplaced. I want to be in a place where I want nothing more than to know the presence of my God. He is so good and adores me more than any human is capable. I so want this, but the struggle come when from all the way back to the begining of creation. God himself said it was not good for man to be alone. Clearly He knew that man was not ALL alone, and yet for the first time in history He still said it was not good. Where is the healthy balance for me? I do deeply long for community with God, and while I know I could put more effort into making a place for that, it’s in my nature to long for a companion and father for my son. I can’t fight the longing, so how do I balance it and what do I counter balance it with?

And lastly, why am I asking the blogging community this instead of takin it to God himself, who holds all the answers and wisdom?

The Fear in Modern Medicine

Back in early April the controversy regarding Vaccinations was first brought to my attention, through a group of moms who’s opinions and support I value. This conversation made clear to me that I had a lot of research to do for myself, because no one has the same idea of what is healthy. There was reference upon reference of study upon study which proved and disproved, debunked and supported each other eight times over. I swear, the circle of studies were developed by a mad scientist whos main goal was to confuse concerned parents and cause each of us some level of personal pandemonium. I was alarmed at how overwhelming this all seemed, but since I was still nearly three months from my due date and was advised by another mother that I had some time, I put off my research. I was overwhelmed with enough at the time.

Now my boy is almost three months old. The time has flown by! Come time for Sterlings two month check up, I was just nicely settling into a rhythm of motherhood and had just started to feel like I had a minor grasp of how in the world I was supposed to go about this being-a-momy thing. I wasn’t confident in any decision yet and the doctor reluctantly admitted to me that there is no such thing as “too late” to get a vaccine, so I decided to delay until I could make an educated and confident decision. many extensive hours into my research over the period of three weeks and I am NOWHERE near confident in anything.

 

Dr. Sears is a well known, highly respected pediatrician. He published a book called The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision for your Child. Shortly after I rented this book from the library I struck up a conversation with one of my like minded mom friends, who is working through the same process. We very well may end up choosing different routes, but having Marieke to bounce ideas around with is extremely helpful. She helped me notice that the book I rented was published in 2008 and the information was far outdated. She had the updated 2011 version of the same book with completely new information. Annoyed at how hard it would be to find valid, up to date information I returned the book to the library. I moved my search for information to the most up-to-date source I know of, the interweb. I again found myself mingled and seemingly mangled by the multitude of tabs I had open each with their own references and studies and directly contradicting information. I came to the unfortunate realization that the most up to date source is also the least credible source, because I could write a blog and sign it – Dr. Bob Sears.

One website I found incredibly helpful was a “.org” that many others sited. It had a PDF version of the product inserts of each vaccine! Jackpot! I cringed as I read that one of the vaccines my boy narrowly escaped at his last appointment has Aluminum and Formaldehyde in it along with the strains of more than one infectious disease (oh, and saline solution too) I read on and discovered that another vaccine he was scheduled for was one shot containing, either proteins from or a “dead” strain of 13 absolutely deadly virus’s. 13!!?? That is a lot of stress on the teeny-tiny immune system we are trying to support here people, and that was only 2 of the 4 inoculations every 2 month old is scheduled for! Also, I read a comment left by a mother who stated that her daughter has long suffered unresolved stomach disease which developed four days after her MMR vaccine. Later I read from a lovely nutritional therapist who’s credibility has spoken for itself to me, that there are natural ways to boost children’s immune systems starting with a proper diet which she teaches about. This diet along with other factors had built her 2 children’s immune system so well that when each of her children caught H1N1 and Whooping cough (not simultaneously) they were able to fight off the infections without the aid of ANY medications, even tylenol. Yes, they were sick, but their bodies were capable and strong. Sounds like my kind of health plan!

After increasing confidence built in seeking out the deeper details of this diet and further council of this friend, I came across a few more articles. In the spirit of knowledge and a well educated decision, I read on. Apparently there have been more cases of the measles in the US this year in 17 years! The alleged culprit? Parents who refuse to vaccinate. Cases had become so rare , especially for an extremely contagious virus, that the illness had been considered eradicated in 2000 and people stopped vaccinating. Other news articles, regarding different diseases, covered stories about children competing against other athletes who had come to the United States from countries like Japan and were infected by of this traveler. Some articles wrote about about the irresponsibility of not vaccinating because some viruses have an incubation time of nearly a month, meaning you’re contagious and infecting others long before you have a single symptom. One author wrote against Dr. Sears, who up to this point had been the most objective and informative source I had come across, saying he was not all that credible and wrote a book solely to cash in on the fear so many parents had fallen prey to. Many articles focused intensely on the death rate, permanent handicaps and near imminent likelihood of contracting these illnesses that are so easily prevented with immunizations. At this point, I can safely say that if my baby gets sick and consequently goes deaf due to brain damage, or is permanently paralyzed as a complication from a virus I chose not to vaccinate him for, I would never forgive myself. I can deal with formaldehyde, I just want a healthy boy.

 

Lets take a step back. I hope that by reading the last sentence of each of the two previous paragraphs you can see my struggle, and all of this in a single day. I have come to this conclusion: In researching this topic we are only fed fear. I am angry that I have felt so backed into a corner and rushed to make a decision before I even knew what I was choosing. Thanks to Marieke’s reminder, I know I don’t have to decide right now. One group of thought fills you with the fear of how devastating these illnesses will be if you don’t vaccinate, another how devastating the vaccine itself is. Both hold truth, but not the ultimate truth. The ultimate truth is that we can’t make a wrong decision. Neither option have a 100% health rate, thus the unending controversy. We do the best with what we are given, what information we dig up, and the rest is up to God (or the universe or fate, or what ever you believe in) Take the pressure off, find your peace and decide from that perspective not the fear.

There are so many ways this lesson can be applied to life. Friends, don’t live life or make decisions out of fear. Take a breath, find your peace, remain in that peace and let it lead you to your decisions. What is the most fearful aspect of your life or decision you are faced with right now and how can you find your peace regarding it? Can you stay there?

sincerley,
Dr. Sears (kidding)