Reach–at times it feels like grasping for the wind


We reach for what we want…sometimes to find success. And other times only to be disappointed.

I watch my toddlers stand on tippy toes, trying to reach the off limits objects of their desires on counter tops and shelves— scissors, candy, their brother’s Legos, or that glass of milk.

In life…we reach for dreams. We reach for goals. We reach for our desires. Some—to enjoy and hold. Other’s—like grasping for the wind.

My stepmother did not reach my father in time in the warm waters of Maui while they were snorkeliFive-Minute-Friday-4ng. She reached down into the deep waters to drag him out and perform mouth to mouth on the shore. But that night after finally falling asleep, she woke up half conscious to reach for his warm body next to her, only to find a cold pillow.

I reach for that day when I can come home to be with my kids and spend time with them. Right now I feel so disconnected from them since I’ve gone back to teaching. I cry for this dream.

All three of my babies, I have had to have by C-section. All three I wanted to reach out to after they came out, only to have doctors take them away. Two to the NICU. One for an extra hour due to “low blood sugar.” This last baby–my little girl, I pray I can have right away.

In worship, I reach up toward the sky in my feeble attempt to touch my God, looking forward to the day when I no longer have to reach, but will already be in his arms, saved from the challenges of this life, and tears wiped from the pain. When that day comes, nothing else that I have reached for and had or did not have–none of that will matter anymore.


How I Handled My Son’s Drawings of Violent Images

This is NOT my child's drawing, but one I got from early childhood magazine on an article on  children's experience with violence.

This is NOT my child’s drawing, but one I got from early childhood magazine on an article on children’s experience with violence.

On Friday, I picked up my 7-year-old son from his after school program, expecting to see him playing with Legos or tumbling around on the grass with a football in hand. Instead I found him chatting with friends–already something different than the usual status quo. I greeted him. We hugged. Went through the usual dialogue…

“What did you do in school today?”

“Good. I got a star for [fill in the blank]”

“Great! What did you learn?” ….

Then, as he does at times when we are in the car, he pulls out stuff he wants me to see. Often times its a project he worked on in class that he did well on. Sometimes its a flier for a school event he really wants to join.

This day he pulled out some drawings he was really proud of that he made after school. He and his friends were sitting around and drawing together and sharing their stories.

There on paper were images of an elaborate forest scene—tons of green trees. And among the trees were images of people with swords and bows and arrows…all fighting. And there is red crayon scribbles here and there for added effect.

Where are my son’s precious drawings of families holding hands, of surfers riding waves, of snowboarders sliding down mountains? Of dirt bike riders heading up hills?

He was so excited to show me. Big smiles. So proud.

I didn’t want to crush his spirit with immediate criticism. I complimented his drawing and the detail.

Then I expressed that the blood really bothered me and could make other people feel uncomfortable so that in the future I didn’t want him to use red crayon.

He was hurt. Immediately got defensive and asked if his drawing was bad.

I didn’t want to shame him.
I didn’t want to make him feel he did anything wrong.

I mean did he?

I think I’ve seen a lot of movies like “The Sixth Sense” that show these mentally disturbed kids drawing violent images. I think I’ve been educated by the feminist and liberal professors that say drawings of violent images are linked to violent behavior and internal angst….and that male aggression is bad. Very very bad.

I immediately clarified that I thought he was a great artist. But that the blood is just scary. I asked him where he got the idea for the picture and he talked about some movies we’ve let him see. Owen and I don’t have a problem with some violence in movies for our kids. We are stricter about sex and definitely dark, satanic themes, drugs, or gore. But we allow him to watch shoot-em-up movies. And I still feel that it is okay, provided we talk to him about each film and how it compares to the real world and right vs wrong.

And for the record, I don’t think that my son is a future psycho. It was a good guy/bad guy scenario. No one is killing innocent cats, etc…

I think he is a normal boy.

But I’m afraid of what other people might think.What if a teacher, who has been taught to believe all violence and male aggression is wrong, found the drawing and sent him the school psychologist? What if I were called in to talk about the government’s opinion of my parenting tactics?

And I do admit, I don’t want him drawing like this all the time because then that would concern me. An occasional violent drawing is fine with me. Just not with all the blood. And not all the time.

Maybe I shouldn’t have said anything right away. Maybe I should have waited to see if he drew such a violent image again. But my female emotions took over and I immediately wanted to nip any potential issues in the bud right away.

I told Owen, my husband. He wasn’t too concerned. Told Kanan not to include the blood because it bothered his mommy and to make sure and continue drawing other things that are not so violent. Keep a good variety.

Kanan, like me, wanted specifics. Can I do one drawing a day? One drawing a week? One a month?

We didn’t know the answer. Just every once in a while. And you will have to figure out how often that is and we will too. There’s no rule. Just don’t do it often. Then on Monday, Owen told the teachers in his after school program to make sure and not allow him to draw any violent images while there (we figured we could monitor the drawings better if in our own home),

I told his dad about his drawing.

“Completely normal” was his response and a look in his eyes that suggested I was being a worrisome mother.

I want to be rational and logical with this. I don’t want to be overly emotional.

I’m in this dilemma, this paradoxical philosophical world view that on one side recognizes that our nation has bought into too many feminist ideals that demonize male aggression and demonize even self-protection with our gun law battles and our dependency on the government as the ones to protect ourselves. I also have this other world view—the Christian one that does value peace and love and “all things good and pure.” But Christianity certainly isn’t a pacifist faith. While love and peace are certainly goals, even Jesus says that there will be times in the future where his disciples will need to “bring a sword.” Self-protection is not a sin when approached with violence.

So we shall see how it goes. If I see any more consistent violent drawings from my sweet boy.

What are your thoughts? How have my mommy readers handled situations like this with their boys? Where do you give room for being boys, but draw lines for being what you consider :”normal, natural, and healthy?”

I found a couple of books on the topic I thought might be helpful. Two differing views:


Jameson Jeffrey is 8 months old!

My how time flies! Jameson turned 8 months old on February 26th and we just learn more about him everyday as his personality grows.

His favorite activity is pulling himself up on everything. He has even started to shuffle himself a little along furniture, the first stages of walking. He still has a long way to go. He doesn’t know how to position his feet properly for walking. His toes curl under, or he will stand on the top part of his foot, twisting his toes so far under that he passes them altogether and somehow rests on the metacarpals. Doesn’t that hurt, baby? Still, there have been a couple of moments when he has stood without support for a fraction of a second and maybe even a full second. Boy does that excite him! He knows what that means!

He also loves to take baths and watch his brother take baths. Jameson will sit in his bath seat and just splash and splash. He isn’t afraid of the water at all. I can pour water over his head to rinse the shampoo out of his hair and he might get wide eyed for a second, but no tears and he’s back to splashing within a few seconds. When his brother takes a bath, he likes to come into the bathroom and stand on the outside of the tub. Kanan loves this. He shows off for Jameson, holding his breath under the water, gargling, making silly faces, you name it. Jameson likes to drop toys in the bath and watch them sink or watch Kanan retrieve them for him. Then he repeats the process.

JJ’s other favorite passtime is eating. He sits in his chair and just gobbles up whatever I put in front of him. He has two little bottom teeth, which help, but I think he has some hard gums with all the teeth developing underneath, so he is really good at gumming stuff. So while I continue to feed him pureed foods with a spoon, I’m also allowing him to explore some firmer foods that he can pick up with his pincer grasp. Last night he ate little pieces of potato, zuchini, feta cheese, and even tiny fragments of shredded chicken. I’m not giving them to him bland either as I want him to get used to my seasoning. So he enjoyed flavors of garlic, lemon, pepper, parsley, and salt in his food last night. He loves food so much, the second I put him in the high chair, he starts whining for food. And even if he has already had a snack, if he sees someone eating, he wants to eat too! 🙂

Speaking of whining….ugh…he has discovered it. Now, in his defense, he has been sick lately….again. Both Jameson and I have been battling colds since early December. We seem to be getting one right after the other. Last month, I switched to the soy

for a couple of weeks. As I had posted. And it did make a difference. During those two weeks, his congestion improved and he didn’t have any colds. But then I moved him back onto milk-based formula because the soy constipated him so much. And sure enough, the morning after the first night of milk formula, he came down with cold symptoms. Now, it could be coincidence and it just coincided with a cold. But regardless, he developed bronchitis within a couple of  days. So the doctor put him on antibiotics and some cough medicine to open up his airways as he was really weezy. She asked me to put him back on Goodstart Soy as that wasit!) atleast while he was sick. She said we could then mess with the milk-formula again after he was well and see how he does. But it is the only soy he didn’t get constipated on (its just twice the price of regular soy formula, which is why I didn’t stay on it. We had to dip into savings just to even make it this month. So I’ll be honest, after the Goodstart ran out, I just put him back on the milk-formula I already had in my cupboard. I still have the soy formula that constipated him too so I have been putting one scoop of soy and three scoops of milk to try and see if would lesson the possible effects of the milk formula, without constipating him. So far so good. He is on Z-pack and finished the antibiotics three days ago. But they are supposed to continue to work for 5 more days. He seems to be feeling better. No more crying and whining and much less weezing, but his nose is still runny and he has a little cough still. Probably still the lingering effects of the cold. I now have it too, so I do know it is indeed a virus and not allergies.

I had mentioned last month that there was a tasty looking homemade formula I could make with rice milk. Unfortunately, however, I calculated how much it would cost to make it per month. It came out to a whopping 288 dollars!! Well, Owen got laid off from City Squares at the beginning of this month and his video business is such a baby still, there is no consistent money to rely on. Therefore, we are basing our budget on my paycheck. We can’t afford it. Sure, people say to make cuts like getting rid of cable, going out to eat, etc. We already do those things. It is crazy that the money that I make is still not enough to live a comfortable American life for a family of four. Now, with the budget we create, we are able to tithe, and to save a little every month to put toward Owen’s tuition and a splash here and there toward a hypothetical future house, but that is it.

So the decision is this: after this cold, see if regular congestion continues with Jameson on milk-based formula. If it continues, switch to Goodstart. It is more expensive, but it works and it is not as extreme of an expense as making homemade rice formula. Thankfully, we have only a few more months of formula needed anyway. Jameson loves food more than formula anyway, so it should be an easy transition as we approach May.

Just toward his 8-month birthday, I decided to stop feeding him after I put him to bed and feed him his bedtime bottle.  He has been waking up at 1 or 2 every morning hungry and I’ve been feeding him. But I do it with guilt. I know he doesn’t need to and he is just a trained night feeder. But I just didn’t want to deal with the screaming and crying and feared it would take a long time. It didn’t. It took three nights. The first night, he screamed for like 2 hours. The next night for one hour. The third night, he didn’t bother to wake up. Since then he does wake up at 5 am (almost to the minute every morning!) super hungry and I do feed him for that one because by that time he has slept for about 10 hours. Typically, I bring him into my room for that feeding and then he just falls right back to sleep. He then gets to wake up with Mommy or Daddy. I know this will be the next thing to stop before baby #3 shows up (if you don’t know that, read the blog after this…I’ll post it here after this.). But as for now, we still have about 5 months. So, I’ll enjoy this for a couple more months and start working on it as we approach his first birthday.

One Year Ago Today…

One year ago today, I didn’t sleep all night because of my contractions

I shivered violently from my fever of 102.7 from my water breaking the day before

One year ago today, our lives were changed forever.

God delivered to Mike and I by emergency c-section, a cherub angel who would put life in its proper perspective.

One year ago today, I heard my son’s first cry, shrill and angry to have left his warm home so unnaturally.

And I heard his sweet silence and calm awareness when I whispered in his ear how much I loved him.

One year ago today, my son was rushed to the NICU

and I was forced to be away from him for 24 hours while they monitored us both for an infection.

One year ago today, I eagerly listened to my family tell me stories

about what my son looked like or cried like, or slept like, or yawned like.

One year ago today, Mike had 210 photos taken of him and his new son

and of our family and friends holding him.

One year ago today, and I remember it with the same fierciness and passion

I felt in the very moments I was experiencing it.

And tomorrow, it will be one year from when I actually held him in my arms and nursed his hunger for the first time.

How much I still wish that I had experienced that gift of giving

One year ago today.

Store Brand Formula or Name Brand Formula?

Before I go on my tangent, here is some back ground information: Ever since Kanan stopped nursing as well 2 months ago, I have had to really do my research on formulas. Kanan seemed sensitive to the dairy in my diet, so I was going dairy free and noticed a big difference. Needless to say, when he started eating less due to his distractibility at 4 months, I knew I needed to supplement with a bottle because he ate better that way. Of course I pumped, but my milk supply was dwindling as well and the only way I could get him to sleep through the night was to give him an 8 oz bottle of formula before I went to bed. But how was I to do that with a dairy sensitivity?  I tried Soy. It worked. But then I did my research. Soy is TERRIBLE for people! Soy formula shouldn’t even be allowed to be an infant formula! Do the research and you will see. It is packed full of estrogen and manganese, both at levels way to high for an infant and inevitably linked to a ridiculous amount of problems. I tried partially hydrolized. Kanan hated it and so did my wallet. I tried Neocate, which I bought on Ebay because I didn’t want to pay 50 bucks a can. Kanan didn’t like that either. Well thank goodness around this time, I started cheating a bit on my dairy diet and noticed Kanan wasn’t reacting as negatively to it as he used to. So I tried Enfamil Lipil and low and behold, aside from spitting up a bit more, he was fine.

And now to the point of the journal: MY GOODNESS THOSE NAME BRAND FORMULAS ARE EXPENSIVE! So when I was at Walmart, I noticed they had a storebrand they call “Parent’s Choice.” I read the back and compared the labels and it wasn’t much different if not almost exactly the same as Enfamil and Similac. And it was HALF the price. So I decided to buy it even though the brainwashed consumer side of me somehow feared that he would grow horns because of my need to save money. When I gave him his first bottle of the store brand formula, I studied his reaction, waiting for him to spit it out and throw the bottle at me or something. He didn’t. During the hours after he drank the formula, I studied him closely again. Waiting for a rash or fussiness or gas or something that would tell me I made the wrong decision. Again, nothing. He was his normal, happy self.

Then I was talking with my dental hygienist a week later as she was cleaning my teeth and she told me she used the same product because it has received good reviews. So I thought that Parent’s Choice alone was the good store brand to buy. But Walmart is somewhat of a drive away from me. And today I was at RiteAid picking up my son’s prescription when I noticed Rite Aid had a store brand too. Again, the same fear, guilt, and sceptism arose in me as I picked up the can. But I read the back and again, from memory, it didn’t seem different from my Parent’s Choice Brand. I decided to buy it and return it unopened if I came home and noticed it was significantly different. Low and behold when I compared the back, EVERY SINGLE ingredient, and vitamin, and mineral was the SAME. I thought that was super strange and decided to read some of the smaller details of the label. Sure enough I noticed that both formulas were produced by the same manufacturing company. They must sell their formula to many different stores who then use their own label. I decided to go the website: and sure enough, this respected, FDA approved company mass produces formula for numbers of different stores across the world. And, little did I know, store brand formula have to follow the same guidelines that name brand formula’s do. So even though there are minute differences between name brands on the type of protein used or how much manganese is in a serving, when we are buying Enfamil and Similac and Nestle Good Start, we are still paying and extra 10-20 dollars for a label!

So that is it. I’m a storebrand formula mama from here on out. Why not? My baby is healthy and I’m saving money so I can spend more on him in other ways I’m sure he’d appreciate: toys, a home, clothes, and maybe even college. And whether or not I’m at Target, Walmart, or Riteaid, I know I can buy the store brand and actually be buying the same exact store-brand formula as I would if I were at one of the other three stores.  I still pump and give Kanan breastmilk and I still breastfeed him in the morning and now I’m adding formula but because its store brand and he is still getting the homemade stuff, I am saving soooooo much money. So I recommend that you formula feeding Mama’s out there ignore the brainwashed consumer in you and read the back of those labels.  It is the best Mama decision I have made thus far!