Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Picky Eaters

My oldest daughter and my nephew are one week apart. It's hard not to compare. When they were toddlers, I was comparing how he would eat anything (even chowing down on a black bean soup with lots of spices that I made) to the fact that my own daughter wouldn't eat anything but cheese and crackers.

As time has gone on, we've instituted the no thank you bite. Take one bite of everything offered at dinner. I don't think it's resulted in her eating lots of anything new yet, but her tastes have expanded a little beyond cheese and crackers finally.

So with child #2, I hoped for a better eater. And I got one. She didn't eat all her vegetables, but she would try anything and would eat almost everything. Until the other night. I sat her in front of a quesidilla with sour cream and a little bit of refried beans on the side. Without even trying it, she pushed her plate away and said all too distinctly, "I don't like it." Oh, boy.

I'm learning what my sister told me. That even the best eaters go through a picky stage. And this one is just beginning.


Most of the people we worked with throughout my daughter's cardiac catheterization were wonderful. The nurse who helped us through recovery was compassionate and personable and put us all at ease (as much as we could be in that situation). But the wonderful Beth had to go to a meeting and another nurse took over briefly.

This nurse was competent and not necessarily unkind, but one thing she said irked me. My daughter was coming out of the anesthesia more and more--which means she felt more of the pain and discomfort. She was attached to an IV, a heart monitor, and a large pressurized bandage. She wasn't allowed to sit up or move her leg. She was tired and didn't feel good and on top it all she had to pee. And the stupid nurse took forever bringing in the bed pan. When she did come in, my daughter was crying and I was comforting her.

The nurse walked in and said, "Well now, why are you crying?"

She's crying because she's four and she's scared and she just had surgery and she feels sick and wants to go home and she's trying to not pee the bed. Okay, I didn't actually say anything. But there is a world of difference that both I as her mother and a four year old can feel between a concern for why she was crying and what could be done to make her feel better, and a "there's nothing wrong with you, why are you crying?"

Just because our situation was perfectly routine for her, didn't mean it was any less scary and sad and a perfectly reasonable time to cry for my daughter.

Monday, October 21, 2013

When Mormons and Muslims Get Together

A few months ago a lovely couple moved in next door. They have been friendly from the beginning and the second time we saw them, they brought over gifts for our little girls to celebrate their holiday. They also gave us a huge TV and a BluRay player when they got new ones. We've only had short encounters with them until Saturday night when my husband realized that the dutch oven casserole he made could feed a small army. So he headed next door and asked them over for dinner. They initially declined because our food had pork in it, which is against halal, but they brought their own food and came over to eat with us.

We let our girls stay up way too late so that we could sit and talk with them. It was one of the most interesting conversations I've ever been in as Mormons and Muslims sat together and shared our respective religions' origin stories, our beliefs, and the why of what we do and how we live. I'm a fairly well-read person and 95% of the time I listen to NPR, so I wasn't completely ignorant about their customs and beliefs, but hearing why they do what they do from someone who lives it (she grew up Muslim, he converted after attending and learning about many other churches) was entirely different. Here's some of what I learned.

Islam refers to the religion, Muslim refers to the people. Just as our religion is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and we refer to ourselves as a people as Saints. (This is one of the things I did know--go me.)

Halal means permissible and can apply to many things, but most often refers to what they eat. They don't eat any pork and any meat they do eat has to be slaughtered in a certain way. They can eat meat that is designated as either Halal or Kosher because they have the same requirements. But Halal seems much easier than what I know of strict Kosher eating. Meat is really the only thing, so at work potlucks, he just tells people that he eats vegetarian--something that people understand. So it wouldn't be all that hard for me to cook a dinner they could eat because I know how to cook for vegetarians.

Hijab is not just the head covering, it refers to the whole outfit that keeps them modest. Women only show their faces and hands to people outside their families (the women you see who only have eye slits showing is more a cultural thing from a certain area, not something that Islam requires). Men have a hijab requirement too, which sound similar to our Mormon modesty standards. Covering to the knees, no low necklines, covering the shoulders. Even though we understood each other's reasons for modesty, even in a blazing hot place like Florida, I can't imagine covering up as much as she does. Just as I realized later how odd it must seem to her that we adhere to modesty standards that are altered when we go to the beach or the pool because we wear swimsuits there.

They have five set prayers a day. They say them at certain times of day, say them facing Mecca, and have set words. All this is a sign of unity with all the Muslims of the world. And when you see them praying together in the mosques and they are so close together it makes me claustrophobic just to look at, it is to show they are all equal--rich and poor and all races stand together shoulder to shoulder as equals before God.  (They can also say what I would consider personal prayers at any time they want, so not all their prayers are scripted.)

They believe in many of the same prophets as we do--Abraham, Noah, Moses. And believe in Jesus as a prophet, but not as a Savior or son of God. They believe that the scriptures these prophets brought are true, but that they were for the people of that time, so they really don't study them. She knew that Jesus had brought some scripture, but didn't know what it was well enough to know what it corresponded to with the scriptures we know and study. They believe that Mohammed was the last prophet and the Koran is the word of God brought forth through him. Part of what we as Mormons, who believe in living prophets and continuing revelation, couldn't understand about their religion is that to be Muslim you must believe and declare that Mohammed is the last prophet.

There are obviously many differences between our two religions. But in a secular world, we have more in common that you might first think. Our religion is something we live every day, not just on Sunday (or Friday). We have modesty dressing standards. We don't drink alcohol and have other dietary standards that other people don't understand (theirs is meat, ours is coffee). In a world where religious beliefs and standards are often mocked and looked down upon, it was refreshing to sit down with people who live high standards. And fascinating to hear what they believe. And a mix of terror and hilarity and pride listening to my husband give the first discussion to some Muslims sitting at our kitchen table.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Why It's Okay to Be Afraid

When I picked up my daughter from preschool today, her hair was all askew and she had loops of hair pulled out of her pigtails. I immediately knew that something had made her nervous or upset; pulling at her hair is one of the way she copes. Her teacher told me that they had read a book and some of the images had scared her. As soon as this was brought up, my daughter burst into tears and we had to go to a corner and calm down before we left.

I kind of hate Halloween. I like candy and I like cute costumes, but I hate the fear and gore and making light of horrible ways to die. I can't even take my little girls to get the mail right now because the house next to the mailboxes is decorated too scary. I guess if you're into that fear thing you can do it, but keep it to yourself please. I really hate it when people (often their own parents or family members) think it's funny to scare small children with masks or scary images at Halloween. And there's a weird sense of pride in not being scared of frightening things.

But one of the things I told my daughter when we came home is that it's okay to be scared--and when we are, we don't have to stay or keep looking at whatever is making us afraid. It's okay to be afraid: sometimes it's the spirit telling us that something is wrong, and we should never ignore that spirit. It's okay to be afraid: my daughter for one, is a sensitive soul and far from wanting to squelch that, I want to help her cultivate it. As she grows older, the things that scare her simply because she doesn't understand them will diminish. But I don't want her to lose the sensitivity that will help her be a compassionate human being. It's okay to be afraid: You don't have to pretend to like the gross or scary things that come around at Halloween just because a few people do and many people pretend to. I wish my teenage self had stood up for herself and refused to go to the haunted house that made her physically nauseous, but I'm glad that my young adult self finally had the sense to not care if everyone else was going and I was going to miss out on a good time. Because that's not my version of a good time.

Okay, rant over. Now for a sweet picture from last year of the fun part of Halloween. The cutest little Snoopy and Woodstock you've ever seen:

Monday, October 7, 2013

A Missing Piece

On Saturday I went to a workout class. A new friend teaches at a new Barre Workout place in town (combines ballet, yoga, and pilates) and had a free workout coupon for me.

It was hard. It worked muscles I'd never worked before. It felt awkward because it had moves I'd never done before. It was also hard and awkward because it was the first workout class I've been to since before I had children.

I actually work out fairly regularly. I average about 3 or 4 times per week. But that's on my own at home. And at home my own or my children's stamina for allowing me to workout ends long before one hour. So this workout was longer than I'm used to. But that wasn't the only difference.

As I lay in a relaxing pose at the end, I felt close to tears. Not because of pain or exhaustion (that was there too). It was a release of emotions and stress and tension. Something I haven't felt since I was last in a yoga class over five years ago.

I've been told it for years, but I'm finally learning it. You have to take time for yourself. My at home workouts are good and important. But they are often cut short. I am watching out so I don't step on or kick a small child running by. Even if I do it while they're sleeping, I'm still on mommy alert to them waking up or needing me.

Only by leaving them with their dad and going and doing something completely for me (even shopping involves getting stuff for them) did I get to focus on me and work on me. We all know that if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy. But it's hard to remember when the needs of small children are so much louder and more persistent than your own.