[Thanks to those who have expressed concern over the tongue-tie. We took him in this week for the small procedure to cut the extra tissue, and he is feeding and therefore sleeping (and generally feeling) much better - right in time for a growth spurt!]
I have often heard it remarked that Great Britain and the United States are two countries divided by the same language. That is certainly true when it comes to baby vocabulary. As my husband and I intend to be here for quite some time, we are trying to assimilate the new vocab quickly. Here's the translations for the uninitiated like us:
burp cloth=muslin, or mussy
burping your baby=winding your baby
spit up="sick" (I particularly don't like this one)
diaper rash=nappy rash
nursing=breastfeeding (nursing often means just holding the baby)
I'm sure there is more, and I'll update this as I go...
Friday, May 10, 2013
Sunday, May 5, 2013
|Sometimes, if we don't laugh, we'll cry, no?|
I have been reflecting recently on the Book of Mormon scripture found in Alma 37:6, "by small and simple things are great things brought to pass..."
My life right now consists in struggling to help Baby G get through full feedings and full naps. The poor thing is tongue-tied.
The small piece of extra tissue connecting his tongue to his mouth translates into inefficient and long feedings, frustration, and exhaustion, which then effects his naps and his whole day. Luckily, it does not affect his (or our) night, as his circadian rhythms seem to be connected to the sun - he has slept well at night since birth and has amazingly slept through the night for the last six nights.
His exhausting day schedule has, of course, become mine, as I am his source of food.
I so often do not have time to do those things--mainly, read my scriptures and pray for long stretches of time--that bring me peace of mind (thus my posts have dwindled to once weekly), let alone be "productive" as I have previously defined it. This has caused me frustration and at about week two or three, I found myself actually resenting my sweet little boy.
Knowing this was not right, I desired to change but could not find the normal time to think and ponder properly through it. My husband provided me with a priesthood blessing in which I was instructed to focus on the small things. Though simple, they were of great import and would yield many blessings.
In my discombobulated state of mind, it took another couple of weeks to really understand what this meant. My world had shifted. I wasn't Lorianne Updike Toler the constitutional legal historian, doctoral student, and wife who happened to have a child that fit perfectly into the breaks of those roles. I was Lorianne Updike Toler the mother and wife who was a constitutional legal historian and doctoral student in whatever bonus time she could find.
I began to realize that every feed and each 20-30 minute period getting him to go to sleep was, in those moments, the most important thing I could be doing. I needed to be present, attentive, and cherishing each of those moments. These small and simple things would yield great things now - a peaceful boy, a peaceful day, and, although it shouldn't be the goal, maybe even time to write a blog post or write an email to an NGO in Libya. Any "extra" time I had to myself I should consider a bonus, but I needed to submit to this new role and way of life.
Even, I discovered this morning, my prayers and scripture reading need to change. Instead of expecting long stretches of meditative time in which to think about all I am grateful for, all I need, and my many friends and loved ones in need (doesn't it seem like everyone is in some state of crisis most of the time?), my prayers needed to become small and simple. Micro-length. Help me and Gideon to get through this feed. Help me to be patient and enjoy the moments coaxing him to sleep. Please bless my grandma. Please bless my sister. Etcetera. I could split up one five minute prayer into 25 ten-second prayers. The lessons from my birth experience of getting through one contraction at a time have thus begun to tutor me in new motherhood. One feed, one nap at a time.
The same needs to be true of my scripture reading and other personal spiritual study. I can start memorizing individual verses and listening to conference talks while I nurse.
Perhaps Gideon's tiny little physical impairment is a striking analogy: just as his tongue - such a small and simple thing - can wreak havoc in our lives, small and simple efforts to get in full feeds and full naps can yield peace and even consistent schedules.
|When fed properly, he may be the cutest thing I've ever seen.|
Monday, April 29, 2013
|Already here, folks!|
So when ads such as that above on London buses, bus stops, and inside Tube stations cropped up, I cringed. Many Americans have some experience or contact with my faith and its membership to contextualize this kind of parody. But Brits do not.
Here, people often confuse us with the much-publicized excommunicated FLDS bunch. At Oxford people expected me to have long, braided hair and to be only one of my husband's wives (a practice abandoned over 100 years ago). Sigh.
So yesterday I took the opportunity to use the ads and the church's response - an expansion of the brilliant "I'm a Mormon" campaign to the British Isles, with their own bus ads and complete buy-ups of all advertising in three Tube stops (pictured below)- to teach my Primary lesson (spoiler: yes, I again have a calling/responsibility in Primary and already loving it).
What's the big deal? Where did we get the Book of Mormon? Who wrote it? I queried the children. This to elicit a discussion about the restoration, its compilation by Mormon ("the father of the angel Moroni who sits atop our temples" I told them), and its miraculous translation by an nearly illiterate backwoods man with only seven years of education. I even threw in that the miracle of translation included both the use of the urim and thummim (see also this cool Wikipedia article about their Hebraic roots)--the official version--and seer stones looked at inside a hat--according to historians such as Richard Bushman--so that they would not feel the frustration I felt in not being told this little bit of history growing up.
The big deal, as I shared with the children, is that The Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ - a compliment, not a replacement to the Old and New Testaments - the word of God, a testament that God speaks and calls prophets today, and that Christ loves everyone no matter where they live or the color of their skin (enough to visit them in person after his ministry in Jerusalem).
|Charing Cross Tube Stop|
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
I am pleased to say that my first book is finally "published." Although Deseret Book isn't releasing their digital version until June 24, based on the feedback I got on this blog almost a year ago, I got permission to publish 200 print copies for friends and family on lulu.com (no 190 based on sales in the last day). The lulu version is available here.
Lest you think I've been working away at a book during full time classes at Penn last semester, my stint in Libya in January and February, or while caring for a newborn the last month, this book has been in process for perhaps eight years. I worked on it 15-30 minutes a day for a few years, then on and off for three based on my editor's feedback, and have only been tinkering over the last six months in the final pre-publication phase. But it's done, finally.
Hope you enjoy! Please let me know what you think!
Sunday, April 21, 2013
After introducing our son to people, one of the first questions I get is where Gideon comes from, as Armstrong is a family name.
Gideon is a sturdy Biblical name (my Grandma Updike would approve, heaven bless her) and a worthy fellow himself. Yet the Gideon I think of is the unsung captain of the guard turned spiritual teacher in the Book of Mormon.
In The Book of Mormon, Gideon's character is embedded in the after-story of Abinadi, burned at the stake because he dared to defy the wicked King Noah and his priests. We first meet Gideon trying to slay the wicked King Noah. Although it doesn't mention here whether he has been converted yet, he is an enemy to the king, and strong.
We next learn that he has a following. In the absence of leadership by King Noah, it seems that Gideon has stepped up and perhaps prevented a massacre by their enemies, the Lamanites, by negotiating a shrewd but hefty tribute. After peace is settled, the "men of Gideon" organize themselves in to a sort of search and rescue party to find those who had fled with the cowardly Noah into the wilderness.
Gideon is then naturally made the king's captain for the newly installed King Limhi. He again prevents the destruction of his people, this time by providing wise advice to King Limhi. A few chapters later, we find Gideon again shrewdly yet appropriately providing wise counsel to King Limhi that allows the Nephites to escape from under the Lamanite's noses.
It is several more years before we meet Gideon. This time, he is old. We learn that, while no longer strong physically, he has become a spiritual teacher of his people. In his weakness, he courageously stands up to the anti-Christ Nehor, and is slain.
Gideon is not forgotten by his people. The land in which he lived is named after him, and the people there continue to be righteous for many, many years - possibly because of Gideon's legacy - when others have fallen away.
I hope this unsung hero of the Book of Mormon will provide a vivid example to our son as he grows into his name. I'd love for him to be strong, faithful, deferential, wise, courageous, and leave a long and lasting legacy of faith.
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
I'm sure you are tired of hearing about Gideon's trug and The Truggery (official site here), but look at this adorable Congratulations card they handmade and sent!
I continue to be thrilled with everything about our choice among baby sleeping apparati and the loving vendor who made it. Oh--and the boy who sleeps in it.
Saturday, April 13, 2013
We visited Kentish Town City Farm for Family Home Evening this morning. It is squeezed into what would otherwise be an alleyway along the railroad before it opens up a bit for the grazing sheep (below).
The farm was a little more gritty than I expected (to which Lance responded - it's a farm!), but with great access to the animals. Our favorite were the little piglets and the kids...
|It was basically us and a bunch of children in with the goat petting area. I was surprised by the lack of supervision,|
but apparently the Farm has many children volunteers, some of whom were in the pen with us.
|If you look closely, you'll see that the male has two sets of horns.|
|Children are charged two pounds for a pony ride.|
|Gideon, of course, slept through it all-I had to peek down periodically to see if he was alive.|