Tuesday, December 9, 2014

I've Lost My Appetite

Jay: Look, Jayne has lice.

Lindsay, picking a piece of dirt off of Jayne's head: Have you ever even had lice before?

Jay: No, I'm not a dirty heathen.

Lindsay: Just what are you trying to say? I had lice at least three times.

Jay: Gross. How is that even possible?

Lindsay: I wore another girl's sweater once. Not sure about the other times. Have you ever had scabies?

Jay: No. But I have had giardia and a tapeworm and athlete's foot and ringworm.

Lindsay: You have NOT had a tapeworm.

Jay: Well, they found tapeworm feces, so I assume that means I had a tapeworm.

Lindsay, revolted: Eeeew.

Jay, musing: Actually, it was tapeworm larvae in MY feces.

Lindsay, putting down fork: We have GOT to start filtering our dinner conversation topics.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Happy Birthday, Jayne


Jayne Ida
Born August 19, 2014 at 5:56 PM
9 lbs 6 oz, 21 inches long


Jayne was born with a generous double chin and decidedly ginger-ish hair. Her back, shoulders, and ears are covered in downy peach fuzz. She is so strong that she kicked out of even the strongest velcro-ed swaddle at three days of age. Not much fazes our girl yet--she is calm and sweet.


Kate had to wait a few days before meeting her baby sister, but it was love at first sight. She continues to be fascinated and affectionate.


The other day it hit me like a speeding bus: OH MY GOSH I HAVE TWO KIDS. Just like that: all caps, no commas. 

We love our family of four.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Perspective and Priorities

{I wrote this on Sunday, 8/17 at 40 weeks +1 day pregnant. Baby details coming soon.}

{Pictures taken Sunday, 8/10--the day I thought I was in labor.}

You could say I've been going a bit crazy. My body feels foreign and unrecognizable. I have this almost irresistible urge to claw my way out of my skin and take off running and never stop.

A week ago, last Sunday, I was positive I was in labor. I experienced three hours of 1.5-3 minute long contractions that were four minutes apart. They were fairly intense and made my back ache. Jay and I packed hospital bags and did what we could to prepare ourselves for our baby's impending arrival.

After three hours, the contractions weakened and slowed. We were both disappointed but somewhat relieved that we would get a decent night's sleep.



Last week, I was desperate to have this baby--I'm sure it had something to do with Sunday's false-alarm labor. I couldn't handle the experience of pregnancy anymore. I was done. I prayed and worked as hard as I could to get things started. Nothing.

Then, yesterday, I discovered a large swath of red, angry-looking skin on Kate's lower back. It was crowded with painful blisters. In a matter of seconds I realized this was most definitely NOT a diaper rash as I'd thought the night before: Kate had hand foot and mouth disease.


{Packing hospital bags and trying in vain to get Jay excited about the adorableness of baby clothes.}

Sure enough, as the day progressed, she developed more red patches and more blisters. Today, they've popped up all over her little hands, and she has some on her tummy, her arms, and the soles of her feet. We also discovered last night, after I looked in Jay's mouth with a flashlight, that the sore throat he's had for the past several days is actually hand foot mouth, too (as evidenced by the blisters lining his pharynx and a few small pustules on his lower back). Adults aren't supposed to be susceptible to the virus. Just call us overachievers.

But you know what? I'm no longer in a rush to have this baby. My discomfort has been completely eclipsed by caring for my family. I figure if the baby stays in a few more days, Jay and Kate should be mostly better and we'll hopefully avoid a full-on quarantine.



I was in despair yesterday, riddled with anxiety, but I've been calmer today. Peaceful. Even laughing about our crazy situation. It helps that Kate is an absolute champion and that even though she winces when we apply salves to her raw and blistered back, she is still her bright and cheerful self.

All in all, overdue pregnancy and contagious illness aside, we are pretty blessed.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Multiplied

{Pictures from yesterday [39 weeks and 4 days pregnant]. Matching clothes are a coincidence. Matching smiles are not.}


Yesterday when I was putting Kate down for her nap, I swept her into my arms (a much less graceful event than those words convey) and held her for a few minutes. She snuggled into my embrace--a rare enough occurrence--and let her legs dangle awkwardly over my distended belly.


And I, in my 9-months pregnant emotional state, started to cry as I let the depth of how much I love her wash over the both of us. I mourned a little, too, for how much her life (our lives) will change in a matter of days. It broke my heart to think that she will not remember this time--this special two and a half years when it was just Kate and Mommy and Daddy and nearly everything has revolved around her. It made me sad to think that she alone won't be my focus anymore, and even though I know that giving her a sister is one of the best things I can do for her, I am so sad to see this halcyon season end.


Kate has a bright, sweet demeanor--her personality sparkles. I have often joked that her default setting is "cheerful"--even if we have to wake her in the middle of the night, her first words are "Hi, Mommy! Awake now!" said with a smile. I don't know where she came from, this chipper child, but I'm so grateful she's mine.


I am a bit sad for this new baby, too, that I won't be able to consecrate all of myself to her care like I could for Kate. But as I learned in grad school, differences aren't necessarily disorders, and so I pray that there will be some divine equation where being divided doesn't equal being lessened, but somehow multiplied through grace. If motherhood can be for me what feeding the 5,000 was for Jesus, I will see the miracle of it and be grateful.


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Me and the Priesthood: On Being Open

A friend texted me from work a couple weeks ago. "Am I pregnant?" she asked.

"Um, no?" I responded.

"Just checking," she said. "I've had three people ask me today if I am, so it made me start to wonder."

*

I felt similarly after publishing my last blog post

I suppose I should start by saying that I consider myself to be an active, faithful, believing member of my church. It is a core part of my identity, and I love its unique doctrines, its rich heritage, and its quirky culture. 

One aspect of our culture is that, by and large, Mormons don't often openly express doubt or questions (in non "faith promoting" contexts, that is). We like to keep things conflict-free and black and white, we are most comfortable in homogenized congregations, and we tend to downplay cognitive dissonance and stickier aspects of our faith. Mormons are great at putting on happy faces, which I think, for the most part, is an admirable trait.

But even though I know this, I was still surprised when my series of what I thought were pretty benign vignettes elicited a fair bit of concern for my soul from immediate and extended family, church leaders, friends, and acquaintances. 

After being asked, both directly and indirectly, if I was "okay" by multiple parties, and hearing second-hand about concerned conversations regarding my spiritual welfare, my confident response of "yes, I'm fine" started to fray a bit. Maybe everyone knew something I didn't. Maybe I really wasn't okay.

But the thing that really baffled me is that this is who I've always been. I have always been a boundary tester, an asker of difficult questions, a critical thinker, a crusader. I often get down on the mat and wrestle with my faith. It is a beautiful and dynamic journey, a spiral through darkness and light, a testing of the opposition in all things.

I admire and appreciate those who see the world in black and white, those who are content with the status quo, those who accept without resistance. But I know there are also those like me, those for whom faith does not come freely, those who wrestle.

*

"While there are risks—big ones—in being open with each other, there are greater risks that come with wearing our church face. Even at church. Especially at church. When we insist on being fake-happy, fake-confident, fake-righteous, we create and maintain distance between ourselves and others, distance that prevents us from truly knowing and loving each other.

"That doesn’t mean that we should engage in an emotional free-for-all during every church gathering, or that we should constantly spill our guts on our Visiting Teachers’ laps. [...] But I think that most of the time, we are capable of being more real with each other than we usually are. And typically, we err by sharing too little, not too much. I am convinced that, for the most part, incredible things happen when we’re willing to be open about our ourselves: our dreams and fears, our successes and failures, our questions and our faith, our struggles and our joys. I believe that inviting a sister into our inner sphere is one of the greatest gifts we can give another." - Kathryn Soper

*

Last Sunday, a friend of mine taught the lesson in her ward's Relief Society. She asked a few women to share an experience of a time they had either provided or received inspired help from another person. One of the women was young and new to the ward, but she bravely stood and shared that when she was 20 and single, she found out she was pregnant. She was terrified and didn't know what to do. Later that same day, her mother showed up at her door because she felt her daughter needed her. This young woman received the help and counsel she desperately needed and ultimately moved home, had the baby, and placed it for adoption. The Spirit filled the room as she spoke of how transformative this experience was in her life and how grateful she was that her mom had responded to the prompting to come see her. 

*

"It is easy to make assumptions about each other too quickly. We are all complex and beautiful women, and the depth of our personalities and experiences encompasses far more than what is visible on the surface. Sometimes the greatest gift we can give each other is openness. In sharing some of those less obvious aspects of ourselves, we give those around us permission to be fully themselves, and we allow God to more fully use each of us for His purposes. I have found that our combined goodness, despite the occasional insecurities that may prompt, also makes the women of this church wise, kind, and tolerant. I believe that we have a tremendous capacity to accept and love the uniqueness in each other." - Angela W. Schultz

*

Shortly after I published my last blog post, I was approached by a man I didn't know but recognized as an intelligent and respected member of the church. He told me he had read my post and that he appreciated what I'd said. He mentioned that he felt many members of his congregation would be surprised to know some of his true thoughts and opinions about things, but he didn't feel comfortable sharing them openly. He seemed a little sad and resigned as he said, "It makes church less... enjoyable."

*

"I submit that a variety of points of view in any organization is the norm and nothing to fret over, whether or not the press notices. On the other hand, a Church which teaches the love of Christ, but whose members cannot manage it one for another, simply because they differ, is a much greater worry."  - Lisa Torcasso Downing

*

I knew last month, when I shared something so personal on such a controversial topic, that I was risking rejection and opening myself up to judgment and criticism. The vast majority of the feedback I received, both in public and in private, was supportive and compassionate (thank you. No, really, Thank You.), even (and especially) from many with different views and experiences than mine. But there were a few who felt hurt or defensive. Some were judgmental. A couple were even mean. And that was to be expected.

*

"I’ve haemorrhaged emotionally and spiritually in the dark. It’s not a situation I’d recommend, or ever want to find myself in again. The thought of people I care for feeling that such a place is their only recourse or refuge chills and fevers me. I don’t want to become a toughened, emotionally void bit of gristle believing that anyone who lives or believes or struggles differently than I do isn’t worth my time, my listening, my consideration and conversation. I don’t want to wrap my heart in a box; I want to wrap it around people. If a friend is worried about a sickly, injured, scared or fevered part of their world, I want to know about it, to be a safe place for them to share their aching hearts. I think being honest, being vulnerable with pieces of ourselves, is like cuddling your own newborn self and then letting someone else have a hold. Newborns are delicate, sensitive, messy and precious, no matter what they look like, or what led to their birth. Just like our vulnerabilities, we need love, gentleness and consideration – even when we’re screaming." - Kellie

*

There is risk inherent in openness. The desire to be known must be carefully weighed against the desire to be safe and accepted. Unapologetic authenticity gives birth to gaping vulnerability, and the world at large is free to dispassionately poke, judge, celebrate, or reject these shared pieces of your soul in about as much time as it takes to back out of a driveway.

It's easier to be safe: to smile and nod, to be who people expect you to be, to not rock the boat. I don't judge anyone who wraps themselves in that cozy identity. But for me, it itches.

From me, integrity demands vulnerability. And so I am honest about who I am, hoping (and seeing) that my openness gives others permission to likewise be their authentic selves. I own the risk of being misunderstood. 


I choose to be known.


{England, 2007}

{The quotes in this post were taken from blog posts or articles that have touched me deeply in the past month. I encourage you to click on the links and read them all--they contain beautiful insights from strong women.}

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Me and the Priesthood: A Series of Vignettes



Some of my earliest memories include receiving priesthood blessings from my father. I remember a blessing when I was constipated at the age of three, blessings at the start of every school year, a blessing when I was 11 and woke up in the night nauseous and anxious and shaking uncontrollably, a blessing when I was trying to decide whether to serve a mission or get married, a blessing before my wedding day. After each blessing, I felt loved, comforted, and known.

*

Most of the boys in my church age group turned twelve before I did. I remember each of them being called to the stand as the months paraded on and raising my hand to sustain them in their new callings as Deacons and priesthood holders. I watched them in ensuing weeks as they trooped white-shirted through the chapel aisles, wielding trays of bread and water, serving silently but visibly. I felt an increasing internal agitation, a painful little itch somewhere in my thorax, as my birthday approached. And on that sunny September day, I was handed my Primary graduation certificate with a handshake from my bishop on the podium. There was no sustaining vote for me, no encircling rite of ordination after the meeting, no subsequent increase of responsibility or service.

I knew women weren't eligible to receive the priesthood, but I was angry. My pride was wounded. I knew myself to be just as capable, just as responsible, just as righteous as my male peers. Let's be honest: I also thought I was more mature, more knowledgeable in the gospel, more prepared for such a privilege than they were. It rankled inside me for a long time that these boys I saw at school who said such crude things were entrusted to serve in the church in a way that I wasn't. 

It was the first time I really understood that being a girl in the church was different than being a boy, that regardless of my efforts and my worthiness, there were many opportunities to serve that were closed to me.

*

I always knew I wanted to serve a mission. It was not a commandment for me like it was for my male friends, but I was excited to go. I was in high school when our prophet, Pres. Hinckley, made a statement about sister missionaries (in Priesthood session of all places) where he, in essence, said that missions were primarily a priesthood (male) responsibility and that the reason women couldn't go until they were older (21 vs 19 for men) was because the church was trying to keep the number of women serving "relatively small." I was bewildered and hurt that this statement on a subject so near to my heart had been made in a meeting I wasn't allowed to attend, and I felt that the church I so desperately wanted to serve didn't honor or value my desire simply because I was a woman.

*

I was 20 when I sat in the office of my singles' ward bishop at BYU. I nervously laid out each of my reasons for wanting to be a missionary like pearls between us and asked if my motivations were worthy. He reluctantly handed me a packet of mission papers, but he informed me that women were not encouraged to serve, that my number one priority should be thinking about marriage and family. He knew I was seriously dating a wonderful man in our ward, but I wasn't sure I was ready to get married. I left the interview clutching the papers with a heavy heart and feeling like my offering wasn't enough.

*

I worked up the courage to consult with the bishop of my home singles' ward over the summer. When I nervously asked if he thought it would be okay if I served a mission, his smile and exuberant affirmation warmed me.

*

I loved my missionary service. It was brutally difficult, but I wanted to be there. I served alongside mostly young men, and I came to love and respect many of them deeply. It rankled sometimes that I wasn't eligible for leadership service positions, but for the most part I enjoyed working with my district and zone leaders. Once, as a formality, I asked a zone leader for permission to leave my ward boundaries to say goodbye to and introduce a struggling investigator who'd moved unexpectedly to the Elders in his area (the investigator lived about 15 minutes away but was in our singles' ward boundary, just not in our family ward's boundary). The zone leader left a message on our answering machine telling us that we could not go. I called him back and said that we knew what was right for our investigator and we were going anyway and who was he to tell us no when most missionaries wouldn't have even asked and we were just trying to be obedient. My tirade wasn't exactly Christlike, but he gave us permission to go (with qualifications). I chafed, knowing my anger had less to do with this Elder and more to do with the knowledge that I would always be the one asking permission, never the one granting it.

*

In one ward I served in, the bishop had previously excluded sister missionaries from PEC meetings because they were not men. We held the same calling and authority as the Elders, but because we were women, we were not welcome. He thankfully reconsidered his position around the time I got there, but I always felt like an intruder in PEC after that and had a burst of anxiety that my voice was not welcome any time I needed to speak.

*

There were a few times over the years where I met with various bishops to discuss matters that were very sensitive and personal. I felt so awkward and ashamed to talk about such issues with a man, especially one so much older than myself. I remember desperately wishing I could talk to a woman who might be better able to understand me, might better know how to comfort and counsel me. 

*

Jay and I were asked to speak in church in a previous ward. The bishopric member asked Jay to speak for 15 minutes and me to speak for 10. Jay was asked to speak last. I'm sure the bishopric member didn't mean anything by it, but I was hurt and angry. I felt like my voice, as a woman, was considered less important. I worry that, in our culture, we unwittingly pass on the message that what women have to say is only important for women (and children) to hear, while what men have to say is important for everyone. We are slowly improving in this regard, but I still yearn for more strong women who are treated as spiritual leaders for the membership as a whole, and not just for women.

*

I held a calling in a stake capacity several years ago. My stewardship was minimal, but I was able to observe the workings of the authority hierarchy in the stake. I was stunned and frustrated when, multiple times, my committee's decisions were overturned and our needs were not met. Despite logic and appeals, our various requests were denied by a leader who, while a wonderful man I very much respect, was a stubborn micro manager. There was no recourse for us; we yielded to his directives (some of us with more grace than others). 

*

I handed over my sweet baby, swathed in yards of gauzy white, to my husband, who joined a group of other men at the front of the chapel to give her a name and a blessing. I was so proud and so pleased, but a small part of me wished that I could be part of that sacred circle, too.




*

I am currently serving in the Young Women organization in my ward. I love the girls I work with: they are bright, beautiful, and capable. Young men in our church have the opportunity from the age of twelve to serve the general ward membership in very visible ways (performing sacrament ordinances, home teaching, collecting fast offerings), which is wonderful. I have been looking for ways that the young women can likewise serve and support the members of the ward. I have suggested a few things, but coming up with ideas takes a lot of creativity and implementing ideas/seeking permission takes a lot of work. With the way the church is so efficiently run under the structure of the priesthood, it can be difficult to carve out places for women (and young women) to serve and minister to the general membership and not just children and other women.

*

I first heard about the group Ordain Women a year ago. I never joined it since part of their platform and many of their methods were not in line with my beliefs, but I marveled that there were other women like me who felt unheard and underutilized, who had love for the gospel but pain from their experiences in the church. I respected their courage and grace, especially in the face of a vitriolic backlash that horrified me. I did not feel I could join them, but I understood them. I have compassion for them. 

I join with them now in mourning during this difficult time while simultaneously trying to withhold judgment on whether Kate Kelly's excommunication was right or wrong. It is not my place to judge or condemn, but to love, to acknowledge all pain and experiences as valid, to mourn with those that mourn. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

On Motherhood: Conduit

I wrote this over a year ago, and it came to mind on this mother's day evening as the erratic movements of this new woman-child inside me erupt like fireworks across my distended belly.

{2012; photo by Katie}

My daughter has transformed my body into something useful, sustaining. In utero, she stretched and grew, and my body made room for her as she displaced organs and created a conduit for her entrance into the world. Even now, a year later, my body bears her mark: widened hips, thinning hair, puckered stretch marks, loose and dimpled flesh, soft and drooping breasts. 



I no longer have the body of my lean, lithe, 20 year old self. Those days are gone. But I have the body of a mother, a figure shaped by pregnancy and nursing, arms strong from lifting and carrying, a face marked by laughter and tears. It has taken some time, but I love this body more now than I did ten years ago.




I feel God reforming my character sometimes, molding me as deftly as my daughter has--wider here, softer there--fashioning me into something different and beautiful, something useful, a conduit to bring more of Him into the world.


{Taken today, Mother's day 2014}

Thursday, May 1, 2014

In Defense of Bodies

Pictures of a few of the life-enriching experiences I've had because of my body. {Exploring England in 2007}

Kate runs toward me with abandon, short legs pumping, round stomach heaving, head thrown back laughing. Her hair flops wildly about her face; her knees are scabbed, and her face is dirty. She launches herself into my arms and I tickle her until she hiccups. We stretch our bodies as we do actions to silly songs, and she glories in the different sensory experiences available to her. 



One of the things that brings me certainty about the existence of souls--that we are more than just flesh--is the the way our bodies function with miraculous complexity without any conscious thought from us. Our cells and systems work in perfect synergy with diverse strains of bacterial flora and fungi. When we unknowingly ingest something harmful, our bodies sense the danger and purge themselves of toxins. When we become host to a damaging virus or bacteria, our bodies engage a host of defenses--fever, mucus, gastrointestinal revolt--to defeat the harmful infestation.


{Pregnancy, 2012}

Our hearts contract, our food is digested and stored and utilized, our blood is filtered and replenished, our tissues heal and regenerate, all with little to no input from us. It's amazing. This complete conscious disconnect from our bodies' automatic systems, however, comes with some downfalls: we often aren't aware when our bodies have serious problems. If we were just bodies, wouldn't it stand to reason that we would be able to sense a growing cancerous tumor? Detect the buildup of fatty plaques in arteries that slowly strangle the heart? Mentally switch our metabolisms from fat-storing to fat-burning when starvation is unlikely?


{Getting married, 2008}

But we are not only bodies. We are spirits clothed in skin and sinew. We are a divinely sparked creative consciousness entwined with a glorious mortal instrument.


{Hiking Observation Point in Zion, 2014}

Our bodies are our greatest assets. We can serve others and glorify God and enable ourselves by the choices we make regarding our bodies. They allow us to interact with the world around us, providing guiding sensory input. Our bodies allow us to experience life--to push our limits, to accomplish goals, to raise families. With them, doing becomes possible. Having a body is a glorious, full experience.



I worry about the alarming cultural attitudes we carry about bodies: that the way they look, how they're shaped, and what they're adorned with eclipses what they actually are. We obsess about the physicality of them; we focus on the fact that, since they have mass, they are objects to be looked at, judged, and acted upon, when the reality is that they're instruments we can use to be active participants in the world. We deconstruct our bodies as parts with varying desirability instead of seeing them as a glorious whole. We shrink from photographs, brush off compliments, and disparage and pick apart inconsequential things that form the beautiful uniqueness of who we are.


{Fishing/hiking Boulder Mountain, 2013}

I work to make my body a healthy, fitting home for my spirit. I feed it (mostly) nutritious foods, I stretch and exercise it, I use it to live my life as a fully involved participant, not dividing my attention between what I'm doing and how others may perceive me. I am well aware that there are many things about my body that do not meet society's impossible standard (and it is impossible), and some days that's still hard. But mostly, I love this body. I love that I can use it to accomplish, to produce, to serve, to play, to experience, to create. What I am trumps what I am not. What I can do trumps what I can't. What I do trumps what I look like while I'm doing it.



I am more than my generous hips, narrow shoulders, sturdy legs, slender arms, and curly hair. These pieces are part of who I am, but I am so much more than the sum of my parts. My identity is determined by how I choose to utilize my body to make my mark on the world, and my sense of worth is solid when I remember to honor my body as the divinely designed vehicle for my spirit. 


{Serving a mission (and hiking Multnomah Falls), 2006}

I have hope that my evolving attitude toward my own body will help my daughter keep her innocent joy in her own. 


{Completing a quilt, 2013}

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Adventures in Parenting: The Importance of Contingency Plans

{Pictures of various shenanigans, January 2014. Counter height table + tile floor = bad news when your toddler figures out how much fun it is to climb}

Contingency plans are an essential part of parenting. They are the reason diaper bags exist, the purpose of Poison Control magnets, the impetus behind first aid kits, the motivation that brought us Tide pens and travel-size Kleenex and outlet safety covers and single serving fruit snack packs. 



{Writing checks}

In my two years of parenting experience, I have learned multiple times that no matter how well-laid my plans are, no matter how many spare outfits or diapers or snacks I carry, there is always something that will catch me unawares. I constantly find myself in situations I'm ill-equipped to deal with. Part of this is because, once I've figured out how to avoid one set of shenanigans, Kate's abilities level up, increasing her disaster-capacity tenfold. It's toddler Darwinism, and her evolutionary leaps leave me swinging in the proverbial tree.



{Flour floor}

Last week, after a Costco/Winco run, Kate was in the house while I toted in loads of groceries from the garage. I had just grabbed the last couple items and saw that the door I had left ajar was shut. Panic mounting, I wrenched the doorknob--it was locked. 




My keys were in the house. Despite my better judgment, we don't have a spare key planted outside. I checked just in case, but both the front and sliding glass doors were locked. 



{On tiptoe, stealing handfuls of cheese}

I knocked on the garage door and wiggled the doorknob. "Kate, can you unlock the door?" I asked. "Can you turn the lock so Mommy can come in?" In response, she rattled the doorknob and banged her small fist on the door. "Outside! Outside!" she demanded.




Now, this situation could have been avoided. Kate had occasionally fiddled with the lock on the garage door before, and I remember commenting recently to Jay that we needed to have a backup key in case, well, in case the situation I was living at that moment ever happened. But like it goes with so many good ideas, I didn't act on it.



{Also note the mess behind her--pulling stuff out of cupboards is a favorite pastime.}

I left a message for Jay at his office ("Please tell him to call me as soon as possible. No one is hurt, but it's kind of an emergency."). I wasn't sure what to do, and I wasn't thinking very clearly. I knew that Kate would be fine in the house by herself, but her little voice was starting to sound panicky as she scrabbled unproductively at the doorknob. 




I ran around again to the sliding glass door and matched my outstretched hand with hers on the glass. "Kate," I said, my voice still very calm, "can you go unlock the door?" And I mimed twisting with my fingers. She ran over and touched the garage door and ran back. 



{September 2013. Buying in bulk is smart, except when you have a toddler who learns to open boxes.}

"Kate," I tried again, suddenly taking a different tack, "can you push up that little lever? Push it up." And I motioned at the locking mechanism for the sliding glass door.




She did it. I threw the door open, scooped her into my arms, and spun her around. I was a bit teary, and she squirmed at the confinement. Jay called just then, so I released my hold on a relieved Kate and grabbed the phone.



{October 2013. This is what it looks like when Kate wants something she can't have.}

I realized (right before Jay said it) that I probably could have gotten in the house through an unlocked window. I felt silly I hadn't thought of it in the moment, but was also grateful that my round pregnant self was spared the indignity of shimmying through a tight, waist-level space. 




All's well that ends well, and we've added another contingency plan to our growing list. I give it about two days before Kate finds another vulnerability in our defenses. 


Friday, April 4, 2014

Tired.

It's been a no sleep kind of week. A car-breaks-down-on-the-way-to-work, Dad-in-hospital, almost-go-to-hospital-myself kind of week. A slightly-hysterical-laughing-fits-because-it's-been-such-a-week kind of week.

I'm exhausted and sore and so looking forward to a cozy weekend of family and General Conference. I'm not going to lie, my soul's a bit parched and desperately in need of some dew from heaven distilling

Life is still good, and we've had some peaceful lulls this week, too. I feel the thumping of this baby fairly regularly now. Jay and I played a game together for the first time in months on Sunday. Kate's naps were becoming increasingly erratic (last week she only slept two out of seven days), but she has had a good nap every day since Sunday (five in a row now, knock on wood). Most of my pain from yesterday melted away overnight. We have wonderful friends. Other than some uncharacteristic occasional night waking, Kate has been a joy. She has so much to say that she doesn't quite have the words for it. It is fun to see her so excitedly try to cram the big ideas in her head into disjointed two to three word utterances.

So, in that sense, it's been a normal-and-happy kind of week, too. Let's hope next week is blissfully boring.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Expecting

It is funny how you can work and plan and try for something for months and months (a year, in fact), and then it finally happens but not when or how you thought it would (you know, because you have PLANS and CHECKLISTS and SCHEDULES and all), and so you're in denial for a long time because even though this whole business was certainly planned, it somehow still wasn't expected. 

Well, that's exactly what happened with this baby. 

We are excited to be having another girl. Admittedly, I was a bit more excited than Jay because A. little boys scare me to death and I have a deep-seated irrational fear (yes, I KNOW it's irrational) that I won't be able to love one, B. I really wanted Kate to have a sister close in age, and C. I just don't have the energy to fight the "Jayson" battle right now (Jay's long-beloved boy name, and you could say I'm not a fan). Jay would have liked a boy, but he's excited, too. Kate, for her part, has been saying "baby sister, baby sister" a lot. Boy, is she in for a rude awakening come August.

It's going to be a long, hot summer.

Monday, March 24, 2014

On Top of the World


On January 24th, my dad, Jay, our brother in law David, and I hiked Observation Point in Zion. The morning was crisp and clear as we set out on the icy trail that switchbacked steeply up the side of the mountain. The ice was intermittent but packed firm in blue white rivulets. My sneakers fought to find purchase on the slick surface. 

The temperature was in the 30's, but our bodies quickly warmed from the strain of climbing in the increasing elevation. Only my lungs burned with cold as I moved upward. My ears, ever sensitive to exertion in chilly climates, began to ache with pressure. 


I've decided that my pashmina scarf (purchased in London for 5 pounds) is the most versatile item in my wardrobe: it's refined enough for formal attire, but it is at once lightweight and warm and perfectly functional. I looped it over my head and across my face, protecting my ears and warming the air I breathed through its filter. On this hike, I would use it as head wrap, scarf, and shawl. I broke several fashion rules, but the scarf was soft, and I was warm.

David had come to town to get some dental work done, and we were able to fit in this hike. We missed seeing his wife and kids but were glad for the excuse to have him visit (Andrea, maybe you should consider getting a few cavities so you can fly out here next...). 


I've only hiked Observation Point once before, a year or two after Jay and I were married. I correctly remembered it being grueling. The hike was definitely strenuous, and I was by far the weakest link in our party, but there's a big difference between hiking in January and hiking in May. Though cold has its own brand of discomfort, it has nothing on heat. The men were patient with me, and we made it to the Point.

The canyon yawned wide below us, the river a silver ribbon snaking through the gorge. We watched people tiny as ants scale the spine of Angels' Landing far below us and gasped with vertigo when we stood too near the sheer edge. 


After eating a lunch of sandwiches and fruit, we set off back down the mountain. Jay and David soon outstripped Dad and I with their long legs on the downhill stretches. We took our time on the descent, babying our knees and quads. Dad could have gone faster, but we savored the trail and the conversation.

At one point during the last quarter of the hike, back on the slick slope, my feet flew out from under me and I landed square on my back (padded, luckily, by my backpack). I was a bit scratched up and acquired a deep bruise on my hip, but I was still able to hike without issue (though I now inched my way down the icy stretches). 


The hike was a grueling eight miles, and maybe my dad and I were a bit slower than usual, but it was still a triumph. All in all, not bad for a guy eight weeks out from quadruple bypass surgery and an 11 weeks pregnant woman.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Two!


Kate turned two last month. She is officially no longer a baby. The day before her birthday, we had dinner at Auntie Mar Mar's house. She wanted to make a dinner that Kate would like, so she asked me what Kate's favorite foods are. I felt like a bad mother when I couldn't think of anything besides broccoli and cereal. Marlene suggested we make "kid foods," so I brought hot dogs and she made a delicious homemade mac and cheese. Again with the feeling of parental failure, though, because I think Kate has had those two food items exactly one time each. She's never even had a chicken nugget. I started worrying that I was depriving my child of the rite of passage that is ultra-processed food. 


{Kate loved the birthday hats}

Marlene asked what I was planning on having for Kate's birthday dessert. "Um, a cake?" I said. "Probably a chocolate one in a 9x13 pan that isn't aesthetically pleasing but tastes just fine because she's two and will just be thrilled we're letting her eat sugar?" 



I think I still have a couple years before Kate figures out that there are moms who craft intricate cakes, have legitimate party decorations, and pull off "themed" birthdays. I admire the talents of these women, but I do not find joy in doing any of those things. So when Marlene offered, with excitement in her voice, to make Kate a doll cake, I was more than happy to let her take over.



Kate refused to try a hot dog and spent most of the meal eating hot dog bun, peas, and broccoli. At the very end, she got some mac and cheese on her fork by accident (she'd refused to try it previously) and decided it was pretty good stuff.



Kate had the opportunity to blow out candles on three separate occasions during her birthday week. After a brief demonstration from her daddy, she blew those candles out first try, no problem. She looked more like she was producing a weak whistle attempt than working up a fire-extinguishing gale, but the candles poofed out without even a flicker of resistance.



After dessert (Kate decided ice cream is her favorite), she got to open a couple presents (which she was thrilled with). She ran around the room in a sugar induced mania, her birthday hat perched like a unicorn horn on her head.



The next weekend, we met up with my family at the cabin to celebrate Kate's and Sam's birthdays (Sam turned one a couple days after Kate turned two). A wonderful time was had by all, though Kate decided that the presents were greener on the other side and she wanted what Sam had. Sam was pretty content to play with anything, so it worked out okay this year. 



Kate has become the queen of accessories. She received a couple necklace/bracelet sets from my parents, and she still wears them nearly every day. She'll also add on any spare necklaces of mine she can get her hands on, along with improvised toy-link bangles, watches, hair bows, and sunglasses. She thinks she's pretty hot stuff. Jay asked me the other day, "Where does she get this accessorizing penchant from? Because it certainly didn't come from you." And it's true: I only wear earrings, necklaces, and headbands once or twice a month, and my belt is far more functional than fashionable. Looks like Kate's going to be girly enough for the both of us.



Some thoughts about Kate at age two:
Kate's burgeoning language offers sweet insights into how she views the world. A couple weeks ago after her nap, I opened the door in answer to her psuedo-cries. She brightened as soon as she saw me, and as I picked her up, she said "Baby sad." I thought she meant a baby on our outing that morning, so I asked her about it. She emphatically jabbed her little finger into her sternum and said, "Baby. Baby sad." It makes sense that she views herself as a baby since she labels any child under the age of four "baby" as well, but I didn't realize her self awareness extended that far.


{Playing with a new present}

Kate has spoken in mainly two-word utterances for the past couple months. She often throws in another morpheme (plural or possessive s, an occasional -ing) and sometimes even another word or two. As her vocabulary expands, her utterances become more and more novel, which makes communicating with her more interesting. 


{Sam came over to check out Kate's loot.}

She loves her nursery class at church (after a hot and cold first few months). After we got home a few Sundays ago, I asked her what she did in nursery. "A songs," she said. "You sang songs? What else did you do?" "A snacks. A bubbles." It was the first time she's answered an open-ended question, and since nursery is pretty much the only time I'm away from her, it was sweet that she was able to share that part of her day with me.


{Kate ditches her pile of presents to hijack Sam's new toy}

I'm not sure what's so "magical" about turning two (actually, we just discovered Kate is teething, so that definitely helps explain things), but Kate has started having regular meltdowns, often in response to my suggesting something that she actually wants to do but feels the need to be contrary about because I'm the one who brought it up. Like the other day when we pulled into the garage after a two hour car trip. "Home?" she asked. "Yes," I said. "Should we go inside?" She began whining a string of "no"s that were building up to borderline hysterics, so I quickly said, "It's okay. We can stay in the car." And we just sat there for another couple minutes--tantrum averted--until I asked if she wanted to go inside and find her toys. "House? Toys? Yeah!" she said, and we unloaded.



Her articulation continues to improve, but there are several words she says that sound similar to other words in her lexicon. The other day, she kept saying "jabidge." "Garbage?" I asked. "Drop it?" But she repeated, "jabidge. Jabidge." After a couple more minutes of her persistence, I landed on the answer. "Strawberries?" "Yeah! Jabidge!" she said. So I took her over to the table where she happily ate the strawberries I'd set out for her nearly an hour before. 


{Pyro Uncle Steve. Cake decorated by Aunt Sara}

Jay, being the card-carrying member of the American Dental Association that he is, was determined Kate would be weaned from her pacifier on her second birthday. Kate only used her pacifier for naps and night time, but she loved it. It was part of her routine, and it made me happy to see her happy and comforted by such a simple thing. "You'll have to do it," I told Jay. "I don't think I can bring myself to take it away from her." And the night before her birthday, as he put her to bed, she asked for her comfort objects. "Weopard?" He handed her the little minky leopard she sleeps with. "Bankit?" He covered her up with the blanket I crocheted for her. "Fafier?" "Pacifier is all gone," Jay said. She looked up at him. "Fafier all gone?" "All gone," he repeated firmly. "Night night." "Nigh night," she chirped, and she went to sleep without a fuss. We really haven't had any issues since. She still occasionally asks, "Fafier all gone?" And she seems to accept our affirmative answer without question. I couldn't believe it was so easy.


Jay is still her favorite favorite. We have that in common.



Kate loves story time at the library, singing songs, and reading books. She will sit through stacks upon stacks of them if she can find someone willing to read to her. She loves interacting and playing, but she's also great at entertaining herself.



Kate's stats at two years old:

  • Height: 32.8 inches; 21st percentile
  • Weight: 29 lbs; 78th percentile
  • Head circumference: 49.8 cm; 95th percentile
  • Body Mass Index: 19; 95th percentile



Basically, she's a little tank. Gone are the days of below 10th percentile weight. She loves food, and her smooth little body is strong and sturdy. Happy Birthday, Kate!