Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Song for the Christmas Spirit

"There is one thing which is of more importance than they all --
for behold, the time is not far distant that the Redeemer liveth and cometh among his people.
"He shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem...she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son,
yea, even the Son of God."

       -The prophet Alma, about 83 BC [Alma 7:7,10

It's the most wonderful time of the year. But sometimes it can be hard to really appreciate the significance of the season. That scripture keeps coming to mind because it says so clearly there is nothing more important than the reality of Jesus' life, death and resurrection. It means so much for us. I have been trying to ponder on this lately in order to really the Spirit of Christ this Christmas.

I just listened to this song -- A Carol of Joy. It's one I sang as part of the BYU combined choir number in two of the five annual Celebration of Christmas concerts I participated in. Hearing it again (and singing along wishing I could sing it again) just brought the Spirit so quickly and helped me feel the hope, joy and love Christ's coming brings to the world. 

I remember loving how the poetry refers to a fallen world, a fearful world and a friendless world. And it shows how Christ overcame physical death, sin and sadness.

Enjoy the song with the lyrics posted below. 
Merry Christmas!

Carol of Joy
by Eileen Berry

Green leaves all fallen, withered and dry;
Brief sunset fading, dim winter sky.
Lengthening shadows,
Dark closing in...
Then, through the stillness, carols begin!
Oh fallen world, to you is the song--
Death holds you fast and night tarries long.
Jesus is born, your curse to destroy!
Sweet to your ears, a carol of Joy!
Pale moon ascending, solemn and slow;
Cold barren hillside, shrouded in snow;
Deep, empty valley veiled by the night;
Hear angel music--hopeful and bright!
Oh fearful world, to you is the song--
Peace with your God, and pardon for wrong!
Tidings for sinners, burdened and bound--
A carol of joy!
A Saviour is found!
Earth wrapped in sorrow, lift up your eyes!
Thrill to the chorus filling the skies!
Look up sad hearted--witness God's love!
Join in the carol swelling above!
Oh friendless world, to you is the song!
All Heaven's joy to you may belong!
You who are lonelyladenforlorn--
Oh fallen world!
Oh friendless world!
To you,
A Saviour is born!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Desert Hike

Maybe it's all the National Geographic documentaries we've been watching lately (Secret Yosemite, for example) but my heart-felt facebook status the other day read, "I'm craving a forest." I am very happy in Arizona, but it is hard having been born and raised in the gorgeous Seattle area and then living 6 years of my life in (what I now consider) beautiful Utah and then coming to this seemingly desolate desert valley. But anyway, barren though my surroundings may be, I have to get my nature fix every so often.

And don't get me wrong. Tempe does have a certain beauty about it. But here going outdoors just isn't quite as soul-filling for me as being on Mt. Rainier or even Rock Canyon in Provo. But that's ok.

So Saturday night we went on a little hike on South Mountain. It was very short, partly because the cactus and sage brush weren't very compelling, partly because the sun was going down. The sunset was pretty though! And it was nice to be outside, breath fresh air, hear our feet crunch in the dirt and gravel and be up on a hill with a big view.

Elena loved it! She was cracking herself up for no apparent reason as we hiked up the little hill

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Gratitude and Submitting to God's Will

“I’m grateful that my baby slept through the night.”
“I’m grateful the weather is nice today.”

These are some examples of things I have thanked God for in the past few months. It is sometimes easy to be thankful for the good things in my life. But is the ability to be grateful dependent on “good things” happening to us? In other words does it depend on our circumstances? The scriptures teach us that we are to be thankful in all things. That is harder to do when undesirable things happen to us. After praying for those things I have sometimes wondered…

If my baby slept horribly would I be grateful?
If the weather wasn’t nice would I be grateful?

In the article “The Choice to Be Grateful,” President Eyring says, “All of us would like to feel gratitude, yet it is not easy to be consistently grateful in all things in the trials of life.” He teaches that it is only through the power of the Holy Ghost that we can see the blessing amidst the trials. I believe this requires submitting to God’s will.

In Mosiah 3:19 we learn that we need to humble ourselves like a child and become “willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon [us].”

We are able to submit to God’s when we learn to trust Him. We must cultivate a belief that everything He does has a purpose and that He knows what is best for us.

The Book of Mormon teaches the valuable truth that The Lord “doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world.” (2 Nephi 26:24)

It is my feeling that when we are on God’s path we benefit form His wisdom and His  love, and therefore everything that happens to us is for our good. It is only when we stray and sin that things happen to us that are not for our good. God truly knows what is best for His children.

I learned a lot about submitting to God’s will in the first few weeks of my baby’s life. I was blessed with a beautiful healthy baby girl. It was really hard though because at first she had no idea that you were supposed to sleep at night and be awake during the day. Also breastfeeding was hard. She would often act hungry but then struggle and cry in protest when I would try to feed her. Sometimes feedings took two hours. I felt like I didn’t know how to meet her needs.  At night it took at least an hour to feed her and then another hour to get her to go to sleep. In those first few weeks she often didn’t sleep for more than an hour at a time at night. Needless to say, I wasn’t getting very much sleep. This was definitely an undesirable situation.

I realized early on that I don’t believe in praying for things that affect another person’s agency. It didn’t feel right to pray that my baby would sleep. [side note: This applies to marriage as well – you shouldn’t pray that your spouse will do or learn or become a certain thing. That’s not in your control] So what could I pray for?

I remember one night when she was just a couple weeks old I prayed that I would have:
  • The strength to meet her needs
  • Knowledge and understanding of how to meet her needs
  • And patience if I didn’t have the strength or knowledge
That way it was in the Lord’s hands. He could teach me how to be a good mother, or if he saw fit he would let me flounder a bit and it would be ok for my baby and for me. I don’t remember exactly what happened that night, but I remember coming to embrace my role of feeding my baby. Also there was a shift in myself. I felt more concerned about meeting her needs than about getting to bed faster. I have written in my journal many times since having a baby something to the effect of, “as usual, submitting to God’s will ended up being better for me.”

In those early months I wrote about how I got better at knowing when the baby was full and therefore feedings were more successful. I began to be able to feed her and put her to sleep in only one hour, and she started sleeping for two hours at a time. I remember being so grateful for that! Also, frequently having to wake up and get up when you’d rather sleep, to take care of someone who needs you definitely teaches humility.

Learning to accept when things didn’t go well and appreciate when they did go well helped me feel peace instead of anxiety about the uncertainties of motherhood. I think during this time I became more submissive and learned to trust God.

I believe being grateful means believing that everything God does is for our good and therefore desiring and striving to see His hand in our lives – because we have faith that it’s there.

I haven't been doing the daily grateful thing on facebook this year. But here is my current Thanksgiving gratitude list.

I am grateful:

That I met Jeff and that we are married – because we are so right for each other
For the struggles we’ve had – because of how they have shaped both of us and the things I’ve learned
For my beautiful, darling, precious, healthy baby girl
For the wonderful blessing, opportunity, learning experience and eternal role of being a mother
That motherhood is so natural and that my instincts have served me well
For our financial security – as a young couple pursuing a doctorate degree I don’t take this for granted
For Avocado sushi rolls
For Pollo Loco – fresh, delicious, inexpensive fast food
To know that we’re in the right place – it’s been such a blessing to know that Jeff is in the right PhD program for him and that we are meant to be in Tempe, AZ during this phase of our lives
That the weather has cooled down in AZ
For Technology – I have always loved technology and I’m so grateful that with the internet and social media I can share my thoughts on my blogs, find recipes easily, connect with other people online, and read and share the word of God
That I am able to be a stay-at-home mom – I wouldn’t have it any other way for me and my family and I know it’s a blessing that I’m able to do this
For Music
For My family – what my parents taught me, all the good memories I have, and the relationships I have with my family today
That my sister Jenni is serving a mission – I am happy for all that she is going to learn and who she is going to become; I’m happy for the people she will bless – investigators, members, other missionaries, friends back home; that I get to learn from her experiences and our family is blessed by her service; to have a missionary in the family!
For the beauties of nature – I have always loved being outside and going on walks and hikes with those I love; there is peace in nature and it is easier to feel God’s presence
That I grew up in gorgeous western Washington – (even though it makes it hard to enjoy living in the dessert…) It’s neat how every part of the world and even the U.S. looks so different. I am also grateful I spent 6 years of my life in beautiful, mountainous four-seasoned Utah.
For zumba –it makes me so happy to dance and move my body
For the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ -- For the Book of Mormon testifying of Christ; for the true authority of God restored to the earth so we can have the ordinances of salvation; for the knowledge of God's Plan of Happiness; for Living Prophets on the earth again to guide is our lives
For My Relationship With God -- that I can always pray to Him; that He is patient with me as I slowly learn to trust Him and see His hand in my life

"More Holiness Give Me" Arranged by Ronald Staheli sung by BYU Choirs

Saturday, October 19, 2013

A Little Bargain Shopping

Well ever since I was in college for some reason I've had my make-up in a make-up bag. Maybe it's because during those years I was either traveling or moving every four months. This is bag is pink and cute and all, but I recently decided I was sick of digging through to find my tweezers etc. So I thought I should set up some compartments in my drawer. I thought of a shoe box lid. Growing up we had that and some tubber ware for our hair bands and barrettes (I had to look up how to spell that...). But then I thought I could probably find something nice at a dollar store or thrift store. I went to Goodwill, and nothing was snapping my sox. But then I stopped by the 99 cent store and found these!

Aren'ts they cute? I was so happy I found these. 

Ta-da! Much better. (You can tell I'm cheap with make-up too...that's just how I do)

I just share this to show what great things you can find at thrift stores and dollar stores! Almost anything you can think of that you would like but don't need, that may ordinarily be expensive, you can find for a great deal! Baskets, for example. Baskets for organizing/decorating. Those can be pricey! But at D.I. you can get one for two dollars or less sometimes! Also, I'm a huge advocate of buying baby clothes at thrift stores - they're normally so expensive, and they grow out of them so fast and spit up and poop on them anyway! And you get nice ones from your shower, your mom and mother-in-law. : ) 

Here are some other goodwill successes I've had recently.

This cute crib bumper for $5
Four of these wonderful place-mats for $0.99 each
Happy thrifting!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Ok this is by no means worthy of pinterest or anything, it just makes me happy. And I didn't really re-decorate, I just re-arranged my decorations in a way that I think looks MUCH better. It never felt quite right but I just moved on with life and after letting it be for a few months, last night inspiration struck!

Jeff was out doing a "man project" (replacing the headlight on the car) and had the tool box. I went out and asked for the hammer. "I'm doing a woman project!" : ) I was very happy.

I don't really have a good before an after comparison. But here's what the piano area looked like before...

Then I re-arranged a few things...

I had wanted to do one of these groupings and these all seemed to go well together. The picture of us is in a frame that clashed with the piano, so I was glad I found a different place for it.

I  realize it's asymmetrical...I just didn't have anything else that looked quite right to go on the right of the windmill. But I think it looks pretty good the way it is. I like it so much better than before!

Before, this painting was above the couch all by it's lonesome. It didn't quite match and the big wall seemed under-utilized. Now instead of being country-esque, the piano wall is more classy I guess.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Pre-made Salads and Life Lessons

Jeff wanted salads this week. I decided to make them all ahead of time instead of stressing the night before or the day of. (He makes his own lunches but he likes how I make salads)

Romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes and carrots

With red onion and sunflower seeds

After doing this I realized I should have made different variations. I have garbanzo beans, craisins and croutons I could have used as well. 

Anyway, bulk is always good for convenience and convenience is always good for promoting healthy behaviors. :)

I was on the ball today! The truth is I was inspired by General Conference as well as my sister who is on a mission. I've been trying to humble myself and have more meaningful prayers. Last night I prayed that I would be able to embrace whatever the night brings as far as feeding the baby. She has not been sleeping well so I was trying to embrace the possibility of another night like that. Well turns out this morning she slept until 6:00 am! And even after that feeding she went back to sleep for a few more hours. I decided to stay up instead of sleeping more. That helped me get a good start on my day -- I read the scriptures and had time to ponder and pray.

I learn this again and again -- The more I try to be a "good mom" (putting her needs first, giving her attention, helping her exercise her brain and body) the better things go for me! (I can put her down without her crying, she is happier, there is more time between feedings, feedings go better, and she sleeps longer for her nap and at night). What do you know! It's like how doing God's will, while it seems like a sacrifice, always is better in the end.

So anyway, I've been trying to turn more to the Lord in the details of my day and I had a great day! I got grocery shopping done before 10:00 am (I LOVE that feeling), made these salads, practiced singing, and had hours to work on my talk for church next week while the baby took a really long wonderful nap. I know God's blessings don't always manifest themselves in a smooth day...but today I was grateful they did!

God is good!

Learn of me, and listen to my words; walk in the meekness of my Spirit, and you shall have peace in me.
D&C 19:23

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Mesothelioma Awareness Day

Did you know today is Mesothelioma Awareness Day? ....Neither did I!  I had never heard of this rare form of cancer until this remarkable woman contacted me about it. 

Heather has beat the odds by surviving years after her original prognosis of 15 months. Check out her incredible story and help spread awareness! 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

To AZ!

On August 1 Elena turned 6 weeks old and we headed out in a moving truck for Arizona! She did great on the drive -- mostly slept. I pumped in the car.

In the Uhaul!

Kelsey (I know from Kent, WA) and her husband Alex came to help us move in, which we appreciated so much! It went really quick with their help. It will be fun to have them close by. Also, Mamma and Papa Skidmore came with us for the move and helped SO much.

Kelsey, Delaynie (6 months), Elena (6 weeks) and Me
Moving boxes inside went quick, but unpacking those boxes went a lot slower than I had anticipated. I just can't get as much done in a day with a little baby to take care of and feed! So I had to practice some acceptance and get used to that. Eventually I got everything unpacked and decorated. It felt so good!

We love our new apartment. Definitely a lot more spacious than our old basement apartment - which, don't get me wrong, we loved - it was perfect for us for that year.

We feel that we are in the right place. Jeff is loving his research position. We love our ward! We've made friends already which I don't take for granted because that seemed hard to do for some reason in our huge Provo ward.

One of the coolest things -- my friend Serena is here! We met in a health class at BYU -- Chronic Disease, I believe, back when we were both as single as can be. This is us on a hike in Rock Canyon on St. Patrick's Day in 2011

It's been a few years, but it was so exciting to find out we would be in the same city. Little did we know, we would be in the same ward! I was feeding a Elena in the mother's lounge at church and in walks Serena. So cool! Serena is one of those people who just says it like it is and puts me at ease. : ) 

Serena's little Kai was due June 26 and born on the 24h. Elena was due the 24th and born on the 22nd. So they are just 2 days apart! It's fun to have a friend with a baby the same age. We're already exchanged babysitting!

Kai and Elena
Today Elena and I went swimming! I thought a swim would be good. By the way, people keep asking how I'm surviving the heat. It's more like, how do I survive staying inside all the time. You just don't go out when it's 110 degrees! So I'd been getting a little stir crazy and I thought a morning swim would be a great way to get out. Plus it would be refreshing and a little bit of exercise.

So I got Elena in her swimming suit (please note, it is supposed to be for a 3 month old and she's bulging out of it!), put her in the car seat and took her over to the pool. I got in for a minute before bringing her in. I think she liked it!

After the initial shock of coming into the air-conditioned apartment in a wet swimming suit, she fell asleep after drying off and being wrapped in a blanket. I was grateful cuz that meant I got to shower really quick!

Tomorrow Elena will be 2 months old!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Birth Story

Our beautiful Elena is here. She is perfect. We are so happy. I wanted to share my birth story for anyone who is interested.

In addition to telling the story of the birth I want to acknowledge how we saw God’s hand in the labor and delivery process. I also want to express how grateful I am for modern medicine and medical professionals.

Just the right time

I think there is always some anxiety towards the end of a pregnancy, knowing that the birth is coming soon but not knowing when and having virtually no control over it. You have mixed feelings – you’re excited to meet your precious child, you’re really looking forward to not being pregnant any more as things are getting more uncomfortable. You’re also nervous for going through the pain of giving birth as well as the huge responsibility of taking care of a child.

We felt all of these things. We also were trying to plan a lot of family events and travels around this birth. We really didn’t know when would be best and of course we couldn’t control it anyway. So over the past few weeks we had been praying that she would come at the right time for her, for us, and for our family.

This week I had pretty much accepted that she wouldn’t come yet. Her due date was Monday June 24 and based on my lack of progression my doctor didn’t think she would come early. I felt prompted to make plans and stay busy. This made sense to me because if I had been waking up every day thinking, “it could be today!” I would just end up being nervous, anxious and depressed with the disappointment and anticipation. So I am happy to say I made plans and had a good week.

Here maybe I’ll add a few details about the birth story timeline. Monday night I had a lot of contractions during the night. It was a little hard for me, I was used to sleeping pretty well and only getting up a time or two to use the restroom. At one point I think I had three contractions in one hour. This was hard not just because it was a bit painful, but because it got my mind in labor mode. I was visualizing the contractions getting worse and us going to the hospital. So it was a mental shift when in the morning it seemed clear that wasn’t going to happen. I went on a walk and went about my day accomplishing things.

This is why I was grateful that I had felt prompted to make plans. I had contractions every night that week. And while it made for rough nights, I was really grateful to be able to move on in the morning and have a good day. I continued going on my daily walks all week. I think exercising really helped my pregnancy, birth and recovery process, by the way.

Back to the timing: we thought it would be nice if she was born on a weekend so Jeff wouldn’t have to miss work to be there at the birth and help me adjust to the change in the following days and nights. I wasn’t counting on it though because she was due on Monday. We also thought it would be nice if I wasn’t during the night because Jeff doesn’t do well staying up….

We got one of those wishes, not the other, and also a surprise – she was born on our Anniversary!

She was born on the weekend – Saturday morning. Jeff doesn’t work on Fridays so he was there that day too.

I was in labor all night so Jeff didn’t get his wish there. But God made up for that in other ways. Thursday night Jeff was so tired he actually went to bed at 6 pm…and slept until 6 am. That was the night I had the worst contractions, so he was up with me a bit to offer comfort and support, but there wasn’t much he could do, so mostly he slept. Also, Thursday was the one day I didn’t make any plans, and I ended up taking two naps that day instead of one. I think that was good preparation for being in labor all night the next day.


Thursday night was pretty hard. My contractions were painful, and they were happening almost every 5 to 10 minutes. Definitely kept me from sleeping. And yet they weren’t close enough together to merit going to the hospital. I went back and forth between laying in bed trying to bear it and getting up and walking around. I eventually resorted to playing games on the computer between contractions. By 4 in the morning I was so tired, and would almost fall asleep, but a contraction would come again without fail. This was all very discouraging.

By Friday morning the contractions were almost always 5 minutes apart, so I felt like that was close enough to the recommended 3-5 minutes; plus they were just so consistent. So we decided to go to the hospital. They let us in for a labor check. I’m really glad they do that. It’s actually nice to be able to be in the labor and delivery unit and get a feel for what it’s like before you actually go into labor. So anyway, they had me sit there for an hour so see if I progressed at all during that time.

I sat in a chair and breathed through each contraction. The time actually passed pretty quickly. I got better at embracing the contractions. Instead of breathing in a tense, glottal kind of way and griping the chair I was sitting in, I tried breathing smoothly through my nose and focusing on the pain in order to kind of accept it and let it pass instead of fighting it.

At the end of the hour I had not progressed. Then they gave me the option of walking around for an hour. So I gave that a try. I also stopped in my room a few times to try having a contraction with one leg up on the bed in order to encourage progression. But maybe that doesn’t work unless you’re actually in labor. Because it turned out I didn’t progress so I wasn’t really in labor.

Then they gave me the welcome option of having a morphine shot in my hip. I liked this idea because it would give me relief from the contractions I’d been having all night and allow me to sleep a little! If I did go into labor later that day I thought it would be really difficult without having got any sleep the night before. I will probably say this again, but I am so grateful for drugs! That shot really helped my day. I got a four hour nap. I still had some contractions, but they were not as frequent and not as bad.


This is the least fun part of the whole experience. But I got through it. Friday I did feel some anxiety because I felt it was likely that I would go into labor, and that was scary! But I also wasn’t sure.

As the evening wore on my contractions started getting steadier again. They weren’t quite a close together as they were before. But I remember when I got out of the shower I just did not feel good. I felt kind of achy. I really wanted to go to the hospital. Soon enough my contractions got more intense and I felt my whole uterus spasming. I got the shakes. I couldn’t really relax through it any more. I threw up for the first time in months. I felt a little scared and out of control. So we got in the car once again, this time I felt a lot more distressed but way more confident I would be admitted.

I was admitted. This was between 6 and 7 pm.  For a while I continued to feel out of control. I wanted pain meds! My nurse was so great and made me feel like I wasn’t a baby. I couldn’t have meds yet though, because they had to see if I was progressing, or in other words, in active labor. But it’s funny I remember all of a sudden I was so tired I just closed my eyes and kept breathing. I felt relaxed. When the nurse came back and asked how I was doing I said, “I’m about to fall asleep!” She was like, “How?” The out of control girl she just met was no longer there. So that was interesting.

I think I just kept breathing through as I progressed from a 3 to a 5. I tried getting a narcotic drip in my IV. Made me feel really relaxed…but didn’t really help the contractions fell any better. They were getting worse. The nurse assured me in honesty that they would get even worse. That’s when I decided to get an epidural.

A note about my “birth plan.” Around 6 months pregnant I started researching this like crazy. I looked into hypnobirthing, looked up pre-natal classes, read and listened to other birth stories. I felt that a natural birth seemed ideal, but I just couldn’t foresee how labor would be for me—I’d never done it before! I felt the most peace when I gave myself permission to get an epidural. I felt that the anxiety of trying not to get one would probably make the whole labor experience worse. My doctor assured me that I didn’t need to decide beforehand. So that’s where I left it.

So I got my epidural. I was told I lucked out and got the best anesthesiologist. It went fine. I appreciated not feeling the contractions. What surprised me is how much it bothered me that I couldn’t feel my legs. It actually made me pretty anxious. I guess it gave me a slight loss of control, which I don’t enjoy. But I just kept praying that I would be patient. Now that I couldn’t feel contractions, it was just a waiting game. I was just happy I made it till 1:30 am, dilated to a 5 before getting the epidural. I would recommend waiting as long as possible – because I hated not being able to feel and move my legs, and they just got more and more numb as time went on.

Finally around 6 in the morning when I was dilated to an 8 I remember I fell asleep. I asked the nurse if it was bad and she encouraged me to get some rest. I just thought it was so weird to be having such intense contractions (over a minute long and like 2 minutes apart) without feeling them.

Jeff was there with me the whole time by the way. Sometimes he would hold my hand. Sometimes he and I would both doze off. The sun came up on our anniversary and I was getting closer and closer to being able to push.


It was around 7 am when I was fully dilated and the nurse said we were going to start pushing. Once again, very strange to be entering into such an intense physical process with no feeling in my lower body. But I was very grateful I couldn’t feel. The nurse guided my pushing. She and Jeff held my legs close to my chest – they felt like lead to me. She had Jeff count and I gradually figured out how to push productively despite not being able to feel. Eventually they got me a mirror so I could see. She kept telling me I was doing beautifully. She had the doctor come in to receive the baby. He explained that when I stop to take a breath I need to not let go of the pressure so we don’t loose what we’ve gained. That made sense. I did that and things got closer. As I watched that head crown and the doctor decided to give me an episiotomy I was so grateful I couldn’t feel. That made pushing pretty easy.


I pushed for under an hour. I remember seeing the head coming out and hearing a nurse say, “You’re going to have a baby!” After that it was really fast. Out she came, all bloody, and crying! Besides being healthy, that cry just made me realize how alive she was. This baby that had been in my dark uterus, unknown by me, had a living soul! She had just had a traumatic experience and now she was here with us. My heart went out to her as my eyes followed her. She had to be checked by the NICU team first because there was light meconium in my water. She was fine though.

Jeff got to hold her hand and talk to her while she was cleaned up and weighed. It took longer than I would have liked for them to give me the baby. But it was really special to watch Jeff hold her because she just looked right up into his eyes and locked her gaze there. She knew her daddy’s voice.

I quickly became convinced of how perfect she is! As I watched them clean her off I thought she looked like the perfect size. She was 8 lbs. Not too big (my sisters and I were all well over 9 lbs, so I was nervous) and not too small. She has beautiful blue eyes, brown hair, and CHUBBY CHEEKS! This is following after the Bement pattern.

So it was an exciting moment. I could talk all about recovery and learning to breastfeed...but maybe we'll save that for another time. I just wanted to add again how grateful I am for hospitals, for pain relieving medicine, for helpful nurses. Labor is pretty intense but the whole process went pretty smoothly. I was really well taken care of afterwards too. They have it down to a system!

Best Anniversary gift ever! (the baby in the background...the flowers from Jeff were nice too)

Monday, May 20, 2013

My non-Pinterest-worthy Dinner

This post is expanding on the sentiments that led me to write these words on facebook today:

Forget pinterest. We are having canned soup tonight. I think there is something wrong with the fact that I often feel guilty preparing or eating processed food.

Today I knew I needed to go to the store to get some essentials - bread, milk, etc. But as far as planning a week's worth of beautiful meals, I didn't think I had the energy to do that. I began browsing Pinterest as I often do these days, for inspiration. But I just wasn't up for making one of those dinners today! Whats more, the clouds and drizzle outside were making good old-fashioned boxed corn bread sound really good. So This is what I came up with for tonight:

We had cornbread (I mixed in some leftover cream of corn I had in the fridge)
Frozen green peas with butter and garlic salt
For Jeff: Western Family canned Bean and Bacon Soup with leftover mozzarella cheese
For me: Thai Kitchen spring onion soup

Also notice our card table from Walmart with no tablecloth. Pinterest worthy? Nope! But doesn't dinner look good? ...It was! For dessert we're actually having strawberry banana kale smoothies, but I won't include pictures because that might actually be something you could find on Pinterest. : )

Now this is not meant to be a rant against Pinterest. I do enjoy my account. And I have found many recipes on there. This is a just health-conscious, young-married, PKUer who is pregnant and on a limited budget saying that it is ok to have a box dinner every once in a while!

I studied health in college...I definitely believe that nutrition is important. Nutrition is preventative medice for most chronic diseases. We are what we eat. I subscribe to the philosophy of Michael Pollan -- real food is best. I even follow the 100 Days of Real Food blog on facebook. I am just trying to be realistic with the stage of life I am in right now.

Anyone who knows me, knows I am all about balance and moderation. I feel that nutrition is important - but does that mean I need to stress about menu planning, cooking and using produce before it goes bad? Does that mean I need to spend what little money we have on organic food? I don't think so.

Here are some meals I made for Jeff, one when we were dating, the other the first few weeks into our marriage.
Tilapia, green beans, carrots and brussel sprouts, sweet potato fries

Whole grain spaghetti, chicken, asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes, home-made pesto

I was pretty proud of those meals. But trying to do a meal like that night after night is exhausting! Fortunately Jeff assured me that I didn't need to a have a fresh vegetable every night. That was a huge relief. But I think with all the Pins and blogs of beautiful, home-made, locally grown organic meals out there we start to feel like that is what is expected of us.

And here is a novel idea: frozen vegetables and canned fruit are still good for you! They still have most of the nutritional value as fresh produce. It's better to eat canned fruit than none at all. And it's better to eat canned fruit and frozen beans at dinner and feel more full and therefore eat less junk after dinner. Here is an insightful video from Dr. Oz. I agree that most of America could benefit so much from simply eating more fruits and vegetables in a day, that worrying about whether it's fresh and organic or not, from a public health perspective, isn't a could use of time, energy or money.

I really like the way my mom did it growing up- we always had a fruit and vegetable with dinner. Sometimes it was fresh salad or seasonal fruit, but often it was canned fruit and frozen veggies. But I believe that routine gave us a very nutritious diet. So that is the pattern I am trying to emulate. Someday I have every intention of having a big garden for my family, but until then, I'm going to cook frozen green beans for my husband and I.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

St. George and Zions Trip

We decided to on one last trip before this baby comes. A "babymoon", if you will! : ) It needed to be close by. St. George is somewhere I've heard a lot about but had never been to. So that was the plan! And we made sure to visit Zion's National Park while we were there. I am the trip planner in our marriage. It's interesting, because in my family my Dad did the trip planning. But I inherited the love of it from him. And in Jeff's family his mom was the trip planner and he doesn't have any interest in it. So I do it and I love it! This trip brought back a lot of good memories of all the awesome trips my family has been on and made Jeff and I look forward to taking our future family on fun trips.

Ok first of all, at this random gas station in small town, Utah on our way down I-15 there was a petting zoo....with zebras! I got to touch a zebra! I saw a little coin operated machine with food in it -- so I think these animals are so accustomed to getting food from people that they just come right up to you. I pet the donkey too. And then liberally applied hand sanitizer. There were cute baby goats, mini-ponies, peacocks and ostriches too!


We drove down Thursday night and stayed in a hotel in St. George two nights. Friday we went to the St. George Temple.

After a lunch of leftovers in our hotel we went around town to visit historic sites. We went to Brigham Young's winter home and the tabernacle and got lovely tours from the senior missionaries there. We went to a bookshop I literally found just browsing through google maps of the area. By the way, we do not have smart phones and we didn't bring any mobile devices. I wrote down directions beforehand and we used the old-fashioned map! The Utah grid system definitely helps with this endeavor.

I got used copies of Pride and Prejudice and Emma. Jeff got 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

I recently decided the has come in my life to read this classic. I was watching the BBC movie again the other day and was reminded how much I just love the way they talk! It's so thorough and clear. I was trying to decide if I should fork out the money to buy a copy or just get it from the library. Getting it for $4 at a used bookstore seemed like a great compromise. And I love this cover!
8 months pregnant and feeling good!

At an art gallery we stopped at
Saturday we went to Zion's National Park. It was beautiful. It was fun to see so many different people -- nice young families, outdoor enthusiasts, Asian tourists, adventuresome retired people, and even the occasional pregnant lady! 

There were plenty of "easy hikes" for people in like myself and they were very clearly outlined in the info guide. We took the tram all the way in and started with a nice riverside walk. On the way back Jeff did a more strenuous trail for his man-hike. I walked an easy trail and waited for him at the lodge. When he got back we did one more easy hike to the Emerald Pools.

Kolob Canyons

The sites were beautiful and it is wonderful to be in the outdoors and a part of something so good our country has to offer. I feel like National parks bring out the decent people of society. It gives me hope for our country.

"National parks are the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst."     -Wallace Stegner, 1983

Kolob Canyons

aww :)

Zion's National Park

A little river side seating for lunch


"There is nothing so American as our national parks.... The fundamental idea behind the parks...is that the country belongs to the people, that it is in process of making for the enrichment of the lives of all of us."      -Franklin D. Roosevelt