For better or worse, I don’t have any interest in maintaining a blog that attracts a lot of readers. I actually don’t care if anyone but me reads this (although I know my mom and dad will read it, because they are cool like that). Because I care so little about being a Big Deal Blogger, and because I’m an impressively lazy person, I don’t usually have pictures with my posts, or links, or fun recipes. It’s just me (and occasionally Jarom) writing about life.
Actually, I was skimming through the past few posts recently and overall it was pretty depressing. If I wrote more frequently, you’d have a better glimpse of what life is really like, but the blog makes it sound like I’m still in the depths of despair over Christian.
Such is not the case.
Ramona is soothing, happy sunshine for my heart. She is the joyful center of attention in our house. Certainly, having a new baby has brought up some painful feelings about Christian – the past four months have flown by, and I feel guilty for taking any moment with Ramona for granted. It’s just how life goes, though, you know? You can’t live so intensely. Not every waking moment with Ramona can be sunshine-filled, heart-bursting euphoria. And not every waking moment after Christian was despair-filled, heart-wrenching anguish, either. Thank goodness for all those regular, unremarkable moments in between the anguish and the euphoria.
Anyway, I got off track there. Or maybe I didn’t have a track to begin with.
Right now Ramona and I are vacationing at my sister-in-law’s house in Washington. I’ve never been to Washington before – so green! So rainy! It reminds me a great deal of winters in northern California. This summer, I’m coming back with all the kids, and I’m excited to see how different (or similar) the foresty wetlands are in the warmer months.
Taking a break from nearly all my responsibilities has been wonderful for me. It gives me enough emotional distance to see what I really want to emphasize as a priority in my home, and what things I’ve just gotten stuck insisting we do. It inspires me to spend more quality time with the people I love, doing things we love. And it gives me a much-needed chance to recharge and to figure out how I can be more me. Deep down, I like me a lot – it’s just so tricky to avoid getting bogged down by obligations (real or imagined or self-imposed) and expectations (the same), and body image and envy of others, their talents and their seemingly perfect lives and their got-it-together-ness. Why don’t I have it together yet? Oh yeah, I’m working on it. And this is a great reminder that even as I work on getting the all-encompassing “it” together, I have to make sure it isn’t at the cost of the Really Important Stuff. You know, Jarom and the kids and the compassion I so desperately want to show to others.
I guess this vacation is like one of those giant Pause buttons I always wish for. Life is still happening while I’m here, but I’m not in the thick of it, and my only responsibilities here and now are to feed Ramona and to change her diapers. Those are so easy that I can do one of them in my sleep. The rest of the time, I can reflect on where I am in my life and how I want to help my life continue in its beautiful direction.
This blog post has zero direction, obviously. And you don’t get any pictures, either! So there!
Since they shut down Google Reader, I don’t really read blogs anymore, which also diminishes my motivation to write blog posts. Curse you, Google! (shakes fist)
That being said, here are several things that have happened since I last blogged, in no particular order:
1. We had a new baby. Her name is Ramona and she has strawberry-blonde (or, as Evan calls it, mango-colored) hair. At some point I’ll write about her birth and stuff like that but, for now, Ramona is here and that’s what I have to say on the matter.
2. We were planning to take the train to California for Christmas, but the cost of the rooms on the train (with a new baby, we realllllly needed one) plus a hotel room plus plus plus . . . we ended up just staying here for the holidays. June got a dress-up box full of very frilly skirts and tiaras and wands and bracelets. (I am not trying to over-the-top reinforce gender roles; it’s also ok if skirts and tiaras are what June likes. That’s the beauty of feminism.) Evan got a robot frilled lizard (frilly things for everyone, apparently) and the promise of starting parkour lessons with his best friend.
3. Evan started parkour lessons today! I went in to fill out a waiver (which I DID read thoroughly before signing) and June was so entranced by the gymnastics classes that we stayed the whole hour, even though I had Ramona with me and would have liked to go home and feed her someplace comfy like my couch. Evan had SO MUCH FUN. It was adorable to watch him. He’s by far the smallest in the class. He couldn’t stop talking about how great parkour lessons are – so I think it was a success as a present. Jarom got a Fitbit (I have one too!) and a smoker (with the caveat that he is required to learn how to make really good ribs). My big gift is a trip to visit my sister-in-law, with just Ramona, no other kids – for a whole week!
4. My sister-in-law moved to Washington :( and after seeing pictures of her house and giant, giant, giant foresty yard I’m working on a plan to get us moved out there too.
5. June is very reluctant to start kindergarten this fall. I’m not sure what her deal is, although she’s offered excuses like “I’ll miss you too much” and “I want to go to the ivy school instead of Evan’s school.” Last year a Montessori preschool opened up in a cute yellow house covered in ivy down the street from us, and I guess I mentioned something about it to June. I was pregnant at the time, so I don’t take much responsibility for how rational I was being.
6. I can’t describe how much June loved watching the gymnastics, tumbling, and cheerleading classes at the parkour place. She begged me to let her start gymnastics. I said first she’d have to stop fussing about kindergarten, but that confused her and she thought I meant she had to start kindergarten first. I don’t know, June, we’re in the middle of a huge building with tons of kids doing incredibly dangerous things and it’s loud and I’m having lots of anxiety and can we talk about this later?
7. I switched my anxiety medication about a month ago and while there’s been a lot of rough patches with the transition, the best part is that I no longer feel exhausted all the time. I can make it through the day without a nap, I can get out of bed in the morning, and I want to paint. That’s a big and wonderful change.
8. Next month Evan will turn 7. Over the past 3 years, since we bought our house, there have been lots of room swaps. Sometimes Evan is in the bigger bedroom, sometimes he’s in the littler bedroom, sometimes he and June share the bigger bedroom. But I finally put my foot down and said NO MORE SHARING (not long before #9 happened). Evan was initially excited to have the “cozy” little room but it wasn’t long before he had very hurt feelings about it. We hadn’t moved everything out of the room from it being a storage room/Ramona’s eventual room, so there wasn’t a ton of space for his things. A few weeks ago Jarom helped clear it out and we started letting Evan have the dog sleep with him. For Evan’s birthday, we’re going to get a loft bed, move out the rest of the storage things, put up some posters, maaaaaaaybe paint a wall or two, actually organize the little closet in a way that’s useful for Evan, and put his desk under the loft bed. All in secret while he’s away for the night! I hope he loves it.
9. In a terrible bedtime drama mishap, June gouged a big chunk out of the bridge of her nose. I took her to the ER for stitches. I’m crossing my fingers that the scar fades, because it looks quite Frankenstein-y at the moment. How shallow of me is that?
10. Also, Evan broke his arm when Ramona was about 2 weeks old. That was another fun ER trip. It’s healed now, though.
11. Ramona laughed once when Jarom was tickling her, a week or two before Christmas; she laughed at her reflection in the mirror twice last week. Otherwise she makes this face that ought to be accompanied by peals of laughter, but she’s silent. Come on, Ramona! JUST LAUGH! She’s ridiculously easygoing, everyone loves her, she sleeps through the night, and I feel like we hit the jackpot here.
12. I didn’t blog when we hit 2.5 years since Christian was born/died. Partly I was caught up with a beautiful new baby, partly I didn’t want to force it on everyone, and partly – like I said before – I just don’t blog anymore. But I did note the day, and, while I wasn’t as sad as I’ve been in the past, it was still hard to think of what Christian would have been like at Ramona’s age. Or as a rambunctious two-and-a-half-year-old. What would he think of Ramona?
13. We didn’t get any family pictures done last year. :( I wanted to wait until Ramona was born, but then Evan broke his arm, and June busted up her nose, and Ramona was really jaundiced. In another shallow move, I’m waiting until we’re all a little nicer looking (and that includes my extra chub – I mean, comfy padding – from the past 3 years).
What have you been up to since the beginning of the school year?
New books: 8 ( 3,313 pages )
Charlie Holmberg, The Paper Magician
A.G. Riddle, The Atlantis Gene
Tim Westover, Auraria
Jhumpa Lahiri, The Namesake
John Scalzi, Lock In
Stephen King, 11-22-63
Ernest Cline, Ready Player One
Emily St. John Mandel, Station Eleven
Woohoo! School has started!
Evan has been so excited about going to first grade that he does parkour everywhere we go. And practices doing flips on my bed. It’s one of the few ways he expresses enthusiasm.
He got up just after 7 this morning and immediately said, “I’ll get dressed so we can go!” Sorry, bud, you’ve got an hour and a half before we need to go.
Who is your favorite person in the whole world? Maggie and Trinity (two of his kindergarten classmates)
What is your favorite color? yellow
What is your favorite movie? Jurassic World (he’s seen it 3 times in the theater, not quite the record of Jarom’s 16 trips to see Jurassic Park as a kid)
What is your favorite outfit? “My Jurassic World velociraptor shirt and skinny pants.”
What sport or game do you like best? “Playing Wild Kratts.”
What song do you love? Shut Up and Dance (he loves it SO MUCH that I have begun to hate it passionately)
What is your favorite cereal? Rice Krispies Treats Cereal
Who is your best friend? Cooper (I was surprised at this because he rarely mentions Cooper, who moved away more than a year ago.)
What do you want to be when you grow up? a veterinarian
What is your favorite book? Bunnicula (which we haven’t started reading yet. He’s just really excited for it. We’re still working on Fablehaven as a family)
What are you really good at? parkour
Where do you wish you could go on vacation? to see Cooper
What is your best memory? staying at the beach house in Monterey last summer
What would you buy if you had $1,000? “A chihuahua and a snake. A python. A pet python.”
What is your favorite food? oatmeal, watermelon, and fried rice
If you could have a wish, what would it be? “To have a baby Indominus Rex. But he’d be nice.”
What is your favorite ice cream flavor? cookie dough
Who is your biggest hero? “Pa, because he helped me across the monkey bars.”
What do you like to do most with your friends? play and swing and run
What do you hope you’ll get to do in school this year? science!
I’ve put off writing this for the past week and a half, because I’m not sure how things are going. Life is confusing and wonderful and terrifying and hilarious and sad. So, pretty normal.
Christian’s second birthday was, I’m happy to say, not looming ahead like his first birthday seemed to. It’s mainly due to the fact that a week before his birthday this year, we got to have an ultrasound of our [so far] healthy baby girl, and the good news – the excitement of looking at baby clothes, the optimism, the hope for the future – really mellowed out the sense of loss over Christian. It was really, really nice to feel like good things will still happen in my life, maybe happen soon.
Unfortunately, some of my excitement was – whether consciously or not – an attempt to ignore my ongoing grief. I’ll never stop being sad that Christian died. I will enjoy my life, but I don’t think there’s going to come a day (though maybe I’m wrong) when I think, I’m so glad this is my lot in life. Grief manifests itself far less frequently now, but it has still taken up permanent residence in my heart. Sometimes it sneaks up on me, like when I’ve spent a week or two being happy about a baby girl and then suddenly the next day is what should be my two-year-old’s birthday party.
We asked friends and family to do a good deed in Christian’s honor again for Doubleplusgood Day. My brilliant idea was to take cookies (the delicious orange chocolate chip kind!) to the labor & delivery nurses at the hospital where Christian was born. To be honest, I do NOT remember the nurses fondly, but I’m willing to concede that I was not my best self that day. So I made cookies, put them in a pretty box, wrote a nice note, and headed down to Payson with Evan in tow.
Yeah, it didn’t occur to me until I stepped off the elevator onto the labor & delivery floor that this was all a terrible idea. Have you ever experienced intense anxiety? For me it always feels like prickles – actual physical ones – all over my skin, and I want to run and hide or stop existing or curl up into a ball. I don’t know what I was thinking! Somehow I forced myself to walk over to the nurses’ station, and although I’m rarely emotional in front of people, I did get really teary. All the moms on the floor were going to have live, healthy babies that day, babies they got to take home and watch grow. And being back in that part of the hospital did not bring back very pleasant memories. Dead babies aside, the day Christian was born was really an awful day – no sleep, no food, maybe needing an emergency C-section, headaches, barfing, machines beeping constantly… the overwhelming emotion of knowing my baby was about to die, on top of all those things, made for a lousy day.
So I didn’t stay long at the hospital. One of the nurses came and gave me a hug, they congratulated me on my upcoming baby, they were all sympathetic and nice. But I wanted to cry because despite their compassion, they had no idea what it’s like. (I don’t want them to! I wish no one did, including me.) It reminded me of one of my favorite, heartbreaking moments from Christian’s birthday: when we were just about ready to go home, the bereavement volunteer (the one who put together our amazing, priceless box of keepsakes) was finishing up. She’d been there for hours and hours. She tucked the last few items into the box and turned to me. I was sitting in the rocking chair, holding Christian, who had died probably about 3 hours before. She said, “Is there anything else I can do for you?” I shook my head. I don’t remember if I looked at her, but I definitely heard the emotion in her voice as she said, “You just want him back?” I definitely started crying again then. She understood. She knew the agony I was going through, and would go through. And she wished desperately she could help.
(I should toss in a disclaimer here that it’s currently 3:30am, I’m still up because I have to finish a project for Jarom, and I am not only sleep-deprived but caffeinated and hormonal. It’s ok if you are sad because I’m sobbing – quietly – thinking about that moment.)
Anyway, I had a friend put together a floral arrangement for us to take to Christian’s grave, but when Evan and I left Payson it was about to rain. Then I had to go pick up June (who had been crazy wild fussy and was really making it hard to grieve), and by the time we all made it home, I was emotionally spent. When Jarom got home from work he sent me to bed. I cried big tears and let that anguish engulf me until I fell asleep.
That being said, Year 2 is so much better than Year 1. I didn’t feel (quite as much) like I needed to force Doubleplusgood Day on people. Christian is my son; it’s ok if other people are too busy or uninterested or whatever to remember his birthday. The world will go on. I was touched by the acts of service done in his memory, where last year I just really hated having to “celebrate” that way.
Next year, I hope, will be even better.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf conducting
Choir: Glory to God on High
[ prayer ]
President Henry B. Eyring
Our Heavenly Father wishes to bless His children, spiritually and temporally
He understands each of our needs, pains, hopes
When we offer succor to anyone, the Savior feels it as if we reached out to succor Him
“Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
How can we deserve this warm welcome from the Savior?
There are more in need of help than we can possibly reach
Something we can each do: follow the law of the fast
“the Lord shall guide thee continuously and satisfy thy soul in drought”
Simple commandment with marvelous promise
We are offered opportunity to fast once and month and give a generous fast offering
Some of your offering will be used for those around you
Leaders pray and fast to know who to help and what to give
Pres. Kimball: “a sin of omission with a heavy cost” “Rich promises are made by the lord to those who fast to assist the needy. . . . To omit to do this righteous act of fasting would deprive us of these blessings.”
Civil war in Sierra Leon – chaos, killing, and sorrow; more than 2 million refugees
Even during this time, LDS Church grew, first branch opened
“This shirt is the first clothing I received. I used to wear it to go to work. . . . I didn’t have other clothes. During the war this blanket kept us warm. . . . When the rebels came to attack us, this was the only thing I could lay my hands on as we fled to the bush.”
Funds from fast offering donations – of someone like you – allowed members to buy food
“When I think of the people who did this, I think they were sent by God, because ordinary human beings made this kind of gesture for us.”
In a country where a dollar was worth its weight in gold, she paid her tithing as $1, $1 to missionary fund, and $1 fast offering to help “those who were truly poor.”
“Better to teach them the principle and let them observe it until they are old enough to choose intelligently.”
Spiritual blessing of power to receive inspiration, greater power to resist temptation
Christ went into wilderness to fast and pray – and resisted Satan’s temptations
“Then shall thy light break forth as the morning and thy health shall break forth speedily”
Claim those blessings for ourselves and our families
Help the Savior as He cares for the poor
Choir: Have I Done Any Good?
President Boyd K. Packer
The end of all activity in the church is to see that a man and a woman, with their children, are happy at home – sealed together for all time and eternity
“Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth”
Commandment to multiply and replenish the earth is central to the plan and is the source of human happiness
Righteous exercise of this power draws us closer to Heavenly Father
The power of procreation is not an incidental part of the plan; it IS the plan of happiness – it is the key to happiness
Very personal feelings occur in a natural way
[ am I the only one having a TON of trouble understanding him? ]
We can’t escape the consequence when we transgress
Our spiritual bodies cannot heal themselves when damaged – we must repent
When the repentance process is complete, no scars remain
God is our Father . . . His mercy is without limit
Sacred temple ordinance is much more than a wedding
Sister Linda K. Burton
Husbands, fathers, brothers, sons, and uncles who know who they are and are doing their best to fulfill their obligations
A husband is never more attractive to his wife than when he is serving as a worthy priesthood holder, especially in the home
“You have the power of the priesthood directly from the Lord to protect your home.”
“Your most important calling in all eternity . . . you must help create a home where the Spirit of the Lord can reside.”
World sends false messages about what it means to be a real man
Don’t listen to Satan’s lies!
Satan has forfeited the sacred privilege of ever being a husband or a father
We need each other as covenant-keeping women and men
Work together to lift the rising generation and help them reach their divine potential
“It is not good that man should be alone.”
Male and female spirits complete each other, not compete with each other
“There’s so much more of happiness to be had when we can rejoice in another’s successes and not just our own.”
Stop more often to enjoy sacred family time
1. When was the last time I sincerely praised my companion, either alone or in front of children?
2. When was the last time I thanked, expressed love for, or earnestly pled in prayer for my companion?
3. When was the last time I stopped myself from saying something I knew could be hurtful?
4. When was the last time I apologized and humbly asked for forgiveness?
5. When was the last time I chose to be happy rather than demanding to be right?
Put our trust in the Lord to help each other live happily
Choir and congregation: High on the Mountaintop
Elder Dallin H. Oaks
Reform our personal lives to prepare us to return to our Heavenly home
Parable of the sower reported in all 3 synoptic gospels, also one Christ explained to disciples
Seed that was sown: word of the kingdom, teachings of the Master and his servants
Different soils: different ways mortals receive and interpret these teachings
Those of us who have committed to be followers of Christ – what do we do with the Savior’s teachings?
Parable warns of attitudes that can prevent the seed from a goodly harvest
Stony ground describes those who receive the word with gladness, but have no root in themselves
What causes hearers to have “no root in themselves”?
New members who are merely converted to missionaries or attractive characteristics of church
Even those raised in the church can slip into a condition where they have no root in themselves
Members without firm and lasting conversion to the gospel
If we are not rooted in the teachings of the gospel and regular in its practices, any one of us can develop a stony heart
We must increase our exposure to spiritual truth in order to strengthen our faith and stay rooted in the gospel
If the emblems of the sacrament are being passed and you are texting or whispering or doing anything else to deny yourself essential spiritual food, you are severing your spiritual roots and moving yourself to stony ground
Potential destroyer of spiritual roots: keyhole view of the gospel
Limited view focuses on a particular doctrine or practice or perceived deficiency in a leader and ignores the grand panorama of the gospel plan and the personal and communal fruits of its harvest
To be securely rooted in the gospel, we must seek for the broader view of the majestic work of God
Some grew among thorns – choked, yielded no fruit – cares of the world and deceitfulness of riches choked the word
1. Deceitfulness of riches
We are all tempted by this. When attitudes or priorities are fixed on the acquisition, use, or __ of property, that is materialism
Theology of prosperity
Possession of wealth or significant income is NOT a mark of heavenly favor; absence is not an indication of heavenly disfavor
An abundance of material things = danger of being spiritually sedated
2. Most subtle thorns to choke out effect of gospel word are worldly forces “Cares and riches and pleasures of this life”
When we are beguiled by trivial distractions, and when we have an entitlement mentality
We are all overcome by cares of this life when we’re paralyzed by fears of the future
Dangers of surrendering to cares of this world: “You have to be willing to offend here. . . . That’s exactly where the faith comes in.”
“importance of really living what we claim to believe. That needs to be a priority not just in our personal and family lives but in our church, our business dealings, our treatment of the poor – in other words, in everything we do.”
Don’t be digested by society
Parable of the soils – suitability of soil depends on the heart of each one of us who is exposed to the gospel seeds
seed “fell into good ground and brought forth good fruit” – how do we prepare ourselves to be this good soil?
“They which, in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it and bring forth good fruit”
Seek to be firmly rooted and converted to the gospel
Prayer, scripture reading, serving, regularly partaking of the sacrament
Mighty change of heart will replace selfish desires and concerns with a desire to love Him and serve His children
Elder L. Whitney Clayton
All of us will have to traverse our own spiritual wilderness and undertake our own rugged rescue journeys
There will always be a spiritual light that beckons to it
Perceiving spiritual light begins with our willingness to believe
God requires that we at least initially desire to believe
“Let this desire work in you”
Give place in our hearts for the Savior’s words
Belief and faith require our personal choice and action
We seek before we find – promise is “Every one that asketh, receiveth”
“If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not; but if I do, though ye believe not me, believe my works”
Test of our lifetimes: will we choose to believe in Him and allow the light of the gospel to grow within us . . . or insist on traveling in the dark?
There may be times when we have been hurt, when we are tired, when our lives seem dark and cold . . . if we are willing to believe, if we desire to believe, if we choose to believe, then the Savior’s example will show us the way forward
We must choose to open our hearts to the divine reality of the Savior
God does not force us to believe. Instead, he invites us to believe
We are the ones who must choose to embrace those spiritual invitations
“The Father commandeth all men everywhere to repent and believe in me”
Belief, testimony, and faith are not passive principles. They do not just happen to us.
We will not accidentally come to believe in the Savior – we actively choose to believe
Give place for the hope that we will find spiritual light by choosing to believe rather than choosing to doubt
When we pray, read scriptures, fast, keep Sabbath day holy, worship in temple, get baptized, take sacrament, repent, we are choosing to belief
Spiritual progress may seem slow and intermittent. If you feel this way, please do not give up, ever. Go right on believing Him and in His gospel and church.
Decision to believe in Him will bless you immeasurably, and forever
Choir: Come Unto Jesus
Elder L. Tom Perry
“We now live in a culture of temporary. More and more people are simply giving up on marriage as a public commitment.”
Have courage to seek truth and lasting love, going against the common pattern
Sanctity of the institution of marriage, importance of families as basic unit of society
Various faiths are united on marriage, family, values, loyalty, commitment
Marriage- and family-centered priorities cut across political, economic, and religious boundaries
How do the LDS Church distinguish and differentiate itself from the rest of the world?
While it is wonderful to see and feel that we have so much in common with the rest of the world, only we have the eternal perspective of the restored gospel
We take the commitment and sanctity of families to a greater level because of our understanding that families go back before this world was, and will continue on through eternity
Entire theology of the restored gospel centers on families
In the LDS Church, we believe in pre-mortal life, where we all lived as spirits, children of God
Marriage ceremonies eliminate words “until death do us part,” instead “For time and all eternity”
Strong, traditional families are basis of strong society, stable economy, stable culture of families – also basic unit of eternity
Organization and government of heaven will be built around families and extended families
We as a church want to be leaders and participate in worldwide movements to strengthen families
Commitment to marriage and a family lifestyle is most sensible, economical, happiest way to live
Too much of tv, music, internet present classic case of minority masquerading as majority
It has never been harder to raise responsible children and keep marriage and families together
The solid majority of mankind still believes that marriage should be between one man and one woman
Fidelity within marriage, marriage vows “in sickness and in health, til death do us part”
Reassurance and comfort in knowing that marriage and family are still the aspiration and ideals of most people
As a church, we want to assist to create and support strong marriages and families
We want our voice to be heard sustaining the fulfillment that traditional families bring
Choir: I Believe in Christ
[ prayer ]
New books: 16 ( 6,376 pages )
Ina Taylor, The Edwardian Lady
Uwem Akpan, Say You’re One of Them
Brandon Mull, Beyonders: Chasing the Prophecy
Diana Peterfreund, For Darkness Show the Stars
Brandon Sanderson, Beyond Elysium / Firstborn
Brandon Sanderson, Alloy of Law
Brandon Sanderson, Words of Radiance
Brandon Sanderson, The Rithmatist
James Dashner, The Maze Runner
John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
Sam Kean, The Tale of the Deuling Neurosurgeons
Nicholas Evans, Dying Words
Young-ha Kim, Your Republic is Calling You
Kate Danley, The Woodcutter
Robin Hobb, Assassin’s Apprentice
James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man