Monday, July 13, 2015

Sucky, sucky May

I've been dreading the blog for the last 2 months, because I knew I'd have to talk about May.  I mean, I don't have to talk about anything, it's my blog for pity's sake, but I simply can't gloss over it and pretend that May didn't happen.  First, because that's not who I am, I don't gloss over life because it isn't pretty.  And second, because not saying anything makes it feel like it never happened, and I don't want to feel like it never happened (well, sometimes I do) (but not really).  Pretending like it never happened might lead people to think that it wasn't a big deal and it didn't affect me much and I've moved on.  But it was a big deal.  It did affect me, a lot.  And I'm not sure exactly how to "move on."

So.  May.  The first half of May I was pregnant.  The second half, I was not.  Clark blogged a bit about my miscarriage and that horrendous week of doctors.  The week where all my hopes were dashed to pieces. 

You see, I had almost given up hope of having another baby.  There was a small sliver of a chance that we'd have another, but I felt strongly that I needed to just wait and see.  That I needed to trust God, and wait.  In my prayers, I told my Heavenly Father that I would need a big push, a HUGE push, before I'd even consider getting pregnant again.  But I also told Him that I wanted a baby so badly, that I was willing to be pregnant again.  My desire was so strong, I was sure I would confuse my desires for spiritual guidance, so I reiterated over and over again that it would have to be a HUGE push, and it would have to obviously be from Him.  So we waited.  And last fall, I felt that push.  After consulting with multiple doctors, I was given the all clear, the go ahead, permission to conceive.  It felt so incredibly right.  I prayed.  I went to the temple.  And it all felt right.  So we went forward.

Then January came, with my yearly echo.  The cardiologist maybe saw something new on the echo.  I needed a cardiac MRI.  Scheduling is a beast, so I finally got the MRI in March.  In April someone finally called me about it, to say maybe I shouldn't be trying to get pregnant.  But too late!  I was already pregnant!  And, again, it felt right.  I was scared what this could mean for my health, but it felt right.  So I thought of it more as a huge blessing that I got pregnant in that window when no one was worried about my health, and now God would see me through this.  I had faith (heaps of faith) that I would be fine, I would have my 3rd baby, and we would all look back at this as a faith promoting experience.  We could knowingly look at each other and point to our faith when the doctors were impressed with how well I did. 

But no.  In May, I had an ultrasound.  And there was no heartbeat.  I had asked Clark to come with me, just in case something like this happened.  But for some reason I can't understand, they didn't allow him to come back into the ultrasound room with me.  Something about needing to get measurements first, and then he could come back.  So I was left sitting there, alone, on the table, not sure what was going on, wishing my husband could just come back and hold my hand.  It was awful. 

They said maybe it was just too early, maybe the dates were wrong, so we need to do some blood work.  After waiting in agony for 2 days, the blood work came back with bad news.  I was miscarrying. 

I appreciated that the doctor was trying to be consoling, but I wanted to punch her face out when she said, "Do you believe in a higher power?  Maybe this is all for the best."  I wanted to yell, "YOU DON'T GET IT!"  I most definitely believe in a higher power.  I am a woman of faith, who follows promptings.  This pregnancy was my prompting!  I had been inspired.  I can't believe that I misread the Spirit.  I was absolutely sure this was the path I was supposed to take.  And now....well, now what?

The day after I got that lovely news I finally (finally) met with someone about my new heart condition.  And I was advised not to have any more children.  And during that appointment, I felt completely at peace.  I was sure I would be a wreck, tears everywhere, but I was not.  It felt clear that this was my new path, I should listen to this new doctor and go forward with only 2 kids.

But don't be mistaken, this still hurts.  A lot.  I felt at peace during that one appointment, but I don't feel at peace all the time when I think about this whole ordeal.  Or even most of the time.  I feel confused, and angry, and even betrayed.  Betrayed by God.  I don't want to feel this way, but I do.  I was finally letting go of any hope, and then suddenly I had not only hope, but a baby on the way!  It all seemed too good to be true!  But oh, nevermind, go back to letting go of all hope.  Why would someone do that?  Why wouldn't He just let me quietly close the door on that part of my life?  Why did we have to ramp up and go out with a bang?

Now that it's been 2 months, I'm finally starting to feel some healing.  I have felt the deep love my Heavenly Father has for me more times than I can count.  I know that He didn't do all this to hurt me.  I know He has a plan for my life, and I don't always get to see what that is while I'm living it.  I will get through all this and I will be fine.  Happy, even.  Time truly is the healer of all wounds. 

In a way, it's nice to have some sort of finality.  We have 2 kids, and we are done.  We can finally get rid of the crib and the baby clothes and the boxes and boxes of baby stuff in our garage.  Except now I don't know what to do with my life.  I'm going to have 2 kids in school this fall.  What on earth am I going to do with my life?  Go back to work?  Go back to school?  Volunteer?  I've done this mom of small children thing for so long now, I don't know what else I would even want to do.  I'm taking all suggestions into consideration, so if you've got one, please share. 

And if you see me, be gentle?  May was rough for me.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Julia's Birthday, Nauvoo Edition

As Julia's birthday approached this year, I decided I wasn't up for throwing a big birthday party.  (I'm rarely up for throwing a big birthday party.  It gives me all kinds of social anxiety.)  So we thought perhaps a destination birthday would be more up our alley.  When Grammie and Opa decided to come visit, I immediately decided we needed to go to Nauvoo. 

Julia LOVES Nauvoo.  She had been wanting to go for a long time.  She has turned into our little history buff, who loves pioneers, George Washington, and Abraham Lincoln.  When we told her we were thinking of going there for her birthday, she did a happy little freak out dance.  I thought that was a good sign. 

The girls had the day off of school, so we got to be there on her very birthday.  She requested blueberry pancakes for breakfast, so we brought all the ingredients with us and whipped it up in our hotel (which had a kitchenette, we aren't total nut jobs).  When I realized we forgot the maple syrup, Grammie came to the rescue by suggesting the leftover chocolate frosting from her birthday cake.  Anyone who has blueberry pancakes with chocolate frosting for breakfast on their birthday is a lucky, lucky person.  We opened presents and headed out to see the sites.

The perk of going in April is there are no crowds.  We had a lot of these places all to ourselves.  This allowed us to tell more people that it was Julia's birthday, which made her little heart burst with happiness.  There weren't all the pageants and shows going on, which is the downside of going in April (or upside, depending on how you feel about pageants and shows), but we were perfectly happy to take things at our own pace, see what we wanted to see, and head back to the hotel for some swimming when we were done. 

This about killed me.  Julia, giving a sermon.

The next day we went to the temple grounds.  I love that you can tell there is something special about temples even from the outside.  And hello tulips!  It was beautiful.

Also, there is something special about kids being able to touch the temple.  I don't know, maybe that's weird, but I thought it was quite sweet.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Spring Break

Ah, Spring Break.  When we are all very ready for from a break from school so we can drink in the arrival of spring.  And then realize at the end of the week, when we are starting to drive each other nuts, that this is the prelude to Summer Vacation, and what are we going to do after the first week of that, when we have 9 more weeks to go, we will all die. 

But Spring Break.  We had some fun.  We went to parks.  Julia learned to pump her legs, and now doesn't need me to push her on the swing anymore. 

We visited a nature center, where we learned about bees and what animals do in winter and saw an abundance of snakes and went for a nature walk wherein each "piece of nature" that someone picked up needed to be photographed.  I'd love to say this was to log and record each piece because my kids are future scientists, but really it was so I didn't have to have a bunch of nature in my car.

We did a lot of scootering around the block.

We went to our beloved Brookfield Zoo.  Buying a pass last year was the best thing we could have done.  Love that place.

And we enjoyed April Fools Day at the library.  There was some silly program (Silly Storytime?  A concert?), but I'm fuzzy on the details now.  This is why I should blog when things happen instead of 3 months later.  But I do know that they encouraged funny outfits, hence these pictures.  And they got to spin the wheel, which makes everyone's day.

In all, it was a really fun week, and no one killed each other.  In fact, the fighting was minimal, because we were so busy.  Which gave me great hope for summer vacation.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

You Said You'd Bake Us a Cake

Sometime back in March, we had a special family home evening in which I declared that we would be baking a cake.  And that was all the instructions I gave.  The girls were in charge of creating a cake with no recipe.  They put in all kinds of wonderful things.  I wrote it all down, but of course, I lost it.  It had sugar and milk and peanut butter and chocolate chips and marshmallows!  Their little minds were bursting with the possibilities of this amazing cake.  Then, while it was baking, I pulled out a real recipe and we made another cake, following the instructions. 

After they were both baked, I asked the girls which cake they thought would be better.  Julia immediately responded, "Oh, our cake!  Definitely!"  But upon tasting, it was clear that even with all that peanut butter and chocolate, their cake wasn't as good as the one done by the book.  It wasn't completely inedible, but it wasn't exactly what you'd call a cake.  (I swear we took pictures of this too, but can't find any.)  This was a great object lesson about following directions and keeping the commandments and how much better life is when we do.  So I thought I'd share!

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Pi Day

This year was the a Pi(e) Day of epic proportions.  3.14.15.  We even had shirts to commemorate the event:

And, of course, we planned a pie party.  As you do.

Look at all that deliciousness.  But then, Ella woke up sick.  So there went that party.  My only consolation was there was more pie for me.  But...I would rather have shared it with great friends.  I've been thinking we should do a make up pie day.  Maybe a 2pi day (6.28)? 

Monday, June 01, 2015

February 2015

Highlights from February: 

Clark had a birthday!  It was apparently very past paced, and thus blurry.  But I can tell you that we were all very happy to celebrate this amazing man in our lives.  He is wonderful.

Valentines Day!  We had heart-shaped pizza, and pulled out the tablecloth, cloth napkins, and fancy cups for the occasion.  Actually, I think we celebrated Clark's birthday and Valentine's Day the same night due to Clark's crazy work schedule.  Hence why he has the red plate. 

 Julia's V-Day cards were Star Wars themed.  We introduced our kids to Star Wars this year, and it was well received.  Julia's favorite princess is now Princess Leia, and both girls are always ready for a light saber battle.  My little nerd heart is bursting with pride.

 The local library had a traveling LEGO exhibit visit for a weekend, and it was AMAZING.  They had downtown Chicago in detail, a Simpsons Springfield section, numerous characters roaming about (Batman, Indiana Jones, Toy Story, to name a few), and my personal favorite: the stair car and model home from Arrested Development.  "You're gonna get some hop-ons."

 And finally, my kids are crazy!  We were all going a bit stir crazy by the end of February, courtesy of below freezing temperatures and Ella being restricted from the cold (she couldn't be colder than room temperature until sometime in March, thanks to that whole cold agglutinin disease mess).  Hence the trips to McDonalds (play place to the rescue!).  I don't know why Ella was wearing gloves on her feet, but it cracked me up.

Sunday, May 31, 2015


For Family Home Evening on night in December, Julia asked everyone to draw a picture of the Nativity.  We all complied except Ella, who is stubborn as all get out and colored something else.  It was actually a very sweet experience.  Julia enjoyed seeing her parents draw (poorly on my part, but sometimes your kids need to see you do something poorly), and I enjoyed seeing her depiction of the Savior's birth.  She even wrote "Away in the Manger..." along the top of each piece. 

A few weeks later, wanting to purge the house of all the piles of paper but not wanting to forget this experience, I took a picture of each person with their Nativity. 

At this point it became apparent to Ella that she had not completed this assignment.  Everyone else was having their picture taken, and she was left out. I didn't feel that bad for her, because I'm a jerk of a parent sometimes, and also because she was the one who wouldn't participate in FHE, she can deal with the consequences.

But then I did feel bad, so we grabbed a picture of her from school and snapped a shot of her holding that.  She is pretty cute, you have to admit, even if she makes me want to pull my hair out sometimes.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Walks in the Woods

Time to play a little catch up.  Ok, a lot of catch up.  Bear with me.

This winter was cold.  Bitterly cold.  We're talking windchills in the -30s and -40s.  Also this winter, I signed up for a Feel Great in 8 challenge, which is an 8 week competition of eating right and exercising.  My standard form of exercising is walking.  So I decided to pull on the snow pants, bundle up my face, and turn my regular sissy walking into extreme walking.

Every day that Ella went to school (3 times a week), I would drop her off and then head down on the path by the river.  It's a beautiful path in the summer and fall, and I discovered that it's also beautiful in the winter.  The frozen river, the freshly fallen snow, the complete solitude.  It was actually lovely.

Sure, I looked ridiculous with my giant scarf wrapped around my face, but no one was there to see it.  I had the path to myself most days.  Except for the 2 days I saw a coyote cross the trail.  Other than that, I only saw tracks, no people.  And I loved it.  I loved my eyes freezing from the cold, my scarf covered in miniature icicles from my breath.  I loved the extra work it was to walk through fresh snow, 4, 5, 6 inches deep. I missed the warm sun, but I found great beauty in the winter, even in the coldest of temperatures. 

Plus, you know, bragging rights.  I went for a stroll in -40 degree weather.  Not many people are that extreme.  (Or crazy.)

 I also used my skis once or twice.  We bought those skis when we moved to Michigan, thinking we'd use them all the time.  This winter marked the 3rd time ever.  Turns out The Great White North isn't so great with the white.  But those 3 times I've used them have been wonderful!  I think I must be some kind of winter fanatic.  Which sounds insane, I know, but I'd much rather be snuggled up under a blanket with a cup of hot cocoa than sticky and sweating while eating a popsicle under the ceiling fan.

While I have no pictures of it, I was also privy to the miraculous unfolding of spring this year.  Each week on my walks I'd discover sprouts and buds springing forth out of the barren winter landscape.  When I'd miss a day or two, the changes were even more stark.  We went from white and frozen and (as much as I love winter, let's face it) dead through the muddy thaw to green and growing and leafy.  That walk is now full shade, and full of bikers and runners and dog walkers.  Everything has come to life, and that in itself is a beautiful thing.  This summer I'm going to miss my walks in the woods.  But perhaps I can convince the girls to go with me, and then we can enjoy summer in the woods, sweat and ticks and all!