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Friday, February 27, 2015

The craft of marriage

Here Comes The Bride

Last week I hosted a bridal shower for my cousin who is getting married in two short weeks. Her sister Rachael, fresh off an LDS mission served in England, helped me carry it out.

We had a great time. I cracked open my box of craft supplies and mustered up some creative energy to make some sweet decorations with a gold and pink theme. Rachael had us playing fun games and sparking discussions to help us get to know each other better. Even though we're family, that side just doesn't meet together as often as we should so when we do get face-to-face we try to live up the moments.

Adorable tutorial HERE for making these cute pennant banners  (mine were 2x the size described)
In countless other bridal showers I've been to for family members, there are typically women attending who have years of marriage experience. They write things down or verbally express pieces of advice for the new bride, all while pouring hope and optimism on her and blessing her with an eternity of happiness with her chosen man. I have enjoyed witnessing this happen because it gives me a glimpse into the intimacies of the advice-giver's marriage.

Marriage is a very intimate, very private thing that is more often than not celebrated in an extremely public manner. The marriage of two people can bring together hundreds of people from family to friends to coworkers and more. This is one reason why communities celebrate the occasion. But I have recently realized that the celebration, the preparation, the plans, and - let's face it - the budget, all have only one focus: the wedding. The wedding lasts a few minutes, maybe a little more. The marriage? It has eternal potential.

In my religion, marriage is regarded as a commandment from God, an ultimate goal. I wish I had been more prepared to experience it as less of a social and spiritual peak and more of a transformative undertaking. I remember being an excited bride. Happy to be the center of attention and happy with the man I chose. In all my optimism and excitement, however, I failed to recognize how tall and rough the mountain in front of me was. How huge the undertaking. How marvelous the adventure. Even if I had, it couldn't prepare me for what I have experienced so far.

The advice I received at my own family bridal showers was valuable but it was relative. Each bit was given to me from the perspective of my family members' own marriages. How could they prepare me for my own? They couldn't. They could only tell me in the undertones of their words that they have experienced the ups and downs of the meaningful relationship between spouses and had grown from it and that I would too.

The past year has delivered many challenges I could not have predicted and those challenges have impacted my relationship with my husband. So far, it's all been for the better. If I felt wise enough to pass along advice to others who find the opportunity to take on the challenge of marriage it would be:

Avoid glorifying marriage as some sort of goal to hang on your wall of accomplishments. Instead look at it as a rewarding, potentially eternal experience put in place to help us understand the meanings of permanence, selflessness, humility, and other Christ-like attributes.

I have high hopes for my cousin and her soon-to-be husband and, judging by the laughter I hear when they're together, I'm sure they'll have no shortage of happiness.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Esmeline: 2 Years!

Happy Birthday to the brightest 2 year old girl I know!

Es knows the alphabet, can identify about ten letters correctly each time, knows all her colors (though blonde escapes her. Mommy's hair is "white"), knows her basic shapes including the favorite hexagon, hasn't stopped running since she started more than a year ago, knows at least a dozen songs by heart, and so, so much more. She's such a joy to teach and she loves to learn!

She's still the tiniest thing and I'll find out her stats on Thursday. We just love how miniature she is in size and how giant she is in personality!

Two of my favorite things about Es are:

1. Her sense of humor. Essie makes up her own jokes all the time. She does the wildest impressions of things I wouldn't consider to be humorous until she starts talking about them. She does an impression of the moon that sounds like a baby seal and looks like squinting. I love it. She thinks Shehan is hilarious and that she's hilarious too, often cracking up at her own jokes. She loves to laugh and she loves to have fun!

2. Her conversation. Es loves to talk and for the most part I can pretty well make out what she's telling me. She talks to her toys, shouts at the dogs, and has a million reasons for why she's doing something. Or not doing something. A recent conversation:
    Me: Es are you ready for bed?
    Es: No.
    Me: Why?
    Es: Because....because...oh! I just gotta go potty.

I could go on but I'm tired and it's been a very long day. We had a nice spaghetti dinner (one of her favorite meals) and then opened presents. Afterward we had yummy cupcakes, or if you're Es you just had frosting.

This is a very loved little girl who truly adores everything the world has to offer her, especially books and toys. Thank heaven for books and toys and especially little girls!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Two years ago this December night

Hello, blog. I'm still alive.

This time two years ago I was experiencing contractions. I knew deep in my soul that I would deliver a beautiful baby girl in just hours. I remember the time of very early labor. The regular (but not frequent enough) contractions. I prepared our home, went shopping for the last hospital bag essentials, and finally, when all my errands were not enough, I got on our elliptical machine to keep my body moving. My heart spoke to that little baby, telling her I was ready and so excited.

At that time I thought I had experienced the most challenging year of my life. I was finishing up my Master's degree, Shehan was starting a demanding new job, and I had a high-risk pregnancy. It was a lot to handle and I took it better than even I expected myself to. I knew I had something wonderful to look forward to, and that was my baby Es. The trials and change were so, so worth it.


Now, as I reflect on that time two years ago, I recognize how conditional our perspective is on life, and how important it is to just love all of it.

This year has been a mountain. I traveled more than I ever have for work and in addition to that I began to feel intense fatigue. In addition to that I experienced troubling depression (not the same as I've had before), and crippling unexplained pain. After lengthy, expensive testing of my brain, blood, and muscle strength, a very good doctor diagnosed me with fibromyalgia. In case you're unfamiliar with it, fibromyalgia is chronic, widespread pain coupled with fatigue, mental fogginess, and often anxiety and depression. It is incurable, but if you find the right treatment(s), can be managed.

It's clear Heavenly Father knows me well by the way he slows me down. He slows down my body in order to make me see the beautiful existence around me, and to enjoy every moment of it.

I don't want this post to be about my diagnosis as it's still a new thing to me and a daily struggle. It's raw and I don't have everything figured out, and I'm not sure I ever will. It is, though, worth mentioning as I reflect on the changes in my life.

Tomorrow is Esmeline's birthday. She will be two at 3:00 am tomorrow morning. Two years seems just right for the amount of growth we've all experienced during her life, and yet it seems so short to describe such lasting changes.

I look forward to spotlighting her truly amazing little self tomorrow. But tonight I want to soak up these happy, thankful tears in the marvelous humbling moments I've enjoyed in the past two years. The ones she has brought me as well as the ones I've enjoyed just with Shehan, and even with only myself. I know that no matter what comes in the future; what hardships, illnesses, changes, or joys, I'll be able to rely on the small doses of perspective each of my life's challenges has afforded me to get through the hard times and love the happy times even more.


Saturday, June 14, 2014

Esmeline: 18 Months

Es reached her 18 month birthday on Monday - oh my how time flies.

Weight: 18 lb. 7 oz. (1%)
Height: 30.5 in. (18%)

She's getting tall!

Daddy loves: Everything. Es is a regular parrot and Shehan loves to hear her repeat him. He'll make silly sound patterns and she'll copy them. They're quite a pair.

Mommy loves: Her curiosity. Es must know every answer to every question. We'll be sitting in church trying to keep her quiet with a book but she'll see something she wants to know the name of and scream, "WHAT'S THAT!?!?!?!" If you don't answer her quickly enough she'll get more insistent, "WHAT'STHATWHAT'STHATWHAT'STHAT!?!?!?" It can be disruptive but I love it.

Doggies love: Her! Meg and Clare love to go into Essie's room every morning to wake her up. Clare will lean on her crib and poke her nose between the bars. Es usually rewards her with a kiss and boom. My heart explodes.

Esme loves: Learning new words (her vocabulary is enormous), fruit snacks, dancing, climbing everything and anything, playing catch, running (she shouts, "Run run run!"), seeing her friends and family, eating, looking at books, and pretty much everything else.

Es reached some exciting milestones. She can climb things very well, including ladders (yikes). She can empathize with others. When she sees anyone sad in either real life or television or in books she'll say, "sad" and try to comfort. She is also good at identifying happiness. Es knows the difference between hot and cold and LOVES to point it out to you.

Hogle Zoo 2014

Es visted Utah's Hogle Zoo for the first time last month and shortly afterward experienced her first plane ride to Omaha, where we visited my sister Jenny and her family. I'll find time somewhere to post about that trip, as it was just wonderful and SO fun!
First plane ride! Super boring. Thankfully when you have a baby nobody wants to sit by you!

We love this kid. At her 18 month well baby appointment Dr. Doug was discussing Essie's above-average behavior and intellect with me when he warned me that the day will come when I will want to compare my other children with Essie and I should be careful not to do that. Es is extremely bright and Dr. Doug said others her age are perfectly healthy but not at the same level and that I should remember that whenever we have more kids. This really just tells me my little girl is something to be VERY proud of. Shehan and I couldn't ask for a more adventurous, delightful, sweet, beautiful little girl and we are so lucky to have her forever!

New penguin friend from the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

(Lack of) follow up

A communications professor once told me I had a book inside of me. I asked, "What does it take to let it out?"

"Help it," she corrected.

"You have to help it out."

Wise woman, that one. With that in mind, I realize I need to write more. I have lots of stories, thoughts, and the like stuck inside my brain but without a lot of time to write them down. I thought after I earned my Master's degree I would have so much free time to do other things. Then all those other things turned out to be centered around Shehan and Essie and our new house.

Speaking of the house, we have been working hard on it. Lots of updates in the works and I even have before/after photos trapped inside cameras and computers, waiting to be posted. Shoot. Better get on that. Also, look at this adorable and gorgeous apricot tree in my yard:

(Back to the original post) I'm not in any way complaining about Shehan, Es, and House taking up all my time. On the contrary, it's a really wonderful way to live! But it leaves me without following up. :)

So here's a quick follow-up.

Remember back in November I wrote a post on my idea to test out a gluten free lifestyle to get rid of the inflammation in my body? Well, it worked. Big time. What I didn't mention was that I had nearly become completely incapacitated by the pain caused by eating gluten. I was unable to walk normally, carry things, and even stand straight. My doctor could find nothing wrong in blood tests. Turns out, I just can't eat gluten. It hates me.

I thought I would really suffer with this diet change. I love bread. No, I really, really, really love bread. And tortillas. I really, really, really love flour tortillas. Oh, and soy sauce, oh, and barbecue potato chips, and....the list goes on. BUT, thanks to some really awesome companies such as Udi's, I feel like I can eat nearly like a person without gluten sensitivity. Nearly. If you follow me on Instagram you'll know I miss cookies but I still manage to find my way around baking in the gluten free world.

Case in point, these beautiful sugar cookies:

So there. You have a follow-up.