Monday, October 12, 2015

Nolan Warren's Birth Story

My due date was Sunday, September 27, and I was especially eager for Nolan to come before that date. I had been dilating for weeks, had several hours of contractions each day, and Los Angeles was having a heat wave. In addition, Nolan was measuring large just like Cal, and I was afraid that the further past my due date I went, the larger he was growing and the less likely I would be to have a VBAC.

On Wednesday, September 30, I went in to my post-due date appointment -- one I had really hoped not to keep. I was freaking out on the way there, because I knew my doctor would want to come up with some sort of plan. She had already advised me that she thought I should have a C-section, and I knew she thought I should be induced if the baby hadn't come yet. I didn't want to be induced because I blamed my C-section with Cal on my induction with him. However, as we discussed what to do in the exam room, I started to feel like an induction would be a better option than waiting things out, especially because this time I was already dilated and showing signs of labor. I was also having higher blood pressure than I ever had before, and it was getting close to the pre-eclampsia limit of 140/90. My doctor was going to be in the hospital the next day, and because I had so much anxiety due to my last birth experience, I felt like it would be better if she was my doctor. We arranged for me to come in at 10 pm that night for an induction. 

My grandma took Cal for the rest of the day so I could sleep before the induction, but before she left I found myself crying because I realized that it was the last day of just Cal. I felt a little guilty that I was not doing something special with him instead of just sleeping and sending him away, but I knew it was the last sleep I would get for a while and I needed to take advantage of it. 

When Scott and I got to the hospital, a resident came and measured Nolan. Everyone kept commenting on how active he was, which made me laugh because it was always the same with Cal, too. He was continuing to measure big, of course, and the resident admonished me that it might be smarter to have a C-section because I hadn't been able to successfully push out Cal. I smiled and nodded because at that point I was NOT going to give up trying. My IV was started and the baby and I were put on the monitor, and just before they started the pitocin I started contracting on my own 3 minutes apart. 

For the next twelve hours or so, I had these mild contractions as they ramped up the pitocin. They checked me eight hours into it, and I was still dilated to a 4 despite being a little more effaced. I was starting to feel really discouraged. I had called my doula at 4 am when I started to get more uncomfortable, thinking that labor was imminent, only to have nothing develop for hours as she was there. I had to be on the monitor because of the VBAC and pitocin, so I had this little portable monitor. I could walk about twenty feet outside of my room in either direction, so I walked on my tiny little leash for about 2 hours. My doctor kept checking on me as she saw me in the hallway, and I was bemoaning the fact that my contractions didn't hurt. "They'll hurt eventually," she told me, "and then you'll wish they didn't." 

Finally, at 12 pm, right before they were about to check me again, my contractions started to really, really hurt. The nurse told the doctors to wait an hour, and I started needing counter-pressure on my back and deep breathing to get through my contractions. I had decided to try and have the baby without an epidural, because I thought that possibly part of the reason I had not been able to push Cal out was because of the epidural and being stuck on the bed for hours. The first hour was ok. It really hurt, but I was able to change positions and move through the contractions and rest in between. They checked me at 1 pm, and I was at a 6. Finally something was happening!

Shortly after this check, things started getting really painful. I haven't really had non-pitocin contractions, so maybe they all feel like this, but I started feeling like I was being crushed from the inside out. I started feeling like maybe this no-epidural thing was a bad idea. I asked Scott to turn on my running playlist because I felt like running was the only analogous thing to this -- Running was the only other thing that I would just make myself push through until it was over. It worked for about an hour. It was hard, but I could tolerate it. 

Then things just got too intense. I started saying, "I can't do it, I can't do it," and my doula and Scott were encouraging me to keep trying. Finally I said, "No, I really can't, I need the epidural." Once I decided to get the epidural, the contractions felt even more unbearable. I'm sure it only took 15-20 minutes for the doctor to get there, but it felt eternal. Once they arrived and needed me to get in certain positions, I could not handle it and started screaming. Several people ran into the room thinking something horrible had happened -- nope, I just waited longer than I should have to get the epidural!! In those moments before they inserted the needle I was absolutely sure I was going to die. I'm so impressed by those who have had a natural childbirth because I do not know how in the world I would have continued through that. 

Once the epidural was in, I started feeling some relief although I had horrible spasms down my right hip for about a half hour afterwards. The nurses kept encouraging me to push the PCA button. With Cal, they had told me not to push it because it would make me less able to feel when to push. Even if they hadn't encouraged me this time I think I would have been pushing it every 15 minutes. The doctors came in to check me again and I asked them to give me 15 minutes. When they did check me, I was dilated to a 10 and my water hadn't broken yet, so they broke it. Then they had me "labor down" for two hours. The baby's head was still somewhat high, so they said they would just let my uterus push him down for a few hours while I rested. I was able to sleep a little and read a book. When they came in 2 hours later, they said his head was +1 and I was ready to push. 

At this point a different nurse came in (they were understaffed and I had had different nurses throughout the day). I had wanted to push side-lying because it makes the pelvis wider, but she recommended trying on my back and then if I was having trouble we could switch to side-lying or using the squat bar. I started pushing and I couldn't feel a thing. It was AMAZING. With Cal my epidural had really worn off by the time I started pushing and it was very painful and exhausting. I was pushing as hard as I could now. I could feel the contraction and when to push, but I couldn't feel pain, just effort. The nurse kept saying, "You're a really good pusher, this baby is moving down." I couldn't tell if she was just being positive to keep my going or if I really was getting him out, so I kept looking to Scott to see if she was telling the truth. 

I had started pushing at about 6 pm. At 7 pm, Dr. Jensen came in to say goodbye -- it was the end of her shift. I was sad that she was going to miss delivering this baby too. At this point I still really didn't know what would happen. I knew he was moving down, but I felt like he could still get stuck, just like Cal had. The night shift doctors came in a few minutes later, and one of them was the resident from the night before. I could tell she was excited that I was pushing and that she couldn't believe I had gotten that far. After she and the other resident checked where the baby was, they decided not to leave the room. It was at that moment that I finally believed that I really might be able to have this baby vaginally, and I started to cry every time I thought about it. 

When his head crowned, I could feel the pressure of it, and the doctors told me to push at "half-strength." Just a few pushes later and suddenly I felt like everyone was talking, and I saw Nolan and heard him cry. They threw him right up on my chest, and there he was. It was so amazing. One of the hardest things about Cal's birth was that I had to wait to see him for a long time, and now I had this baby seconds after he was born. He was sleepy -- probably because I had pushed my epidural button so many times -- but with a little encouragement we got him to latch on. (He then proceeded to nurse for 3 of the next 4 hours. He was born hungry). I was so happy that I got to keep looking at him and holding him without anyone taking him away. 

And as I was nursing him, they told me I could eat. I had been eating on the sly throughout my labor because with Cal I got so hungry and dehydrated that I felt like it contributed to my inability to push him out, but I hadn't eaten since I went into active labor because it was so painful I was afraid I would throw up. Scott had been to Chick-fil-A earlier and started feeding me nuggets as I held Nolan. It was perfect. 

I was almost afraid to ask how much I'd torn, but it turned out to be a very superficial first degree tear. 11 days postpartum, I hardly feel like I had a baby (other than all the weight I have yet to lose). I feel so blessed to have been able to have a VBAC, and I couldn't have done it without so many people -- the chiropractor who helped him turn when he was breech, my doctor, who let me try even though she was fairly certain it would end in a c-section, my amazing doula without whom I don't think I could have done it. Getting this baby here has been my project for the last nine months and I'm so grateful that I had the birth experience I was praying for. Now I just need to figure out how to keep this little creature (and his big brother) alive. More on that later.  :) 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

4 books I can't wait to read this fall (plus one I can't wait to read in February).

There are so many good books coming out this fall, and I am impatient to read them all. Here are the five I am most likely to spend money on (shhh don't tell Scott).

(out September 15)

I enjoyed Mindy Kaling's first book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) (how apt is that title? Who hasn't ever worried about that) so much, and I have a feeling with a new baby I am going to need something funny and also inspiring to get me through those midnight feeding sessions with baby Nolan. 

(out September 22)

I haven't read any of Elizabeth Gilbert's fiction, but I have adored her nonfiction. Lately I have really been wishing to make better use of my creativity, and am looking forward to reading a book on this subject by an author whose voice I love. 

(out October 22)

I have loved everything Rainbow Rowell has written, unequivocally. Her recent book Fangirl was about a girl who wrote fan fiction about the invented character of Simon Snow. Now Rowell has actually written a actual book about this character and I am so excited!

(out October 29)

David Mitchell wrote Cloud Atlas, one of the weirdest and most brilliant books I've read. (I have a particular soft spot for it because I bought it at my favorite bookstore in Paris and read the Belgium sections, coincidentally, while I was in Bruges). This book is about a haunted house and is told through five different inhabitants of the house. Definitely the book I want to read while I hand out candy to trick-or-treaters. 

(out February 23, 2016)

And as a bonus, my most highly anticipated book of the year, The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater, will be released on February 23, 2016. Originally it was going to be released on September 29th of this year, and it was part of the reason I wrote this post. When I went to grab the graphic, I saw that it had been postponed. Silent tear. However, still looking forward to this book, and if you are looking for something slightly spooky and completely lovely to read for Halloween this year, pick up the first three books in the series. They are quick reads and are incredible

Any books you are looking forward to reading this fall? 

Friday, August 28, 2015

Vulnerability and early motherhood.

Blogging and writing have not been priorities lately -- not because I don't have ideas constantly going through my mind, but because life has been a whirlwind, between trying to prepare myself for the marathon event of having another baby after all the issues Cal and I experienced, Scott dealing with finals (the busiest week of finals he has ever had), and Cal going on another nap strike and not coping with it well (think tantrums all day, every day). At the moment, however, he has been quiet for a full 13 minutes, which leads me to hope I might actually get some words out today.

I've been thinking about vulnerability a lot lately. It's somewhat common knowledge among my friends that I had postpartum depression with Cal. I've never coped well with hormones -- I've dealt with depression for a long time, but my first bout with it was when puberty hit. "That time of month" has always been pretty brutal. When I went on the pill, I was such a nightmare that I had to change my prescription. And obviously, the whole pregnancy and postpartum thing was pretty difficult. In addition, my hopes of breastfeeding exclusively were dashed when I found out both Cal and I had structural and genetic issues that made latching difficult for him and milk production difficult for me. Cal's birth was pretty difficult and painful to recover from, and to top it all off, he was hospitalized at five weeks with RSV. I'm not saying that I had the hardest time ever by any means -- I see sweet little babies in the NICU, moms with special needs babies, and other difficult situations and admire their strength and appreciate their difficulties as much as someone outside the situation can. All I'm saying is, for me, new motherhood was very, very hard. Without a doubt, the hardest thing I've gone through.

I hadn't really expected things to be that difficult. I was excited to have Cal -- he was very much planned and very much wanted. I was shocked with myself at the level of distress I felt as we learned to be a family. I wondered if I was a very horrible, selfish person because I wasn't bubbling over with joy like so many of the other new mothers I knew.

What literally saved my life was reading life experiences of people who had been through something similar. One of these days -- maybe in two weeks when I am able to get Cal to nap again, ha -- I want to write a post about all the books that got me through pregnancy and new parenthood. But the one that most helped me was Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott. Essentially, it was a little diary of her thoughts about her son in his first year of life. Sometimes what she wrote was shocking or abrasive. I didn't agree with every word in her book. But certain of her words were so freeing -- the way she obviously adored and lived and breathed for her new baby, but also the way she frankly admitted the struggles and negative emotions she experienced as she tried to navigate such raw, sleep-deprived days. My favorite quote is this:
I wish he could take longer naps in the afternoon. He falls asleep and I feel I could die of love when I watch him, and I think to myself that he is what angels look like. Then I doze off, too, and it's like heaven, but sometimes only twenty minutes later he wakes up and begins to make gritchy rodent noises, scanning the room wildly. I look blearily over at him in the bassinet, and think, with great hostility, he's raising his loathsome reptilian head again.
If you've never felt a hint of that when your baby woke up after only 20 minutes, you are truly a saint and have my admiration (and skepticism).

Because of the way others' frankness helped me so much to get through my difficulties, I've always felt this desire and obligation to be open and vulnerable about what I experienced -- not to scare people or be negative, but because these emotions can be scary and heavy, and having someone else to share the burden lightens them so much.

All of this came to mind because I saw a discussion online about how women are "too negative" about early motherhood. All the women in this discussion were talking about how wonderful and perfect motherhood is, and how they hated how people had tried to scare them and how if they weren't selfish and tried harder to be positive, they wouldn't have such a hard time. This felt like a punch in the gut to me, especially because I had shared on this page the fact that I found it encouraging when women shared their struggles as a way to support each other. I think there has to be a better way to find balance. It was so harmful to me when everyone told me that motherhood was perfect bliss -- I was so shaken by the things I experienced. Of course I expected sleepless nights and a shift in my priorities. I think of the one person, one of my college roommates, who said to me, "It is so, so hard. But you love the baby so much." At the time I was a little shocked that she said this to me -- I was thinking, are you trying to make me worry? But after I had Cal, I was so grateful for her honesty. Because it was so, so hard. And I do love Cal so, so much. She was one of the lifelines I had that I wasn't a completely degenerate human being because I was struggling.

Anyway, all this to say that vulnerability is hard, but I still think it is important for us to be open about our experiences, both negative and positive, in early motherhood. It is uncharted territory with every new baby. Now that I am adding a second baby to our family in the next few weeks, I know some things. I know what it is like to wake up multiple times a night and go through a day on two hours of sleep. I know what it is like to watch chubby limbs go floppy from milk and melt into my chest. I know what it is like to watch every day as eyes grow more alert and smiles become more frequent. I don't know what it is like to watch siblings learn to love each other (and also to fight with each other). I don't know how to entertain a 3 year old while I try to feed a newborn. I don't know how to get through a day with an active 3 year old after staying up all night with a newborn. I am grateful for the stories my friends share who have been there already -- the stories of being awake all night and popping the toddler in front of the TV for hours, the stories of sweet first hugs between siblings, the promises that things will fall into place. The honesty of one friend telling me, "Mothering two children is the hardest thing I've ever done." I don't see that as negativity. I see it as openness, shared experience, connection. Something all mothers share, through both the terrible and wonderful moments of parenthood.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Reading, Watching, Listening {May} & {June 2015}

I have read so many books in the last couple of minutes and I have had so little time to blog. However, so many of these books were completely fabulous that I have to share them. So here is my update in one sentence reviews.

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton: Fun mystery with some depth and romance to it. 4 stars

Clariel by Garth Nix: The fourth Abhorsen book, it was not easy to read. Interesting to revisit a fantasy world I like, but not utterly satisfying. 3 stars

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain: A dense but eye-opening book, both about myself and my son. 4 stars

A Good Birth: Finding the Positive and Profound in Your Birth Experience by Anne Drapkin Lyerly: Possibly the most important book I've read this year in preparing to repeat an experience that was very traumatic for me. Very healing, very unbiased -- every woman who has a child or is planning on having a child should read this one. 4.5 stars

The VBAC Handbook by Helen Churchill: Not always relevant to me because it was written in the UK and much of the information is specific to the UK's health care system. Still, encouraging with some illuminating statistics and facts. 3 stars

Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe by Sarah Mae: Lovely ideas in this book about coping with the demands of motherhood through the lens of faith and Christianity. At times a bit narrow-focused on stay-at-home moms, which sometimes left me feeling inferior as one who works outside the home. 3.5 stars

City of Fallen Angels, City of Lost Souls, and City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare: I finished the last three books in the Mortal Instruments series, and they were fun, although I found the 4th book a bit lacking. In order, 3 stars, 4 stars, and 5 stars.

Sorcery & Cecilia, or the Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer: Jane Austen meets Harry Potter. It was as fun as it sounds, although occasionally long-winded. 3.5 stars

After Birth by Elisa Gilbert: Brash, offensive, and often inappropriate. But. At the same time, this author wrote things about postpartum depression and traumatic birth that I have thought in my own head and never heard voiced before. Not a book I recommend to others per se, but a very important book for me to read. Also, spends a lot of time on the importance of friendship and support postpartum in our modern, disconnected world, which is a pet cause of mine.

We Were Liars by e. lockhart: So addictive and devastating. I read it in a matter of hours and was shocked by the ending. 4 stars

My Other Ex: Women's True Stories of Losing and Leaving Friends by Jessica Smock, (ed.): Kind of depressing. Some of the stories were powerful but some of them made me think the women "losing and leaving" their friends were immature jerks. 3 stars

The Blue Jay's Dance: A Birth Year by Louise Erdrich: Definitely some powerful and beautiful images in this birth memoir, but the lack of cohesive narrative made this one a bit hit or miss for me. 3 stars

How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish: Best. Parenting book. Ever. I'm definitely still working on these techniques but I have already felt a positive influence from learning them with Cal, working as a pediatric nurse, and in my relationships with adults. 4 stars

The Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera: I liked the setting and the philosophical questions raised by this book, but it was a bit meandering and sometimes farfetched for me. 3 stars

To All the Boys I've Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han: Contemporary, fun YA at its absolute finest. I devoured these romantic books. What's better is that they were not formulaic and had plenty of surprises and a unique character that isn't the stock unique character if you know what I mean. 4 stars

Royal Wedding by Meg Cabot: I am forever a Princess Diaries fangirl. This adult installment was fun. Everything was a little too tidy at the end but it's Princess Mia, and I wouldn't be happy if it wasn't a feel-good ending. :) 4 stars

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes: This one was much heavier than I had imagined. I honestly had no idea how it would end until the last chapter. Definitely a lot to discuss from a bioethics standpoint, and lovable characters. 4 stars

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo: Girlfriend is a little bit psycho. But her total dedication to her craft has led her to be excellent in it, and I am itching to dump the contents of my closet on my floor and have a tidying marathon (and to refold everything in my drawers). 4 stars

Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin: I think this is a great read, albeit a biased one. As someone who adamantly wanted an epidural with my first birth and who adamantly doesn't want one with my second, it was a good education and I found myself frequently pointing things out to Scott as I read it on the airplane (to his chagrin, I think). Worth a perusal even if natural childbirth isn't your thing. 4 stars


:: Friends! (Of course)

:: I finished the most recent season of Call the Midwife. I have watched far too much of that show while pregnant and it isn't always the most comfortable thing. 


:: Lots of podcasts these days (it's probably going to get its own separate post)

:: Digging the Acoustic Summer playlist on Spotify. Usually I just listen to their seasonal acoustic playlists once or twice to pull out the songs I like best, but this one has been on repeat. Even though I haven't been familiar with most of the songs they come together really well and I love most of them. 

:: Hypnobabies, to be honest. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


For the past several weeks, in the "notes" section of my much-worn daily planner was a series of goals with little checkboxes next to them. "Gratitude journal," with seven checkboxes. "Exercise," with six. "50 Kegels," another seven. Initially, I tried to keep my checkboxes to three a week, with the idea that if I kept them for three weeks, they could "graduate" off the list, because you create a habit in 21 days (is that a true thing? It's embedded in my subconscious).

But here's the thing. After about five weeks of this, I totally burned out. I stopped doing everything on the checklist, except maybe the Kegels (I guess if it's a physical habit, it becomes engrained more easily?). That list in tiny print, with those tiny checkboxes, was so oppressive to me. So this week, there are no checkboxes in my planner. And I have been doing almost all the things on my list.

In a similar way, sometimes my "organization" of blogging gets oppressive, too. I have all these features that I like to implement -- what I'm reading, family updates, calling my philosophical rantings "Musings" and scheduling them to Sundays. I like having order to my blog, and I think that implementing some rules often creates more likelihood of actually getting something accomplished. Except when it doesn't. I started getting ideas for posts, but thinking that I should post them because I hadn't kept up with my regular posts for the month, and I needed to do those first. So I ended up writing nothing whatsoever, because the features sounded boring but I had to get through them before I wrote up any of the "fun" ideas percolating in my head. (I'm using a lot of quotation marks in this post. I guess that is the way I convey sarcasm through the written word).

I think we could get into a whole discussion about whether rules suppress creativity or enhance the structure needed to bring it into life. I think it is definitely a delicate balance. And obviously, depressing as it is, when there is a child to take care of, 12 hour shifts to work, a house to clean, a pregnant body to nourish and drag through every single day, creativity is usually what falls by the wayside. Even when I do have time (ahem, no I didn't watch eight episodes of Friends after my shift last night), sometimes I just can't keep to my planned schedule of beneficial activities like a well-oiled machine. Sometimes I do have to sit on my couch, eat popcorn and ice cream, paint my nails, color, and watch a lot of stupid TV. I think I'm getting off topic. But the point is, I try not to make creativity an obligation, because structuring it too much makes me hate it. But when I don't structure it at all, it fades away.

I want to be blogging and writing again, but right now, sticking to my features is going to mean no blogging. I can't commit to those posts (and probably nobody else really cares, but for me it feels like a big deal).

So for the next couple of months, before baby boy makes his appearance, I'm going to write about whatever the heck I feel like writing. Okay? Okay. I think that is going to taste like pregnancy, babies, and postpartum survival, with maybe a little freaking-out-about-my-oldest-child thrown in. The last few months haven't been easy, and while I'm hoping that means I'm getting my postpartum depression out of the way PRE partum, I know it's probably not quite that simple. Writing has always been my survival line, but I push it to the side more often than not, especially when things get crazy. So here's to a little less structure over the next few months, and a lot more writing.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Family Updates {5.15}


:: was accepted into the Venice Select program for dental school. This competitive program allows him to have extra days at a clinic in Venice (CA) as well as extra lectures from a great professor.

:: is gearing up for his externship in Hawaii.


:: finally have my energy back. This pregnancy has been much more draining than my pregnancy with Cal, probably because of Cal. However I am finally feeling up to working out and I think that has made a huge difference.

:: have been trying to spend 15 minutes writing a day. This blog has fallen into disuse with my lack of energy -- all I've been doing with my spare time is sleep, sleep, sleep. However, I am hoping to start spending more time writing and updating again.

:: am sad that many of my friends are leaving Los Angeles with the end of the school year this year. And also incredulous that it will be us next year.


:: loves SNAILS! Every morning he wakes up and says, "I want to go outside and find snails!" He also has a little snail habitat in his room so he can watch snails all the time.

:: had a blast at California Adventure yesterday. He is often nervous at amusement parks but absolutely loved his day yesterday, now that the passes are about to blacked out for the next several months of course!

:: is no longer attending daycare. He spends weekend days with Scott, one day a week with my grandma, and one day a week with a babysitter who has a little boy around his age.

:: is getting to be less shy around other kids, which is helping me be less worried about the issues he had at daycare.

:: is starting to speak in more original sentences. He loves to tell me what he wants to do every day ("I want to go to Disneyland! I want to see airplanes! I want to ride the Magic School Bus!"). He also loves to describe what is happening in books and the world around him, and is starting to say some pretty funny things. "Get out of here, little mama!" My favorite thing is his prayers. He always blesses his toys, and the other day he also blessed dirt and sticks.


:: are excited that another little BOY is joining our family!

:: are excited that we are taking a vacation every month until this baby is born. I often feel like we never get to have fun because of my work schedule, but we are going to Hawaii in June, Cal and I are visiting my family in July, we are renting a cabin with friends in August, and going to San Diego for a friend's wedding in September.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Reading, Watching, Listening {March} & {April 2015}

No pictures this time because I am so behind to upload them all would mean I would never get it finished!


Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

This book is about a teenage girl who had cancer and set out to accomplish several things on her bucket list (some of which included exacting revenge on popular kids in school), only to go into remission and have to live with the consequences of her actions. I had high hopes for this one as the premise was interesting, and I like reading about life after cancer, a topic very few authors focus on. However, I absolutely loathed the main character (and I am one who usually likes an unlikable character). She was selfish and nasty and undeserving of the wonderful people in her life, and it colored the whole book unenjoyable for me. 

2 stars

Out to Canaan by Jan Karon

This one was a reread. I love the Father Tim books -- they are comfortable and sweet and uplifting and I probably read about one a year. They are not necessarily exciting or earth-shattering, but reading one feels like curling up in a quilt, sipping hot cocoa, and passing a perfectly peaceful evening. 

4 stars

City of Bones, City of Ashes, and City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

I also read the first three books of the Mortal Instruments series, fantasy books set in modern day New York, about demon-killing, part-angel people. I have already read the prequel series to this one and loved it to pieces. I'm not quite as attached to the characters in this one, and did figure out most of the plot twists in the first 100 pages (these books usually clock in at over 500), but I still find them totally addictive and fun, which is what I've been needing lately as stress after stress seems to be piling on my head. I have the last three books in the series waiting on my shelf and I can't wait to get to them. 

4 stars each

The Funeral Dress by Susan Gregg Gilmore

This was definitely what some critics call "chick lit" -- the story of a unwed mother and a crotchety, childless crone, and their unlikely friendship, as well as the way the older woman's death affects the younger woman. It was interesting enough but not the type that stayed with me. 

3 stars

Great With Child: Letters to a Young Mother by Beth Ann Fennelly

This was easily the best thing I read in the last two months. Beth Ann Fennelly, a poet who also wrote the gorgeous Tender Hooks and mother of a two-year-old, writes letters to her pregnant former student and friend. She is so real and honest, and I loved both the descriptions of her two-year-old and her reminiscing on pregnancy and new motherhood. I feel that so few people are able to convey both the ugliness and beauty of those first traumatic weeks, and this book does perfectly. I want to read it again before this pregnancy is over. 

5 stars

The Irrational Season by Madeleine L'Engle

I love Madeleine L'Engle so, so much. This is the third of her Crosswicks journals, and so far my least favorite, although I did enjoy it. In it, she has a chapter for each season of the liturgical calendar, in which she discusses some of her doubts about the nature of God and how she lives with them. I don't know a lot about the liturgical calendar, so that in and of itself was interesting to me. I also appreciate when religious people are forthcoming about the parts of God that are confusing to them. I think most of us, when we search deeply, find some things that unsettle us -- if faith were easy, it wouldn't be faith. Reading this wise woman's experiences was uplifting as always, although I have preferred the more narrative style of her other Crosswicks journals. 

4 stars

The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver

Another reread -- apparently my pregnant state of mind can mostly handle rereads and fluffy books these days. This book is one of my favorites, and I feel like anything I tell you about it can't do it justice. So just go read it and be prepared to have your heart squeezed and twisted and broken a little bit. 

5 stars


I'm still watching Friends, and have also been watching the new season of Call the Midwife. (I always tell people not to watch it when they're pregnant, and I have watched in both my pregnancies. Oh well). I've also been watching Wolf Hall -- it is THE BEST, you guys. Usually I say read the book first, but in this case the show may be the best way to go, although it has a few differences -- the book is written sort of oddly, and even though it works, I think being able to see the characters in a more condensed version might make reading the book more enjoyable. Definitely want to reread it now. 


:: Josh Groban came out with his new "Stages" album yesterday. It is all music from Broadway musicals and it is good stuff. Listening to "What I Did For Love" on repeat (and then going to the piano and warbling it out myself)

:: I realized that "Drops of Jupiter" by Train was officially supplanted as my Favorite Song Ever (since I was like, 11) by "Going to California" by Led Zeppelin. I feel so inconstant.

:: New songs on my "Current Faves" playlist on Spotify are "Budapest" by George Ezra, "Ghosts" by Laura Marling, and "Should Have Known Better" by Sufjan Stevens. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Family Updates {3.15} & {4.15}


:: Completed an oral surgery externship at USC over spring break (but is pretty sure he wants to do general dentistry now)
:: Has been working hard at school, working with difficult patients and also doing a lot of work on his dad


:: Turned 27 and had a fabulous birthday, complete with prenatal massage, delicious lunch and dinner, and feeling loved and spoiled by family and friends
:: Am now 18 weeks pregnant, and very impatient to learn the gender of our baby on May 13th
:: Am slowly overcoming all the fatigue and morning sickness


:: Loves swimming lessons and can't wait for the pool to open again (it's been closed for renovations for weeks)
:: Will eat food if you compare it to bugs (i.e., pesto pasta is caterpillars. "More caterpillars please!")
:: Loves snails, "poly-bugs", butterflies, and other creepy-crawlies
:: Loves his Thomas duplos
:: Had a nasty bout with pink-eye and then a double ear infection which we discovered because he had a fever of 105.5 and took him to the emergency room. It's been a rough few weeks for him!
:: Is becoming a pro at puzzles (and can do them for an hour without getting bored)
:: Has been struggling at his new daycare, so we are trying to decide what the best option for him is. We want him to be around other kids so he can overcome some of his nervousness around them, but don't want him to be traumatized. We could definitely use some prayers.


:: Are going to Hawaii in June! Hooray!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

{Musings} Seasons

{via Amy Weiss} 

(Not so) fun fact: I have depression. If you've been reading this blog for a while, you probably know that I had postpartum depression after Cal's birth. What fewer people know is that I have had depression since I was ten. That doesn't mean that I've walked around in a fog of melancholy for the last seventeen years; I have gone years without a depressive episode. What it does mean is that it probably isn't going anywhere. While there definitely is a pattern to my depressive episodes (basically, hormonal changes = total upheaval), it doesn't appear to be an isolated event.

For this reason, I have always deeply loved Paul of the New Testament for sharing about his "thorn in the flesh" in 2 Corinthians 12. He begged the Lord to take it from him, and his loving, compassionate Heavenly Father told him, "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness." Paul responds to this difficult statement with an amazing attitude, responding with gratitude for his trial and the opportunity it gives him to rely on the Lord.

Like Paul, I have begged the Lord for my own "thorn in the flesh" to depart from me, and also like Paul, so far the answer has been no. There have been times when I have gone several years (the longest I've gone between without being deeply depressed was when I was dating/marrying Scott -- hooray for marrying a good man!) and thought, maybe I am done with this, finally. But so far, that has not been the case.

I recently read another book by Madeleine L'Engle (read everything she ever wrote, right now!) (but this one was The Irrational Season) where she discusses healing vs. curing. She talks about how when we pray for healing, we are often actually asking for curing. We want the cancer to be conquered, the pain to be soothed, the sadness to be erased. However, God doesn't always fix or erase the problem; instead he gives us strength to endure it. Of course, we can't use that strength unless we are willing to accept it, so if we are angry that the problem still exists -- if we are seeing only that we haven't been cured -- we are not always able to be healed.

Recently, I was in a season of depression. Not a horribly severe one, but definitely more than a bout of sadness. I was going through massive hormonal changes (read into that what you will), had low energy levels, and felt sick. Cal and I went through a month when we were sick three weeks out of four, and in addition to that Cal has been feeling particularly two lately (dropping his nap, screaming loudly and in public, refusing to eat food and throwing it on the floor). I was having a hard time getting out of the house, performing my basic responsibilities, finding joy in anything (you know there is something wrong with me when I don't even want to read).

When I am sick, I always notice the moment when I start to feel well. There is nothing better to me than suddenly having that return of energy, being able to breathe again, being able to eat again. I haven't always been as good at noticing the same thing when my mental and emotional health is restored -- I think often it is a more gradual thing. However, this time it coincided with feeling physically better and spring descending on Los Angeles (and yes, you can tell a difference. The temperatures are not that different, but there is something in the air that feels better and more joyful when winter is over! And also, swimming). And recognizing that I am okay again, that my depression is in remission for a while, and being able to feel energy and happiness again, almost makes it worth it, just like those first gorgeous days of spring in contrast to a harsh winter almost make up for the months of grey slush and overcoats.

I know there are seasons of depression left in my life, and that I am not going to be cured from this disease in this life. I also know that the love of my Savior can temper the darker seasons and offer me healing and solace as I endure them, and that there will be flowers and sunlight on the other side. And while I wouldn't walk backward through the last several weeks, I know the joy I feel today is stronger because I've passed through them.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Reading, Watching, Listening {February 2015}


I received this book from NetGalley for review back when I was more active on my book blog. It is essentially a collection of anecdotes about righteous living from the two authors, who have a podcast and blog. While I felt like the format worked better for a blog than a book, I did enjoy reading the life stories of these women. They are both touching and humorous. 3 stars

I've been reading this one slowly. It is a comprehensive examination of the doctrine behind Christ's crucifixion and atonement for the sins of mankind. It was absolutely beautiful and definitely worth digesting slowly. 5 stars

I loved Jean Kwok's first book, Girl in Translation, and also used to be into ballroom dancing, so I was really anticipating Mambo in Chinatown, the story of a girl who breaks out of her family's traditional lifestyle to become a ballroom dancer while still trying to remain close to them. While I found the book difficult to put down because the plot was advancing quickly, I found the writing and characters to be a bit flat. 3.5 stars

This book was heavy and emotional and gorgeous, and not for the faint of heart. The story of a girl who lost her sister and subsequently her way in life, and a boy who struggles with mental illness, but who is interesting and passionate and vivid, who meet and change each others' lives. I still can't stop thinking about this book days later. 4.5 stars

This book is an examination of LDS doctrine about what went down when Adam and Eve fell in Eden. It wasn't really any new information, but was a good reminder and also a good examination of the feminine in religion. 4 stars

This nonfiction book goes through a Victorian person's life from morning til night. It was very interesting and at times shocking to learn what was normal life for people in this time period. The writing was dense and it took a long time to get through, but the information was worth digging for. 3.5 stars

This companion novel to the Kingkiller trilogy was beautiful and ethereal. As the author warns, nothing much actually happens in this novella, and I doubt it would appeal to someone who hasn't read the other books in the trilogy, but if you do love these characters and a good dose of descriptive writing, The Slow Regard of Silent Things will probably appeal to you. 4 stars

This is a collection of talks from the 2013 BYU Women's Conference. I bought a huge bundle of these collections and am working my way backwards through them. I love how accessible they are and the way the women presenting them are normal women trying to live the best lives they can and sharing the lessons they've learned. Looking forward to reading more of these books. 4 stars

This is another novella based on supporting characters from a trilogy, in this case the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor. I read this on Valentine's day and it was absolutely stunningly perfect. Laini Taylor's writing is so perfectly vivid and unique, and I adore these characters and the chance to get to know more about them. Honestly, it might be worth reading even if you don't read the rest of the series. I loved this. 5 stars

This was a reread for me. I love Jhumpa Lahiri and have read all of her books; this was her first novel and I last read it when I was 18, so I figured it was time for a refresh. I think I liked it even better this time around. Heartbreaking as all of her books are (I wonder what her personal life must be like for her books to be so sad), but gorgeous. 4 stars. 

This was another review book off NetGalley, also based off a blog. The author is funny and definitely not one of those staged, "motherhood is bliss" types that populate so many of our instagram feeds. However, I would have liked to see more depth and dimension in this book -- it is mostly anger and sarcasm (although I guess I should expect as much from a book titled People I Want to Punch in the Throat). Still, her tirades can be refreshing -- we all have those moments when we want to roundhouse kick someone (right?). Probably not one I'd recommend, but it did have my laughing/nodding my head because I could relate a few times. 3 stars.


I'm planning on watching the season finale tonight. Can't wait to see how it all plays out, and wondering if there will be any (satisfying) resolution to the issues that built up during the penultimate episode!

Still enjoying my guilty pleasure -- I just started watching the 3rd season. There is nothing like a 20 minute sitcom to help me feel better after a stressful day. 

Confession: I haven't watched any of the seventh season yet. Scott just started watching it, so I have been watching some of the old episodes with him. I plan on watching the seventh season when he gets to it. Also, I don't want it to be over. 


:: Andrew McMahon and the Wilderness. My favorite band in high school was Something Corporate, I loved Jack's Mannequin in college, and now it seems appropriate that McMahon's new project is getting me through young adulthood. And his song, "Cecilia and the Satellite," about parenthood, makes me bawl my eyes out. 

:: I've been getting back to Josh Groban these days. Laugh all you want. His music is beautiful and comforting and it makes me happy. I think my favorite album right now is Illuminations, which may or may not be because that is the album he was promoting when I saw him on tour. 

:: Also going back to Mumford & Sons a lot these days. Somehow "Awake My Soul" slipped through my grasp when I was first obsessed with them. It's my current favorite of their songs. 

What are you reading, watching, and listening to these days? Any good recommendations? 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Family Updates {2.15}


:: Turned 27! We celebrated at Hinoki & the Bird, a fancy-schmancy restaurant that is so cool you have to have the parking valets show you how to open the door. (Really though).
:: Made amazing bolognese for a dinner party
:: Is winning father/husband of the year for taking good care of Cal and I while we've been sick


:: Has been a sickie and keeps asking Momma to "wipe my nosey-nose"
:: Spontaneously started singing "Leaving on a Jet Plane" tonight ("Want the airplane song")
:: Is mastering the use of a fork and spoon
:: Pooped on the carpet on purpose to spite Scott
:: Had fun getting Valentines from his friends at daycare


:: Have also been sick and haven't been to work in about a week
:: Have been reading lots of books
:: Found my favorite macarons in the United States so far ('Lette in Beverly Hills)
:: Have lots of goals these days but not quite as much motivation.


:: Have had some extra time together with all my sick days (One upside to being sick, hooray!)
:: Went to eat at the Griddle Cafe this month, and Cal was pretty excited about the pancake
:: Got to visit Scott at school on his birthday and brought some Ike's sandwiches (notice how almost all of these posts are about food?)
:: Decided we are going to get a Great Dane when we move to a place that allows pets
:: Had amazing dumplings at Din Tai Fung (and got to walk around the Americana, which I've been wanting to do for a while).

Sunday, March 1, 2015

{Musings} Happy places.

I am a natural pessimist. I've been working my whole life to overcome this personality trait, but it doesn't come easy. When stressful things start to pile on my head, my tendency is to sink into despair with a groan, let's be honest. The last several weeks have been particularly hard with sickness, stress at work, the terrible twos, and so on, so for today, I am making a list of things that really make me happy when I am down (not the things that are supposed to make me happy). Here they are:

:: Playing the piano and singing super emo songs that I loved in high school and college

:: Reading anything by Madeleine L'Engle (If she were still alive, I would probably go to desperate measures to meet her. As it is, I am going to be tracking her down in the spirit world when I die because I would love to talk to that lady)

:: Making a mug brownie.

:: Stealing squeezes from Cal.

:: Talking to Scott and getting advice from him (He is better than any therapist)

:: Reading a book

:: Writing

:: Making lists :)

:: Talking to my mom and/or sister

:: Watching a funny TV show like Parks and Recreation or Friends

What helps you when you are down?

Sunday, February 22, 2015

{Musings} On beauty.


Tonight, I find myself thinking about beauty. About perceptions of beauty, standards of beauty, art, music, beautiful people. Possibly because I spent about twenty minutes looking at pictures of Oscar's dresses that cost more than I make in a month of "hard labor," haha. I go through phases of my life when I am accepting of my body and phases where it is harder to look past the scars and stretch marks and ... not so toned bits.

But really, my point tonight is not to beat the dead horse of "be your own beautiful, magazine standards are not reality, etc." Instead, I'm thinking of beauty as a more abstract concept. I'm thinking of simple ways to fill my own life with beauty. There are times I'm better at this than others -- I've been known to buy myself flowers, I feel like I have reasonably good taste in art and music, I try to get outside in nature and experience the magnitude of something beyond myself.

But sometimes I slip away from that. I stress about how none of my clothes look good on me, on the crumbs underneath the chairs, about the fatigue that keeps me from accomplishing what I want to, cleaning the house, being productive.

All this to say, this week I want to focus on simply filling my life with more beauty, whether that is listening to music that is truly good instead of what is one the radio, taking a few minutes to tidy up the black hole that collects all the clutter in our home, putting on makeup before work so I don't feel like a slob when I look in the mirror. It takes a little more effort to put beauty in the world, especially when we are tired and drudgy and don't want to do anything but curl up in a ball under a soft blanket and watch Friends until falling asleep. I think beauty is a need -- I think that is why we seek it in others, why humanity produces art. I've been neglecting it lately.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

{inspiration} 2.19.15


:: For when you're told to enjoy the "little years."

:: How to not burn out.

:: Beautiful essay about pregnancy and the goddess within all of us.

:: This poem. And also, what a cool idea.

:: An interesting paradox.

:: How to be a parent and still have time to read (especially with babies)

:: I want to go to this bookstore.

:: "Everyone is fighting a hard battle."

:: 5 books to give as a valentine. (For next year)

:: Dealing with weight gain in pregnancy.

:: This story made me cry.

:: So did this one, about a teen mother who pumped breast milk to feed the child she gave up for adoption.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

{Musings} Take pleasure.


The other day I was feeling particularly joyful. I can't remember now what made me so happy or what in particular was going right at that moment, but I remember breathing a sigh and just relishing the moment.

Then an epiphany hit me -- part of the reason I was so happy in that moment was that I was noticing it.

It's no secret that we are all a part of the "distracted" generation -- we look at our phones, listen to podcasts, watch TV shows on handheld devices, communicate with people halfway around the world. Every few days I notice some article (on my phone, haha) talking about how we all look at our phones too much, that we are missing the world around us.

I don't think phones and WiFi are the only piece of the problem, but I do know that for myself, one of the biggest deterrents to my happiness is the fact that I don't experience it in the present moment. I think in order to experience pleasure, we have to make a conscious effort to do so. It is so much easier to gratify our need for stimulation with newsfeeds and instagram, but if we sit down, taste our food, smell the flowers, feel the hand in ours, read something that actually edifies instead of simply drowning out the blank spaces in our heads, see the sunset, we might experience more of those perfect little bubbles of happiness.

I'm not very good at slowing down, but this week I'm going to try and seize those moments of pleasure.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

{Musings} Green eyes.

Lately I've been grappling with the green-eyed monster. I'm envious of those who get to stay home with their kids, the vacations I see people post about on instagram, people in good shape. People who get to spend their weekends with their families. People who feel confident in their jobs or their parenting or any aspect of their lives, really.

Today at church, we had a lesson on prayer, and the emphasis was strong on prayers of gratitude. I think gratitude is the antidote to the poisonous green-eyed monster riding on my back, although the moments before starting seem like a high mountain to climb.

How do you beat off the insidious advances of jealousy?

Thursday, February 5, 2015

{Inspiration} 2.5.15


I haven't had time to do this in a few weeks, so there will be a lot of links! I think I'm going to change my date from Saturday to Thursday so I can be more consistent.

:: Two moving blog posts about infertility from one of my favorite people, who has taught me a lot about dealing with circumstances beyond your control and being courageous in trials. (1) (2)

:: This woman writes poetry as she studies the scriptures. HOW COOL IS THAT!?

:: Good advice about not assuming that people are judging your motherhood choices (a difficult task for this working, formula-feeding, C-section-having lady). (are you judging me about those things? Haha JUST KIDDING)

:: And also this about parenting judgmentalness.

:: I like these thoughts on choices and accepting them, even when other good choices also exist (says the woman who changed her major seven times and then went back to school for a second bachelor's degree)

:: Best feminist picture books. Because we want girls and boys who believe in girl power!!

:: I loved this list of three things to do every day, especially the third one. Who hasn't felt left out of a clique before? The advice to rise above that left-out feeling is good medicine.

:: A poignant and somewhat humorous essay about a woman who is jealous of other women who make breastfeeding look soooo easy. Definitely could relate to this one.

:: Good words on being a busy mother and a writer. Sometimes the seasons of life don't allow these two roles to line up, as I know all too well, but trying and patience are the key.

:: I love the way this family teaches their children about how babies are made (and all that comes along with it).

:: Another powerful essay about infertility. (Just a side note: I myself have not struggled with infertility, but several people I dearly love struggle with it, so these essays tug my heartstrings)

:: Hi-larious -- being pregnant with the great American novel.

:: Dear Pope: Thank you for being a breastfeeding advocate!!

:: Did anyone read that article that was viral on Facebook called "They Should Have Told Me" about how motherhood is perfect roses and smiles? If it was for you, I am really happy for you. But this response to the post rang much truer for me -- I appreciated how it was realistic about the difficulties that come with motherhood while still acknowledging the beauty and joy in it.

:: 12 of Emma Watson/Belle/Hermione's favorite books (okay, just Emma Watson)

:: The struggle of the introverted mother. It's like I wrote it myself.

Enjoy! Any good spots you found on the internet lately?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Reading, Watching, Listening {January 2015}

I have stepped away from my book blog in the last several months, but I'd still like to write mini-reviews of what I am enjoying these days.


My fellow-nurse friend, Lorna, leant me this one. It's about the QA nurses' military experiences during World War II. I found it fascinating to learn what it was like to be a nurse during this time, especially as I feel like women in war and particularly nurses in war are not discussed that often. At times the writing was a bit dry, but the subject matter was well worth it. {3.5 stars}

This was probably my favorite book read this month. Another World War II story, it is the converging tales of Marie-Laure, a blind French girl living in St. Malo during the war, And Werner, a German soldier who is a genius with radios. The writing was lovely and the story was unique and compelling. I also loved reading a book set in St. Malo, because I've visited that city (I always love reading about places where I've been or places where I live). {4 stars}

I've been reading this monster for. ever. I finally had time to really sink into it and finish it while I was visiting my parents in Idaho. I loved it, despite the fact that it took me months to get into it and read it. I love the way Henry James characterizes his... characters. It reminded me of Edith Wharton, and if I'm not mistaken I actually have a book on my TBR that is letters from Edith Wharton to Henry James. This was my second Henry James (the first was Wings of the Dove), and while both really took some effort to get through the writing was beautiful and I feel rewarded by the time I spent. {4 stars}

This is the story of a working mother who is torn from all directions as she tries to make her life work. While I am not at work nearly as much as the protagonist in this book, so much rang true to me. I don't have a lot of friends who work and I often feel like no one understands how hard it is to have to leave your children, especially when it isn't really a choice but a financial necessity. I felt like I was having a chat with a friend, one who occasionally made stupid decisions but who was absolutely understanding. I was rooting for her to make it out the whole time. I read somewhere that it was "Bridget Jones for the working mother" and I couldn't agree more, except I actually found it more entertaining than Bridget Jones (maybe because I relate more?). Anyway, it was nice to read something fun, even if at times it struck too close to home. {3.5 stars}


I'm unabashedly obsessed with this show, although some of the characters' decisions this season have me shaking my head. Currently two episodes behind, though... I need to catch up!

I never watched this when it was on TV... having fun with it now! I just started the second season. 


Favorite songs this month: 

:: "Going to California" by Led Zeppelin (This has been a favorite forever, but I rediscovered it this month)
:: "Helsinki" by the National Parks
:: John Mayer's cover of "XO"

What have you been into this month?

Monday, February 2, 2015

These are a few of my favorite things. {January 2015}

I've seen some other bloggers list "favorite things," and I love the idea (so much so that I want to host a "favorite things" party one of these days... stay tuned). Here are my favorite things in January.

1. Trader Joe's Lemon Chicken Arugula Salad

To. die. for. I love arugula, and I love this sweet, tangy dressing. It is my favorite thing to take to work these days, and keeps me full for at least 4 hours (a must when you work a 12-hour shift, and almost impossible with a sale for me).

2. Aquaphor

I have icky nurse hands, and Cal has eczema on his face. Thus, we have Aquaphor in every room in the house, and it seems like we have been needing it more and more with the cold(ish) weather in LA. 

3. fresh Sugar rose

This is my favorite cosmetic thing EVER. I had some a while ago that I received as a gift, but I was having a hard time justifying buying another one, so Scott kindly did it for me. That is why he is my favorite. 

4. Rooibos Rocks Tea

Rooibos is my favorite kind of herbal tea, and Scott got me a huge box for Christmas. I've been loving it with a little milk and stevia. 

5. Le Creuset pot

I'd asked my friends what they like to make in their Le Creuset pots before I received one for Christmas. They always said, "Everything!" Now I see why. Best pot ever. 

What have been your favorite things this month? 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

{Musings} Just say no, or just keep going?

{Fitting right in with the topic of this week's post, I haven't had the time to do everything I want to with this blog the last couple of weeks. I have a lot of links that I've been wanting to post, but putting those posts together takes a lot of time and I haven't found it yet. Hopefully soon. I miss blogging when I don't do it.}

A few months ago, a new Mormon Message came out that was somewhat controversial. If you are unfamiliar with Mormon Messages, they are short videos meant to be uplifting and inspiring. Here it is below:

If you don't feel like watching it/don't have time to watch it, the gist of it is that a very busy mother gives of herself all day long, making sacrifices, and ultimately misses the chance to see a family member from out of town because she was so busy doing things for other people. Then it shows all the people she helped that day and the way they were blessed by her actions. The overall message is that she did more good than she ever could have known, despite her frustration and exhaustion.

I saw several blog posts pop up about this video (all of them by women). Some said it moved them to tears and helped them realize that what sometimes seemed mundane in their lives truly had meaning. Other women said that they felt like this video was promoting women working themselves to the bone and that it was vilifying women who try to take care of themselves.

I fall somewhat in the middle. As self-doubt is my M.O., my immediate reaction was guilt. How many times have I told myself that I need a rest, that I need to go to bed early or read a book, instead of helping someone? But the other half of my mind said, "But you do need a rest, sometimes. You can't save the world if your tank is empty."

This video and my own internal dialogue about it were several months ago, and I'd all but forgotten about it until one night a couple of weeks ago. I'd been really busy, really tired, and Cal was having a lot of temper tantrums. I felt like I was trying to save the world and help people all the time (self-aggrandizement and self-pity... one of the uglier results of me not getting enough sleep) and I found myself praying to my Heavenly Father, "Can't someone help me out once in a while?!" And of course, about an hour later, one of my lovely and very, very busy friends brought me a dinner she had made because she happened to be thinking of me. Cue shame at my ungratefulness.

I was doubly taught by this experience -- first, I was reminded that God is mindful of me and my needs, even when I am not acting particularly worthy of His notice. But secondly, I realized that this friend, who has plenty on her plate, took the time to notice the thought that someone might need her help and acted on it, even though she probably would have liked to take a nap or do something fun in her free time.

So the question remains -- how do you balance that need to help others, to look beyond yourself and love your neighbor, without becoming so exhausted that all your happiness is leached away? As I was pondering this myself, a verse from the Book of Mormon came to mind. The context is that a king is delivering a speech to his people and discussing the need for them to serve the poor and needy. Then he says,
And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order. (Mosiah 4:27)
This verse has impacted me before, but it was definitely a good reminder to me of priorities. I can't run faster than I have strength. I can't go and go and go until I collapse into nothing. But I do need to keep going, and try to improve. My personal interpretation of this is that we should push ourselves a little harder than we are comfortable with, so we can grow and help others, but not push ourselves so hard that we don't have any energy or joy.

What I hope for this fictional woman is that this day is out of the ordinary for her -- that there will be other times when she can relax in a hot tub with a good book, go out with friends, get a good night's sleep. I believe we do have to sharpen the saw, recharge our batteries, take your pick of the resting-up metaphors -- but not just for our own good. We take the rest stops when we can get them so we can "run with patience the race set before us," serving and loving others and finding our own joy on our way through life.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Family Updates {1.15}

Ostensibly, the point of making this blog a long, long time ago was so my family could keep up with what we, the Lemmons, are up to. Instead it has turned out to be more of a soapbox for me. Instagram and Facebook are usually how I actually keep family up to date, but just for fun, I'm going to write dry minimalist updates on here once a month as well. Maybe.

:: is hard at work in dental school
:: is probably going to stick with general dentistry rather than surgery at this time

:: is adjusting to his new daycare at the hospital where I work
:: is obsessed with Thomas the train and his friends
:: is getting very sneaky... Asked to put the chocolate chips in the cookies I was making and then attempted to eat all the chocolate chips
:: loved riding the horsie with his daddy when he visited Grandma and Pappy in Idaho
:: learned airplane travel is not all he dreamed it was, saying "Want get off the airplane" after only a few minutes on board
:: has been battling a nasty cold for the last couple of weeks

:: got to perform my first bone marrow transplant since orientation at work
:: am doing a lot of yoga these days
:: need to get more sleep

:: traveled to Idaho to visit Uncle Jace before he leaves on his LDS mission to Ft. Lauderdale, FL for two years
:: are evidently not especially exciting, because I can't think of anything else to write.

I think the point of this may also be to share pictures, but I am too lazy today. Next time!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

{Musings} Interruptions

I am a planner. I think part of it is because Scott and I are so busy that we have things figured out pretty far in advance to function, but I think part of it is just who I am. I genuinely love sitting down with my fancy Erin Condren planner once a week and writing in everything. I remember my first planner, in the sixth grade -- they handed out these big, spiral notebook sized planners with all these planning tips and advice and I was obsessed. I can't put my finger exactly on why I love to have everything planned out, but from writing my weekly menu to outlining my medication schedule at work, I get a kick out of planning. 

So, it follows that I hate when my plans don't come to fruition. I think this has been one of the hardest things for me about both motherhood and nursing. On my unit, the doctors meet once a day and discuss each patient's plan of care and make new orders and changes to that plan. Nothing upsets your day like coming back from a break to see that the doctors ordered two units of blood, a biotherapy treatment, and extra lab draws. And motherhood is even more this way -- you can plan all you want, but you are dealing with (at least) one completely irrational little being that has his or her own idea of how the day should go. I think both my career and my role as mother have helped me to let my carefully laid plans go a little bit, but I think it will always be difficult for me to have things go awry. 

I've been thinking about this in terms of life's journey as well. A lot of my big epiphanies are related to cancer, because I am around people who are having their plans rerouted by cancer every day. Today I was reading a blog post by the mother of one of my former patients who had recently had a checkup scan. The news on that scan was not necessarily bad, but did leave a lot of questions for that family on whether or not the cancer would return in that child. I found myself wondering, How would I live with that, always wondering if the cancer was going to come back? How would I be able to get through life on a day to day basis with that heavy question hanging in the air? 

I am visiting my parents in Idaho right now, and have run into some acquaintances whose lives have changed by other such moments -- a woman whose husband was diagnosed with cancer this year, another one whose parent has a terminal illness. These sudden swerves in what looked like a straight road have me wondering how I would react to similar circumstances in my life. My own knowledge of the road ahead is shrinking -- Scott has less than two years left in school, and we have no idea where we will be after he graduates. We are hoping to expand our family, and there is no telling how our next child will affect the dynamic of our family, if that child will be healthy and well, and of course when that child will make his/her appearance. And it goes on and on. 

There is a quote from the second Anne of Green Gables story, Anne of Avonlea, that helps for moments like these: 
All Mrs. Morgan's heroines were noted for "rising to the occasion." No matter what their troubles were, they invariably rose to the occasion and showed their superiority over all ills of time, space, and quantity. Anne therefore felt it was her duty to rise to the occasion and she did it, so perfectly that Priscilla afterward declared she never admired Anne Shirley more than at that moment.
Rising to the occasion in life's uglier, more stressful moments is not one of my strengths, although it is one of the qualities I pray to develop every day. I feel like if I can learn to rise to the occasion in the small interruptions in my life, maybe one day when the larger ones hit me, I will be able to endure them with grace. How do you manage to rise to the occasion when you want to just throw a screaming fit when things go awry (or is it just me that wants to throw a screaming fit)?
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