Thursday, May 30, 2013


I long to write.

I’ve written most of my life.

The other day, I found a story I wrote when I was 5 or 6 about a toad and a flea that were pals. I have binders full of essays and poems and short stories through high school and college.

I have boxes and shelves of journals and notebooks and paper scraps containing events, thoughts, sketches, worries, heartbreaks, goals, dreams, successes, joy. There have been times I’ve written daily and others when it’s been a lot less frequent than that. I cherish these records; records of who I was and who I’ve become and who I want to be. In hard times and happy times, I’ve reviewed their pages and received strength and clarity. 

I also have this blog. This blog has never had a true vision. I communicate through it. Sometimes, I want to have thousands and thousands of readers and be witty and cleaver and share my thoughts and life with the world. Other times, I want to be silent. Most of the time, I just try to share little bits of me and I feel satisfied. It happens irregularly, but it happens.

I find myself, refine myself, through writing; Heaven communicates with me when I write. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Guest Post on My Bookbloom

Today I’m over at my friend Miranda’s blog, My Bookbloom, for her series Friday Favorites. Check it out!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Time Flies

My baby is six weeks old already. The other night I got up to feed him and it felt like he had gained five pounds. He changes so quickly.

The weeks have flown by. I'm always surprised when another Friday comes around. But at the same time life has slowed down significantly in terms of what is "accomplished" every day. I now measure my tasks in terms of what I can get done while the baby sleeps or where i can go between feedings (although I'm getting more used to nursing while we're out). It's a lot less than before, but I don't seem to mind.

It's a joy to watch him do anything and everything he does is cute - even his offended cry when he pulls the corners of him mouth down. I love listening to his squeaks and chirps and little giggles. I especially love feeding him when he's wide awake and his blue-grey eyes sparkle up at me. He smiles a lot lately and little dimples appear; he has two dimples but they rarely are seen at the same time.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Between Snores and Sighs

This morning, about 4 am, after putting Jeremy down, I lay in bed listening to the snores and sighs of my boys. I listen to the sounds of my home a lot lately: the washing machine and the trash men every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and the neighbor's dog barking and the traffic on the freeway. Lately new sounds have filled our home: coos and crying and sighs and chirps of our sweet baby boy. Laying in bed between snores and sighs, I found myself grateful, not minding the earliness of the hour, loving my boys.

Jeremy is four weeks old today. His arrival and these first few weeks were emotionally and physically the hardest thing I've ever done.

I started having contractions two days before Jeremy was born. The contractions were pretty regular throughout the day, but despite walks and other methods of coaxing, the contractions dissipated by mid afternoon. The day before he was born was Thanksgiving day. The contractions became really intense, shooting pain into my back and hips, but they never got close enough together to go to the hospital. This time they didn't stop. After being up all night, we went to the hospital for our scheduled induction. I was exhausted before we got to the hospital. I was started on pitocin. John and I had hoped to try for a natural childbirth, but with the contractions coming so close, and being without sleep, I decided to have an epidural. I was able to sleep and rest and progress without feeling a thing. The midwife broke my water and I progressed well through the afternoon. But in the evening, I stopped dilating. The doctor suggested a c-section. I was really disappointed, but was ready to be done with labor; I could feel the pressure of the contractions bear down in my hips. Even as they wheeled me into the OR, I wasn't sure we had made the right decision about the c-section. I had wanted so badly to have the baby naturally. But as they prepped me for surgery, the Spirit confirmed to me that we had made the right choice. The c-section went well and I was overwhelmed when I heard him cry. He was strong and healthy. I was able to hold him before he was taken to the nursery.

Our first days were good, but being a new mom is stressful as you try to figure things out and make decisions and live on little sleep. I also needed to deal with recovering from the c-section and the disappointment of needing to have one. I'm still taking it easy and I've had lots of help from John and my mom, dad, and sister and good friends. I can feel myself get stronger everyday. One of the best things that helped me in feeling better was being able to get out with John for a couple hours. It helped me not feel confined to my house and helped me to see that life wouldn't be confined there all the time. Other things that helped were doing little things on my own (like showering or dishes), taking a few minutes to myself when I can, and continuing as much as possible my daily scripture study.

I expect things to continue to be hard but I also expect to feel a continued increase in love to help me through it.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

3 days (give or take)

When the months turn to weeks and the weeks turn to days, time almost seems to slow to a crawl. I'm not even to my due date yet, but I'm definitely to the "I'm ready to be done being pregnant and I want to hold our baby!" point.

Yesterday I started hopping around the house, hoping maybe the motion would start something. When my aunt was pregnant with my cousin, she wanted him to come before her doctor went out of town and so that he could be born on St. Patrick's Day, due to her husband's Irish heritage. So, the story goes, she did jumping jacks to start labor. Jumping jacks didn't seem all that comfortable and I'm not "overdue", so I adapted the method to the one foot hopping. Not all that comfortable or helpful, so far.

I'm sure this baby will come when he's ready.

And I'm working myself out of being nervous about going anywhere alone for fear that I would go into labor in the middle of a store or other place. Today, I went to the movie theater by myself for the first time. There was a special showing of To Kill a Mockingbird today in celebration of it's 50th anniversary. It is one of my favorite books and the movie is pretty great! I didn't feel weird about it at all. There were a couple dozen people there and it played in a huge theater, so there was lots of room to spread out. I got myself some overpriced snacks and just enjoyed the time out. It was wonderful to see the movie on the big screen.

Here's to hoping the days turn to hours and hours turn to minutes really soon!

Friday, November 2, 2012

What’s In a Name?

John and I picked out a name for our little dude a couple months ago but we’re still working out the middle name. We’re close, but I think that we’ll make the final decision at the hospital.

It’s in picking a middle name that I realized my preference for a family middle name. John suggested several lovely middle names, but they didn’t feel right to me. I figured out that because of the naming in my immediate and some of my extended family, I was used to family middle names. My parents both have their mother’s maiden names as middle names and Jenny and I each have one of our grandmother’s middle names (or a variation on that name).

We’ve kept the baby’s name a secret. My mom and sister try to trick me into saying it. My mom even pulled the grandma card in asking about it. So in the meantime, my parents and my sister have come up with nicknames for baby. And John still uses some of the joke names in the beginning.

  • Rupert/Rufus (Jenny and friend)
  • John Michael (mom – she thought she was using the grandpas’ names, but John’s dad’s name is James). She also sometimes calls him John David
  • He-Man (dad)
  • JTT (Jenny)
  • Rigoberto (John)
  • Baby Flake

At a shower recently, the guests were invited to suggest names for Baby Flake. Here are some of the funny ones:

  • “Dan”iel D. Ruff Flake
  • Francisco Freddy
  • Rayson Brandt Flake (it took me a minute to get this one!)
  • Lorenzo Snow Flake

John and his brothers love the name Daniel Woodruff Flake, which like the first suggestion from the shower, would make him Dandruff Flake. I stand adamantly against this name. While it’s a good name and the joke is funny, I don’t want the baby’s uncles to think his name is funny.

In just a couple weeks, we’ll be meeting this little boy, and we’ll give him his name. I’m so excited!

Want to guess what the name is? Or come up with other funny Flake names? Feel free to share in the comments.

Friday, October 26, 2012

3 Weeks (give or take)

Baby's expected arrival is just 3 weeks away. I've been nesting a little, mostly in the form of deep cleaning the apartment. I pick out one task everyday, take care of it, have lunch, and take a nap. This mid-day routine seems to work pretty well. I also try to get out of the house at least for a few minutes everyday.

I've been enjoying this in-between-time. I couldn't have accomplished all these things while working and working would have been hard with the tiredness and the development of carpel tunnel (which will go away after the baby comes and the swelling goes away). The time to nap is also great on days where I haven't gotten enough sleep the night before.

There seems to be a good deal of pregnancy fog going on in my head. It's often related to time. I sometimes think that we're in April or May and the days have been sort of blending together; weekends are the only days I have a handle on since John is home and we go to church on Sundays. I also easily forget what I've been talking about in a matter of moments, even in the middle of a topic. I make lots of lists.

John keeps joking that the storm that is supposed to hit our area next week will bring the baby. Mom says that the full moon will also contribute to me going into labor. I know he'll come when he's good and ready. I haven't spent too much time thinking about labor. We took a great class and I've done some reading, but I know that it will be something that I have to experience to really understand.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Best

Early in adulthood, I decided I wanted to be at home with my children. I didn't have any at the time, nor was I in a relationship that was leading to marriage, but I knew that's what I wanted and I knew it was what Heavenly Father wanted for me, too. My mom had been able to stay home with me an my sister and reflecting on what a huge benefit and blessing that had been to me, helped in making the decision.

I planned my life according to this decision. In choosing what to pursue as my undergraduate degree, I picked what I was good at and something that would potentially allow me to work from home if I needed to work after having babies. After working, serving a mission for the church, and working some more, I decided to go to graduate school. The program I picked and felt good about was only offered at a private school in DC, unless I wanted to relocate to another part of the country. This meant a lot of debt and time commitment but it was something I really wanted and, like with the earlier decision, knew Heavenly Father was pleased with this decision to further my education. I worried about my desire to be at home with children conflicting with the financial commitment and not wanting to just hand the debt off to some unknown future husband. But ultimately I felt excited about the program and that it would all just work out. I started classes and about 6 months later had a job that was in the field and offered complete tuition reimbursement for four of the six semesters of the program. This was a huge relief to me.

I also decided late in my mission that I wouldn't delay starting a family after I got married. Of course this was a decision for me and my future husband, but these two decision significantly impacted who I seriously dated. John agreed with me on both these decisions and they were what he wanted, too.

Despite making these decisions early in my life, I never imagined how difficult it would be to follow through on them. It hasn't been difficult to make the decision to be at home - that feels like the best decision I've ever made - but it has been hard to leave work behind. Over the past months, I've pondered on what life will be like after I stop working: what will I do with my days before the baby comes and after he comes; worries of being isolated; and so on. These concerns can't be fully resolved until those bits of my life happen, but I have been actively working to overcome them and to adapt and grow into the life that motherhood brings. I imagine loving it (and I hope this post will remind the future me of that at moments that I feel I don't). The rightness I feel about staying home helps me overcome these concerns, too.

I've been touched by the support I've felt from friends and colleages at work. To me, it has been unexpected how understanding everyone has been in a world where women are sometimes expected to be everything in every aspect of their life. I'm grateful to know that not everyone buys into that expectation.

I told one colleague a couple weeks ago that I would be staying home with my son. She is someone I have great admiration and respect for because of the things she has accomplished and her big heart. She didn't say anything at first, but she didn't have to. She looked at me like I was the most amazing person in the world. I was so touched. She hugged me, telling me that I had a very lucky baby. I told her I was a very lucky mom.

After this week, I will no longer be working. I wanted time to prepare for baby's arrival. The change is bittersweet, scary, and exciting, all at the same time. I am grateful to have the opportunity to stay at home with our son, to be supported by my husband and family and friends, and to be a mom.

Monday, September 17, 2012


Today marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam (or the Battle of Sharpsburg), fought during the Civil War. It was the single bloodiest battle in American history. 23,000 men were killed or wounded at that battle.

I am no Civil War buff (usually being more interested in the history of the Revolutionary War) and I didn’t actually know that today was the anniversary of the battle, until I heard this story on NPR this morning. It was amazing to listen to what happened and think about those that were killed or wounded, the choices the leaders made, and to remember my grandmother.

My grandmother wasn’t at the battle – her grandparents were infants at that time – but as the reporter talked about the battle I saw her. In my mind I saw in the darkness the outlines of the mountains that you have to go over to get from DC to Sharpsburg. I saw outlines of fields, shapes of fences and trees, and a darkened church. I saw lines of cars driving through the battlefield without headlights, the road lined with luminaries, one for each casualty. It was quite a sight.

On the first Saturday in December each year, volunteers set up and light these luminaries throughout the park to remember the battle and those that lost their lives. I went in 2007 with a group of friends. It is amazing to look at the luminaries that go on for what seems like forever. You think you can’t possibly ever reach the end. But you do and then the drive home becomes reflective and thoughtful.

(These pictures don’t do it justice.)

07 12 01 29307 12 01 29807 12 01 29907 12 01 300

It was after this evening, the next morning, as I was getting ready for church, that I found out that my grandmother had passed away. We had seen her the week before(how grateful I am we went to South Carolina that Thanksgiving) and while she wasn’t doing well, we didn’t expect her to be gone so soon. It was good that I was in a reflective mood from the night before so I could ponder on the plan of salvation that would enable me to see again one day.

In my mind, those luminaries and learning of grandma’s passing have melded into one event; I never remember one without the other. So this morning as I listened to the reporter and this afternoon as I listened to the host interview a photographer, my heart and mind were filled with my grandmother, memories, love, joy, and thousands of luminaries.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

6 down, 3 to go

Months, that is.

I imagine these next few will go by in the blink of an eye.

Our trip to South Carolina became a sort of kick off to telling people we were expecting a baby. We announced it to my aunts and uncles that weekend after spending the week calling John's family. Since then life has seemed at times to be a blur and painfully slow at other.

The first trimester was hard. I felt sick everyday. I'm a miserable sick person. I counted days until the end of the trimester, hoping that I wouldn't be sick the entire pregnancy. I would go through cycles in the first months of worry and wonder and anxiety. Then we'd get to the doctor's office and I'd hear the tiny heart beat and everything would be fine. It's amazing that your body just knows what to do and that there is this wonderful, unexplainable blessing of being a co-creator with Heavenly Father and my husband.

It has been really amazing to watch my body grow and change. In the early months when you can't feel the baby, it's sometimes easy to forget what's happening to your body. One morning, after we had told some people we were expecting, I put on one of the new maternaty shirts I'd purchased, and was suprised by little bump in the mirror. I looked at John and asked "Does this shirt make me look pregnant?....oh, wait I am!"

Thankfully, in my second trimester, I did start to feel better. We took a trip to Utah and Wyoming to visit with family in June and a trip to Chicago in July for vacation and a conference I had there. When in Utah, I always make John take me to Temple Square and we spend hours in Deseret Book browsing and reading and choosing only a few books to take home. We did some cemetary/genealogy footwork for a branch of my dad's family that had moved to SLC in the early 1910s. In Chicgo, we ate pizza and toured the town: Mellinum Park, the Art Institute, the Willis Tower, Navy Pier. During the conference (after John left), I got to go up the John Hancock Building and take an architecture boat tour. On both trips, I learned that I needed to redefine what it means to slow down when pregnant. I've been more careful since then about listening to my body and getting rest.

I finished the Book of Mormon in early July again. I had spent the last reading doing an in-depth look for examples of the Lord's mercy. It was a lovely way to read and mark my scriptures. As I considered what I wanted to focus on as I read it again, I realized I was pretty close to 4 months before my due date. I decided to read through the Book of Mormon, cover to cover, before the baby came (assuming he comes on his due date). I have loved this experience. I've been reading and making notes in the margins, paying close attention to the family relationships that are presented in its pages. I realized, before getting very far, that the Book of Mormon is the story of families, mostly fathers and sons, but sometimes includes mothers and brothers, and even a passing mention of sisters. The first book in the Book of Mormon is about Lehi, his wife, and their sons and how they each react to God's outstretched hand and how they treat one another. This continues through the other books in the Book of Mormon. I'm just in the begining of the Book of Mosiah, but am anticipating the father-son experiences of Mosiah and his sons and Alma and his son Alma the Younger later in the book. Their stories are one of my favorite parts of the whole Book of Mormon. I'm also slowly reading the Old Testament cover to cover for the first time. I'm about halfway through Exodus. I'm loving it.

John and I started a birth class and getting things organized for the baby's arrival. We are using the changing table my parents had for me and my sister for the baby's things. It's kind of fun. I've got a good list going of things to be done before November. Not all of them are just for baby, but most of them are.

I've continued to worry about being a mother. Sometimes it fills me with fear and other times with joy. This is something I've wanted as long as I can remember. It's hard work now and I know it will be hard work when he comes. But I have an amazing support system from my husband and family and friends. I'm setting my focus on the day I'm living and the goals that I have, and letting the rest fall where it may.