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.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Carolina in My Mind

We've spent a lovely weekend in lovely Charleston. John has never been so we took in the best...the open air market, the pineapple fountain, rainbow row, the battery, and the ancestral family home. We had dinner at Bowen's Island, a tiny shack with a river view. I love Charleston, the smell of the ocean, the weather, the slower pace, and of course family. My grandmother loved Charleston. In our home hangs a print she had of the battery. All of my dad's family were able to gather.

On the way down we stopped in Anson County, NC to find a family gravesite. After a walk in the woods we found the memorial stone. It was fun to see.

(pictures are a little out of order since I'm posting from my phone.)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Cool Things About DC

Watching the space shuttle fly over your office. Hello Discovery!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Monday, March 12, 2012

Oh, Photo Books

I've been working the last few months on a number of digital photo books. I've used a different software for each project. I've had so much fun with each one. This has been so much better than physical scrapbooking. Now that they have been completed and gifted, I'll share them here.

First up was a book to record in physical format my blog postings on my 27 Things. For this project I used Blurb. I've used Blurb in the past for photobooks of vacations, other memories and stories. This time I did an 8x8 hardcover book. It's pretty easy to use and offers a lot of flexibility in arranging photos, choosing layouts, and increasing page length. It does not however offer the ability to place picture at an angle, essential for me in my collage style of designing. They also provide a way to import your blog directly into their software so you don't have to copy and paste. I did have to reload some pictures since I don't always load the best quality photos to the blog. Overall, Blurb has quality products printed on good paper with good printing. The book can be viewed here.

Second was a Christmas present for all my in-laws. Each family got a copy of the 6x8 hardback, linen covered book. I left a space in the front for a family picture we took on Christmas day and then the following pages were devoted to each family. For this project I used Picaboo. I was pleased with all the page designs that they had to offer - lots of scrapbook style pages. There are lots of layouts, but not as much flexibility in changing them, which was discouraging. The final product turned out great, but I think I would pick Blurb over Picaboo. The book can be seen here.

Last is a photobook for our wedding. For this project, I used AdoramaPix. They're a photo retailer based in NYC. The software is on their site. It is AMAZING. So flexible - turning pictures any way you want them, backgrounds, "decorations" and more. I started by designing books for my parents and my in-laws in the 10x10 size. When my parent's book arrived in the mail, I was in love with the book the moment I saw it in the box. The cover has a pearlized finish. The pages are printed on real photo paper so they look fantastic. They only have specific sized books up to 76 pages, but I think that would be my only complaint, and even then it isn't really a complaint because the price is so reasonable. It just takes a little more planning than the other two. I've been so pleased. Here is the link to one of the books.

Blurb has software you can download or you can build your book on their site, Picaboo only has software for download, and Adorama only has online software. Blurb and Adorama offer book selling features. There are so many things to love about each one. I found the reviews on Photo Book Girl to be really helpful. She reviews a ton of vendors.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Spring is Coming

My mom made this cute Springtime arrangement for us. She's pretty great.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Paper Airplanes and Lemonade

A long time ago, long before I knew him, my husband wrote a birthday poem for a friend. He's quite pleased with it - as he should be, it's very good. He likes to recite it for people on their birthdays. My favorite line from the poem is at the turning point, where the answer to the initial question starts to form:

But maybe happiness is made like paper airplanes or lemonade

I love it because of it's simplicity. It is simple things that can make us profoundly happy. Happiness isn't complicated and we can make it happen in a few easy steps, but we have to choose to take those steps.

Before we were engaged, I knew this line would be part of our wedding. (It was even part of getting engaged.) We hung paper airplanes from the tent rafters and served lemonade. Yellow was our main color accompanied by summery blues and touches of white and pink. And we did it all in 2 months.

We did things a little unconventionally. We had a big party on a Saturday afternoon on the lawn of the church overlooking the Potomac River. Then we got married the following Tuesday afternoon in the LDS (Mormon) temple in Washington, D.C. followed by a ring exchange and a dinner for family and a few close friends at the Mount Vernon Inn near George Washington’s home. 


We had decided to have the events in that order because we wanted the day of our wedding to be quiet and intimate so we could focus on the promises we were making to each other and to God. Members of the LDS church believe that a husband and wife can be sealed, or united, as a family for eternity as they make sacred promises in temples. These promises are also designed to lead us, together, back to God. A temple sealing is a simple ceremony: a bride and groom, their families and close friends, and an officiator in a small, beautiful room. The ceremony is not very long and lots of hugs are given after. Rings may be exchanged in the temple, but it isn't part of the ceremony.


We had a ring exchange at the Mount Vernon Inn for our family and friends who could not join us for the ceremony inside the temple. This part of the day had been planned in my mind for years since I have family members, including my father, that are members of other faiths or have other beliefs. It was a beautiful way to include everyone in the celebration of our marriage. We asked a friend, who is also a bishop in the church, to conduct the ring exchange. He spoke of the promises John and I had made earlier in the day at the temple and shared some thoughts on love and marriage. And then he invited us to exchange rings.


It was a special way to start our new life together with family and friends we love. I think about that day often and how it has changed my life for the better.

Friday, February 17, 2012



(When starting a blog post, I always write "so" as if you and I are in the middle of a conversation and I want to talk about something else OR you and I have run out of things to talk about and I'm doing a mental scan of thoughts that most readily come to the surface of my brain. Usually, I delete it. But today I will leave it there.)

The past couple weeks, thoughts have been rolling around in my head. I have started posts, restarted posts, rewritten posts, questioned posts, deleted posts. I've let my husband read posts, followed by discussion about what is ok to post in this blog-o-mine. I even started a list of topics that I want to write about. Hmmm. And while I wait for words to fit together and properly express what it is I'm feeling/thinking/dreaming, other people write what I've been stuggling to say.

So...Here are some links to things I've been reading/watching/listening to that have inspired me these last couple weeks.

C. Jane Vlog: Recapping the Love Story C.Jane spent the last few posts on the 5 loves of her life. I found them heartwarming and heartbreaking. The last one she writes is about her husband and this video is an interview with him about his reaction to the series. I find their honesty joyous. It's easy to look in from the outside and thing everything is rosey especially when the only way you know a person is through their blog. The insights she learns in her first year of marriage help mine feel a little more normal.
On the topic of happy lives, I found My (Not So) Storybook Life: A Tale of Friendship and Faith on this blog as a giveaway (I try not to enter giveaways). It arrived last night on my doorstep via a creepy knock from the UPS guy. I opened the package and promptly read 60 pages. She cleaverly mixes her literature roll models into modern, everyday experiences with her family and friends.
I've struggled a little lately with the political climate of this country. Why does there have to be extremism and conflict and misunderstanding? In thinking and reading about things, I found these two posts and this talk. I will let them speak for themselves (although I might come back to Sister Beck's talk another time. She's AmAzinG!); they pretty eloquently state some things that I've been feeling.
On a lighter note, my next knitting project is this Grecian Rib Scarf. I can't decide if I like the look or the name more. Wish me luck with those tiny size 5 needles.
I also pin other things I dream about on Pinterest.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

There is a State That is So Great

and Texas is it’s name-o! (sung to the tune of Bingo.)

For New Year’s we joined my mom’s extended family in Houston. We gather every few years, especially when my uncle and aunt come from New Zealand. John and I were the last to arrive on Friday. We had a fun weekend of food, museums, movies, and bonding. John got to meet those that couldn’t make it to the wedding and I met two of my cousin’s kids.
Jenny with Belle

Saturday we went to the Houston Fine Arts Museum to see the exhibit on King Tut. One of the reasons we know so much about him is that his contemporaries tried to erase all memory of him because his father tried to convert Egypt to monotheism. Since no one knew about him, there were fewer looters looking for his tomb.

For NYE, my aunt and uncle hosted an open house for friends in the area. John’s friend from college, Dave, and his family, Julie, Bailey, and Maddie, came. It was so fun to visit with them. After the open house, the cousins relocated to my cousin’s house to ring in the new year.
On Sunday, John and I went to church. It turns out we attended the ward that my mom was a member of when she lived in Houston in the 70s. That afternoon, we went to the San Jacinto Monument. It’s a memorial on the battlefield when the Texans won their independence from Mexico.

Dad “photoboming” my picture of Jenny

The monument

Sunday night we went on a ride through a neighborhood of lovely homes decorated with gorgeous Christmas lights!
These were strands of lights dangling from the branches. John is standing under the tree above.DSCN0522DSCN0523DSCN0525DSCN0526DSCN0527DSCN0528DSCN0529DSCN0530DSCN0531DSCN0532DSCN0534DSCN0535DSCN0536DSCN0537

It was a fun way to start the year!