Friday, January 28, 2011

35 weeks

So I realize that this is an odd outfit choice, but its the only reason that I remembered to take a picture at all. Doug and I are going to the temple tomorrow, and its been a few months since I put my dress on, so I was trying it on to make sure it still fit, and Kylie walked in and laughed and said, "Marshmallow, Mommy." I think I'm still a little cuter than the marshmallow man on Ghostbusters. But just barely. So, here we go, 5 weeks til my due date.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Chatting with Grandma

I spent about an hour on the phone with my grandma the other night. I've always loved her (I've been very blessed in the grandma department), but she was someone I never thought of myself as being very similar to when I was child.

Now that I'm old enough to be more self-aware, I laugh occasionally at the similarities I do see: she talks too fast and often laughs before finishing a sentence, so that people sometimes have a hard time understanding what she's saying; she's very independent-minded and terribly stubborn, never taking well to having others tell her what she can or can't do; she has a tendency to oversimplify things she doesn't want to deal with; for all her boldness within the family, she's actually rather shy by nature; she loves kids, especially babies; she's loves photos--taking them, having them, looking through them over and over again.

There is a comfort and ease in talking to her that comes from the fact that, at the end of the day, two things really matter to her: the Gospel and her family. Everything in her life is seen, processed and judged through that perspective, and she has a hard time understanding how anyone can get through life, much less enjoy it, without those two things at the center. There have been times when I've felt like my grandma didn't get enough credit--she's not terribly articulate by nature or training and is as flawed as anybody else, so it seemed that at times perhaps her understanding of certain things was underestimated.

But the last few years, its been hard to take her faith for granted. She had already faced a lot of trials, notable among them a very rocky 38-year marriage that ended in divorce, the death of one of her sons just after birth, and the death of another son when he was a young adult. After a lot of heartache, it seemed like she'd finally found an even keel: she was married for a third time, and this time was sealed. I will never forget the impression it made on me a few years into her marriage to Clark when she said, "He's a companion to me." She had loved my grandfather a great deal, but that was a type of relationship that she'd never had. The peace it brought to her was obvious in her demeanor and temperament. And then she lost a daughter to murder, and felt very much like she'd also lost a grandson, her head spinning in circles trying to understand how he could've done such a thing. And then she had to bury the eternal companion she had waited so long to find. And now she has luekemia.

Through it all, she's been sad, and she's had her moments of grumbling, but she's been calm and generally happy. When I talked to her, she was telling me that she needed to work on her attitude, because it was hard not to be grumpy about being so doggone tired all the time (at the moment, I can certainly relate to that frustration--I'm very grateful there's a timeline on my fatigue and that its much less severe), and she was pretty grumpy about the fact that she was probably going to have to do another bone marrow test, because that big needle in her bone sure hurts. "But I know my disposition makes a lot of difference," she told me, "So I'm going to be positive." She sounded pretty determined. "I've got really good grandkids," she went on. "Christabel was here the other day, and then Gwendolyn stopped by yesterday. They're good company, they're good girls." She went on about how grateful she was that her grandkids and great-grandkids are all healthy and strong and smart and live relatively good lives. She realizes that with the number of descendants she has, the odds are that more should've gone wrong, and it hasn't. Such a positive outlook from a woman who has buried three of her own children--a fact that would be enough to make many women (understandably) morose or pessimistic. She's got a healthy, happy family who love her, and that's all that matters. It really seems her only disappointments are where her kids or grandkids have stepped outside the Church, but even in that she's optimistic. "He's still young. I was stupid sometimes when I was young."

And I guess that's what Grandma always reminds me, whether she intends to or not: a loving family and the Gospel are bound to make one optimistic. The Gospel helps you see the best in your family, and reminds you always that the best thing in life is family. If you stick together and do the right thing, there's a very bright future to look forward to, and a lot of fun to be enjoyed along the way. After all, as President Packer is fond of saying, "Salvation is an individual matter. Exaltation is a family matter." I'm glad to have a Grandma who makes me mindful of that.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Changes and support

Doug left his job early last week. It was a shock and it wasn't. Part of me had been preparing for the possibility, and part of me just couldn't have been prepared.

We should be OK for a while, having some time to figure out, step by step, where to go from here. Why he left and how we got to this point is a whole other blog post (or perhaps a whole other blog), but it looks like there are some interesting possibilities out there and, though it might require some sacrifice in the mean time, we're both feeling pretty optimistic.

The only truly unsettling part to me was how people might react to this change--we'd gotten so used to our lives being so intertwined in so many ways with so many of the people we know, that we both knew that this wasn't just your normal leaving-a-job-situation in a lot of ways. But once again, our friends have proved that they are worth their weight in gold. They've reached out and showed nothing but understanding, support and optimism for our future. It is a real blessing in life to know that there are lots of people who love you for you, in spite of whatever flaws you may have, and who want always for you and your family to be happy and successful. I have felt no loneliness or judgment in this change, and for that I am extremely grateful.

So wish us luck. It looks like Doug may get his master's degree finally completed (and it will be nice to have the paper in hand, since he spent a lot of time and money on that education), and will be able to do so in a simpler and cheaper manner than we had expected. There are lots of logistics to be figured out, and new employment to find, but I'm feeling good. I'm the type that would be inclined to panic at times like this, and I haven't. I feel at peace. Nothing has really gone according to plan since we got married, and yet things have worked out pretty well to this point. I've gotten much better at just accepting living life one step at a time, not knowing for sure where we're headed. I'm excited to see what comes next.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

First Step

However we got to where we are,
it is where we are now.
Wherever we may have been before,
or where we thought we were headed,
we've got to start now from where we are.
It seems like the path ahead is dark,
and I'm not sure where the next footstep will fall.
But I trust that if I keep listening to the Spirit
and keep putting one foot at a time forward,
that foot will land on solid ground,
and the light will follow.
Faith isn't given.
Its earned, step by step.

The iron rod didn't pass through sunlight
and clear skies.
It was surrounded
by "mists of darkness"
It provided a sure guide
to sunlight and clear skies,
but only if you held on
and pressed forward,
sometimes without being able to see
where the path was going.
No matter how dark the world that surrounds it,
the path is narrow
and straight.
But you've got to take that first step
when the darkness descends.
And then another.
And then another.