Saturday, May 30, 2009

Wicked Singing!

Wicked. Not just an 80's adjective anymore. We're talking about a musical with INCREDIBLE music to accompany an equally exciting plot detailing the hidden story of the Wicked Witch of the West. Turns out she and Glinda, the good witch, were college roomies. It is a great story; I highly recommend seeing the musical if you get the chance. I'm still waiting for that chance, so if you beat me to it, don't rub it in please.
Anyway, we had a variety show with multiple congregations at our church. Our University Student Ward (congregation) choir did a medley from Wicked. Kimball, Heather, Kelli, Bishop and Sister Wallace all rocked their lines in One Short Day and Ariel and Shellee did amazing on their solos in Popular. I had a solo/duet with Chelsea Haynie (very talented! Such an honor to sing with her!). We sang For Good, if you know the music. Gorgeous piece. Of course Carrie Jones stole the show with her solo on Defying Gravity, but that is to be expected from a future American Idol contestant! (Or atleast she OUGHT to be one!) We had a blast putting it all together in so little time! And now what will I use as an excuse for having these great songs stuck in my head?

Gwen likes to sing too. As I've been singing more around the house in preparation for this performance, she has picked up her musicality as well. I love it! :)

Friday, May 29, 2009

a few surprises in the last box

Remember in the Incredibles when Elastagirl calls her husband to announce they are officially moved in because she has unpacked the last box? Well, Eric and I have finally "moved in" to our apartment where we have, apparently, not officially been living for the last 2 years.

Amongst the loot of the last box, there were some surprises:

This tie. It was Eric's first tie ever. Cool, kinda, to see it... but I convinced him there were better ways of commemorating such things.

This pretty awesome (but not so space efficient) collection of Brazilian calling cards from his mission. Complete with a card of Bethlehem, a guy kissing a very pregnant belly, comic strips, food, and a random Japanese girl enjoying a bowl of noodles with chopsticks (is there a Japanese sub-culture in Brasil? News to me...). I was very amused. I don't want to just trash these, but haven't quite figured out how to use them in an art project yet. Any ideas? Paving a swimming pool, perhaps? :)


wait for it...


cuz of course, a box of random items wouldn't be complete without a rubber chicken foot... (what happened to the body? that's what I want to know...) :)

What does this tell you about my hubby? Did I mention he wouldn't let me throw away the bat skeleton from our old apartment in Springville? I guess I have my own collections of random things, especially supplies I'm going to use for sculpture... somewhere down the road... in some creative way, I'm sure! Could be worse though. I read about this couple that held on to their baby's first poopy diaper as a momento. Yuck! :) What strange things do you stumble upon in your spouse's drawer, in your own purse (and don't even remember putting that in there!), or in your children's pockets?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Beans and Bananas!

I guess green beans aren't her favorite... maybe some of you can relate? I don't know, I'm not really a picky eater at all. I certainly hope she doesn't end up with large aversions to food... I love to try new things and would be so sad if she only wanted mac and cheese! I am, however, getting ahead of myself. What I wanted to say is:

Gwen LOVES bananas! She's picky, mind you. She doesn't like them nearly as much mushed up and spoon fed as she does RAW and WRIGGLY (j/k), I mean, right out of the peel. Something about sticking her whole face in there just appeals to her... (I think she's going to be a Tomboy, like me.) She really goes to town!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Never Forget

Just a quick post here from Eric. This is the first time, I think, that I have posted on this thingy. I wanted to write a short Memorial Day post. This is a picture of my grandfather's older brother. He and my grandpa grew up in Utah on a farm. Shortly after Pearl Harbor, my great uncle Evan and his buddy volunteered for the air force. He became a co-pilot on a B-24 and flew more than twenty missions in the European theater. During his next to last mission, he was shot down and killed in action in Germany, just across the border from Holland. I have grown up hearing stories about him and what a good person he was. I know that he is still sorely missed by my grandfather. On several Memorial Days in the past, I went with grandpa to visit Uncle Evan's grave and lay flowers and an American flag there, and, without fail, there was a tear in grandpa's eye. It taught me that there are times, places, and things that deserve our respect, reverence, and gratitude. We have debts that can never be repaid. It taught me that there are things that we must never forget.

So, to all who have fought and died for liberty, who have given their lives for their families and their countrymen in order to defeat tyranny,

Thank you. We will never forget.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Are the Boards Torture?

Sometimes I wonder. Waterboarding... med school "Board"ing... comparable? Okay, probably not. But I still feel bad for Eric when he has his brain stuffed at the end of the day and he still can't get over the hump on his practice test scores... Does it seem to anyone else that they are forced to cram in superfluous amounts of medical material that doesn't pertain to potential fields of interest? You know, like, if Eric is going in to Radiology, why would he need to know some of these crazy details about Alzheimer Disease, details about embryological development, all the pathology stuff and microbiology stuff that he'll never use, or even all the names of individual wrist bones? Wouldn't it make more sense, save everyone money, and streamline things a lot more to test them specifically on the field they are hoping to enter? Then doctors could really focus their study energy and master the material rather than cram it in for the exam and then forget it or never use it after that. Just a thought. *sigh*. Vicarious Board taking is painful... painful to watch him! Won't it be nice when these are behind us? But I'm going to take a cue from my dearest friend, Jennie H, and not venture into the dark realm of complaining. Afterall, even WITH the Boards, we are still blessed with a very good life.

Even so, I'd like your opinion, if you have one. Are the Boards torture? Or maybe it is just that all standardized tests are torture!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Peek-a-Boo Baby!

Gwen is too cute when we play this game. Thought I'd give you a chance to enjoy for yourselves. :)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Neonatal Salad

Aaaaaah. I LOVE gardening. We spent some time out in the garden this weekend. Eric hauled dirt and HUGE, WONDERFUL planters from our friends, the Baileys, who are moving soon (we're gonna miss you guys!) while I prepped the earth garden, planted squash and cucumber seeds, and watered all the herbs and lettuces. It felt soooo good to work up a sweat wielding that hefty shovel. Monday I planted more peas, a new round of lettuces, beets, and put our pepper and tomato plants in the ground. I am so excited to eat the results! I know the seeds take a while to germinate, so I have to remind myself "self, it is still a little too soon to expect any green to be poking up out of the dirt yet", but I can't help checking every day anyway! Soon I'll be thinning our lettuces... ever heard of baby greens? Well, ours are still too small to qualify, but we'll eat them anyway. Eric rather wittily says we'll be having a "neonatal salad" soon! :)

Our first squash plant coming up. So exciting! Grow, baby, grow!

Our sweet setup thanks to my brilliant husband! Soaker hoses make watering a piece of cake.

One of my herb plants. Basil. Needs to be thinned, I know, but I think this clump is actually very aesthetic. So cute, too.

I love the hanging planter that Eric whipped up with some cheap 2x4s, wood screws, and wire for FHE. He is so handy with tools!

and these are the huge planters! We love them! Can't wait for those beets... :)


We got a piano!!!

Some of our good friends (hi Taylors!) gave us their piano for free!!!!! It is a long story, and they are certain they wanted to do this, but really we got the better end of the deal. It looks so warm in our living room, and I love that Eric and I can both play without disturbing a sleeping baby. (we tested it. You can only barely hear the vibrations in her room when her fan is running.)

It has been a joy already! When I sit down at the bench and feel the cool keys under my fingers, I am reminded of how much I love to play. When the melodious (well, sometimes it is clear that I'm out of practice. It isn't always melodious!) strains begin to fill the room, I am reminded of why I need to play. Music is a soothing balm. It brings me so much peace and helps me find that quiet place inside. Very meditative. What do you guys do to feel this same way? Ah. I have missed music. Listening to the radio or even great CDs just isn't the same thing.

Gwen doesn't know quite what to make of it yet, but we'll get her excited about playing it(i.e. banging on it) any day now, I'm quite certain. :)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Gwen is 1/2 a year!

Gwen turned 6 months on Saturday! Unbelievable! She had her pediatrician appointment today, so I opted to wait for her stats to make the big post.
Gwen's stats:

weight: 17 lb 2 oz
(that's the 75th percentile)
height: 26 inches
(that's the 50th percentile)
head circumference: 17 1/4 inches
(that's the 80th percentile!)

My 3 most favorite times of day are:

a) when Gwen wakes up. I go in to see her and she is THRILLED as soon as she catches a glimpse of me! It just makes me feel so wonderful!

b) when Gwen gets her bath. She is so happy, splashing, giggling, sucking on the washrag, just enjoying life so much I can’t help but think of the sensations from her perspective. It helps me appreciate small wonders more fully. Same goes for when I take her outside. She feels the wind and sucks in her breath, then lets it out with a happy sigh. If only I could appreciate life as much!

c) when Gwen goes back to sleep after a middle of the night feeding. She buries her face into my cheek, sucking on anything she comes in contact with, and wraps her arms around my neck. It is just so cuddly and loving that I feel she needs me and wants me. Very validating.

I can't imagine life without her! We love her so much!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Latest Creation

I started out my mission with a Missionary Guide that quickly got snowed on and was forever after a complete disaster. When Preach My Gospel came out and we were finally each given our own copy, I was determined that this precious and beautiful manual would not share that same dismal fate. So I designed this box out of a used cereal box that was a slip cover for my PMG. It stayed safe for the remainder of my mission, survived 2 years of teaching at the MTC, and is still in excellent condition today (though the clear cover is peeling from the corners now). It served me well!

Just wanted to show off my completed Preach My Gospel box that I made for Eric's cousin, Ashleigh, serving in Cleveland, OH as a missionary. I hope she enjoys it as much as I enjoy mine!

My Reflections on Motherhood

Eric got me flowers for Mother's Day. Don't you love how the light reflects through the glass, the patterns it creates on the table (which this picture truly does not capture), and how you can see tiny bubbles around the stems? :)

It struck me yesterday that Gwen has been with us for 1/2 a year now. And I still feel like she is brand new.

I recall when I was set apart to be a missionary. I was surprised to feel like the same person afterwards. Somehow there was a disparity between the missionary I had always envisioned and the reality of being just regular ole me. I came to realize the there is no "moment" when I suddenly became that missionary. It was a lot of hard work, minuscule changes in myself overtime, and-- actually-- the ability to NOT fret about it. The water doesn't boil when you watch it, I guess.

Well, I suppose that is how I feel about motherhood too. The mother I always envisioned myself to be-- eternally positive, saintly patient, energetic and fun, taking time in daily moments to teach and inspire wonder in a child, full of faith that the kids will recognize rather than worrisome and easily overwhelmed, and loving loving loving-- well, that self continues to elude me. I know, I know. It is a process and I'm not perfect yet. I think too easily I am given to forget how much I love Gwen and desire her complete happiness.

She has been teething, I think, and has been high maintainance and generally irritable all day, every day, for the past 6 days. Her naps are shorter, she's still grumpy when she wakes up, she doesn't want to be put down, she doesn't want to be held, she doesn't want to eat, she doesn't want ANYTHING except to drool, chew on things, and fuss and grump and wriggle. Now if I was truly compassionate, I would be patient with her discomfort and sympathize with how hard it must be for her to be in pain without a means of expressing it. I imagine a mom gently soothing her child, rocking her while singing soft lullabies to distract, and calmly handling the squirms without complaint. I'm not that mom yet. This week has been quite exhausting, I've gotten little to nothing accomplished, the house was in complete disarray by Saturday, and she hasn't even popped a tooth. When she was putting up a huge fuss about eating her dinner yesterday, spitting out 1/2 of every bite of cereal, wriggling and kicking so that I was performing major balancing skills just keeping her on my lap while holding the bowl, turning her sticky wet face into my shirt to avoid the spoon so that now I'm dirty too, and taking 45 minutes to finally get it all down... I'll admit. I wasn't feeling great swells of love at that moment. All I felt was frustrated and tired. And, irrational as it may sound, I was mad at Gwen for being such a fuss-bucket.

I cried a lil as I struggled with her to get ready for bed time and repented for my feelings (and lack of feelings). And then she giggled as soon as she splashed in the bath water... and I knew everything was going to be okay. I blew on her belly, tickled her face with my hair, and even let her grab it and yank it into the water. She was only happy for about 15 minutes between 4 and 7 pm yesterday... but those 15 minutes were a beautiful soothing balm to me. And I realized that I would willingly do it all again the next day-- all the stress, energy taxation, whining, messes, etc-- for those 15 minutes of seeing my daughter genuinely happy.

That is what motherhood means to me.

Gwen Shows Off Her New Tricks for Mother's Day

Gwen is 6 months old yesterday. Wow. I'll be doing a longer post about her on Tuesday after her Dr. appointment. But for now, she wants to make sure her Grandmas know what a talented granddaughter they have!

She has mastered raspberry blowing (especially when it is time to eat her rice cereal. I kind of get a wet rice shower... :)

and shakes her rattle REALLY hard! Sometimes we think she is going to break something. And when she hits herself in the head we worry that she'll cry. But she just looks perplexed and then gets right back to shakin the rattle!

Happy Mother's Day, Grandmas!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Tornados Usher in Eric's B-day!

How's that for a dramatic title? Okay so it might be a little deceptive. We did have a tornado warning on Eric's b-day, but it was only for about 30 minutes.
Back to Eric. He's an old man now. All of 26. yup. We didn't really go all out for celebrating on his special day because he had study catch-up to do (he went hunting turkeys last week and needed to put in a pretty full day to make up for it... it was worth it! He came home so happy and ready to hit the grindstone... well, more or less. That doesn't mean he's excited about it.) So, our celebrations were small but lasted all weekend!

I surprised him with Japanese sushi for dinner. My first time to make it (Korean style is different with no 'scary' ingredients), so I wasn't brave enough to go raw fish. I did walk over to the Tensuke Market with Anita, Charlotte, and Gwen on our walk to snag some fish eggs (a delightful bright orange!), some BBQ eel (disappointingly bland), pickled plums (which actually turned out to be apricots and were INTENSELY flavorful-- a lil goes a long way!), and packets of wasabi (wonderfully pungent) to enjoy in our sushi. My favorite ingredients were definitely the avocado, the fish eggs, the fake crab, and a surprisingly exciting mango/wasabi combo!

Of course, those 30 tornado minutes would coincide perfectly with Gwen's bathtime on her way to bed... and we didn't want her to get too off kilter... so here she is, enjoying Daddy's b-day in the only safe room in our apartment: the small downstairs bathroom. She sort of liked her bath in the ice chest! :) How often do you get to "play" with your baby in an ice chest full of water on your birthday?

We gave Eric a hair cut. This pic with Gwen is as close to a "before" shot as we dared get. It was getting pretty, um, interesting. Now he says it is the shortest it has been in our marriage. But it'll be nice to not have to touch it up again until after the Boards! See the top photo for the "after" shot!

And perhaps my favorite part of the extended b-day celebrations was the dessert. It took several days before we actually had time to make it, but it was worth it! And I was actually pleasantly surprised at how quickly and easily everything came together! Asian-style Banana fritters with a lime-caramel sauce... most certainly on the 'no-no' list for me, but an indulgence I absolutely couldn't resist!

I love you Hon, you are the best! No really... I cannot imagine the dismal life I would have without you. You bring me so much joy. I am grateful for eternal families because that means I always have YOU to look forward to forever!