Monday, September 17, 2018

Hardest Parts of Pregnancy

I've been blessed with good pregnancies, so don't take this as a complaining session. I'm just commenting on what's going on in my life. It's not meant to compare with anyone else; just writing my truth. No need to shoot me down because your experiences are different or worse than mine; I know we're all different and there are varying levels of good/bad. xoxo 

Taken last week (26 1/2 weeks gestation) in a dirty mirror!

Hardest part of pregnancy for me (this time. The 9th time (I did have one miscarriage in there, about 12 years ago), because the 8th time (7th child), I had gall bladder attacks, and that was pure hell. I haven't had anything like that this time, so far! *crossing fingers*):

*Psychotic dreams: I seriously can't tell half the time what was real and what was the dream. I imagine this is what it's like on acid or something, and I don't get why someone would do this to their brains on purpose. It's disconcerting and sometimes frustrating, like when it turns out Will Smith does not, in fact, have a huge thing for me (not that I would want him to! Just sayin' 😉). 

*Yeast infections: They are seriously the worst. Enough said. (And yes, I'm doing everything right --diet, ACV, garlic, probiotics, over-the-counter, etc.) One of the first signs of pregnancy for me is a yeast infection. Awesome. Yay. 

*Hemorrhoids: We'll just leave that TMI right there. 
(And I know why this and the yeast infections are pervasive, it has everything to do with gravity, the end.)

*Big-ness: I have the smallest torso of all time. I'm all legs. True fact: my first pregnancy altered my ribs physically forever and ever, amen. They have been pushed out (bones are malleable! As an adult?! Who knew!) and so all of my babies have enjoyed the freedom of going out even further. Baby is to the top of my rib cage down to my thighs and STILL sticks out. *shrug*

*Rude comments: THEY. JUST. WON'T. STOP. Even by well-meaning friends. Even by people who know better. And they're not trying to be rude, but every single day I'm answering the same stupid questions over and over and it starts to wear me down. And I am not bothered by the "when are you due?" questions (it's a genuine and perfectly legitimate question!), it's what follows that particular question almost every single time:
"Oh, wow. Wow! Really!? Not until then!?"
"Oh, my goodness, that's so... are you sure?!" 
"You already look so very big! Are you feeling okay???"
"Christmas time?! Are you sure it's not twins?" 

Why can't they say things like this, instead?

"How exciting!"
"You look great!"
"Oh, how fun!"
"Christmas babies are the best!" 
"You've got time to get things ready!" 

Why comment on my body, at all? I mean, ugh, people, yes, I get it. I'm HUGE. I know. (Even though I don't think I look as huge as they claim. I know I'll only get bigger! Look at that picture up there! I don't look like I'm "ready to pop" as an older mother recently said to me (how rude is that?!).) 
As I explained above, I have a small torso and so baby goes outward. I also have leftover fat from eight (seven living) previous pregnancies. I was also overweight when I got pregnant, so chances are, I'm not going to be thin! Isn't it crazy!? I'm an individual with an individual body that does it's own INDIVIDUAL THINGS!! Get over it, already! Stop pretending like my big body is some freak show and that you can't handle the fact that I actually know what's going on --for example, that I ACTUALLY KNOW MY OWN DUE DATE. As you can tell, I'm really getting tired of it, and it's getting harder to be polite and forgive (must. keep. trying.). 

This is why women become hermits when they're pregnant. It's not because we're tired, it's because we don't want to kill people. 

*Fatigue: Yes, I'm tired. But it honestly has less to do with pregnancy and more to do with my schedule. A schedule I have chosen and I love. Luckily, I'm able to nap every few days, so it works out. And I know when to take it slower and when to push myself.

My awesome kids (worth everything!)
*Knowledge of what's ahead: This is both the hardest and the sweetest part of pregnancy for me. I'm pretty experienced with giving birth (in a variety of situations, although I've yet to have a C-section, and I hope I never do), and so I know what's coming. Giving birth is not cake, friends. It's not the worst thing, ever, either (seriously, it's not), but it's a lot of work! I remember pushing out my last baby and I seriously thought, "I will NEVER do that, again." And I pushed her out in 20 seconds! It's not like it was the worst thing --it's just hard. And yes, I choose to give birth unmedicated (on purpose) because I actually think recovery is much harder if I don't. 

I also know how difficult recovery can be. I know all the "what-ifs" and such; I know what can go wrong, and I know what can be difficult to overcome. From the breastfeeding to the vaginal healing --it's not easy, friends. 

There's also the unknown: will everything be okay with baby boy? Will he be healthy? Will labor and delivery go well? Will we be able to leave the hospital when we want? Will he come Earth-side when expected? Will he even survive?

And then: sleepless nights, crazy schedules, diapers, and another human attached to me for another few years. Putting myself away for another little while in order to provide life to another little baby who needs me.

But! And this is the most important! I also know what is coming, too --a sweet, beautiful, heaven-smelling little bundle that I will love and cherish. Sacred moments in the night, nursing my baby boy, wondering how I could have been so blessed. There will be another first smile, first laugh, first crawl, first walk... another baby for all the older Savages to dote on with so much love and attention. There will be love... so much love. All the love that is possible --and it is strange, isn't it? To love someone so much, without knowing their personality, without knowing who they will become --just innocent, unadulterated, perfect love for a vulnerable, tiny, perfect little baby. He will be a part of our eternal family (already is!) and he will forever be one of us. 

I love God so much for giving us families. I love Him so much for giving me this baby (even though it's been hard to accept). I love Him forever for giving us a glimpse of what Heaven is like and what it will be like when we see Him, again. 

And now, I'm crying. ❤

So, see? All these things that are hard? This last thing makes all the other things worth it. (Even the rude comments!)

What are the hardest parts of pregnancy for you? 

Thursday, August 16, 2018

First Day of School




Dad teaches early morning seminary!

6th grade

4th grade

1st grade

No-grade! Staying home with mommy. 

First new outfit for the baby: 

Me, pregnant and stuff (from a few weeks ago; sorry for the bad lighting):

The End 

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

New School Year Mental Prep

Baby number 8 is a boy. And he's gonna be cute (I decided).

That means we'll have 5 boys and 3 girls! Wha?!


School starts next week. This year, we'll have:

1 Senior
1 Sophomore
1 Freshman
1 6th grader
1 4th grader
1 1st grader
1 pre-pre-schooler (this means she's just staying home all day with mom, again!)
1 baby-on-the-way (here by Christmas!)

I'll also have a husband who is teaching full-time at K-State in the Business Department, as well as teaching early morning seminary. And consulting. And running our new family business.

I will be teaching 31 piano students. And mothering all those kids, having a baby, and helping with the family business.

😲 (Right!?!?)


Depression is still controlled. I'm a lot more moody because of the pregnancy, but I'm still able to function day-to-day without any complete breakdowns (just half-ones, haha).

This summer was difficult. We've had spectacular ones in the past, so I can't complain, but this one was exhausting for all the wrong reasons. Bills piling high, no real vacations, extreme weather (meaning playing outside was incredibly difficult), and extra-bored/whiny kids... it all just kind of added together to make things more stressful. I wish I could say we handled it all with grace and kindness, but during the last few weeks, our family has been edgy, loud, and annoyed with each other. Nobody is exempt --we've all allowed the stress to turn us toward negativity, criticism, and anger. I'm anxious for school to start, even to just kind of give us all a break from one another and a chance to get away from electronics/TV and the house. I think a new routine will be a blessing for everyone!

But this also means my days will be significantly different and I am planning ahead for the onslaught of exhaustion and busy-ness.

I'll be up every day by 5:30AM; I'll see husband and big kids off by 5:50AM. I won't need to wake the younger kids up until 7AM (huzzah!), so that will give me a good hour to do the things I need to do alone --scripture study, prayer, meditation, exercise, planning the day, etc. Once the 3 elementary kids leave by 8:15AM, I will have exactly 6-7 hours to stay on top of the laundry, household chores, dinner prep, errands, bills,  (maybe a nap?!) etc. in order to balance the needs of my family with that of my piano studio. From about 2:30PM until 10PM, I will be running, running, running (or in this instance, teaching and mothering!).

Saturdays will mean family business (it'll be our busiest time, the weekends), chores I didn't get to, and activities for the kids (jobs for older girls, orchestra for the 11 year old, etc.).

Sundays will hopefully be full of rest! There's a reason we've been asked to keep the Sabbath Day holy, and it's so much about catching our breath and pausing for a minute...

Speaking of Sundays, I've decided I will need to quit playing for the Presbyterians sooner rather than later --I was going to have to quit come January because my church schedule would switch to mornings (making it impossible to continue to do both), but because of the pregnancy and the stress of life, I'll need to stop probably by October. Luckily, I may have already found a replacement! And then our Sabbath days will be a lot easier... and for me, a lot more restful...


Good thing I believe this:

Monday, June 18, 2018

Still Adjusting

I'm going to try and convey a lot of deep, confusing feelings in this post. I find that when I write things out or when I speak them aloud, I do a much better job of figuring out how I feel (and what to do about it!).

In other words, I'm going to navel-gaze and comment upon my current feelings. You've been duly warned, dear reader!

(And trigger warning: it's about pregnancy and childbirth/children. I'm truly sorry if this is a painful reminder to you, dear reader, whoever you may be, if infertility has been a part of your life. I don't mean to exaggerate or exacerbate your pain; I'm only able to speak about my own experiences, you know? But I send you much love. I promise.)

It took me about two years to come to peace about being finished having children. Many temple trips (praying in the temple is so sacred, so peaceful), conversations with my husband, questions posed to my friends, and silent pleadings were answered in a contented way. We were finished. Our family size was acceptable to God, to my husband, to me, and to our children. I can't say I ever felt it was totally complete, but I knew that no matter when the time to stop having children came, I would still be sad. Having children has been one of the greatest (maybe the greatest?) experience of my life. Pregnancy has not been difficult for me. Maybe if it had, I wouldn't be so sad to see it end...? I don't know. I just know that having children has been my main identity for 17 years. To be finished felt... weird. Just strange, somehow.

But I felt peaceful that we were finished. I was even happy with the idea! Suddenly, I could see a future without diapers and where I could start to do things for myself in a more permanent way. It was exciting!

Brandon and I prayed to know if we should do anything permanent. For us, we felt strongly we were not supposed to do anything permanent to prevent pregnancy. So, we didn't. And now we know why!

I know some people will laugh at our shock in finding myself pregnant, again. How could we not know this could happen? Well, of course it could. I believe that any time a man and a woman come together in that way, it is possible for a pregnancy to occur. No birth control is 100% accurate (except abstinence, obviously). My mom had a cousin who found herself expecting a baby sometime after her hysterectomy!! Not even making that up. There is always a possibility!

I'm 14 1/2 weeks. The excitement and rush of discovering I am pregnant has died down, a little. I've found a provider I'm mostly contented with (that's another story), and I've heard the heartbeat twice. My strong feeling of twins has been proved wrong (sigh... another story). I look like I'm 20 weeks (or more) and I've already had 2 people ask me when I'm due --visibly shocked when I tell them December. I may have lost a lot of weight, but I still have all that stomach skin (my glorious apron) hanging around, and with a short torso, I need to kind of squish everything together --thus making me look significantly further along than I am. And that's super fun. 😜

I'm finding myself completely off-kilter. I was so excited to find out I was pregnant! And then I was immediately sad, too. I felt so conflicted. I wasn't sure what to feel! I wasn't expecting it; I had already put the possibility behind me. I had moved on and made future plans. I saw the next 10 years and knew what to expect (well, as much as anyone can expect anything). And then suddenly, in that one moment, my entire future changed.

I'm not angry about it. I'm not even really sad, either. I'm just... adjusting.

My friend told me it's like I just took a really big, sharp U-turn. I had gotten used to one path, and now I'm going back. Not necessarily backwards, but back to the start of another new life. Back to nursing, diapers, late-nights, and another baby to raise. Back to 18 more years. And I already gave away all the baby stuff. Ha!

Every life is precious, and I feel grateful I get to bring another life to this world. But I'm also kind of upset about it. I'm upset because I don't understand how God could give this baby to me when so many of my beloved friends have not been given any. Within the first few months of this pregnancy, too many women have miscarried their precious babies. Dear friends who have prayed for years; dear friends who have prayed for decades --why isn't this miracle being given to them? I honestly don't know the answer. I just mourn for them and feel the sting of their sorrow every time I remember I'm having my eighth child.

But I also know that God knew that we would all face very individualized challenges in this life. Perhaps my challenge is to be the mother of many children (which isn't easy, just in case people were wondering). Maybe my challenge is to give charity and empathy to those who wish they were me. Honestly, maybe my challenge is to be willing to do what God asks, even if it's hard and doesn't always make sense (I'm pretty sure that's everyone's challenge!).

One lesson I've learned (and it's incredibly precious to me, so I'm going to be vague): Sometimes, God tells us exactly what is going to happen and what we are going to face, but we are so decided against the impossibilities that we completely miss the message. That happened, here. The experience was powerful and exquisite and very personal --but I missed the message until it was staring up at me with two pink lines. Hindsight can be both enlightening and embarrassing, sometimes. 😊

Dear reader, deep inside my soul, I feel the ferocity of my love for this unborn baby. I know he or she will be greatly loved by all of us. And I will get to the point where I cannot imagine my life without them! I know this. I already love this baby; I just don't feel as elated as I have with new pregnancies in the past. It's something that confuses me and leaves me feeling slightly guilty, too, because I've never struggled with this, before. It must be something I need to experience. Only God really knows why.

I think I've just needed to work through these new feelings to get to a place where I can feel peaceful and excited. There is so much work ahead, so much to do, so many souls relying on me to love them! I don't want to resent any of it. I love this precious family of mine and I'm grateful for each and every one of them --even this tiny surprise growing inside of me.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

First Date

Twenty years ago (today!), Brandon took me out on our first date. Back in 2008, I wrote extensively about the "year of tens" (the 10th anniversary of all our "firsts"). I'm really glad I did, because my memory is not what it used to be, and now I have all these stories written down!

For those who might be interested, here’s the story of our first date (I wrote this on June 10, 2008. Keep that in mind because I feel I've matured greatly as a writer since then! Also, I should note that Brandon and I met while working for on-campus housing at BYU; it'll add sense to the story):

Brandon asked me, on a Sunday afternoon, if I would go out with him on a Wednesday afternoon (June 10, 1998). I had been waiting on pins and needles for at least 4 or 5 days for him to ask me out. Back then, four days was torture! I was thrilled when he finally asked me out.
[Sidebar (I wrote this sidebar in 2012): how did he ask me out, you ask? Well, that's a fun story, too. I was sitting in my place of work, talking to two other co-workers (they were visiting me from another housing area and weren't working). One of them had a question only Brandon could answer, and I knew he was in his dorm working in his place of work (the dorm office) and so I called him. We chatted and then there was some harmless flirting going on between me and my co-workers (both were male) and one said something about me being beautiful. Here's the conversation thereafter:Me: So-and-so just said I'm beautiful.Brandon (on the phone): Well, you are beautiful.Me: (blushing profusely, hesitating) Well, then... when are you going to ask me out?Brandon: (stammering) Well, uh, I... well, I was planning on it!Me: Before September?Brandon: Yes!Me: Okay. Good!
And I can't even remember how he asked me out (this is me, writing in 2018: he called me on the phone. I do remember that....) Just that it was four days later. Huh. I guess this was more me letting him know I'd say yes. That's funny!]
Well, Brandon didn't have a car. He had been home from his mission for exactly 3 whole months (and a week) and was working and living on campus at BYU. Like me (except I didn't serve a mission, I meant the working and living on campus part, capische?). I remember I wasn't sure what we were going to do, what with the lack of car and all, but he came and got me and we walked onto the main part of campus. It was a gorgeous day (I remember the sun), and I had gorgeous hair (I remember the curling iron). I have no idea what we talked about on the way there, but I remember feeling more comfortable than nervous, which was odd, considering how giddy and silly I was around boys I liked. And boy-oh-boy! I liked Brandon. A lot.

He guided me to the Museum of Art, and when we walked inside, I realized we were eating at the Museum Cafe. What a great idea for one without a car, but wanting to make a good impression! We got great seats by the window, and I remember some of our conversation:
*He was floored that I was only 19 years old. He didn't realize how young I was when we had met. Actually, I think it was the fact that I had graduated from high school in 1997. His sister was a year younger than me, but had graduated the same year as me --I think he was afraid I was an 18 year old, at first.
*We talked about school and where we were from.
That's it. That's all I can remember. Time has done a number on my brain, and so have my children. But I do remember feeling a tad self-conscious as I ate my salad (did I have salad? I think I did!), but being perfectly at ease with the conversation. He was really easy to talk to and I loved that.

After we ate, we walked around all the free parts of the museum looking at the gorgeous art. My cousin worked as a security guard in the museum at the time, so she got to meet Brandon that very first day! She approved of him, too.

It's funny, but Brandon told me later that he was immediately taken in by me because I "played the game right" during that date. I asked him what he meant, and he told me that I was good at banter, but I was also very good at the touching. The touching? Yes, the touching --I knew when to touch his arm, or lean into his shoulder with my shoulder to push him away, i.e. playful, teasing, sexual tension (but in a very prudish way! Don't you be getting any ideers, there, mister!). You know what I mean, right? Well, I hadn't realized I was doing it at the time (he was doing it, too!), but I'm glad it worked.

When we were done looking at art (where Brandon impressed me, again, with his cultural and art-loving knowledge), he took me to the BYU Creamery inside the Wilk (for those who don't know "Wilk", it's the Wilkinson Student Center). This is where I was ambushed. Ambushed, I tell you!

Every Wednesday during that Spring/Summer terms (1998), BYU students (and friends) that had lived in Thousand Oaks, CA (or had gone to T.O. high school) met to eat ice cream. I was totally set up to meet his friends. On the first date! Oh, sure, it was just to "get some ice cream," but later, I found out that he had planned it all too well. *Four days after our date, he got together with the same friends, sans me, and then proceeded to seek their approval of Yours Truly. I didn't find this out for a couple of weeks, and so I thought it odd he would do that on a first date.

Obviously, it didn't bother me. Oh, and the friends approved.

*I'd like to note that on the same day the friends approved of me, Brandon and I decided to date exclusively. ❤

It's surreal being on this end of 20 years. When I look back, it feels like my life should be one of those movie montages --all sepia-toned and emotional-tugging with beautifully-timed background music. Hindsight seems to condense all of our pivotal life moments and it's easy to analyze the contents in that way. "See how this choice led to this?" and "See what this experience did for our family?" and "Man, isn't it a good thing we did this?" Both the good and bad kind of mesh together to create a complicated and beautiful life.

I think it's important for us to remember that as we go forward, too. (I could write about that extensively, but I don't have the time, right now. Maybe later?)

I like being on this side of 20 years. I like that I'm still grateful for that first date and for all the dates that followed. I know not every marriage has lasted as long as ours has; I know not everyone still loves their spouse. I know not everyone married who they thought they were marrying, either. I am, however, very grateful our marriage has lasted, that I still love him, that he is who he says he is, and that he still loves me. I don't want to take it for granted; I try not to!

Thanks for asking me out back then, Brandon! I will always be eternally grateful I said, "yes" (although, in my mind, I was probably saying, "YESYESYESYESYES!!" 😀 )

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Little Miracle

Sometimes, it's the little things that make all the difference. Like hearing this heartbeat for the first time and seeing this face:

I love and adore this baby. S/he wasn't planned and our future has been changed significantly, but I'm genuinely excited for another baby.

It will be such a strange time! A brand new baby, our oldest graduating from high school...

When I was in my early 20's, I always said, "If I have them all before I'm 30, they'll all be gone before I'm 50!" I truly thought that's how it would go down. I was so naive. Because here I am, 39 years old, having my eighth child, and all I can think is how incredibly grateful I am to be so wrong about it.

Life is hard (see previous post) and twists and turns and leads us on crazy journeys we didn't think we needed. It can be frustrating, overwhelming, exhausting, and downright rude! But it's also beautiful and wonderful and full of amazing amazingness. Not everything is fixed and many of the hard things continue to be hard, but today, I'm grateful for this tiny miracle and the reminder that life is worth it.

Monday, May 21, 2018

The Downs

My previous post was very optimistic and I still believe in every single word I wrote. But since then, we've experienced a lot of the downs instead of the ups.

We had four (three serious) medical emergencies with our kids:
*6 year old's heel got caught in the spokes of a bike and was on crutches for three weeks
*3 year old was hit in the head by an errant discus at a track meet, slicing her ear and requiring an ambulance ride and 10 stitches
*13 year old broke his big toe (sprained, maybe?)
*17 year old ended up in the hospital with ruptured ovarian cysts (or just one cyst. Not really sure.)

Everything that can go wrong seems to go wrong. $1100 van bill. Miscommunication about insurance causing me to miss OB appointments. Maternity clothes I ordered have been lost in shipping. House repairs. Pregnancy brain settling in. Cats bringing in ticks. Bounce house business not as busy as we hoped. Multiple slivers in 3 year old's feet from the back deck. No energy = no motivation = trashy house (because like my kids are gonna clean it without being told to and who has the energy for all that whining and complaining?)

It's not the end of the world. Life goes on. Literally. And I still have faith and I still believe in miracles.

I have a beautiful family and a wonderful husband and an amazing home and tons of good friends.

But it's been hard and I've cried a lot.

Monday, April 30, 2018

God Takes Us Through

Life has been more than a little interesting over the past few months. 

It's been busy, that's for sure! Currently my jobs include:

*Be a mom and run a household
*Teach approximately 24 piano students
*Play for the Presbyterians every Sunday morning
*Play the piano in the band that accompanies the community theater's performance of Evita (just two shows left!)
*Accompany random things
*Help run the Primary at church
*Accompany the ward choir
*Run the website for MAMTA (music teachers assoc.)

And somewhere in there I am able to fit in time to read, finish ballet class, date my husband, do all the church things (actually, I'm pretty sure I'm praying 24/7!), and hang out with friends. What I'm NOT finding time to do is potty train the 3 year old. Blerg...

And amidst all of this, we've been met with some ENORMOUS changes in our lives.

Pretty big, dear reader.

The first happened the end of February. Brandon's employment ended with the company he has been working with the past couple of years (long story, but his position was dissolved). Feeling strongly we should stay in Kansas, we ended up starting a new business (bounce house rentals!) and he was hired to teach more classes at K-State. He is also doing consulting and speaking at conferences.

And then, as if life hadn't already dealt us a little bit of uncertainty, this happened:

Yep! We'll be having another baby in December.

I tell you what, friends, these past few months have been wrought with a lot of emotions. Exhaustion has been one of my closest companions, and there have been some days where the only way I've gotten through is to cry through it (usually privately, sometimes not-so-privately).

But, on the other hand, I've been amazed at my optimism and faith! I have genuinely admired my husband's fortitude and perseverance (he works so hard). I've had experiences that have greatly strengthened my resolve that God knows us, hears us, and loves us.

It has also reiterated to me (again and again and again) that life is a journey.

Many years ago, a wonderful woman I admired once told me she could never have six kids like me. I told her that she could do anything God asked her to do! I told her this because first, it's true, and second, I didn't want her to think that I was somehow more capable or more righteous or more whatever just because I had x amount of kids. I think we all sell ourselves short when we decide what we can and cannot do without asking God to get involved, first.

Over the past 10 years, I've been on a journey that has brought me to this place. My experiences have shaped me very deliberately and this is why I am here and can do these hard things before me. God has brought me to these things, and He has taken me through them all. He will always take me through what He asks me to do, if I let Him.

Gospel study + intensive therapy + medication + self-education + increased faith + focusing on my marriage + safe circle of friends + the Atonement of Jesus Christ = The ability to face the challenges ahead of me. And not just face them, but be grateful for them! Conquer them! Endure them! Embrace them.

There's no way I could have faced both the job loss and a pregnancy 3-4 years ago with anything but massive despair and cynicism, let alone facing it with the kind of schedule our family has at the moment. And I don't want to take the credit for this, because even though I've worked hard, I could never have done it on my own. I'm not supposed to be doing it on my own, anyway! I've only been able to do it with Christ. And my family. And friends (such good friends). And probably herbal tea and some Jane Austen.

I don't know what this next year will bring for us. I don't know if these challenges will turn out to be our greatest blessings (I'm pretty sure they will), but I do know it'll be okay because God takes us through the impossible things He asks us to go through. Even when our faith wavers, even when we feel like giving up, even when it seems impossible --I guarantee He will see us through to wherever it is we need to be. We just need to let Him.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

I Heart Valentine's Day! And Love!

I love Valentine's Day.

And I've written about it, a lot! 

Here are some posts that share romantic photos and quotes:

Here is a poem I wrote for Brandon last year on Valentine's Day:


It is an easy thing to overlook true love.
Our eyes are searching for events and objects
Found in movies,
And journals bursting with dreams.

We glance above the hazy reality.
Our hearts do not notice the consistent presence
Of loyalty,
And dishes again scrubbed clean.

 ~Cheryl S.S. Feb 14, 2017

And lastly, here's a romantic song for you to read/listen to (I sang this to Brandon at our wedding luncheon. He actually accompanied me while I sang it!). I have never found an amazing recording of this song; it's hard to find anything. But this one is pretty good because his voice is so nice, and it doesn't feel pretentious...

"In a Simple Way I Love You" from I'm Getting My Act Together and Taking it on the Road

In a simple way I love you
That’s all that I can do
I’ll make music while you sing your song
I understand what you’re going through

In a simple way I love you
When you’re reaching out to me
I will be there when you need a friend
I’ll help you be what you want to be

I hear your voice sing out
Just let it go
I’ll give you room to breathe
And room to grow

In a simple way I love you
I’m here to see you through
I’ll make music while you sing your song
While you do what you have to do

I’ll be beside you rain or shine
Love has many faces
And one of them is mine

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Doing Hard Things or I Signed Up for Ballet

PART 1 (written four days ago)

I've signed up to take a ballet class.

Honestly, I'm not sure what I was thinking, because it was kind of one of those things where I waited until the last second, hemmed and hawed, and then plugged my nose and jumped in with both feet. I mean, ballet?


I do not have what one would call a ballerina type body. I'm not slim, nor lithe. I don't even really dance. The ballroom dancing I did (20 years ago) didn't really prepare me for this scenario.

And let's be real --large women like me don't dance ballet. We just don't. We don't because first, we aren't as flexible because there are jiggly parts in the way. Second, we aren't fans of the attire. Well, we're fans of the attire, just not on our own bodies. Third, it's really hard on our ankles! Ballet is about the feet, and when you have a large body to carry on your feet, you can't really be jumping around like the ballerinas do, at least not without some injuries. Fourth, large women aren't ballerinas because just by the act of dancing ballet makes one (I would imagine) slimmer (which, now you can see why I'm interested in doing this...).

I realize this makes me sound prejudiced against large women. Which would be silly, seeing as I'm a large woman... but I'm just speaking the truth. Me + leotard + ballet = possible endless humiliations.

And that's exactly why I signed up.

I listed all the reasons why I shouldn't or couldn't sign up for a beginner adult ballet class. I kept saying, "this is why not, Cheryl, this is why not!" Then my brain said to me, very pointedly, "why not you? Huh? Why not you?"

Yeah! Why not me? Why can't I? Who says I can't?!

I don't want my fears to stop me from doing cool things! I've been working really hard on getting healthy (in every possible way) over the past 4 years. If I want to take ballet, which will greatly add to my physical health and help with my overall exercise routines and weight loss, then gosh darn it, people, I'm gonna take ballet!

So, I am. And it starts on Tuesday. I even have a babysitter for baby girl!

And I'm terrified.

I will finish this blog post AFTER the first class and tell you how it went. Will my fears of being judged be realized? Will I be humiliated? Will I cry? Will I puke? Will I trip? Will they secretly laugh and titter, the adult women taking the class with me who are all probably super amazing dancers with dancers' bodies? We will find out!

Stay tuned.... for like, two lines...


PART 2 (written today)

Well, I did it! I went to my ballet class.

Before I get to that, did you know that people need to learn to create affordable somewhat-high-waist spanx yoga pants for women who are in transition between flabby and muscle-ly? (The key word being "affordable"). I ordered a pair of what seemed to be a good pair of tight yoga pants that would keep all my jiggly parts contained and it was a sham! A farce! Granted, I didn't look too far. But they didn't work. Luckily I had some yoga pants and I just dealt with it (and then I learned quickly I want something tighter and not as long...).

And now this is how it went:

Just fine. 

I mean, it's kind of anticlimactic, this experience of mine, because I was so nervous and worried about things that just never happened.

I had butterflies as I drove to the dance studio. I prayed for strength to just get out of the car and go inside. I went in and... it was fine! I signed in, met the wonderful people running the place, talked with another mom (who wasn't as slim as I imagined they would all be) who had also never danced ballet, before. I bought ballet slippers, saw my neighbor walk in (how cool is that?!), and the class was awesome.

It's a small class and we're a variety of experience and size and not one of us felt perfectly comfortable to be there. The instructor is wonderful and I learned that ballet people have got to be solid muscle! (HOLY COW!) It was so difficult to do even some of the simplest forms she taught us. It looks so easy when you're watching it, but then doing it...

After working through all of those French-termed exercises (and jumps! That was hilarious...), we did Pilates. My glutes will burn forever and ever, amen.

Before I had time to question my choice of clothing, it was over and we all laughed and chatted and drove away and... it was fine!

Sure, I'm the biggest girl in the class. No, I'm not very good at posture and balance... yet. But nobody made me feel like I was crazy for going and nobody said anything but kind things. I'm genuinely looking forward to going back!

Do hard things, friends. And don't talk yourself out of conquering your fears. If you want to learn something --learn it! If you want to try something --try it! We can't let what others think determine what we will do with our lives. All that matters is how you feel and think about something. Even if you end up being the worst at whatever it is you try, at least you tried, and at least you're doing it. And, honestly, it won't be any worse than never trying.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

The Last 19 Years

In one week, Brandon and I will celebrate our 19th wedding anniversary.

It feels strange. #1 is already half way through her junior year, has taken the ACT, and is talking about college. Our baby is almost 3 years old, and all the other kids keep growing up (how rude!).

I remember being the young married wife, the young mom... I remember starting adulthood, and I remember how optimistic and absolutely clueless I was. Oh, I thought I knew everything. I figured, "hey, look at me! I went to college. I have a degree and I read a lot. I read all the books! I know everything there is to know. I am so prepared!" Older and wiser mothers would look at me with a strange expression on their faces, and I figured it was because they were blown away by my amazing knowledge and awesomeness.

Well, now that I'm older and a little bit wiser (with so much more learning and wisdom to still gain), I find that I'm looking at those young, confident mothers with the same look. And it's absolutely not because I'm blown away by their awesomeness (although many are awesome!).

It's the look that says, "I was you, once. And although you're doing better than you think you are, you're going to experience things that will stretch you further than you thought you could go. You're going to change your opinions about things --maybe even a lot of things. You're going to go through tough situations that you thought you could prevent. You're going to find out what matters most. And then you'll discover that you really didn't know very much at all. But it's okay, because you'll also find out that you're strong and loved, and you'll gain wisdom."

I've been pondering these past 19 years (20, really), and thinking about all that has happened. The wisdom I've gained through experience has been humbling and beautiful all at once. The truth is, I'm still going through experiences (even now) that are pushing me completely out of my comfort zone and teaching me that I really don't know much at all.

And now! Since I like lists and family history, stories and memories, I want to write a summary of our married life, thus far...


I met Brandon May 20, 1998. We worked together on campus at BYU, and although my first impression wasn't the greatest, it didn't take me long to find him quite attractive (like, 24 hours). Our first date was June 10, he kissed me June 20, and proposed October 20.

We were married in the Idaho Falls LDS Temple on January 16, 1999.

January 16, 1999
In our 19 years together, we have moved 10 times (Provo apartment to Aspen Grove Family Camp, back to apartment, back to AGFC (we worked there two summers in a row), back to apartment, to the condo, bought a house, moved to Concord, CA, moved back to Provo, moved to PA, moved to KS).

Aspen Grove Family Camp, Summer 2000
Less than a week before graduating from BYU (we both graduated in April 2001), I gave birth to our first child.

April 21, 2001

In the next few years, we bought our first house and then welcomed 3 more children to our home -- a daughter and two sons.

February 11, 2003

August 9, 2004

August 2004

February 8, 2007

We then moved from Provo and lived in Concord, CA for approximately 13 months.

May 2007
It was an incredible, life-changing experience in so many ways! I lost 40 pounds that year (Brandon lost 50).

We learned, through prayer, that we were supposed to have more kids and we made the decision for Brandon to get his Executive MBA. The young couples/families that we spent our time with were amazing, and even though it's been more than 10 years, we still consider many to be our friends.

July 2008
When we moved back to Utah, Brandon started at Wharton (San Francisco campus --oh, the irony! That we left the Bay Area just before he would be going to school in the Bay Area...). While he was in school, we had our fifth child (third boy!).

July 28, 2009

We also got to spend our 10th wedding anniversary in England (mostly London) while Brandon was working with a client. Wharton was definitely a highlight, too. The people we met were incredible, and we went to China (Brandon also spent time in Israel)!

Buckingham Palace, January 2009 
The Great Wall of China, September 2010
Brandon received a top-notch education and although it was financially difficult, we don't regret it. I was so proud of him! For those two years he juggled a full time job traveling internationally, two church callings, and traveling to San Francisco every other weekend to attend classes (UPenn's Wharton school has a west coast campus). He was amazing.

Graduation in Philadelphia, May 2011
My first (and sadly, only) home birth occurred in 2012. Four boys in a row! Wha?!

March 2, 2012

Moving to PA was one of the best things we ever did, hands down. Although we were only there for 2 1/2 years, it will forever be cemented in my memory as a place of great personal healing. Our idyllic village of Thornton, Pennsylvania was the backdrop of miracles -- I finally sought and received mental health help. We finally (after 18 months of praying/trying) conceived our seventh (and incidentally, last) child. A girl! What a miracle! Our children thrived there. We made life-long friends and I still miss the trees. Brandon faced a lot of challenges, too, and he came through them with incredible maturity.

February 23, 2015

And now, here we are in Kansas. We love living here! Our kids are doing well, the ward is like family, and the community is amazing. I'm finally getting myself physically healthy, again (now that I'm mentally/emotionally doing well, the physical health is coming a lot easier), and although we still struggle with normal mortality-induced trials (some a lot more difficult than others), we are happy. 



Christmas Eve 2017
I left out the vast majority --I didn't mention our vacations, nor that time we camped across the country for basically 6 weeks. I left out our pets, the sickness, the fighting, deaths of loved ones, the adventures, the dangers, and all of our spiritual progressions. I don't think it's possible to record every detail of a life, even if you journal religiously. There's simply too much happening. All we can hope for are glimpses of what adds up to a deep, complicated, and beautiful life. And when I look at our life over the last 19 years, I think that's exactly what it is: deep, complicated, and beautiful.

I'm grateful for Brandon and for my marriage. Aside from mothering, I don't think anything else has taught me so much! I'm blessed to have a strong, dedicated, brilliant, handsome, hard-working, and loving husband. I love him! And I love our life.