Sunday, January 31, 2010

Ward Conference

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We had such an awesome ward conference today! I was so uplifted and I felt like each and every message was delivered for me personally. I got so much out of today's lessons!

I have a quick thought I wanted to share... a highlight of sorts...

We were late for church today (grrr) but it wound up being a good thing. There was absolutely no place to sit in the chapel so we wound up sitting on the chairs in the foyer. I found that for me personally, it was a perfect place to sit. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I am sensitive to a lot of different kinds of noises. I found it was pretty quiet in the foyer and there was a lot less distraction... less light, less people, less noise. Plus, the speaker is right in the middle and I could hear everything really well. I actually got a lot out of the talks by sitting out there. (Oh, have I mentioned that the couches are comfy too? Maybe I shouldn't post that... everyone else will be vying for a spot out there!)

As I sat listening to the talks, I was spiritually edified and uplifted. Our stake president, President Nicholls spoke in the second half of the meeting. During his talk, I was watching various parents come and go from the chapel with wiggly little children. They were all so cute. At one point, a father was out walking with his little toddler. He seemed genuinely interested in everything that was going on out there. But something happened that just warmed my heart and really testified of the spirit...

As this father walked past the picture of Jesus Christ that is in the foyer, this little boy swung himself around in his dad's arms and reached right out for that portrait. The look on his face was priceless... as though he was thinking, "Hey wait. Stop. I know this man. He is my friend." The recognition in his eyes was undeniable. Just seconds after this occurred, President Nicholls began talking about the Holy Spirit. He said something to the effect of (not an exact quote, sorry): "Have you felt the Holy Spirit today? When you feel that feeling, it's telling you that this is the way. This is the path to follow." And I just began to cry as I sat there... because as he spoke, this little boy was illustrating the point so eloquently. Indeed, Jesus Christ is the way. Even as a small child who can't yet express those feelings verbally, he knows. It was a beautiful moment... one in which the sun and stars and planets seem to line up perfectly to deliver a message loud and clear. I'm so thankful for that experience today!

I am so happy I was at church today!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Violated

I've never been raped. But I think I might have some inkling about what the emotion of that experience might be like. Realize I said "inkling." I'd never profess to actually think I could understand what that act feels like, having (thankfully) never experienced it. On Friday, our house was burglarized. When I realized it had happened, it was like someone had socked me in the gut. There was a physical pain associated with it. And then came the sadness and fear and anger and frustration as I processed the fact that someone had entered my personal sanctuary and violated my sense of peace and wellbeing. My home has always been my little slice of heaven. It's the place where I can let down my guard, be comfortable, and know that the I am safely locked away from whatever else is going on outside the doors and walls of my haven. But that was violated and rocked on Friday and I've had a lot of processing to do.

I'll back up... I'd been having problems with my iPhone. Two trips to the Apple store at Southcenter did not fix the problem. Finally I made a call to Apple headquarters and talked to a nice guy who agreed that it was time to switch out the phone. He called me Friday morning and told me he could get me an appointment at the Southcenter store in the next hour. I jumped at the chance, knowing I had to work all weekend and wouldn't have another opportunity until the following week. I had planned on staying home and catching up on laundry and dishes and that sort of thing. But instead, I grabbed my wallet and phone and took off. Afterward, I met Mike for lunch since he works right there in Renton. We enjoyed a nice lunch together and then I headed home. I was gone no more than about 3-1/2 hours.

As I rounded the corner of my culdesac, I immediately sensed that something was wrong. When you live in a house for 9 years, you notice right away when something doesn't look right. The color of my front door was off. As I got closer to the house, I realized that this was so because the door was slightly ajar... not wide open, just slightly ajar... and this threw the light and shadows into a different pattern than my eyes were used to seeing. Let me say that this is not the first time I've come home to find my door ajar. Typically, it's never bothered me. I've always known that someone must not have closed it tightly or sometimes we go out the garage door and forget to check the front door. But this time I immediately knew that something was not right. For one thing, I had a sense of dread and evil. It was as though there was a bubble of evil all around my house. I could almost see it. I had a sick, disgusting, terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach. And secondly, I remembered very, very distinctly coming out the front door and putting my key into the lock and turning the deadbolt. There is no way it could have gotten opened except from the inside.

I called Mike on the phone from the driveway and told him that our door was open. He asked if I had gone inside to check things out and I said, "No way. I'm too scared. What if someone is still in there? What if they have a gun or a knife? What if they were in there when I drove up and now they are hiding?" I walked to the side of the house... another sucker punch. The screen to our kitchen window was down on the ground and sitting in the leaves. However, the window itself was closed. I noticed one thing on the kitchen counter looked like it had been displaced, but it was something so minor that the kids could have moved it. The dirty dishes piled in the sink (the ones I had planned on staying home to wash before talking to the guys at Apple) were untouched and undisturbed. I walked back around to the front and used the garage door opener in the car to open the garage. Another bad sign... the door leading from my laundry room to the garage was open. I never leave that door open. I'm meticulous about keeping it closed because I don't like heat escaping into the garage. And a piece of wood we had near the door was broken and split. I did not enter the house.

I walked back out of the garage and decided to ease my way up the front walkway towards the front door. My heart was pounding and I was nervous and I could just FEEL the evil. I had Mike on the phone with me the entire time. I wanted him there in case anyone attacked me. At least he'd hear and be able to call police for me. I used my foot and tapped on the front door to open it up and then the major blow came. There in the corner of my living room, where there should have been a flat screen television, was an empty space. I said to Mike, "The TV is gone." Mind you, my feelings had NOTHING whatsoever to do with the TV. I just felt sick and violated and I began to shake. At that point Mike hung up and left work to come and meet me at home. I got back into my car, locked the door, and called the police. I was pretty surprised by my reaction while on the phone with the police. I was very calm but I was shaking and trying really hard not to cry while I gave her information. I just felt sick. Then all I could do was wait. So I sat in my car and updated my Facebook status to reflect what was going on and within minutes, Dianne (a nurse I work with) pulled up in my driveway. I was SO happy to see her. She gave me a big hug and stayed with me until Mike got home so that I wouldn't be alone. I am so thankful and grateful for friends. She really, really took the edge off my anxiety just by being there. Then Mike got home and he walked into the house and checked things out and made sure no one else was in there. Only then did I feel "safe" going inside. It felt odd walking in and seeing things missing, knowing that thieves had infiltrated our space.

A Federal Way police officer showed up. He made a report and took photographs. He's a very nice guy and we've since communicated with him a few more times and he's been very helpful. Then we filed a claim with our home owner's insurance. I don't expect that to be resolved for another week or so. In the meantime, we've had a security system installed and I do feel a lot better about having it. I like it and it's easy to use. I was able to sleep peacefully today while the kids were in school. I keep thinking that these guys could have come in one day while I was asleep in my bedroom. How scary!

As a follow up... I'm feeling better and better about the situation. I thought it would take me a LONG time to get over this feeling of violation. But I've come to realize over this past weekend that much of that feeling is in my mind. I have made a conscious effort to let go of those emotions. Yes, people came into my home uninvited and took things that belonged to us. However, if I allow that to consume me, then they win. If I allow those feelings to swallow me up, then my home will never be a haven for me again. So I choose to let it go. Moreover, I feel sorry for the thieves who committed this crime. I feel sorry that they were in such a place in their lives where they felt the need to stoop to such heinous acts. I pray for them. In the meantime, I'm taking my home back. It's MY piece of heaven on earth and I can't allow outside influences to change that happy fact.

I am thankful beyond words that none of my family was harmed or home when this crime took place. I'm thankful that the thieves chose only to take my things. They did not destroy things or turn things over or ransack my home. They simply took what they wanted and they left. In the grand scheme of things, it could have been much worse. Even in the face of such a despicable act, there are things to be thankful for.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

100 Monkeys




Jodi and I had a totally amazing adventure on Monday night... we got to go to Seattle and see 100 Monkeys perform live. Now let me back up and explain who these guys are...


Of course it's well known that we are self-proclaimed Twihards (i.e., we are obsessed with author Stephenie Meyer's Twilight book series). In the movies, the character of Jasper Hale is played by actor/musician Jackson Rathbone. Aside from acting, Jackson plays in a band called 100 Monkeys. They have mainly stuck to the eastern side of the country but due to fan demand, they are branching out in 2010 and touring all over the country. Lucky Seattle got to have them right at the beginning of their tour.

I had asked Jodi if she wanted to go and we both were kind of nonchalant about it. We kind of figured, "Eh. If we go, we go. If we don't, we don't." But we ended up deciding to go and WOW are we glad we did! We took off Monday evening and got lucky enough to find parking right across the street from the venue. Then we went in search of food... not an easy task at night in the SODO district as it's very industrial. However, we got lucky. Less than two blocks north, directly across the street from Safeco Field is the Pyramid Alehouse. While the Alehouse is obviously known for their large selection of beer and lager, we of course went for the food, which was VERY good and quite reasonably priced. We were actually surprised at how cheaply we got out of there. Because it was happy hour, all the appetizers were 30% off. I got a plate of pork sliders and a side of sweet potato fries (a seriously huge side, I might add) and some water and got out of there for less than $10! That is a STEAL for really good quality food in downtown Seattle!

After filling up on good food, we walked back to the Showbox and got in line for the show. Despite being near the end of the line, it wasn't that crowded at all. Luckily, we don't drink alcohol, because half the crowd headed into the bar. That meant the rest of us could secure a pretty good place to see the band. We weren't far from the stage at all. We did have to wait through two opening acts before 100 Monkeys took the stage. The first guy, Jacob James, was pretty good but I thought all his songs sort of sounded the same. He was definitely humorous and kept us smiling, especially when he was so rudely cut off in the middle of his first number by a fire alarm going off! (Thankfully, just a little smoke from the kitchen... nothing serious.) After he performed, we listened to a group called Exohxo perform for awhile. They were very lively and talented and kept the audience entertained. My only complaint is that the music was SEVERELY too loud... so much so that we could't really hear the singers singing. But they were good.

And then of course, the Monkeys took the stage and I can't believe how fast the time just FLEW after that. These guys are TRUE entertainers and kept the audience VERY happy for the time they were on stage. I am still amazed at just how talented these guys are. Not only can they sing, but they ALL play EVERY instrument! After each song, they would move around and trade instruments. They'd travel back and forth between drums, keyboard, guitar, bass guitar, and congas. Every now and then they'd throw a flute and trumpet in the mix as well! They took turns on lead vocals too. I haven't had so much fun in a long time. It was a BLAST and I was not ready for them to leave the stage!





As we headed out the door after the show, we got to shake hands with one of the band members, Jerad. I would be lying if I said we weren't a little giddy about that! We walked around the corner to cross the street to the car and realized that two other band members, Jackson Rathbone and Ben G. were hanging out of a window upstairs, waving to fans walking by. So we waved too and said, "Thank you" and got in the car. Then, just like a couple of school girls, we sat there and continued to watch them. After awhile, they threw a bunch of Scrabble tiles out the window to a handful of fans below. So we jumped out of the car and grabbed a few.


Then we just stayed there for probably a good hour as they interacted with fans. People were throwing t-shirts up to them and they were signing them. One girl even threw her bra up to have it signed. Can't say we we'd be willing to do THAT! Finally, they closed the window and we left. It was a fabulous night. They were playing in Portland the next night and I have to say, if I wasn't working, we would have headed down there to see them perform again! That's how much we loved them. What a fabulous time we had!! I will forever have fond memories of that night!

Happy Birthday Boot!

Today is Rebekah's birthday... happy 24th! We met up with her, Emily, Loral and the parents over at the Mongolian Grill in the mall. We had a nice meal together.

Happy Birthday Bekah!!




New hair

Got my hair chopped today. I'm SO happy with it. I haven't had it cut since (I think) last August or September. I know it was when my mom was here for the summer. I was not happy with how the layers looked so I've been growing it out because I knew I'd have to cut off a few inches in order to make it look better. It was worth the wait! Jolene Wells, who is in my ward, cut it and I'm totally happy with it.



Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Shape Collage!

I found this very awesome and totally free program called Shape Collage. It'll take any photos you want and put them in a collage format. This is a generic square shape. However, the possibilities are endless. You can draw your own shape, use word shapes, or any other black & white art image. It's so much fun. This is a collage of my "Mobile Uploads" folder from my Facebook page. I really like seeing all my pictures like this. They've all been taken over the past year and it's fun to see what my eye was looking at throughout the year. I'm already dreaming up many more ways to use this little application! This collage isn't very clear for a couple of reasons... it's made up for mobile photos (photos taken with my phone camera) and because it's taken from Facebook. I think that when I do photos made with my Canon pictures, it'll be a lot clearer. Still fun all the same!


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sunday thoughts

I'm trying out the OMMwriter for the first time right now. I think I have fallen in love completely. This program is amazing. Moreover, it's free. It makes writing a true escapist activity. I can't see anything else on my screen write now. There is no temptation to check email because I can't see when new messages come through. The same goes for Twitter and Facebook. It brings new meaning to the concept of "out of sight, out of mind." The page background is beautiful. It's a snowy white with snow in the foreground and a couple of distant winter trees. I have the option of changing that if I would like. I am listening to the sound of lapping waves on a shore and it's so serene and peaceful that I think I can picture myself on the beach even as I'm typing this. I also have the option of changing the sounds of the keystrokes. They can be silent or a variety of other sounds. Currently, I hear small drops of water as I type and it adds to the peace of the experience. From the moment I started using the program, I felt relaxed and I felt like my mind was opened up wide and more free to accept the ebb and flow of ideas that are constantly rushing through it.

Church was very uplifting today. I am so glad I was there. I was a little bit frustrated in sacrament meeting. You see, I'm very, very sensitive to loud stimuli. In fact, there is an actual term for it, called "the highly sensitive person." I remember stumbling upon the book of the same title some years ago by Dr. Elaine Aron. I didn't actually read the book, but I went to her website and took the self test available there to see if I was really considered highly sensitive. I was shocked by the result. Of the 27 listed traits, I checked the boxes of 26! I am very, very often overwhelmed by environmental stimuli. I am sensitive to smells (and this was over exaggerated while I was pregnant) and can sometimes be frustrated by lighting as well. Very bright lights make me want to run and hide. I like ambient lighting and often find myself turning off as many lights as possible. But overwhelmingly, it is noise that really gets to me. Sometimes the level of noise is nearly crippling. I've spent so much time trying to figure out what the triggers are. I wonder, because I can attend a concert or a party and not be bothered by the noise so much. But in other situations, it really gets to me, so much so, in fact, that it's all I can do to keep myself from literally running from the room. At home, it's often just too much for me to hear the television, the kids making noise, and other sounds all at once. I just want to press a mute button on everything.

Today in sacrament meeting I felt that way. There were so many babies screaming and crying and I just couldn't take it anymore. I certainly don't fault those sweet children OR their parents. That's what babies do. But for me, it feels like someone is putting an ice pick in my ears and spinning it around. It was physically painful, to the point that I wanted to run away. I finally did just that... I took off because I couldn't handle one more moment of it. I went and sat in the relief society room and found it to be very quiet and peaceful there. I didn't want to leave. I was able to listen to the rest of the high councilman's talk and enjoy it. I went back in for gospel doctrine and was able to enjoy that class because it was so quiet. The same went for relief society.

In gospel doctrine today, Sister Bateman talked about the creation. It was a lovely lesson and it was nice to hear people share their personal thoughts. One of the things she suggested that we do is to find the talk by Spencer W. Kimball entitled "Tragedy or Destiny." So I just finished reading this talk and I am blown away by the words which he shared. So often we ask ourselves why God would allow certain tragedies to occur. But in truth, He does have his reasons and we can't see the whole picture. These things force us to walk in faith with God and in so doing it develops our own personal traits and characteristics. I am always saying, "everything happens for a reason" and I really do believe that. I was so thankful to find this article tonight. It was very timely for me and helped me to find some peace for some of the difficult times I have been faced with in recent days. It helped me to see my trials and challenges as blessings. I know that I will learn and grow from these times of adversity and for that I am grateful.

We were reminded today to take the time to stop in our daily travels and enjoy the small and beautiful wonders of creation all around us. I do love to see the hand of God in all things and it offers a reverence, even amidst the chaos of a busy schedule. Again, I am grateful.

I must say that it is nice having church at 9am. The afternoon seemed to stretch on and on today and it was nice. Ethan went and met with our bishop this afternoon for a baptismal interview and came home so excited about that! I can't belive my baby is 8 years old. I can't believe he will be entering the waters of baptism. I am just amazed at how much time has passed since his birth, and equally amazed at the growth and development he has displayed. I am so proud of him and I am so looking forward to his baptism.

Well, everyone is in bed for the night. Poor Mike was not feeling well and went to bed very early. The boys stayed up late as there is no school tomorrow but they are now fast asleep. I am enjoying the quiet time and am grateful for these moments of solitude.

OMMwriter

Ommwriter from Herraiz Soto on Vimeo.


If you love writing and you use a Mac, you will not want to miss out on this FREE beta text processor. You can download it in seconds and begin using it "write" away! I love that it is a full screen application. There is less temptation to look at email or other applications because you simply can't see them while you're in OMMwriter. I also adore the background sounds that are available, making writing a truly escapist activity. You can listen to beautiful music or lapping waves along a shore or nothing at all. The backgrounds are simple and beautiful and easy on the eyes without being a distraction. I think I'm going to have too much fun with this program!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Avatar & Jimmy Mac's!

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We went and saw Avatar in 3D today. WOW... I see what all the hype is about now. FABULOUS film and I highly recommend it! It was a fun family outing. Ethan got antsy because the running time is quite long (almost 3 hours I believe) but otherwise we had a great time. I had a bit of a hard time with the 3D and would like to watch it again in 2D. What a thought-provoking story... I'm still processing it!

Afterwards, we went out to Jimmy Mac's Roadhouse for dinner and had a nice meal together. Their rolls are THE BEST... sweet and hot from the oven... dripping with butter!! YUM! I had a Caesar salad with a side of sweet potato fries and it was a little slice of heaven!

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I love having Saturdays together as a family. :-)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Pray for Haiti

On January 12, the country of Haiti was struck by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake. Its epicenter was just off the capital city of Port-au-Prince. It is feared that the death toll from this quake will surpass 100,000. My heart is so heavy for the Haitian community.

I must admit that today was the first day I allowed myself to even look at a news story or look at any photographs of the devastation. I just couldn't bring myself to do it before. My heart sank when I saw the photos. It is utter destruction. The capitol building has been destroyed. No one has a home to go to. People are sleeping in parks, in the streets, on mattresses outside their homes, and in other areas. For the first day, people were helpful and peaceable. But things have turned ugly and violent and there are widespread stories of gang fights, looters, and people fighting over food with machetes. Machetes! I can only imagine how terrified these people are. Can you imagine trying to secure food for your children only to be threatened or killed by a machete blow? There are other stories of entire families obliterated... or a parent left to mourn the loss of all of her children. The United Nations building was destroyed, along with dozens of UN workers.

It seems the world is coming together to try and render aid to these people. Doctors and nurses are needed. This is the first time I ever actually found myself wanting to go and help. But I have my own small children to attend to right now and I too must work. Perhaps someday I can serve other people in that capacity.

My heart is just so heavy. I feel guilty typing on this computer... I feel guilty that I am able to sit in my comfortable home with a light on. I had a lovely meal this evening with my family. I live in a safe neighborhood and in a peaceful home. I have bathrooms with flushing toilets and a kitchen with running water (running HOT water). And the people of Haiti have nothing right now.

Please pray for the people of Haiti.

Happy Birthday Ethan!


I can't believe my sweet Ethan is 8 years old!! Ethan woke me up on his birthday (January 13) and shouted, "MOM! MOM! It's my BIRTHDAY!!" The joy in his voice was infectious and I didn't even mind being woken up. I smiled and wished him a happy day. Then he said, "Wait, what time was I born?" to which I replied, "12:33p.m." He then said, "Oh. So it's not my birthday yet!"

Ethan got a Wii game he'd been asking for... Super Smash Brothers for Mario (I think that's how you say it... hahaha). His dad called him from work to wish him a happy birthday. Then off he went to school.

I showed up just before school ended with a big bouquet of balloons and some party favors for the class. When I walked in, I saw him immediately. His teacher greeted me and the kids were so excited to see the balloons. Mrs. Marzec immediately began leading us in a chorus of "Happy Birthday" and it was really, really hard not to cry as I looked at him. His face was absolutely beaming as he grinned from ear to ear, so proud that it was his special day. I wish I could have captured it on film but I didn't. My heart, however, will never forget the look on his face at that moment.

After we passed out the favors, the kids gathered on the floor, ready for dismissal. Ethan got to go up to the front of the class and talk about his birthday and his plans for the evening. I did capture that on film.

video

After school, we ran home and grabbed a few things and headed out. Ethan's wish for his birthday was to go and see "Alvin & the Chipmunks 2: The Squeakquel" and then go to The Claim Jumper. So we went to the theater right across the street from the restaurant. We were lucky enough to the have the ENTIRE theater to ourselves. The boys LOVED the movie. Afterwards, we headed across the street for dinner.

Ethan asked me NOT to make him a birthday cake this year. The only thing he wanted was an ice cream sandwich from The Claim Jumper. You see, this isn't just any ordinary ice cream sandwich. It's HUGE and it's meant to be shared. Even with four people it' s a LOT and we wound up bringing some of it home. They take a chocolate chip oatmeal cookie about the size of a small dinner plate and put several scoops of ice cream on it. Then they top it with another huge cookie. One side is covered in fudge, the other side in caramel. Then they put whipped cream around it. The waitress brought it over with a candle. He was SO excited! I did take pictures with my Canon but apparently my camera cord has decided to hide itself (it does this sometimes) and so I can't upload them right now.

We all walked away full and happy. I just can't believe my baby is 8. Where has the time gone? Just when I think I can't possibly love this kid any more, I fall in love with him all over again. He is the sweetest boy!! He has a baptism interview with the bishop this Sunday so I'll be back to write more about that later.

Welcome to the world Sabrina!

Sabrina Gail Drowns


I am so happy and excited to announce the arrival of a new niece! Our family is growing and we couldn't be more excited. Sabrina Gail Drowns was born Monday morning at 9:31a.m. She weighed in at 8lbs 12oz and was 20-1/2 inches long. We are so excited! We went and saw her on Tuesday night. What an absolutely, stunningly beautiful baby she is! Her spirit is immense and I could not help but cry as I sat and held her in my arms. These photos were taken with the iPhone so the quality isn't so good. But you can still see how beautiful she is!




Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Sometimes life is a blink

As a neonatal nurse, I am truly privileged to witness miracles each and every time I go to work. To see a sweet baby take its first breath is so beautiful. But sometimes I am just as privileged to see that infant take its last breath. Yes, it is a privilege. I recently had the honor of attending a birth that was so sweet and miraculous... not because the baby lived, but because of the circumstances surrounding her birth. I learned that living is not the only miracle sometimes.

***Circumstances surrounding this birth have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved.***

I'll call this little girl Jill, although that is not her real name. I knew before Jill was even born that she would not live. She had a condition which was sadly not compatible with life. Moreover, this condition caused certain parts of her body to be very disfigured, so I also knew that she would not look normal. The mother of this baby, despite knowing of the death sentence early in the pregnancy, chose to carry this little girl to full term. (And I have to say I would have done the same, not that that matters.) I can only imagine how hard it was for Steve and Sarah (also not their real names) to come to the hospital to have their baby, knowing that she may not be born alive or if she was, she would not live for very long.

Labor progressed slowly through the night and then as the shift began to wind down, I knew that Jill was coming. As the nursery nurse, I entered the room as Sarah began pushing. I had baby blankets ready in case Sarah chose not to look at Jill's body, which is sometimes the case when disfiguration occurs.

As Sarah pushed, I saw the familiar bulge that tells me the baby's head will be visible soon. What I saw took me by surprise. Rather than hair, I saw eyes and then a nose and then a mouth... a true face presentation. (If you wish to know what this looks like, you may click this link but please be warned that this picture is an actual photograph. If you are not comfortable with birth nudity, please do not click on the link.) This is a rare and odd presentation because the head must be either hyper-extended or hyper-flexed in order for the face to be the presenting part. We were shocked to see Jill's face... but what a beautiful face she had. As we watched her, she began making sucking movements with her lips and tongue. She also let out a very small whimper as she lay there, waiting for the rest of her body to be born.

At that point, Sarah stopped pushing for awhile and we just stood there and watched little Jill's face. And at that moment, the feeling in that room was so intense. I could feel angels around me, just waiting patiently for Jill to arrive... angels waiting to take Jill into their awaiting arms and escort her home. Truly, Jill had an immense and beautiful spirit and I could only imagine what great endeavors were awaiting her on the other side of the veil. Truly the veil was so thin that it almost seemed nonexistent to me. Again, there is no way to put into words what I experienced... I couldn't see these angels with my mortal eyes, but I could "see" them with my spiritual eyes and they were beautiful.

Also in that moment it was as though I could hear Jill talking to us, trying her best to help us understand who she was. It was as though I could hear her saying to us, "Hey... look at me... see me... see how beautiful I am. I am only showing you my face right now because that's all I want you to see. I want you to know that I am ALIVE and I am BEAUTIFUL. I am not the sum total of my broken body. My broken body is not ME. I am so much more than that. And I know that this experience will be the only earthly experience I get, so I want to relish this moment with my mom. I want to catch one glimpse of this world while I'm still alive and I want to suck and taste the air and feel the air on my face and see my father's face just once before I go. See me... see ME... see how beautiful I am and know that I am so much more than this broken body."

After a lot more pushing, Jill finally came into this world and I don't think she ever took even a single breath on her own. She was placed on her mama's belly and I immediately felt for a heart beat but her little heart was silent. Sarah and Steve just cried and cried. And finally, Sarah asked me to take Jill away and dress her... she didn't want to look at her body anymore and I don't fault her for that. Jill's face was so beautiful. So I took sweet Jill and dried her off and then weighed and measured her and then I bathed her. I dried her off tenderly and then dressed her and wrapped her in warm blankets and gave her back to her mother who sobbed and said, "Why? Why?" And it was so heart wrenching to see her. We hugged her. And her labor nurse (a nurse I really love) held her and kissed her and told her what an amazing mother she was.

What an absolute honor it was for me to be able to welcome Jill into this world... and an even greater honor to bid her farewell as she went home with waiting angels. I am blown away by the miracles God allows me to participate in. I am so honored to witness such breathtaking beauty. Jill did not have a perfect body, nor did she live, but I think her birth was one of the most beautiful I have ever seen.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Testing mobile blogging

Testing out mobile blogging.

Edited to add: FINALLY... FINALLY I GOT THE MOBILE BLOGGING TO WORK! So frustrating... I set up MMS with my phone but no matter how many times I tried, I couldn't get anything I texted to post. Finally investigated and found out that AT&T is not supported by Blogger for some people right now, despite the fact that they've been using it for a long time already. It's okay... iPhone lets me email things just as easily as I can MMS them so it's no biggie. I'm just excited that I can finally EASILY post this stuff to my blog from wherever I am. Sometimes you get a good video or a cool shot and you want to post it right away. Also, if we were to go on vacation, we could easily blog parts of the vacation right from our phones. I love modern technology. More specifically, I love my iPhone! :-)

By the way... the above shot was just a picture I was using to test out mobile blogging. I caught the boys in a rare moment of working in harmony on a project together. Ahhh... Legos bring people together!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Life & Death

Life and death... one a coming and one a going. One filled with joy and the other with sadness (and in some cases peace and joy as well). I got a taste of both last night.

We had an absolutely beautiful delivery last night. We welcomed the most gorgeous little girl into the world. You could see right through to her soul and I'll say, her spirit was HUGE. And then we found out that another mother will be coming in to our birth center today. But it's unlikely she'll be feeling the same emotions. You see, her baby has a condition which is incompatible with life. Her baby will come into the world today... and will likely also leave this world today. As a parent, I just can't wrap my head around this. I understand that you just "do what you have to do", but I can't imagine the depth of it. I think about losing my babies and a big wall comes up because the emotion is just too much to bear.

I'm back as the nursery nurse tonight. I'll probably get a chance to see this baby... perhaps I'll even be at the delivery if the induction takes longer than usual. I would be honored to be in the presence of such an angel. These are the experiences that make me take a step back and see all that I have, all that I am grateful for, and how rich my life is.

So hug your babies tightly today and express your love to them. There are no guarantees in life.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Why are people passive aggressive?

I hate passive aggression. If you want to say something, then come out and say it. I hate people who try to use power and aggression to skirt the issues at hand. It's ridiculous. And the further I get in life, the more vocal I am becoming about it. I am starting to call people out on it more and more because I just don't have the time or energy to deal with it.

So this time it involves my boss at Good Samaritan. She left me a voicemail last week and said, "I need your work availability for the next four weeks. I also need to complete your evaluation and I'd like to do that on January 5 at 6pm. Please leave me a message or send me an email about this." So I did... I gave her my availability for the next four weeks (gave her FIVE shifts instead of the required four!) and I explained that I could not be available during the time slot she allotted for the evaluation as I would be working at my other job during that time. (Keep in mind here, I work this job on a per diem basis. She KNOWS that I work another job nearly full time. That is precisely WHY I only work per diem. This is a very common practice in the nursing world. So telling her I'd be working another job at that time is not a bad thing.) I also gave her a pretty good list of other times I would be able to come in this week. Included in those times was the following: "...anytime between 10am and 1pm on 1/7 or 1/8."

So what does she do? She sends me a one-liner that says: "I'd like to complete your evaluation on 1/8 at 9am." WHAT THE HECK???? Oh, and she never did say whether or not I would be utilized for any of the availability I gave her. (Hehehe... perhaps it's because she plans on firing me during the evaluation!) I used to think that she did this stuff out of ignorance or forgetfulness, etc. I no longer believe that. I've had enough run-ins with her over the past few months that I REALLY believe that she is being passive aggressive with me. I've actually alluded to this in the past. So I wrote her back a very short and succinct note that said the following:

Unfortunately, I cannot be there at 9am on that day. My availability on that day would be sometime between 10am and 1pm. My children start school just before 9am and there is no way that I'd be able to drop them off and get to Puyallup by that time. Please let me know if there is another time in that block that you would like me to come in.

Also, please let me know if the work availability I gave you will be utilized so that I know if I am working.

Thank you.

I'm so tired of these games and I'm about a paper-thin space away from just walking away. The further I get into this job, the more comfortable I am with cutting my losses and just walking away from the whole thing. It's interesting because when I attended corporate orientation in the fall, I had a totally different view of the place. The medical director, director of nursing, and CEO showed up at different times. The attitude was completely different. They all were welcoming and kept talking about how they have an open door policy and how they don't believe in retaliation against people who speak up about things. I laugh... because that was obviously on a corporate level. Things on the unit level are FAR different. If I quit (or more likely, if she fires me... I'm not kidding about that)... those higher-ups had better BELIEVE they will be hearing from me. They will hear just exactly why they lost a valuable, experienced employee. It will be their loss, truly. I've worked in the health care industry for the past 20 years and in all of that time, I have NEVER, EVER not gotten along with a manager. Not only that, but all of my previous managers, ALL TWENTY YEARS, have always given me stellar evaluations. Not to toot my own horn, but I'm a really good nurse and a hard worker and a loyal employee. This manager has had it out for me from day one.

So we shall see what happens next. As per usual, I don't expect to hear back from her for awhile. She typically leaves me hanging for awhile before responding. I'm tired of her games. I'm not sure why she continues to play them since she is the only one playing. I refuse to participate and bow to that kind of behavior.

Moving right along...

The kids went back to school today. Evan was so unhappy. He begged me to let him stay home "just one more day!" Ethan, on the other hand has been begging for a week to go back! It's so funny. He kept saying, "I wish winter break was over. I just miss my education!" Gotta love it! So we had one happy boy and one sad boy going to school this morning. After I dropped them off my mom and I ran some errands and then came home and had a nice lunch. She is leaving on Thursday and probably won't be back until next summer sometime.

Here's hoping the rest of the week is smooth, especially since Mike is leaving Wednesday. Thank goodness for unlimited phone minutes, text messaging, and the like! What would we do without modern technology? Remember the good old days when you arrived home from vacation weeks before your postcards did? :-)

**Edited to add** Well I'm back to edit this post... it's 5:30pm now and no word from the manager. All I can do is shake my head...

***Edited to add*** Okay... it's been another day. It's now just about the close of business (16:00) and guess what? Surprise, surprise... still no response from my manager! We wait and see what happens now. I suppose she'll get back to me tomorrow or the following day and expect me to drop what I'm doing and come in without much notice. Oh well. What's a girl to do? I discussed all this with the girls in the birth center last night. I'm pretty convinced she is going to terminate my employment. When I say I'm okay with this, I mean it sincerely. So we continue to hurry up and wait... tap... tap... tap... Stay tuned for the next installment!

***Edited to add*** It's now the close of the third business day and surprise, surprise, still no word from Miss Manager. If I don't hear from her this week, I am NOT showing up to the shift I volunteered for on Monday night. We'll see what happens. I fully expect to hear from her at the last minute. That's just how she rolls... Stay tuned for more drama!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Back to the basics

Church starts at 9am this year and I'm so happy about that. It's hard to get up and get going, but I like having the afternoon free to spend as a family and do other things. I looked at the clock in the kitchen this afternoon. It said 1:10 and I got a little giddy. Church had been out for an hour and I felt like it should be 5pm!

I enjoyed church a lot today. I forgot it was fast Sunday and promptly got up and made puff pancakes for the boys (and us!) I didn't even think about it being fast Sunday. The kids have missed puff pancakes so much since the oven died and yesterday I told them I'd make it for breakfast. I was in autopilot I guess. But hey, they were really good!


Church was pretty full today. It felt good to be there. Relief society was pretty "heavy". People got up and bore testimonies and I needed to hear each and every one that was borne. It seems that so many people are going through challenges in life right now. So many people are being tried in ways untold. It makes my heart heavy and sad, but at the same time, I realize that these challenges have their place in life too.

One person in particular shared a little story as she bore her testimony. She said that when you do cross stitch patterns, you outline the finished piece in black thread because that's what makes the colors really pop out. She said the piece isn't really done until you add the black thread. She likened this to our lives. The challenges (the black threads) WILL come. Our lives are not complete without them but they make us better and stronger. It was eye-opening for me to think about things from that perspective. But it's true. The hard times really do define us and cause us to grow and change.

This year (and next) in RS and priesthood we will be taking a break from learning from the prophets and we will be getting back to basics and studying from Gospel Principles twice a month. I really like this idea as I think that we can all benefit from simplifying and going back to our roots and the basics of gospel teachings. I am looking forward to these lessons although with my work schedule I'll only be able to attend one of the two Sundays a month. But I do like that church is at 9am. My goal is to attend Sacrament on the weekends I work. I should be able to do this without any problem so long as I lay out clothes the night before. Then I can come home and sleep and before getting up for work again.

Today's random thoughts:

  • I've discovered the band "Bon Iver". Okay, well truthfully they have a song on the New Moon soundtrack so I heard about them first there. They have such a haunting sound that I went searching for them and fell in love with the song clips I found. So I bought the album. Right now Amazon has a TON of MP3 albums available for download for just $5. This was one such album. I'm so glad I got it!
  • Screen shots: Ethan discovered that you can take screen shots in the iPod Touch! I think he discovered it by accident. Well, it works on the iPhone as well! It's HIGHLY useful! I am discovering new uses for it daily!
  • Sherlock Holmes: Went and saw this with Mike last night and it was AWESOME!! I am SO happy we went! As Mike said, this role was made for Robert Downey, Jr. and I can't imagine anyone else pulling it off as well as he did. It was a fun film that never stopped moving. I LOVED it! I hope Robert Downey, Jr. gets an Oscar for this role! And Guy Ritchie did an amazing job as director!
So concludes my daily ramble. This promises to be a VERY busy week for us. Tomorrow the kids go back to school. I am working Monday and Tuesday nights. Mike leaves Wednesday for a business trip to Vegas (poor baby!) and my mom leaves Thursday night. Mike comes home Saturday night just in time for me to head off to work. Between St. Francis and Good Samaritan, I'm working Monday, Tuesday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Busy, busy, busy!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

01022010 - Palindrome Day!

It's palindrome day! The date is 01022010! Neat little slice of trivia for you!

I had to work last night. Thankfully it was a slow night and we got to enjoy the holiday some while we worked. We also had a potluck with several desserts and a pasta dish. I made a carrot cake in my brand new convection oven and if I do say so myself, it came out really, really great!

My thought today keep coming back to teenage pregnancies. We had two young teens on our unit last night and it was exhausting and frustrating to see how they each dealt with the mantle of motherhood that had been placed upon them. One of them had had surgery. She was not even an hour out of surgery and still had not held her baby or had any desire to do so. She was, however, busily sending text messages on her phone (at nearly 1am). It took several hours before she was finally ready to hold her baby.

The other patient (I'll call her Jane) seemed quite disconnected from her neonate. She just couldn't understand why the baby would sleep. At one point she put on her call light and I could hear the baby in the background. She said, "Can someone come help me with the baby?" I went in and Jane was laying in her bed, looking over at her infant, who was laying in the bassinet. She wasn't trying to hold her or console her. She simply said, "I don't know what's wrong with her." So we went down the list... I asked her, "When did she eat last. She looks hungry." And then we went over the hunger cues the baby was clearly displaying. Jane answered, "Three hours ago." Then I said, "Have you checked her diaper? She smells very wet." Jane replied, "Oh. No." And indeed, her diaper was completely saturated with urine. The baby was not swaddled and was flailing her poor arms in every direction and upsetting herself further. Jane said, "I'm tired! I just want to sleep. She needs to sleep. And why does she eat so much?" And she said all this while sighing and frowning. In between all this, I heard her phone vibrating on the bedside table. Despite the fact that it was 3:45am and we were in the middle of trying to console her very flustered infant, she didn't skip a beat as she quickly picked up the phone to talk to a friend. Needless to say, I was in that room for awhile, trying to teach this young teenager how to care for her baby. We discussed everything and I said to her, "Motherhood is the hardest job in the world. I know you are tired and I know you just want to sleep all night. But you are a mother now and you don't have that luxury anymore. Your baby is not programmed to sleep through the night at this age. She has many needs that must be met." She was so exasperated.

I walked out of that room so frustrated. Teen pregnancy is a "cool thing" these days. "Everybody's doing it." Unfortunately, so many of these teenage mothers think that babies are dolls. They are really cute to look at and so much fun to dress up and pass around to all their friends. But unfortunately, they don't behave like dolls. You can't put them in a closet all night and sleep your cares away. They cry. They must be fed all the time. They want to be held and loved. They have aches and pains. They get frustrated and cry because it's their only method of communication. But the teens don't think of these things when they think about having cute little babies to show off. It's sad. It's so very sad. So often I want to bundle up some of these babies and bring them home with me because I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are in for a VERY rough start in life. The prospect of abuse and neglect for some of these infants is frightening.

I am so thankful I never had a baby as a teenager. I had a college degree and was happily married when I welcomed my babies into the world... and it was HARD. I can't even imagine how much harder it would have been had I done this as a teen. I look at some of these young moms, shake my head and just think, "You have NO clue what you have just gotten yourself into."

On a happier note... my mom is here visiting and is going to watch the boys tonight so that Mike and I can go on a date! We are hitting the late showing of Sherlock Holmes tonight. It stars Robert Downey, Jr. and looks like a really fun film. We have been wanting to see Avatar but just haven't been able to fit it into the schedule yet. We want to go to Southcenter and see it in 3D on the IMAX screen. Mike leaves for Las Vegas this Wednesday for a business trip. He's headed down to the annual CES convention there. I tried to go but it's just too hard because I'd have to leave the kids with someone overnight during the school week. Oh well... maybe next time! Hopefully we can go see Avatar when he gets back!


Thus far it's been a great 2010! Hahahaha... hopefully the next 363 days will be as good as the first two of the year!