Saturday, November 26, 2011


This the season to post about gratitude. I may be a couple days later than the main event, but I was busy eating and shopping and sleeping (in that order).

I am always grateful for my family. But lately I've relished in that gratitude a little more than usual. On Wednesday my OB called with the results from 4 of almost a dozen blood tests I've had taken during the last week. Only 4 had come in, but they were all abnormal. We don't have all the results from all the tests yet, but three of the four received on Wednesday indicated problems. In fact, every one of the three abnormal results could individually end a pregnancy. Instead of one minor problem, like I was hoping to have, I have three possible problems. And we still have more than a handful of tests which we are waiting to hear about. All in all, it seems that the two children I already have are miracles. Certainly each child is a miracle, but apparently mine are more-so. It was tough news to hear, but we remain optimistically hopeful that things will turn out. I am so grateful for the healthy, wonderful children I do have.

I am also very grateful for my husband. Taylor was nearly perfect when I married him, but time seems to only make him better. My calling in the church has allowed me access to the life-stories and hearts of people who have experienced some very hard and trying times in their marriages. Maybe Taylor and I get along because we're extremely compatible, or because we're both non-combative, or even maybe it's because Taylor is a marriage therapist---whatever the reason, I am grateful. It means the world to me to know that regardless of  what happens all around us, whatever trial we are called to face, he is there by my side. I have been blessed to have a faithful, loving, caring, thoughtful, and hard-working husband who is committed to me and to my children. He has worked so hard and made a lot of sacrifices so that I can stay home to be with our kids. It hasn't been easy (for both of us!), but we are certain it is for the best. I have a husband who is as perfect as they come, and I consider him my greatest blessing. I chose so very well when I insisted that he marry me :)

Taylor and I are also very fortunate to have wonderful parents and grandparents and siblings. As far back as we know, our progenitors were honest, good, and faithful people. They have provided us with remarkable examples of loyalty to family and of service to God and country. We and our siblings are blessed to follow in that tradition. I know few people are able to find the love, decency, stability, safety, and home that we are able to feel from all of our parents and grandparents.

I'm so excited for the Christmas season, and for the chance we'll have to be with family even more and to make so many wonderful memories.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

17 Day Diet - My review

A lot of people have asked me about the diet I have been doing, so I thought that I'd post about it. My friend Alison mentioned that she was looking into this diet, the 17 Day Diet and had the book. She said that the husband of  a friend of ours had done it an lost a significant amount of weight in a short period of time. This intrigued me. I borrowed her book and thought it was worth trying. I went to the store and bought enough food to get me through five days and figured I'd go for it on a trial basis. I did make one minor adjustment: the diet wants you to drink green tea with every meal. I am a member of the LDS Church, and we follow the word of wisdom which prohibits the drinking of coffee and tea (and a few other things).  So I did a little online research. I made sure the green tea was against the Word of Wisdom. It is. But herbal tea is not, fyi.

A little more research presented me with Sassy Water.  I used that as my alternative to green tea. And I added prayer. I figured that it couldn't hurt to ask (and subsequently thank) God to help me in my diet. And with that I was off.

I started on October 25th. The first three days were pretty hard. Probably because of Halloween. Did I mention I gave up Diet Coke at the same time? So I went from a coke- and sugar-loaded diet to sassy water, salad and protein COLD TURKEY. The Coke withdrawal was practically unnoticed, but I did crave chocolate like crazy. (Maybe it's because I started the day after my son's birthday, and his chocolate birthday cake was glaring at me ALL week until I threw it out.)

After three days I was totally in to it. I lost pounds immediately. POUNDS. In the first week I lost five pounds. I could not believe how much less squishy my stomach area was. I don't know how much of that was because I gave up carbonation, but I loved it.

At 14 days I was down 8 pounds. At 17 I had lost 10.5 pounds. When I finished 17 I just decided to stay on cycle 1 (I'll  explain that in a second). As of Saturday, day 26, I've lost 12.5 pounds. Keep in mind though, I thought I was pregnant all last week. I tried to keep up the salad and veggies and yogurt, but I did enjoy quite a few carbs. And two ice cream sandwiches :) I'm back to committed tomorrow.

I love this diet. It's the first thing that I have EVER been able to commit to. EVER. There are two things I love about it:

  • 1. 17 days. I love that there is a time limit to it. Whenever I've set out to lose weight in the past it was always about a number---pounds lost---and that seemed like it would take an indefinite amount of days which translates to dieting forever. For me it really worked to know that it wouldn't be forever, just 17 days. After 17 days the book offers another cycle, with more food options. There are four total cycles, each of them are 17 days.

  • 2. I love the daily menu and recipes. In the past it's been hard for me because I try to cut back on portion size, but then I always feel deprived. If I try to "eat healthy" I just don't know where to start, and I usually quit before I begin. This book tells you what to eat for ever meal, and it includes the recipes when needed. And it's NORMAL food. GOOD food. I haven't felt deprived (unless you count how sad I am about chocolate and cookie dough).
I love that I lose a little bit of weight every day. It's like magic when I weight myself in the morning and see a lower number. I've had a few days where I've gained a bit, but I lose that and more by the next day. I have noticed a difference in how I feel. I really think I have more energy and more motivation. For a couple weeks I thought I fatigued more easily, but I'm sure that's because I was pregnant.

My favorite recipes are the chicken vegetable soup, the lettuce wraps,  and I mix dry ranch mix into  yogurt cheese (try it before you say it sounds gross). I did veggies into the dip, and thin it out with milk to use as a salad dressing. (To make yogurt cheese, apparently you just cover a strainer with a paper towel and put non-fat plain yogurt into it. Cover the yogurt and put the strainer in a bowl. Put the whole thing in the fridge overnight and use what's left in the strainer)

I'm not about to put up a before and after picture. And I'm not counting on meeting my entire weight loss goal until after the holidays (I do plan on eating holiday food occasionally). But I am thrilled to fit into a number of my old jeans and skirts. I feel a lot better, and I'm very rarely hungry. Two thumbs up (and 12 pounds down!) on this diet for me.

Friday, November 18, 2011


I had another miscarriage today. That's 3 this year and 6 total, if you're counting (I am). Sometimes people don't write or talk about these things. Some people don't tell even family members they have miscarried or even that they are pregnant until they are showing so much that it's become obvious to anyone. I don't know why that is. Tradition, I guess. In fact, on a lot of online pregnancy sites that follow a pregnancy week by week, they assign you a certain week (usually in the 2nd trimester) during which "you can start telling people that you are pregnant." Pregnancy loss and even infertility seem to continue to be taboo in our modern society. I understand that we shouldn't ask questions about when people will become or if people are pregnant, but it's strange that no one talks about it from a personal perspective.

We're almost 18 months into trying to add to our family. It hasn't been easy to get pregnant, it hasn't been easy to stay pregnant. I've talked about it (a lot, maybe too much) within my circle of friends from the beginning, and very recently with extended family members (whom I've seen a lot more lately because of the deaths of our grandparents). The surprising thing that I've heard from a lot of them is "Me too."

Why do we do this? Why do we keep heartache to ourselves? I understand that it's a private thing, but sharing can also be beneficial to everyone. Finding out what worked for my blood relatives may very easily help me. And even if it doesn't help, it's nice to know that I'm not alone. We share failures and tips for cooking, child-raising, and crafting, so it's funny that we keep this to ourselves. Again, I know it's a deeply personal thing, but I've been so surprised time and time again to hear how much people have struggled with fertility issues, and I never even knew.

Anyway, I'm going to share, because I know it helps me to know that other people are going through the same thing, and maybe it will help someone to read this. Skip it if you want.

I saw an OB this morning. It was shocking to me that they wanted me to come in. Every other time I've had a miscarriage the nurse has just said, "There's nothing you can do. Lie down if you want, but we can't stop it. It's not worth coming in." He saw us immediately after we got there, and after explaining my situation and that this was the 6th loss I've had, each time within ten days of getting a positive pregnancy test, he agreed that I have a problem. I've spoken to a number of doctors about this, and he was the very first one to affirm my belief that something is wrong. Every other doctor and nurse has given me the speech about how "these things's good that our bodies reject pregnancies that aren't perfect." He did an ultrasound even though there was nothing to see as I'm not even 5 weeks. He took almost 10 vials of blood to test and will take more on Monday. He said his initial guess is that I have a clotting disorder, but he'll call me Wednesday with the results. He was super nice and told me he'd make sure I knew before Thanksgiving so that I'd have answers before seeing everyone for the holiday. He seemed positive that we could find and fix the problem, and made sure we knew that we weren't technically "infertile" because I get pregnant, it's just likely a health problem preventing me from staying pregnant. It's kind of a relief, but makes me nervous to see what they find.

This year has obviously been a hard year for us. We lost a baby in January, grandma and grandpa in February, another grandpa in April, another baby in May, another grandpa in October, and now this. But we are learning a lot too. Our pain and loss has given us cause for some deep soul-searching and faith-finding. Our perspective of life and our priorities have slowly shifted and become more eternally focused. We have hopefully become more grateful, more empathetic, more compassionate, and more humble. Easy? No. Worth it? Painfully so, but Yes.

I find my mind constantly going to the quote I've seen on Pinterest lately that says, "Faith in God includes faith in His timing." I've been a huge proponent of this theory, especially when it comes to the timing of the birth of my other children, but it's hard to apply while in the situation of waiting for more children. But I'm choosing to believe in His timing. At our Regional Conference a few weeks ago Elder Jensen said something like, "We need to weigh out the reasons to believe and the reasons not to believe, then we need to choose to believe. If we do that the Holy Ghost can confirm the belief in our hearts." I'm choosing to believe because I want to believe, and because I'm clinging to that belief with all the hope I have.

In the meantime I've also learned to enjoy my kids even more. Sometimes as we go places or do things; and especially during the long, hot, fun- and roller-coaster-filled days at Lagoon during the summer and fall; I've felt the spirit whispering to me that these moments of pure joy wouldn't be happening in the exact same way if I were pregnant or if we had a newborn. I've been able to enjoy the freedom and fun of having a four- and six-year-old without having to pay attention to a baby. We are nap and diaper free. My kids feed themselves. They put their own pajamas on. They usually sleep through the night. Kyle gets me all to himself while Claire is at school. There are a lot of good things in my life right now without a baby. But still we hope.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Well-child checkup

Sometimes I think it's odd when people blog or facebook about their child's health stats. Like everyone is desperate to know their kid's ranking on the growth chart or something. I'm sure people do it for journaling. Anyway, when I sat down to blog about Kyle's well-child checkup, I had to do a little self check-up to make sure that I actually wanted to write about a boring old doctor visit, but it was a funny visit, so I figured it was worth chronicling.

Kyle had his 4-year-old well-child checkup today. It had highs and lows. It started with an vision check. He had to stand a distance away from a chart of shapes of different sizes and name them. Here is what he said: "heart, flag, moon, star, little earth." What? Little earth? Or one could call it a simple "circle." We got a big kick out of that one. On another line he referred to a circle as, "The whole moon together." Some may say he's creative and was grouping space objects, but me? I know he was probably just improvising because he always forgets the word "circle." Taylor says it's because he's left-handed, and lefties are often more creative but sometimes don't grasp "scholastic smarts" until age 7 or 9. Kyle certainly gets points for creativity though.

Next he had to put on a little tie-in-the-back robe (this was new to me, I've never had my kids in robes for check-ups, but he did look super cute). Kyle was not too sure about the robe. "I feel like my underwear is showing," he complained. "Don't they know that boys don't like nightgowns?" (I have plenty pictures of him dressed up in Claire's princess outfits to declare otherwise.)

The doctor came in and asked him to jump on one foot. He did. She requested the other foot. He started on the other, but immediately switched back to the first foot. She smiled and told him he did great. He snuck over and whispered to me that he had actually jumped on the same foot both times. Yes, Son. She has a PhD, but you sure pulled one over on her.

I told the doctor about Kyle's propensity for putting everything in his mouth and then usually to swallow the item (money, small rocks, small plastic things). She was concerned about his iron and lead levels and wanted them tested. This required a finger poke and a couple miniscule sticks were filled with his blood. This apparently was too much for Kyle. Half-way through the stick-filling he started to gag. As soon as it was over he was really gagging, and both the nurse and I thought he was going to throw up. Then he lost all color and started sweating. He had to lie down with an apple juice for ten minutes before he could sit again. This is certain evidence that Taylor is his father (not that it was in question). Taylor passed out---cold out on the floor---while watching ME get my wisdom teeth out. I was fine, by the way. These funny wimpy boys in my life :)

Our visit concluded with a flu mist inoculation (which went fine) and Kyle's three kindergarten shots (KINDERGARTEN already?!?). During the shots he screamed and cried more than he or Claire ever has during shots. I was sad and teared up a bit for him, but it was a little over-the-top. After the nurse left, Kyle yelled at me, "We shouldn't have come here! It hurts so bad! I told you we shouldn't have come here!" He stopped crying the moment we got to the token reward machine, of course.

This made me so proud of Claire. I really think she was less than 2 the last time she cried for shots. She's super tough. When I told her about Kyle and commented on how brave she is, she said, "Just like you, Mom." Indeed. She and I triumph in having made it through stuff---for her it's her shots, for me it's my two-hour surgery while awake. We made it. These big girls don't cry. Our boys, on the other hand, need a few lessons.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Christmas MUST be accompanied by the piano

So I took an unannounced and unplanned break from blogging. School started, stuff happened, my grandpa died (that's 4 grandparents this year if you're counting), and I didn't blog. I think I was overwhelmed. Anyway, I missed writing, so here I am. And I'm jumping right to a Christmas post. Gotta love that.

Days after (okay, maybe days before) Halloween I pulled out all of my Christmas piano music and began playing it daily. My students have been working on their recital pieces for more than a month, so it was high-time I began enjoying my favorite musical time of the year.

I have stacks of Christmas sheet music. Stacks. I practice and practice Jon Schmidt (LOVE his innovative counting), I do my best with Jim Brickman, I pound out Manheim Steamroller with the best of them (except for my favorite MS book is missing---I'm wondering if a former student has it, but I can't figure out who it would be.) Most of all I go time and time again to my two Jerry Ray Christmas with Style books. I love them. To me, the music in these books IS Christmas. Every year when I begin playing I'm amazed at how easily the music flows from my fingers, just like the alphabet song flows from Claire's mouth---effortlessly and perfectly.

The first collection was printed in 1986. That's about when my mom started playing from them. Every evening in December we drifted to sleep listening to her play Silent Night and What Child is This?  In 4th grade at the age of 9 it was finally MY turn to play one of the songs from the "hard book." None of this baby skill-level stuff, I was going to take on a challenge. In my mind I played perfectly. I would like to see the video tape to verify it though. The next year I played Silent Night which to this day is my favorite arrangement in the books. I'm sure Hark! The Herald Angles Sing was up next. Last year I realized that I'd been playing What child is This? for TWENTY years! I played it at our recital and in church.

Tonight as I was playing through the books I could remember not only playing them myself, but each song is infused with memories of students whose lives I have shared. I've probably had 70-100 students over the past twelve years, and I loved every single one of them. Seeing someone once a week for years on end can do that to you. I miss so many of them. I wonder what their lives are like and if they are happy and if they still play the piano. I'm pretty sure they do for Christmas if nothing else. I'm friends with a bunch of them on facebook, and it's crazy to see them grow up and have kids of their own!

As I play I'm also reminded of all the places I've played these songs. Beyond the recitals, I've played them in church in nearly every ward we have lived in and I've been invited to play in other wards. I've played the background music at holiday parties, in libraries, and during Christmastime tours of the Utah Governor's mansion. I've played for my grandparents, for my parents, for my family, and mostly for myself.

Like I said, I've performed a lot of Christmas songs by a variety of composers in a number of venues, and it's amazing how always get more compliments on these songs than any others. Certainly other music is more technically advanced, and would be more impressive to hear, but I like the simple notes, the moving melodies, and the stillness provoked through each arrangement. I like that my students can play them at a young age and feel very accomplished (if only they would work as hard to master EVERY piece!). Most of all I love how their simplicity calls attention to the words of the song and the feeling of Christmas.

What are your favorite piano solos to play during the Christmas season?