Thursday, January 31

The stuff I didn't know

For your information, the main pregnancy line is the vertical one in the circle. I took a negative one once and it was a very strong horizontal line. For whatever reason, it doesn't matter how faint the horizontal line is.
Before I became pregnant, I basically knew nothing about the whole pregnancy process. I knew you had to go to the doctor frequently for check ups and that there are three trimesters and that your belly grows quite a bit. I knew a little of stretch marks, certain sleeping positions, forbidden foods, and about birth and labor. 

But I truly did not know much else. I have been the first of my friends and cousins to be married and the first to have a baby. So everything that is going on is pretty new to me. It always annoyed me when moms would refer to their baby's age in terms of weeks or months ("Oh, he's 18 months." Can't you just say a year and a half!?). And the weeks system was confusing to me at first. I wasn't sure how many weeks a typical pregnancy is (now I know it's about 40) and I did not understand why everyone counts by weeks. 

Now I do. 

FYI, for the weeks thing, it's because the baby changes and develops so much week by week (it seems to happen so fast!). It's fun to follow, too, because most of the websites compare the baby to a fruit size and explain what their body is developing this week (like for week 13, the baby forms its own unique fingerprints and if it's a girl, she already has over 2 million eggs in her ovaries by now! So cool!). They go by weeks also because doing so helps you to determine which trimester you're in (in a few days I will be at 14 weeks! My second trimester!!!!) and you can sometimes even see dramatic changes in your body week by week. 

For example, I feel huge. Physically, (and literally) I don't look huge, but my body is just not used to the toll that pregnancy takes on a person. My belly (and really my whole torso) is extremely sensitive to pressure. Translation: I've been wearing my pants unbuttoned for three weeks or wearing them low like a hoodlum. I mentioned this in an earlier post, but some girl who must have felt sorry for me even pointed out that my pants weren't buttoned. She probably thought I was a complete weirdo to forget something like that but I definitely did not forget. Anyway, apart from that, I have a bunch of other symptoms...for instance:

  • I get hungry very frequently. Even when I don't feel hungry, my stomach starts to hurt, correcting me because--according to the baby--I am in fact starving. Right now, I am actually so full of food (a.k.a. the Chicken Scampi from Olive Garden and chocolate almond ice cream) that I feel like my belly is going to pop. I don't want to eat so much, but I swear the baby twists my stomach in its little fingers until I do (that's sort of what it feels like). As far as cravings, I don't really have any, just a number of food aversions that haven't gone away yet. I am mainly repulsed by anything that smells strongly (or makes the fridge smell). 
  • Speaking of which, everything smells terrible. I can smell everything the moment I step in a room. The fridge and trash are the worst offenders. Anything that goes bad smells ten times worse than it would otherwise. When I do the dishes, I have to pour soap all over everything to cover any smells. And then try not to breath. 
  • When I pee, I pee a LOT. And it is much more challenging to hold it for a long time. TMI? Get used to it. Being pregnant helps a lot of personal boundaries fade. I'm not sure yet if they're permanent. Also, apparently I'm dehydrated even though I drink like two and a half water bottles daily.
  • Ugh, let's get this one over with. So far the symptom I have hated the most is definitely the breaking out. I've never really had to put up with this much before now so it's particularly distressing to me (plus, where the heck is that stupid pregnancy glow that's supposed to happen?) but recently it's been getting much better and I'm hoping the second trimester will eliminate it completely. I cope by washing my face a lot (well, more than I have in the past) and using this great little scrub my doctor prescribed. It's a lifesaver! It stings like mad but it's so worth it. I also try combining lots of other skin clearing stuff. 
  • I am exhausted. You thought you were tired going to school and work full-time? Try adding full-time pregnancy to that. I never was a nap taker (and I'm still not, though not by choice), but I could easily fall asleep were I to lie down at any point during the day.
  • Sleeping is a challenge. I thought I would sleep extra soundly because of my extreme exhaustion, but (believe it or not) my body gets in the way. You are not really supposed to sleep on your back because it is bad for circulation (the baby needs blood!), I can't even imagine attempting to sleep on my stomach, and picking a side to sleep on is a constant battle. I keep a little pillow between my knees for cushion but find myself flipping over multiple times during the night. I wake up a lot--only for a minute or so, to roll over and adjust my pillow, but it is super annoying and does not help for getting a restful night's sleep. 
  • I get dizzy often. This is my own fault, I stand up way too fast when I'm supposed to take it easy. But it's hard when you change from your normal habits to having to baby yourself a lot more. 
  • My back gets so, SO itchy. Usually it's the belly that gets itchy, and I anticipate that that will come, but for now my back is driving me crazy. I am constantly scratching it (or attempting to like a monkey). It must be the change in circulation or something, but whatever it is, I can't wait for it to end! 
  • I already have what they call "pregnancy brain." What is that, you ask? Well essentially, it is when one does random/absurd things (or when one cannot do normal things) for no tangible reason. This includes getting upset over tiny things and blowing up (followed by a flood of sincere guilt), crying over ridiculous things, doing something many times without realizing you're doing it (like unlocking the car 80 times with the key fob), forgetting to finish things (I put this mainly because I just did exactly that with this bullet, accidentally abandoning it), and starting to say things in a very incoherent way. I do the last one at work all the time. And on the phone. And with Dalin. It's really annoying because it feels like I can't control my speech. 
  • And a new one--drooling. Thank heavens no one has seen this. I would be mortified. But when it happens I usually laugh because it comes out of nowhere and so far I've been the only one present to witness it. 
There are a few other things that happen...but I can't really talk about those here. You can ask me privately though if you're wondering. But they aren't for men--I mean the public to read.
You know, I just realized that many, if not all of these things are very much like a baby itself. I mean, babies eat and pee a lot, they often sleep poorly, many get baby acne, they don't have much control over their brain, and they drool. So apparently, to make a baby, you have to become a baby. Who knew? Oh, and I just read the most LOVELY thing about pooping while giving birth. It happens to something like 90% of women. More things to look forward to.

But overall, (despite my complaints, which are more admissions of the truth from my point of view) I love being pregnant. I love when Dalin rubs or touches my belly with so much tenderness and I love the moments when I can lay in bed alone and share a private moment with my future son or daughter. I  cannot wait to meet him or her! I just know that however wonderful I keep imagining it to be, it's going to be a zillion times more so.

Now, do you have any advice for me? 
Or perhaps a question or two about what I'm experiencing? (I'll do my best to answer anything you throw at me, especially because I wish someone had given me the same opportunity)

P.S. My wonderful and thoughtful husband just brought me my favorite treat--chocolate almond ice cream with milk in a glass. There's just one problem but I didn't have the heart to tell him--I just ate a huge glass of ice cream and milk before I picked him up from class. Oh well. I'll just have to force it down ;)

Tuesday, January 29

What I Wish I'd Known When I Was Single

Oh yes, I am seriously writing this post. I have wanted to for a while now and I can assure you it's some pretty good advice. I am going to do my best not to sound high and mighty in any way because I am certainly no dating or marriage expert, but I think I know enough to help some young ladies (and I hope some young men, too!) change their single lifestyle habits.

We're cute. I know...embarrassing.
When I was single, I wish I had known that it really is important to always be myself. I got this pretty quickly (early high school) but only because my mom was always reminding me to be myself. Sometimes I would just say, "Mom, I am being myself!" but now I know truly what that means. Trust me, it took all of a few hours of marriage for me to realize that this is for real and that within a matter of days, we are going to have no boundaries whatsoever. There is nothing you can hide forever. And you shouldn't be trying to do that at all if you are planning on spending an eternity with someone. There is just no point. I hope every girl knows that it is physically impossible to look cute all the time. I'm sorry, but every girl I have ever seen first thing in the morning looks ridiculous. And guys, please make sure you know what a girl looks like without makeup before marrying her. Because chances are, you are going to see her that way (makeup free) a LOT. Every day. And some girls look like a completely different person without their makeup. I would hate for an innocent young man to wake up after his very first night with his sweetheart and not recognize the person next to him. 

Besides being yourself physically, be yourself in general. Usually (and hopefully always) the person you fall in love with brings out the very best in you. That is a terrific, wonderful, magical thing! But trust me, it is not a never-ending supply of goodness from your heart. If you are a naturally impatient person like I am, it will come out at one time or another! It is SO hard not to take the one you love for granted. It is a little like being with your parents and brothers and sisters. After being away from them for a long time, reuniting is always happy and joyful. But after a few days together you start to remember the things they do that annoy you and may have a hard time treating them as nicely as you did when you first showed up. Marriage is the same way. You think you could never ever possibly be mean or annoyed with the one you love, but we're human and it happens. You may also and almost certainly will realize that many impolite and undignified bodily functions are less embarrassing when you're married. It sounds ridiculous and you might think that could never be you, but being with someone all day every day leaves plenty of room for awkward events to occur. In all honesty, it takes a few weeks and sometimes months to get used to one another, but eventually you do. And you come to accept that your spouse does things that, while annoying at times, can be overlooked. Do not be nit-picky. Pointing out the zillion little obnoxious things is not very nice and certainly is not conducive to building a healthy marriage. 

There is a wonderful (and short) story relating to this very thing here. It is regarding what Sister Walters calls "The Grapefruit Syndrome." It is a great little story that helps to remind me that we should not seek to point out the irritating habits that those we love possess.

When I was single, I wish I had dedicated more time to cultivating talents that would help me now. Admittedly, I am referring in particular to domestic talents such as cooking. I have always loved and had an interest in cooking. It is my personal belief that anyone who wants to be the mother of a big family (as I do) had better have some decent cooking skills. Despite my interest, I did not know how to cook. Before I left for college, I had my mom show me how to cook a number of popular dishes and write down recipes and cooking instructions for most of them. I was determined that I would not starve in college. While being on my own helped me a little, it was nothing compared to change of being married. Cooking for two is harder than cooking for one. For whatever reason, it seems almost impossible to get the portions for two people correct. (Especially when you don't know exactly how much your spouse is going to eat. In my case, making more is always the better option.) It literally took about the first six months of marriage to feel like I was a semi-good cook. By month six of playing with recipes and watching the Food Network (I don't really want to say religiously, but...), I finally felt sufficiently confident in my cooking. I had at least a dozen recipes that were easy and consistently successful. 

In addition to cooking, I was grateful I had a little bit of sewing experience. Husbands can sometimes be home-wreckers. Fortunately, Dalin is not one of those. He also can sew pretty well from his mission. But if I had not figured out how to, essentially, be a wife (and in a way, a mother--I'll return to that), I would have felt much more helpless when it came to running my own home. As a woman, you tend to think when you get married that you will be a great little wife just like Gaston thought Belle would be. Then you actually get married and you discover you are much more than a wife. You are a housekeeper, a cook (very often), a disciplinarian (at times), and even a mother. That sounds weird but seriously, you are just like a mom to your husband. Our bishop explained that a husband coming into a marriage expects his wife to take care of him whether this is conscious or subconscious. Being around a woman who is independent and knows how to take care of herself maybe makes him assume he will suddenly become an immediate part of the bargain. You might not be the homely type at all but frequently find yourself picking up your husband's socks and then helping him find a clean pair when he insists he can't find any (this, I will admit, is a fairly common experience in our home). I used to be terrible at finding things. My mom would always find things the moment she came to look and would wonder if I had even tried looking. Now I can honestly say I know what that is like. Cultivate your talents! It will make your married life ten times easier if you don't have to adjust too much.

When I was single, I wish I had practiced good habits concerning my spirituality. I am not suggesting I never prayed or read the scriptures, and I absolutely attended my church meetings...but when these habits are not a very significant part of your day or even your life, it becomes much harder to practice them when the business of married begins. It is very easy to think, "As soon as we get married, we will pray every morning and night together and read scriptures for this long every single day. And we will attend the temple every week and hold FHE every Monday." If you are not doing those things yourself already, you're living in a dream world. It is definitely easy the first week to begin and feel as though you will have a perfect record, but the day will come when you will forget to do one or the other and fall out of habit. Dalin and I are much better at reading our scriptures than we were at other parts of our relationship. We are also very consistent at saying our couples' prayer together. But it took us a while to get into the habit of holding some form of FHE. It is really hard when there are only two of you. We lied to ourselves a lot saying, "We'll be perfect at this once we have kids." Well we aren't perfect at it now so that most likely will not be the case. We attend the temple about once a month which never feels like enough to me. Married life is so much busier than you can possibly imagine until you're in it. Schedules are crazy and change and make it very hard to practice the spiritual habits that help families progress. We are still far from perfect, but we do consistently remember the saying, "Families that pray together, stay together." And that is something we do not forget.

When I was single, I wish I had not cared so much about what others thought of me. It's funny, I never thought I was that way until I got married. Looking back I was like: What was wrong with me. After I got married, I quickly (very quickly) got to the point where everyone (outside the Savior and Dalin) mattered a little less. Not in the way that they were less important, but in the way that I recognized that I was now in my own family unit and that I, along with Dalin, was responsible for making my own decisions regardless of the way I had grown up. When you get married, you have to know that your spouse came from a different family, a different lifestyle, and sometimes you will see that your parents' way was perhaps not the best way, or perhaps just not the way that would work for your family. You and your spouse are of course now responsible for choosing your way, whether that be a blend of both sets of parents' ways or a completely new way. It can be hard to let go of some of the things you knew from your childhood family life, but it is a skill you must learn to best adapt. Anyway--back to not being so self-conscious--it really does happen. You might suddenly have the courage to go to class in sweats with no makeup (or you might have already been doing that...). Or you might be in the checkout line and not be such a pushover because you are officially a married adult. It really does happen and I suspect that when you have children, you get even more courageous and less conscious of the opinions of others. I know that being pregnant has suddenly made me less of a pushover at work. When some rude or idiotic tenant complains about something we have no control over, I now have no problem telling him or her that he or she is out of line and that they are complaining to the wrong person. Because I am naturally non-confrontational (believe it or not, though I do think my writing suggests otherwise sometimes), I used to apologize and apologize for other people's mistakes and feel really bad that the person on the phone seemed to hate me for something I didn't cause at all. Now I think, Don't you dare mess with me, I will not put up with your rudeness for a second. That is definitely new for me. I don't know if I got my point across for this one in the way I wanted, but basically, don't worry about those people who don't know you and who seem to judge you. Getting married automatically gives you a gigantic boost to the self-confidence, and even though it is still important to be nice to people, you will realize that truly, their words do not matter. And if you forget that occasionally, at least you will have your wonderful spouse to hold you and remind you that there are way more important things. 

When I was single, I wish I had been more daring and brave in my relationships with others. As touched on earlier, once you're married, there are no (and should be no) secrets. You tell your spouse how you feel. You communicate like adults and like best friends. If you're like Dalin and me, you might get kind of weird. I think a lot of married people get more weird. You become more like your spouse and have your own inside jokes and single people look at you and think, You have changed. I have never seen you act that way...Generally speaking, you and your spouse will probably speak to each other very differently when alone than with other people around you. You single people have no idea. Yet. Look at how your parents act when they're weird and then multiply that by a large sum. I think parents probably tend to rein in their weirdness once they have kids. But what I meant by being brave was that I wish I had not held back so much in some relationships. I should have been more open and willing to share my feelings. I guarantee had I done that, there would have been times that I would have been shot down (possibly a lot) but it would have been worth it. The reason I chose not to have a boyfriend before I met Dalin was because, even though I was not particularly looking to get married, I was not looking for a dead-end relationship. I did not want to put myself in a position that could get me in trouble before I was married and frankly, I did not want to waste time with someone that there was no foreseeable future with. I did not like wasting my time or someone else's. I am very grateful for that decision, as it made me very cautious as I looked for qualities in someone that I wanted in a future husband but I do wish I had been more bold and direct. What I really want to say to you single people is stop beating around the bush with each other. Seriously, if you like someone and tell them, and they don't like you back, it's going to hurt for about five minutes (or maybe five weeks) but you will find someone new and there will one day be someone who returns those feelings. And that will be so special that you will forget about that time you got rejected. I think single students waste WAY too much time. You don't have to get engaged after two and a half months (like some of us...) but you should not spend so much time secretly thinking you're in love with someone only to find that the relationship is not going anywhere or they do not feel the same way. Be honest. Be brave. It pays off. I think the biggest step to finding your spouse is taking that step at some point. One day you will be brave and it you will have your own fairytale ending. But I suggest that you skip a few steps and take those steps now. Endure rejection (if it comes at all!) and know that you are fast forwarding a little closer to the moment when you find your eternal companion. 

Laughter is important. If you don't have that, you don't have much. 

This was one long post, but if you made it through, please tell me what you thought. I might add a few things to a follow-up post if you have a really good suggestion.

So suggest away! And if you're single, I want to know if you think what I'm saying makes sense.

Saturday, January 26

Lovey-dovey Saturday

Last night was so weird. 

I had so many baby-related dreams that I lost track. After one of them, I woke up to re-adjust myself and suddenly felt movement in me like someone had thrown a little rubber bouncy ball in my uterus and it bounced back and forth two or three times. It was the most peculiar feeling. I was half asleep but I remember thinking, "I should wake Dalin and tell him." Then I fell asleep again before I could do anything else. 
As soon as I woke up this morning, I remembered what happened and was still unsure whether I had been dreaming or not. Now I'm guessing I was, but I remember the feeling so perfectly...Anyway, I decided to sneak past Dalin and make a decent breakfast for once. I made some pancakes and got some OJ and orange slices together and put them on a tray to bring to him in bed (he brings me breakfast in bed about once a month so it was about time I returned the favor. Plus he made me really happy by doing the dishes last night which was terrific because the smell of everything drives me crazy). I was so glad to have surprised him! 

We were both pretty exhausted and so we snuggled on the couch and watched the movies on abc like "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids," and "The Goonies," and then "The Sorcerer's Apprentice." It was fun to see some new movies (well, I had never seen "The Goonies," or the others, but I thought it was hilarious) and to rest most of the day with Dalin. After, we hurried to Macey's for groceries. Neither of us wanted to go which is why we both went (it was the only way ;) and just got everything on our list as fast as we could. 

At home, we put groceries away together and had strawberry-pineapple smoothies. I did not get as much cleaning done as I would have liked but it was pretty worth it for all the quality time Dalin and I got, plus I got lots of relaxation. I had tons of fruit today...oranges, cran-grape juice, red grapes, (the smoothie), and OJ. Not sure why that's all I wanted today, but fruit is pretty much always a winner with me. 

We found out some friends of ours are having a little girl! Our other friends are having a boy, and we know someone else who is having a girl. So where does that leave us?? We're not sure! We could even the score with a boy or go with the majority. I've finally come to the point where I would be really excited for either. I have always wanted a household of boys but now I think I would love to have a daughter to spend time with. It doesn't matter to me, I just can't wait to know! We're at 13 weeks, and we are hoping to be able to find out what we're having at week 18 when both of our moms are here so that's pretty close! Only 5 weeks! 

I'm really excited to be a mom. I wish it was August already! Even more, I can't wait to see Dalin as a daddy. He is the most tender and caring person I know and I am positive he will be the best dad. He is so loving and our sweet baby is so lucky to be getting him for a father. Plus, Dalin never gets angry. He doesn't yell, and he is really gentle, and it such a comfort to know he will be so careful with our baby. 

I hope all of you had a relaxing (and maybe more productive) Saturday! 

What did you do today? Do you have any fun Saturday traditions?
Is there something in particular you would like me to write about? 
(I am trying to make our blog more exciting!)

Friday, January 25

Did you know...

I am pregnant! Just kidding, you should definitely know that by now. But I really am pregnant--I wasn't kidding about that part! 

I have never dyed my hair. Not once. I used to want to try getting highlights when I was in high school, but my mom who knows from experience, told me, "Once you start, it's hard to stop." Wise words, I've discovered by watching my friends and acquaintances. Dalin especially should be grateful for this since it's probably saved tons of money that might have been spent on dyes, trips to the hairdresser, etc. 

I have an almost complete record of my life from the time I was 13. That's right, when I turned 13 and began to take my responsibilities in Young Women's seriously, I began writing in my journal and I haven't stopped since. I will throw it out there that it is not a perfect record. I have missed a day or two randomly. But even for those days, I would try to write at least a sentence from memory about that day. It's funny how now, when I miss a day during the week, it seems so difficult to remember the previous days. I forget what I did just the day before almost instantly. It's not a good thing, but it makes me grateful that I have a record to look back on. And there have been plenty of times where I was so glad I had thought to write a detail down. I hope that my journals (I have 28 or so of them) will prove to help my children and grandchildren someday. Whether they learn from my mistakes or just find some peace in my thoughts. 

I am pretty dang conservative. Politics, my lifestyle, my choices--other than the way I very loudly and openly voice my opinion--I am very conservative. What can I say? I like traditions. I do not apologize for that. Call me old-fashioned because I care about family values and my morality...people have and it doesn't matter to me one bit. I like the way the world was when my grandparents were kids.  It was simpler then. I am happy that I live in this day and age or I never would have the wonderful family or sweet husband that I do, but if I could pick a time to be raised, I would definitely have picked the early to mid-1900s. Something about their hardworking and humble lifestyles really appeals to me. Lots of people want me to keep my opinions about politics to myself. That isn't going to happen. I am very patriotic and I genuinely care about American and our Constitution. Do I think it is being upheld in the way our forefathers intended it to be? Not at all. By my reasoning, that gives me even more of a reason to stick up for it. 

I'm not superstitious...but I am a little stitious. Just kidding, I actually took that line from The Office. But it popped into my head and I thought it might give somebody with a good sense of humor a laugh. In reality, I am a little superstitious though. I avoid stepping on cracks when I walk, including when I'm at the mall or in a public place. I just don't make it super obvious. I think everyone has a little OCD, and that's my weird thing. I just don't want to take the chance that I really will break my mother's back (or anyone's back for that matter) by stepping on a stupid gap in the pavement or tile. Now everyone is going to watch me when I'm walking around with them. 

I do not hate anyone. I am of course human, and I have probably said that I do hate someone in frustration or in a joking manner, but truly, I do not hate anyone. That would not be very Christ-like. There are people whose views I disagree with and cruel people who I may strongly dislike, but I remind myself often that everyone is a child of God. Whether they act like it or not. One of my favorite quotes by Maya Angelou, which I have posted on our fridge reads: 

"Sometimes, when I grow frustrated with someone, I think, 'Watch yourself, that's a child of God.'"

A lot of times, I catch myself thinking something unkind about someone and I think, "Would I want someone to think that about me? How would I feel?" That usually puts an end to that. I try to love everybody. I love my Heavenly Father and I love His precious children. I love His children that are lost and do not even know it because they haven't found anything better in their lives yet. I wish I could share with them the happiness I feel as a member of the Church and help them to find that same happiness for themselves. That is why I love missionary work so much and why I share the gospel openly with anyone who is willing to hear it. Some people think that makes me weird. Well, truthfully I am weird and I know it, so I'm fine with that.

I would love to have twins.
Sure it would be hard. And I don't even know if my body could handle carrying two babies at once, but I would love twin boys or one boy and a girl. My Grandpa French is a fraternal twin and apparently the fraternal twin gene is given from father to daughter. So my grandpa gave my mom that gene and she would have passed it to me. I seriously would be so excited to get twins at some point. But for now, I'm just overjoyed that I'm pregnant and that our little baby will be joining our lives in early August! 

Did you know these things about me?
Is there something I should have added?...maybe how I've been hit by lightning?
What is something unusual about you that I might not know?

Thursday, January 24

Just not my thing

Anyone who knows me well enough, knows that Utah is just not my thing. I do not really enjoy living here or much about this state in general because I was raised in a place that was simply so awesome, it's sad to even compare the two. My family isn't here, and I miss the landscape and greenness of New Hampshire. But, I will say, that today was a nice day here in Utah. Don't get me wrong, it was freezing rain out and deathly slippery, and the nasty smog was trapped around us, but it was nicer than it has been in a while in my humble opinion. I like the rain. I liked that 32 degrees felt kind of warm. I liked that I was able to stay inside most of the day because of my job and that I didn't have to expose my little one to the poor air quality by being outside. It was just a better day. 

At work, we had a discussion about Utah in comparison to New Hampshire. It sounds like the majority of people involved liked or even kind of liked Utah. This came as no surprise to me. But in my defense, I am brutally honest when it comes to my personal opinions. The conversation started out innocently enough: I was just suggesting that my favorite types of pizza are all New Hampshire types. I had not even realized that that was the case until that moment, but as I listed off Pizza Express, Gilford House of Pizza, and Papa Gino's, I thought, "What the heck--none of those are out here." When someone asked me why I dislike Utah so much, my first thought was the people. Then right away I felt bad about that because I have met some wonderful people from Utah. I certainly know they are not all bad. But the culture of the Church out here is tremendously different from what I had expected and from what I'm used to. I quickly discovered this as an innocent east-coast Mormon girl on my first visit to Utah when I was a Junior in high school. I had been so excited to come to a new place and be surrounded by members and feel like I was a part of a huge LDS community. I thought that I would get to see the best parts of the Church and feel empowered from the experience. Then I came out here and the people were not what I expected. They say the Church is true, the people aren't. That proved to be the case for me during my visit. The competition within the Church out here is something that truly bothers me. Who cares about whose house is bigger or nicer? Who cares about having nicer clothes than your neighbors? Who cares about having expensive things? Why do people judge each other on their Church attendance or calling? That stuff doesn't matter! 

I was raised in a small house in the east. When I was in middle school, I was embarrassed because our house was small. It was only one story. Yet for some reason, people always just wanted to come over to my house. I did not really understand why. Most of my school friends had way bigger houses than me. I wondered why they didn't mind that my house was small. It wasn't until high school that I realized that they probably could feel the Spirit within my home. My mother kept our house extremely clean and full of good books, beautiful paintings (some Church-related, some not), and full of things to do. It was around then too that I realized I loved my home. I loved it and wanted to have one just like it someday. I realized that no one cared about the stuff we owned. When I went to the homes of my friends who similarly had small homes, I didn't judge them. That was not an important part of my upbringing. My more wealthy friends didn't judge us either. It just wasn't a big deal. 

When I think of my home ward, I think of how wonderfully strange the people are out there. And how wonderfully black and white their "status" is. No one pretends to be doing all the right things and goes to Church to put on a facade of being righteous. More than half of my ward members live in humble homes. They manage their money and do not go into debt for a home or for expensive luxury items just for show. No one would be impressed by that. There are so many peculiar people who live such different lives than the people out here. I cannot imagine a person going out to bars and drinking and then going to Church the next day. If someone chooses not to live the standards of the Church, they just don't go. They don't fake it. I was so shocked when I saw how the youth dress out here. This is supposed to be a gathering place for the Saints! We were a little strange in our high schools because we did not wear immodest clothing and so we stood out. Many people in my high school asked me, "Why are you so happy all the time?" and "It is so cool that your family is religious. I wish I had that." They would ask me about what Mormons believe in and I had so many sweet opportunities to share my testimony and give a little insight into what Latter-day Saints are really like. I brought many friends to Church, efy, Girls' Camp, and Mutual activities. I loved those missionary opportunities. It felt so good to bring a little light into the lives of those who were surrounded by moral darkness. I love those non-members. I love how imperfect they are and how much they appreciate kindness and the good they see in others. 

Since I have lived in Utah for more than a year, my insights have changed. Just a little. Yes, Utah has cool mountains and some pretty cool parks. Yes, I love how there are dozens of temples here and knowing that the prophet is nearby. And as I said, I have met many wonderful people from Utah who are just as great as one would expect for a place where there are so many Latter-day Saints all together. I am still disappointed with how many of the members choose to live when my little tiny stake in the east lives in the midst of moral chaos and still manages to follow the standards of the gospel with careful diligence. We have hardly any examples around us except each other. It is something that I truly don't understand about the culture here but I am trying to. And I accept that I do not have to feel like a part of it and that it is okay if I don't want to be. I need to make sure that I do not make assumptions about all of Utah just because my experience here has not been very positive. I will not be here forever but while I am here I need to strive to set an example and not be guilty of the judging of others that bothers me so. I am not even close to perfect. But I am thankful for my upbringing which has given me a very clear perspective of people. I love the people of this world who are just looking for something greater. They live imperfectly but they are real. I miss that about my home. 

I am not sure what the purpose of this post is. It certainly was not intended to bash Utah or the people who live or love it here. But I do think the members should know that they have it pretty good out here, and so many do not even realize it. Practice what you preach. Do not judge others. And most of all, do not compare yourself to those around you. Like I said, it does not matter who has a nicer home or more Church members in their family or fewer family problems or what your economic status is. In the eyes of our Father in Heaven, we are all equal. We are born into different situations, but we can all be the type of people we ought to if we are trying hard enough. We had better start treating each other like we are all children of God, because I know--whether you believe me or not--that all of us are.  

Do you agree with me? Or do you completely disagree?
Do you think the culture of the Church is different in Utah? 
Or maybe just different than you expected?

Wednesday, January 23

Growing Gunnells

If you haven't heard the news yet, we're having a baby! The little Gunnell family is finally getting a little bigger! Speaking of which, we've been doing a lot of growing lately in the Gunnell home. 

For starters, there is nothing more up close and personal than a prenatal exam...seriously, I don't think I could ever be embarrassed again. Okay, that might be an exaggeration but I really don't think (maybe with the exception of getting a pap smear) I have felt so personally "invaded" in my life thus far. It was super uncomfortable but super worth it. My doctor, Dr. Randall Pace, is wonderful. I think he is fantastic already. He is younger, friendly, and very sensitive to my concerns and feelings. He was considerate of Dalin and included him (even in some ways that I was not expecting, let's just say...) and I felt as though I was important as an individual patient and not just another number.

The most wonderful part of the appointment was when Dr. Pace told me he was going to give me a free mini ultrasound! I was so excited though admittedly nervous. That feeling never goes away no matter how reassuring an appointment is. What if there was no baby in there? Or even worse--no heartbeat. The screen on the ultrasound machine (which was like a thick tablet) was small--like the size of an iPhone. It took a second to find the baby--during which I silently freaked out--but I was so relieved when they did and better yet, we all could see the small flutterings showing us that his (or her) heart was beating!!! I was so thankful that Dalin and Mom (JeNeale) were there and that they could see it pretty clearly (I couldn't from the angle I was at). They looked at the head and little flailing arms and legs. To me, the white splotches that represented our baby looked more like a blob than a little human, but I was just so relieved to see him or her moving around that I didn't really care. 

After the appointment, I just felt so excited that we had been able to get a glimpse at our sweet lime-sized baby. Our little boy or girl was doing well and I was feeling good. I called my mom right away and let her know that everything was more than okay. 

I wish I could have a picture of that moment we first saw the baby and found her little heartbeat. But it was so special and intimate to see that tiny spirit child that in a way I want to keep that memory in my heart. I am so blessed to know that families are forever. It brings me so much comfort to know that should anything happen to our child, it will not be the end. I will have him or her for eternity no matter what. I am thankful to have been sealed to Dalin not just for time, but for all eternity, and that because of this blessing we will have each child in our family forever. 

Now all we can do is wait and pray things stay good. I cannot wait to see my little baby again! Every day I feel closer to him. I try holding really still to see if I can feel him wiggling around because at this point he can move quite a lot. Also, I am so excited to find out the gender! My mom did not find out for any of us but Dalin and I just do not have that kind of self-control. We cannot wait to know if we have a baby girl or a baby boy in there. We are hoping to find out at 18 weeks because both my mother and my mother-in-law will be around for Shaina's wedding! We thought it would be fun to have both of them involved. I am so excited. I just hope we can tell!!!

I am feeling much better than I did weeks 7-10...When the baby is hungry, she let's me know, but that's about the only time that I feel sick. I am completely exhausted but I feel like I sleep enough. Maybe more naps are in order (though it is kind of difficult to take naps when I work until 5:30, then pick up Dalin at 6:30...). I certainly feel thicker around the waist than I do normally. I'm usually pretty thin so having a belly at all--as tiny as it is--is weird for me. I am fairly certain that I've never weighed as much as I do now. My pants are definitely too tight to button. The other day at an ice skating activity I was hosting for King Henry, a girl even told me kindly, "Did you know your pants aren't buttoned?" I laughed and told her, "Yes, it's because I'm pregnant and they don't fit when they're buttoned." Then I said, "Great, probably everyone feels bad for me thinking I don't know my pants aren't buttoned up." I think since then, I've been better at hiding my unbuttoned pants though. Hopefully ;)

What techniques have you used to keep your pants up while pregnant? 
I've used a hair elastic on my buttonhole mostly, but I did try on some maternity pants which were surprisingly comfortable. I did not want to pay for a pair just yet though. I am thinking I would like to try a belly band but have not gotten around to buying one yet. 

Pregnant or not, what are your thoughts?

Thursday, January 10

Updates & Exercise is Good!

Have I been terrible at this recently or what?

Well, I've certainly been busy. I work full time--every weekday--and am starting classes. Unfortunately, I do not yet have all the materials I need and have not been able to start my classes yet. But the books should be here any day now (I ordered them from Amazon and saved a ton of money!). On top of that, I am exhausted. I seriously have next to no energy. You should see our apartment... (actually you shouldn't). Dalin has been at work and class from 9am-6:45pm each day. My poor sweetheart is tired from his long days, too. 

We hate being apart from each other for close to ten hours of the day. It doesn't leave much time for talking, playing, laughing, and snuggling which are our favorite things to do together. But we make sure we read our scriptures together each night and take turns saying a family prayer. I am so grateful that we both can work at this time and prepare and save for our future family. I know we will be so thankful for the things we are enduring now.
Sneak peak at our Christmas pics!
Today I went to my first indoor cycling class at 9am. I had to park stinking far because the parking lot by the indoor practice facility is full of psychos. The classroom is very narrow, plain, and loud due to the sound of several bike gears moving, the music blasting, and the fans set up at the front and back of the room. I could barely hear the instructor who acknowledged me when I entered. I had to yell that I wanted to add the class and then when he couldn't hear me, some girl repeated it louder.

I still am not technically in the class...yet. But since there were empty bikes, he told me to stay. I picked a bike in the back and figured out how to adjust it at various points during the class period. It was pretty fun--cycling while listening to the instructor's music and getting told to try different pedaling positions and stuff. My only complaint was that the bike seat was KILLING me. It was seriously SO uncomfortable on my butt! After, I felt like I had been sitting on a huge, rough rock with my bare butt for several hours. 

Later, I left work for thirty minutes to get a flu shot at the Student Health Center. I was so freaked out for it because in the past I have nearly fainted after getting it. I tried to be prepared by bringing some cold water to sip while I was waiting. When the nice, nice lady called me in, I told her I was nervous and she was so sympathetic. I rolled my sleeve up just past my elbow but she told me I needed to roll it all the way to the top of my shoulder. I wasn't sure why but I looked away as she talked to me and when she put it in my shoulder I was so incredibly relieved. Shoulder shots are nothing. I hate getting needles in the crook of my elbow though. I was so happy afterward and the sweet lady gave me crackers and an apple juice box before I left just in case I felt lightheaded. Needless to say, I was very happy it was over with, and was therefore in a great mood when I returned to work.

The end of the day always goes by so fast. I hurried home and picked up the house as much as I could before I had to go get Dalin. It was one of the first night's in a while I had the energy to clean up at all. I hate having a messy house but sometimes, other things in life take priority. It is definitely better than it was. We still have a few things strewn around that need to be put away, but for the most part, I am just satisfied that I got a few things done!

Maybe it's the exercise (it probably is) but I'm in a surprisingly good mood!  I think I will go to bed early tonight so I can get 9 or so hours of sleep. That is, after I give my cute husband a great big kiss ;)