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Friday, November 30, 2007

Sarah McLachlan and Adoption

I used to have a very strict rule of No Christmas Music Until After Thanksgiving. But, I happened to marry a guy who likes to listen to Christmas music on random days throughout the year. As a result, I've found my rule slowly going out of style. So, this year I started listening to Christmas music on the Monday before Thanksgiving. Which, is a huge deal for me!

I love listening to old classics like Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Fred Astaire... they remind me of my Mom's old record player and picking out her records to play during the holidays. Such great memories! I expanded my Christmas music collection last year when I bought Sarah McLachlan's Christmas CD, which is full of great songs! Most CDs only have one or two really good songs... not this one. I love every single song on this CD. So, if you're looking for something new to listen to this time of year, I highly recommend Sarah's Wintersong CD (at this site you can listen to samples of all the songs on the CD).

Here is a video of Sarah performing the title song of the CD:

I first started listening to her music about ten years ago and she has become one of my favorites that has passed the test of time. I love her music, I love the depth of her lyrics, I love her voice... and I've recently learned something new about Sarah that makes me love her even more.

She was adopted.

Sarah McLachlan was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to a woman named Judy James (or Kaines; sources differ) and was adopted soon afterwards by an American couple living in Canada, Jack and Dorice McLachlan, who have two other adopted children.

From the age of four McLachlan was a singer and played the ukulele, and studied music later at the Nova Scotia Royal Conservatory. She joined a band called October Game when she was 17 but did not become a full-time musician until after completing her education at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.

It was during her time at NSCAD in 1986 that one source claims a friend remarked on her resemblance to another friend of hers, who turned out to be her birth mother. They now have a continuing friendly relationship.
(Information from

I love hearing other peoples' adoption stories. I have grown to love all things related to adoption. So, on this last day of National Adoption Month, I just want to say that I love adoption. I am so grateful for the chance it gives us to grow our family. Not only do we look forward to welcoming a child into our home, but we also look forward to expanding our family to include the birth family, who we will love forever. Words can't express the feelings we feel.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Trailing clouds of glory...

Today my heart is full. I got a phone call early this morning from my little sister, Mandi. She was calling to let me know that she's at the hospital, awaiting the soon arrival of her first child, a baby girl. I am overwhelmed with feelings of love, joy, and excitement at her news. My thoughts and prayers are with her today as she has this most sacred experience of bringing a sweet little spirit into the world today.

I thought I'd post one of my favorite poems and a couple of my favorite quotes. Babies truly are miracles, such precious gifts from God.

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting
The soul that rises with us, our life's star
Hath had elsewhere its setting
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forget fulness,
And not in utter nakedness
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God who is our home.

- William Wordsworth

About sixty years ago, F. M. Bareham wrote the following:

"A century ago (in 1809) men were following with bated breath the march of Napoleon and waiting with feverish impatience for news of the wars. And all the while in their homes babies were being born. Who could think about babies? Everybody was thinking about battles. In one year between Trafalgar and Waterloo there stole into the world a host of heroes: Gladstone was born in Liverpool; Tennyson at the Somersby Rectory; and Oliver Wendall Holmes in Massachusetts. Abraham Lincoln was born in Kentucky, and music was enriched by the advent of Felix Mendelssohn in Hamburg." (We might add, and Joseph Smith was born in Vermont, four years earlier.)

Quoting Bareham further:
"But nobody thought of babies, everybody was thinking of battles. Yet which of the battles of 1809 mattered more than the babies of 1809? We fancy God can manage His world only with great battalions, when all the time He is doing it with beautiful babies."

To quote Spencer W. Kimball on this topic:

"When a wrong wants righting, or a truth wants preaching, or a continent wants discovering, God sends a baby into the world to do it. While most of the thousands of precious infants born every hour will never be known outside their neighborhoods, there are great souls being born who will rise above their mother gives us a Shakespeare, another a Michelangelo, and other an Abraham Lincoln. When theologians are reeling and stumbling, when lips are pretending and hearts are wandering, and people are running to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord and cannot find it - when clouds of error need dissipating and spiritual darkness needs penetrating and heavens need opening, a little infant is born."

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Marathon Madness

I came across this video the other day and it made me laugh so hard! It's title is: The Day after the Marathon. Those runners out there will really appreciate this:

My good friend, Camille, first introduced me to the idea of running a marathon while we were out running early one morning down the cobblestone streets in Mestre (just outside of Venice). She had run quite a few marathons before coming to Italy and assured me I could definitely do it, too. So, we decided when we were both back in the States the following year, we'd run the St. George marathon together. And, we did. And, then we did it again the next year. And... then... I got married.

I stopped running marathons for a couple of different reasons, but have always had the urge to pick it up again. The whole experience is so cleansing - physically, emotionally, and mentally. The months leading up to it require discipline in eating healthy and getting out to build up stamina and distance. And, then comes the day to run all 26.2 miles at the same time. The adrenaline is high, the excitement unmatched.

I don't know how it is for others, but I know for me there comes a point when the excitement wears off and the running is no longer about physical strength... it becomes completely mental. That's about the point when I start singing the chorus of this song (please enjoy this flashback to the retro 80s):

And, then before you know it you're coming down the last stretch... that ".2" that some people leave off when they talk about marathons, that ".2" that almost seems like ".2" more than what you can do after completing the 26. When I crossed the finish line in 2001, I was giddy with laughter. I had actually completed my first marathon and had accomplished my goal of running the entire time. Success!

2002 was a different story. I hadn't trained as hard, partly out of thinking I didn't need to since "I had already run a marathon," and partly because I had been too busy planning my wedding to run 10-15 miles a day. So, when I reached mile SEVEN I was in so much pain I told myself, "at the next mile marker, you can give up and be escorted down the rest of the way." Well, I got to mile 8 and thought, "okay, I'll just go to the next one, then I'll quit." Those thoughts literally went through my mind for the entire remaining 19 miles. My physical abilities helped me to only get through the first seven miles, after that it had to come from somewhere else. The moment I crossed the finish line, I burst into tears. Marc was waiting there for me and I collapsed into his arms with jelly-belly size tears gushing down my cheeks. The second marathon was much more emotional for me than the first.

Somehow I had finished. Somewhere deep inside I had found something to keep me moving forward. And, on that marathon course I learned a lot about the strength of the human mind and spirit. While my body was telling me, "you can't do this, you didn't train as hard as you should have, you don't have it in you to finish," my mind was telling me a different story - "don't give in yet, just go a little bit further, just one more mile." Those thoughts literally carried me to the finish line.

Sometimes life throws hard experiences our way, and sometimes in the midst of those hard things we are overwhelmed with negative thoughts that try to convince us to throw in the towel - "just give up now", "it isn't worth it", "you're not good enough", "you're not strong enough", "you'll never make it, so don't bother trying." Those are the moments we need to turn up the volume from deep within, relying on strength that surpasses all physical strength to get us through. Sometimes that is simply breaking down the challenge into more manageable pieces - just tackling it one piece at a time, or one day at a time, or even one hour at a time. And, before long, the challenge has been overcome and we have crossed the finish line.

There might be giant tears and achy muscles, but there will also be deeper joy than we would have ever imagined when we learn how strong we really are. And, the only way to really learn that is by going all the way through those hard things and then coming out on top and seeing how far we've come and how deep we had to dig to get there. And, the thing I'm learning is that the joy waiting at the finish line is always worth it. Always.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! We had been planning on spending the holiday with Marc's family in Seattle, but plans changed at the last minute and we weren't able to make it. We were sad to not be able to spend this week with them... didn't get to go on a morning run with Calamity and didn't get to experience Carrot's Thanksgiving party that Martha Stewart would have been jealous of. We missed being with all of Marc's family, especially seeing all of our energetic nieces and nephews. Yeah, while we had a fabulous day yesterday, it really was quite boring compared to our usual huge family get together. We promise to make it up there... soon! :)

The worst part of not being with family this year was that rather than providing my pan of yummy yams, I had to provide everything (with Marc's help, of course). It wasn't the first time I've prepared a meal like this, but it was my first time cooking a turkey! In the past I've done other things like chicken breast stuffed with stuffing. But, I decided it was high time I learn how it's done. I was chatting with my little sister on Wednesday and asked her if she knew how to cook a turkey, fully expecting that since she's younger than me that there's no way she would already have learned to do it before me. Well, not only has she done it, she already has a "tried and true" recipe. So, then I really knew it was about time to learn. Plus, with the recipe came an emergency hotline, available all day, just for me! (Thanks, Mandi, you're the best!)

I was feeling quite overwhelmed with terminology like "gizzards" and "truss the turkey," and had asked Marc for moral support in the kitchen when I'd have to do those things. His response: "do I have to?" You see, my dear husband has an even more sensitive gag reflex than me. So, luckily I was wearing my Wonder Woman shirt (strategically). I took a deep breath and opened up that turkey, in true wonder woman fashion! Someone must have known that turkey would be coming to me, 'cause it was all cleaned out for me and I didn't even have to truss it! With all the anticipation and stress that went into making my first turkey, I was thrilled when it turned out great! It was juicy and filled the house with the most savory aroma!

Notice the "Wonder Woman" shirt! Honestly, every time I looked at my shirt, I thought about how blessed I am to be related to so many wonder women - my mom, my mother-in-law, my sisters, my sisters-in-law, and the list could go on and on - they all inspire me and bless my life so much! Thanks to them and their tutoring I'm not a complete failure in the kitchen!

Over all, it was a really nice day. I really enjoyed the process of putting together an elaborate feast for just the two of us. (Well, and Einstein and Watson were lucky enough to taste a little turkey, too. They didn't express any gratitude, but the ultra-fast movement of their licking tongues was really thanks enough.)

The thing I like the most about Thanksgiving is the reminder behind the celebration that we have much to be grateful for... because we really do! So, here's a combined "Top 5" blessings that Marc and I are grateful for: 5) a warm home, 4) the scriptures, 3) adoption, 2) family and friends, and 1) each other. And, just for fun, here are some other blessings that get honorable mention: foggy days, talents and hobbies, starry nights, socks, movies, hot cocoa with peppermint ice cream, toothpaste, chocolate, and (or course) Einstein and Watson. We really are so blessed!

You know, though, the overwhelming feeling I get around this time of year is wishing I could remember to be grateful for all of these things every other day of the year. So, as a closing thought, here's a quote from a really great talk about gratitude by Henry B. Eyring:

"[Y]ou could ask yourself, “How did God bless me today?” If you do that long enough and with faith, you will find yourself remembering blessings. And sometimes, you will have gifts brought to your mind which you failed to notice during the day, but which you will then know were a touch of God’s hand in your life."

Sunday, November 18, 2007

What ice cream flavor are you?

*DISCLAIMER: I had to convince Marc to let me post his results, because he doesn't agree with the results at all. He thinks he should have been declared "Peppermint" (I'm not even sure if that is one of their possible results.) But, even when I tried to adjust his results to be something different, it still came up as Vanilla... well, and a couple of times it was "Coffee." I guess it's a good thing we don't depend on these silly quizes to define who we really are. :)

Marc is Vanilla - You're as popular and relaxing as vanilla ice cream. You go with the flow, and get along with all sorts of people. You appreciate peace and simplicity, so you sometimes find crowds and loud noises overwhelming. You are a chilled-out, calming influence on the people in your life, and your friends appreciate how supportive and flexible you are.

Megan is Strawberry - Your personality is as friendly and appealing as strawberry ice cream (especially the kind with chunky bits of real fruit). You've got a slightly sarcastic sense of humor, and you rarely stress out or take things too seriously. You are cute and sweet, but with a mischievous side. You are a bit of a troublemaker, but only because you're determined to avoid a plain vanilla life.

(Does the last line in my description imply that I want to avoid life with Marc? If so, then we really know these results aren't accurate!) So, what are you? I want to see who gets "Chocolate" and then between the three of us we'll be Neopolitan!

Adoption Article

The motto that LDS Family Services uses in regards to Adoption is: It's about love. The more we get involved in adoption, the more we have been able to feel the truth of that statement. We have experienced such deep feelings of love that at times it's overwhelming. We've gotten to know some of the most incredible people through adoption, and have witnessed examples of pure, selfless love. We love birth mothers who have taught us so much about faith, courage, and love. Our life is blessed in so many ways by knowing them.

The following article is a story about a young girl and her experience with adoption. We hope it might be a comfort and a help to someone out there. You are not alone!

“My Decision"

There comes a time in everyone’s life when he or she must turn to our Heavenly Father for help and have faith in His eternal wisdom. During times of trial and repentance, we feel only the pain. But after the pain has gone, we begin to understand.

As a young woman fifteen years old, I found myself in a situation that I thought would never happen to me. I was pregnant. My initial fear of being caught in my sins quickly changed to anticipation of the fairy-tale marriage of which I had always dreamed. However, I soon realized that marriage was not in my near future. The young man involved was not, unfortunately, willing to accept his share of the responsibility.

My life became a raging flood of emotions. I was excited as I listened to my friends talk of how wonderful it would be to have a baby. I was frightened as my mother lectured me about money problems, educational roadblocks, a strained social life, and the hardships of raising children. I felt guilty as I watched my father cry and thought about how much I had hurt him. I was angry and sorrowful as I cried over a lost love. And I felt unworthy of ever receiving forgiveness from my Heavenly Father.

Many people gave me advice. Some said I should have an abortion. Others talked of adoption. Public welfare was an option suggested by some. I considered the possibility of keeping my baby. An aunt even offered to take the baby and raise it so that I could visit at any time.

I considered most of these options but also spent a great deal of time trying not to think about them. Maybe I thought the problem would go away or that someone would make the decision for me.

My family and friends were supportive. They encouraged me, counseled me, loved me, and accepted me. My friends tried to include me in all their activities, but I didn’t feel that I belonged with them anymore. I felt alienated, and the things they were doing no longer seemed fun or important.

Soon my family moved to another town twenty miles away. My mother said she had wanted to move for a long time to get closer to her work. But I knew that she decided to move mainly to help me start a new life. I will always be grateful for the chance I had to start anew.

The day we moved into our new house, the bishopric came over to help. We had a good visit, and the bishop seemed genuinely concerned. Within the week, he had called me in for an interview. We had a good long talk. But when he asked me about my plans for the future, I broke down and cried. I didn’t know! There I was, seven months pregnant, and I didn’t have any idea what I was going to do with the baby or myself. After I had calmed down, my bishop made me promise that I would go home and pray.

That night, for the first time in a long time, I knelt down by my bed and poured my heart out to my Heavenly Father. Working through the process of sincere repentance, I begged for God’s forgiveness and asked him to help me know what was best for me and my child. I will never forget the overwhelming feeling of peace and love that filled my soul that night. I heard the Spirit speaking to my mind, giving me words of comfort and encouragement. I knew that my Heavenly Father loved me and had heard my prayer.

Each night as I knelt in prayer, I felt the Spirit near me. I felt as Enos must have felt when he prayed all day and night for a remission of his sins. (See Enos 1:2–8.)

As the days went on, I knew in my heart what the Lord wanted me to do. I knew that I must place my child for adoption. But I tried to deny it, desperately seeking other options. For eight months I had carried this baby. I felt his movements. I heard his heartbeat. I felt that special bond of love that any mother feels for her baby. My eyes ached to see him, and my arms ached to hold him. He was part of me! How could I give him away?

However, my denial eventually changed to acceptance. I couldn’t deny the words the Spirit spoke to me each night. This was my trial of faith. I knew that if I was to receive the blessings I sought, I needed to have enough faith to make this sacrifice.

During the following month, the pain seemed unbearable. Each time I knelt in prayer, I begged the Lord to give my baby a good home with parents who would love him and care for him—someone who would teach him the gospel and teach him to love the Lord. I always received a peaceful reassurance that he would have a good home, but the pain was still there.

In the days after I made my decision, I spent a great deal of time in prayer. When my mother and I met with the person who would be handling the adoption, I knew I was in the right place. My prayers had been answered.

I later learned that when the couple selected to adopt my baby was contacted, the wife cried. When her husband came to the phone, he explained that he, his wife, and other family members had held a special fast on the previous weekend for the purpose of asking the Lord to send them a baby.

Their prayers had been answered. My prayers had been answered. I knew that my baby would have good parents to love him and teach him the gospel, and that they could give him much more than I could as a teenage mother.

The day came when I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. Even though it was a time of sorrow for me and my family, it was still exciting to participate in the miracle of birth.

After a special priesthood blessing given to me by my bishop, I began to realize that this baby didn’t belong to me alone. I had no claim on his life. He was meant to be the son of a special couple whom the Lord had chosen. It gives me great comfort to know that through faith and repentance, and through making a difficult decision, I was able to bring to pass a miracle for someone else.

Even with that knowledge, deciding upon adoption wasn’t easy. I have never had any regrets about my decision, but even after almost eleven years, I grieve for my son at times. I pray that someday, in either this life or the next, I’ll be able to meet him and talk with him.

Over the years, the Lord has blessed me beyond measure. I was able to finish school and get a good job. I have had the opportunity to be married in the temple to a wonderful man who loves me. I will never forget the feeling of pure joy I felt as I knelt across the altar from my eternal companion, knowing that I was clean before God.

I am grateful that I was able to gain such a strong testimony of faith, repentance, fasting, prayer, and our Savior’s love for me and for all his children. I could not have accomplished all that I have without my Heavenly Father by my side, guiding me with his wisdom and mercy. He was truly standing at the door and knocking. All I had to do was open the door and let him in.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Feelin' Groovy

This week has been crazy... and I haven't had time to keep the blog updated. I had a big presentation for one of my classes last night. I was really nervous all week while preparing for it. It went well, though, and I was so relieved to just have it out of the way. I came home last night and the exhaustion hit me bard. Imagine fighting sleep at 7:30pm. Yeah, I was sleepy. In my half-sleep state I was able to enjoy some escapism while watching Survivor and The Office, then stumbled my way to bed.

So, today I took it easy. Organized my desk area, cleaned the house, took a cat nap with Watson, ran some errands with Marc, went to dinner with some friends, and watched a movie afterwards with Marc. It was a nice way to end a busy week, and the perfect way to start the weekend. Hooray for weekends!

I was trying to figure out how to describe my day today and the thing that seems to best represent my day is this fantastic song by Simon and Garfunkel:

This song would have been on my "playlist" in high school. Only, since we didn't have playlists, it was on many of my "Mix" tapes. You know, cassette tapes that you record all your favorite songs to and listen to over and over until the tape dies? Yeah, I think I finally understand how people older than me felt when they talked about 8-tracks. And, it makes me wonder what we'll have in 10 years from now that will make playlists outdated....

I love songs like this that make me want to sit back, take a deep breath and just live in the moment. I feel like I spend way too much time worrying about the past or fearing what the future holds (or doesn't hold)... and today (with some conscious effort) I was able to just enjoy today. Which, reminds me of a book my Mom used to read to us when we were growing up... I'll have to tell you about that tomorrow, though, because Marc is already at the intermittent snoring stage of his sleeping. He told me he was just going to stretch out on the bed for a minute. ;)

So, sit back, slow down, enjoy the moment you're in.

Life, I love you. All is groovy.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Get Ready to Laugh!

This is so funny! H I L A R I O U S !!! Marc shared it with me today, and I just had to pass it on! :)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Waffles for Dinner

So, I was chatting with a good friend the other day when she mentioned how yummy waffles are for dinner. I remember childhood memories of eating waffles for dinner every once in a while... and it was always such a treat! After our conversation, I could not stop thinking about waffles. So, yesterday when I went grocery shopping I made sure we had all the necessary toppings for a good waffle dinner - butter, syrup, strawberries and whip cream. Check this out:

(WARNING: The following videos may contain images that will be very irresistable to the salivary glands, and you will be in complete torture until you satisfy them with a delicious waffle dinner. View at your own discretion.)

They were even more delicious than what we could ever capture on camera. Seriously.

November is Adoption Awareness Month

For the last year or so, my thoughts have been consumed with thoughts of adoption, but especially this month for a number of different reasons, one of those being that November is Adoption Awareness Month. So, I thought I'd share a little song written by Michael McLean about adoption. The message of the song is beautiful.

Adoption really is about love. There is so much love involved in the process. We are amazed at the selfless love we've found in young women who have the faith and eternal perspective to consider adoption for their baby. We are amazed at the deep love they feel for the baby they carry. We have been touched in ways we never thought possible to feel deep compassion towards the baby that will come to our family and the young girl that will give us the gift we cannot give ourselves. We don't know yet how our adoption story is going to turn out, but we do know there is someone out there whom we will welcome into our life with open arms. We will love the child that comes to us with all our hearts, but we will also share a special bond with the girl who makes such a courageous sacrifice for us. We will always share her love with the child she places in our arms. She will not be forgotten in our home.

It's hard to find words to express how we feel. We admire and respect young women who find themselves in very difficult circumstances and are often left to figure things out on their own... and still somehow manage to move forward with great faith. We know God loves them and will bless them. Our thoughts and prayers are with those involved in different aspects of adoption.

We love adoption. We love birth parents, who give us great hope of having a family. We love adoptive couples who inspire us with their amazing stories. We love children who make adoption the most precious miracle.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Trials and Faith

I have a friend who once shared a story with me about one of her friends. So, this is the story of a friend of a friend. We'll call her Ann. Soon after getting married Ann discovered some difficulty getting pregnant, and later was told by her doctor that it would never happen. I don't know the details of why her doctor was led to believe that.

But, Ann had started to pray, telling God that she knew He could work a miracle in her life. She placed her faith in God, that He could make it happen. Well, it did. Her faith and prayers worked. There's no doubt in my mind that she finally got pregnant because her prayers were answered by God. When my friend shared this story with me, I was very touched by it. I would have moments myself in prayer where I would tell God that I knew He could make it happen for me, too, if He wanted it to.

Then, I would have questions like, why would he not want it to happen? Is there some reason I'm not supposed to have this desired blessing? Or do I not have enough faith? Is there something wrong with me? Am I not living worthy of those blessings? How low do I have to go before my faith will be sufficient?

I've since learned that having faith doesn't necessarily mean that everything will work out exactly the way I think it should. I don't want to discount the times when faith produced the miraculous results that were sought, because those really are moments of great faith. But sometimes the greatest faith comes when things continue to go wrong, and the person is able to still find reasons to keep on fighting.

I've felt some deep feelings of empathy for a couple of dear friends in my life who are struggling through some hard things right now. I watch as they continue to fight, to believe, to hope, even when all seems to be lost. Their struggles are different than mine, but I know they feel a lot of the same feelings... wanting to know where the end of their pain is, longing for the day they can find relief from the heavy-heart feeling. They may even be wondering if there ever will be an end to the pain and if it's worth it to keep on going.

I just want them to know that I love them. And that it is worth it to keep on fighting. Whatever price we are asked to pay will always be worth it in the end. The God I know is a God of mercy and great compassion. He knows the struggles of life, He knows the pain and frustration, He hears the quiet pleas in your heart... and He will bless you for the faith you show in those very dark moments.

I'm reminded of a story in the New Testament of a blind man. The disciples asked Jesus, "who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?" And, the response was "Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him." (See St. John 9:1-3.)

Sometimes we're given trials and challenges not because we've done something wrong, but so that we can be instruments for God to show His goodness. If there were no blind people, then there would be no way for God to show He can give sight. If there were no struggling people, there would be no way for God to show He can bring peace and comfort.

I am inspired by my friends who are currently at their lowest... and yet they keep getting up. They are fighting. They are digging deep for that little bit of faith that is left in them. I know it is hard. But, I know as they dig down they will find faith and strength they didn't even know they had.

When I was going through a low moment, my Dad shared this quote with me:

“Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, 'I will try again tomorrow.'"

Keep on going. Keep on trying. You have people pulling for you. Your life and response to your trials strengthens my faith and inspires me to want to keep on fighting.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Happy First Year, Einstein

So, yesterday marked a year since we picked up Einstein at the animal shelter. The little guy has brought a lot of fun and happiness into our lives. When we first picked him up, he had a cold, slightly dirty ears, and a darling way of sleeping on the nearest shoulder available.

Einstein has since grown into a marvel of the animal kingdom - he enjoys playing fetch and teaching his adopted brother, Watson, how to wake up his owners in the morning. Here he is a year later, in a candid moment at the keyboard, helping Megan with a blog post:

Such a good kitty. *pat pat*

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Divinely Guided - Part Three

Monday I woke up exhausted. I hadn't slept well. I wasn't in the mood to go to school. Or do anything, for that matter. But, I had to because Marc was still getting rides from me. So, I picked him up. I don't remember much about the first half of the day. But, I do remember that as we were walking back to my car after school that I didn't want to go home. I wanted to be with Marc. I was too shy to tell him that... so, I was super excited when he suggested we go to a park or something.

We drove up to Rock Canyon Park, just northeast of campus, where they have the big fish-bowl-like grassy area. We walked around the walkway until we found a nice little bench to sit on, underneath a tree. I pulled an apple out of my backpack, along with my trusty pocket knife. We shared the apple slices and talked about so many things. He opened up about his Dad's death, and I was so fascinated by stories of his Dad and the relationship that he shared with his Dad.

Marc also mentioned a Japanese film, Afterlife, which has a very intriguing plot line. You should check it out. The main thing I remember about that day was that we were able to have such a deep, intimate conversation with each other about sensitive feelings... and that it was so comfortable. It felt completely natural. We started seeing more of each other little by little. For our own reasons, though, we were careful to take things slow.

It was Thanksgiving that week. Our first official date was the day after Thanksgiving. Marc called me Thanksgiving night and asked if I wanted to go shopping with him the next morning. I was surprised that a guy would want to be out shopping on the most obnoxious shopping day of the year. I didn't want to go shopping, but I did want to be with Marc.

We went to a couple of random stores and then found a quaint little cafe, where we stopped to have breakfast. We were inseperable that whole weekend... and by Sunday I was starting to freak out. I was worried that things were moving too fast. So, we went on a walk Sunday night and I told him that we needed to just focus on being friends. I expected him to be annoyed and avoid me from then on. But he was totally fine with it. He kept calling and we kept hanging out. For some reason that made me like him even more... which made it hard to hold firm to my "just friends" policy. Ugh, I hate it when that happens. :)

So, you won't be surprised that the following Tuesday night - yes, two days after I told him I wasn't ready for a relationship - we found ourselves standing on my front porch having our last first kiss - with each other. Three weeks later, sitting on the stairs in my apartment, just before he left for Christmas break, Marc told me he wanted to marry me. The moment he said those works, I knew he would be my husband. But, it totally freaked me out.

That next semester we took a Marriage Prep class together... and, it was a good thing! We had a lot of good, healthy discussions that needed to happen before getting married. Plus, it was important to both of us that Marc had the time he needed to go through the grieving process of his Dad's death.

Which brings us back to how I got started telling this story. There were things that brought us together that I just can't accept as coincidence. I just feel bad that Marc had to suffer so much in the process. I'm happy to spend the rest of my life making up for it, though.

We got engaged at Cannon Beach (where Goonies was filmed) on July 12, 2002... and decided on an August wedding. August 23rd. The happiest day... or so we thought. I never would have imagined the happy days we share now. I'm so glad I found Marc... he's the best thing that ever happened to me!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Divinely Guided - Part Two

Okay, sorry to leave you hanging. Well, actually it's kind of fun to know that I have people in suspense. I feel... so... powerful. :)

So, I found out on Halloween that Marc's dad had passed away. Then on Saturday, November 11th, Marc was in a serious car accident - he totaled his car. When I heard that his Dad died, I remember thinking that I wished we were friends already, because then I could express my sadness to him without it being totally awkward. Then, after the car accident I was determined to let him know I was thinking of him, even though I knew there wasn't any UN-awkward way about doing it. So, I figured I'd talk to him at church the next day.

Let me just add in here that at the time all of this was happening I was dating another guy. Dave* and I had been dating for a couple of months at this point. But, it's an important part of the story, because I don't want anyone out there thinking that I took advantage of Marc's fragile situation with the intention of woo-ing him into loving me. As crazy as it might sound, I just genuinely wanted to be his friend.

(*the names of some characters in this story may be changed to protect their identity)

So, anyway, Sunday came. As I was leaving the chapel, I noticed him up ahead. As I got closer, I reached out my hand to shake his hand (such a dorky RM thing to do, huh?) and said something like, "sorry about all you're going through." I knew whatever came out of my mouth had the potential of sounding insincere, so I tried to make sure he knew I meant it.

I wished I could have said or done more, but you have to remember that we're complete strangers at this point. We had never talked before. I'm pretty sure he didn't have the slightest idea who I was... and I only knew who he was because my roommate was friends with him.

So, that night my sister, Mandi (who was also one of my roommates at the time), informed me that she had signed me up to bring pizza dough to the Family Home Evening activity the following night. I agreed with one condition - that she bring me home some pizza from the activity. I worked Monday nights until 9:30pm so I never went to the FHE activities, so I had no idea that Marc and I were in the same FHE group.

The minute I got home from work Monday night, I had to have my pizza... but, Mandi had forgotten to bring me home some. It turned out that the leftover pizza was at Marc's apartment, so off we went to get me some pizza.

Marc and his roommates were sitting around the kitchen hanging out. Marc had mentioned that he was still really sore from the accident... and I was thinking that since I was interested in massage therapy that that was the same as being able to give a good massage. So, I offered to help loosen up his shoulders. After a few seconds, I noticed Mandi was wincing simply by reflecting the strained look on Marc's face. So, um, yeah, I was apparently too rough on him... and successfully embarrassed myself.

We didn't stay for much longer after that. On the way out the door, though, I asked Marc if he needed rides to school, since his car had been totaled. He said that his roommate was taking him. So, I told him that if it turned out that he needed a ride for some reason, that I went up to campus at 7:30am and came back around 3:30pm. Then, he said, "okay, tomorrow morning sounds good." I was surprised that he accepted so suddenly, but happy that I was going to be able to get to know him better.

The next morning came and I picked him up. It's true that I was still dating Dave at this point... but, when Marc came out of the his apartment wearing a blue, long-sleeved, buttoned shirt with navy cords, I thought, "wow, he dresses nice." Okay, lame, I know, but it was just an observation. Another thing I observed was that he wore some really nice-smelling cologne.

So, we drove to campus and then had about a 15 minute walk still. So, we talked. Well, the way I remember it was that I talked. He asked me so many questions that by the end he knew tons about me, and I still knew very little about him. He was so thoughtful and interested in finding out about me... but, it made me even more intrigued. I wanted to know him... I wanted to get into his mind and find out what he was thinking. There was so much bottled in, I could just tell.

By the end of that first 15 minute walk from the parking lot to campus, I had pieced together small bits of information to figure out that he was probably about my same age. So, I asked him directly, "when's your birthday?"

"May 12," he said. "1978."

I couldn't believe it. "That's my birthday, too!"

We looked at each other with total shock. Born on exactly the same day. Marc told me later that he couldn't stop thinking about me that day and how cool it was to find out we shared the same birthday.

It was five days later that Dave broke up with me. I was devastated. Until I had an awakening... and recognized that the connection I had with Marc after one week was more than I had had with Dave after two months. That was Monday. The "real" beginning of our relationship.

(oooh, how do you like that cliff-hanger?)

Monday, November 5, 2007

Divinely Guided

I spent most of Saturday doing some major cleaning. Not the normal dishes, vacuuming, making the bed stuff (although, I did that stuff, too)... I'm talking about cleaning dark corners of the house - going through things that have been sitting in the less-used rooms of the house.

I discovered what appears to be Marc's own life-time supply of his necessities - shaving gel, deoderant, breath mints, pocket knives. If we ever are in an emergency and we can't go to a store for an extended period of time, Marc will smell great! And, if I'm desperate enough I'll smell just like him. Not that he smells bad! Just that I'll smell like a man. Oh well. I guess we need to make an inventory and keep track of what we really need when we go to the store!

So, anyway, it was in the middle of finding his "treasures" that I came across this little white card - smaller than a business card - with a quote on it. In Marc's handwriting it said this:

"I believe I am always divinely guided. I believe I will always take the right road. I believe that God will always make a way, even when there appears to be no way."
- Commander William Robert Anderson

(I had no idea who this guy was, but wikipedia tells me that William Anderson was a naval office and commander of the first submarine to successfully sail under the polar ice cap surrounding the North Pole. Pretty cool, huh?)

So, anyway, I had to re-read the quote for emphasis... and then I thought back to an experience from a couple of weeks ago. I was sitting in one of my classes when my teacher brought up the idea of life being "planned out" for us. I sat back, interested to hear what others would say about it. I was sure there would be others who have seen evidence of some greater plan coming together in their lives - whether they attribute it to their religious beliefs or to some belief in "destiny."

The only vocal people were the ones who thought such an idea was silly. I was left speechless... partly because I needed more time to think through things more clearly. While I don't believe in things being "predetermined," I do believe that there are things that can only come together with divine help and intervention.

I've thought a lot about my own life since that class discussion and tried to explain away the divinely guided moments of my life and count them simply as mere coincidence. No matter how hard I try to do it, I just can't. There are things I've seen come together in such miraculous ways, that there is no other explanation except that God had a hand in it coming together the way it did.

About a million experiences from my mission alone come to mind. Italy is a sacred place to me - a place where I first became aware of the Great Orchestrator of life. The stories I could share! Unbelievable stories... except they are true life experiences.

But, perhaps the divine help I'm most grateful for was finding Marc. It was six years ago this week that we first met. On Halloween night 2001, my roommate Julianna came home and said "Marc found out today that his dad passed away... if you see him, let him know you're thinking of him." To be honest, I didn't even know who Marc was or what he looked like, even though we'd been in the same ward at Church for over two months.

Then it was a week and a half later that the same roommate informed me of Marc being involved in a very serious car accident. At this point, I thought "Holy Cow! Where's this guy's break? Is his father's death not enough?" Then, I thought of my brothers... and I thought of how lonely they would be if they were going through the same awful things being surrounded only by male roommates, who sometimes don't know how to reach out to other men during emotional times. And, I decided I was going to change that.

So, I would seek out this "Marc" at Church the next day and offer my friendship to him... and here's where the story just begins... be continued... :)

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Big weekend for my sisters

The only place I want to be this weekend is in Utah. Yesterday was my little sister's baby shower. She is due in a month, awaiting the arrival of her first baby - a little girl. And, today my big sister is blessing her sixth child, another little girl.

So, in honor of my two sisters and their exciting events this weekend, I wanted to let them both know how much I love them and how grateful I am to have them in my life. I'm thinking of you and sending all my love to you this weekend!

I am so blessed to be the middle girl in my family - I have these two amazing sisters who have always surrounded me with love and support through everything in life. They are amazing sisters - I love them dearly!

(To be fair, my five studly brothers are equally amazing! Sometime I'll have to post about them, too.)

This is Dawnette holding me... when? I'm not sure... maybe when I was about a year old? I was sure to be a hit with her, since she was surrounded by five brothers until I came! :)

And, here I am showing Mandi around the neighborhood, in our 3-wheeler, low-rider. (Don't you love our expressions?!)

I love you both! I'm wishing I were there with you today and everyday. Sending you big hugs!!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Back to 3rd Grade

Yesterday I spent the day in a 3rd grade classroom. I'll be doing part-time student teaching next semester, so I was checking out what grade level I'd want to do. I was a little nervous. While I have plenty of nieces and nephews around that age group, I haven't had many experiences in a classroom setting with kids this age. I've become very comfortable with teaching teenagers, but I don't know what to do with an eight-year old.

Well, I had a fabulous day! It was "Joke Friday." The kids all shared a joke with the rest of the class. They had a spelling test, a math quiz, then came music time. The only song that I knew was "Apples and Bananas." Then, they did "Mad Libs." I was helping a little girl come up with an adjective, giving her some ideas... then, out of the blue she tilts her head and says, "you're so pretty." Talk about a self-esteem boost! It was so precious... they were all little jewels! After recess they paired up with their "Kinder Buddies" to read them stories. It was so cute! Their innocence was so refreshing!

By the end of the day, I was sold! I had been having my doubts about getting into teaching, but after my experience yesterday I am completely convinced that I'm in the right place. I think I've known for a long time that I wanted to get into teaching, but I've pushed the feeling aside for a lot of different reasons.

I'm excited to gain experience and knowledge that will help me to not only be a good teacher, but to also be a good mother. That is my main motivation. During singing time, I couldn't help but imagine playing the piano surrounded by Marc and our own kids, singing silly songs. And, everyone who knows Marc knows that our kids won't have any shortage of silliness! I can hardly wait.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Halloween Fun

Before the trick-or-treaters started coming around, I separated the candy into two bowls. Any guesses of which one I set aside for us? ;)

It is true that we love Butterfinger, but we really weren't planning on keeping them for us. I swear! For some strange reason we didn't end up getting a lot of trick-or-treaters, so we still have tons of the other stuff leftover, too. We have already hidden the candy from sight until we figure out how to get rid of it. Using it for bribery is the leading choice right now.

And, here's the final product of our Jack-o-lantern. It's a five-eyed, long-mouthed, scary-monster pumpkin, with toothpick/candy corn hair. We had a great time carving it together!

We had a thrilling Halloween... and we hope you did, too!

Homemade Doughnuts

We continued our tradition of making homemade doughnuts last night. It had been such a busy day that we almost didn't follow through with it. But, it was lots of fun to make them together. And, the seminary kids had a great surprise this morning when I brought them the leftovers. They'll eat just about anything at 6am! lol!

For anyone that's interested, we decided to try a "Krispy Kreme" recipe we found online. They were good, but next year we'll probably go back to the tried and true family recipe.

Doughnut Recipe
2 cups scalded milk
1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar, divided
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons yeast
4 eggs (beaten)
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
7 cups sifted flour

3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup cold water

1.Mix together ingredients for glaze.
2.Melt butter in hot milk, add 1 tsp sugar and salt. Allow to cool.
3.Beat in yeast, nutmeg, eggs, remaining sugar, and 3 cups flour.
4.Add rest of flour (dough will be sticky).
5.Knead for 5 minutes then allow to rise for 1-1 1/2 hours.
6.Roll out dough, cut into shapes.
7.Do not re-roll dough, then allow to rise for 30-45 minutes.
8.Heat oil to 365° and fry 1 - 2 minutes on each side or until brown. Toss in the doughnut holes first, let those cook, and then proceed to cooking the donuts.
9.Let them cool on a paper towel - helps get the glaze to stick.
10.Dip in warm glaze.

* For the chocolate glaze we used chocolate cake frosting.