Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Plan, and finally a photo from the Concert

First, here is the one picture I've found so far from the concert of me singing "The Winner Takes it All." See, I wasn't lying about being the concert. Are you loving the arms, though? It looks as if I was finger painting or perhaps the xerox machine exploded or something. (By the way, do xerox machines still exist?)

About The Plan, what can I say? I LOVE being in this show. The cast is really incredible. There is not a weak scene or a weak link in this production. Eric's writing is fantastic, the space is deliciously intimate, and though I was quite daunted with the role of Bathsheba when I was first cast, I love it so much now. What a ride my scene is! If you are local, please let me know if you want to see it. It will close on April 2nd and runs Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings with one matinee this Saturday the 26th. It's is about as good as any production I've ever been, and it's better than many projects I've done. Again, for those interested in attending, here's the Covey Center link for The Plan.

I should run to wake Mimi from her nap and get Aidan off the bus in 15 minutes (and I'm sure a bathroom trip for Ian would be wise), but I hope to post photos and anecdotes from the show before long.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Concert Recap and A New Project

I promise that I will post pictures of the Syd Riggs concert if I can ever get my hands on some, but I thought I'd give a little recap and share about my next escapade.

The concert was just an awesome experience! I remembered that I had such talented friends in college, but I think I forgot how good they really were. The host was Jenny Frogley, who I had met briefly once but did not know personally. She has fabulous pipes and is super, super nice. I really hope to see her perform again sometime, and I have my fingers crossed that I'll be invited to participate next year in the concert (which I'm sure she'll host again).

One of my old college friends in the show was Chris Higbee, who sang "Anthem" from Chess and "Bring Him Home" from Les Mis. He was, is, and has always been thoroughly amazing. In fact, he is so amazing that he came within inches of being cast as Jean Valjean in the National Touring Company of Les Miserables. Alas, he was considered too young for the role. It's a little bit of a shame, because he really would've been amazing. But he has a wonderful career in business and managament (doing something great currently with the Deseret News), and he and his wife Katie have a wonderful family and a great life together.

Another great, uber-talented pair are Allison and Brian Clark. I hadn't known that Brian had actually toured with Les Miserables playing the role of Javert, which explains his thoroughly awesome performance of "Stars" (one of my favorite songs from that show). Seriously, I remembered that he was good, but not that good! Go Brian! And he and Allison gave an hysterical performance of "A Song Like This" from Spamalot. Delightful! I must also mention other amazing school-fellows and their pieces Kathryn Matis-Adams (a rocking out and funny "Find Your Grail" from Spamalot), Michelle Gardner (a feisty and flawless "Don Juan" fromSmokey Joe's Cafe), Amanda Crabb (a beautiful, heartfelt rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream" despite having a terrible cold - BTW, she's an alto in MoTab), and Nicole Riding (singing "Trouble" - I think- from Smokey Joes Cafe and a FACE MELTING "No Good Deed" fromWicked as well as another solo from Rent). What amazing talent I was associated with at BYU! It really was nostalgic to see and perform with them.

The performance that moved me most was the song "I'm Here" from The Color Purple, sung by Josephine Dinnell. Oh. My. Goodness. It was SO powerful! I was a sucker for the film as a teenager (saw it dozens of times), and so I'm familiar with the basic storyline (at least to the film version). That song is touching in the musical, but never as much as it was when Josie sang it. I think it almost helped that I was backstage watching and could hardly hear the piano, because for me the song is all about Celie standing up for herself after a life-time of severe abuse and neglect and saying that she is beautiful and loved and worth it. I was so moved that I was whimpering as I cried. Honestly, just thinking about Josie's voice, honesty, and vulnerability gives me goosebumps and makes me tear up. It was so lovely!

But let's admit, you're here to hear about me, aren't you? Ha ha!! Just joking. But seriously, I was so nervous about how my song would work out. When Ben and I decided on "The Winner Takes It All," we put ourselves into a bit of a pickle. The song is very long and somewhat repetitive, and Ben was unable to find a track that he liked for the show. In addition to that, I was unimpressed with the ending. As you know, the original radio version fades out - not very workable for live theater. And frankly, I don't like the ending in either the movie or the actual show. Finally, I was not going to have any back-up vocalists, and I didn't really want any. So I was pretty unsure how I was supposed to rock it out.

So my answer was to strip the song down and just sing it with a piano. I shortened a couple of the choruses, moved some lyrics around, changed the ending, and when it was done it was a vulnerable song performed as a monologue with a passionate, very belty ending. My final chorus of "The Game is on again" etc. was somewhat ad-libbed with vocal licks and runs, and my last "The Winner Takes it All" popped up to a long, loud, held out D flat. (Ben did say to rock out, right?) I was wearing a yellow flowery halter-top dress with no shoes and simple make-up and slightly frizzy hair. (For some reason, I was thinking SNL's Loraine Newman, but not quite as hopped-up looking.) :) It was very fun!

We had technical difficulties in the first performance when my head-mic didn't work. Some of the audience members were laughing because it was so uncomfortable for a second or two (they thought they were uncomfortable!). Then LOVELY Jenny Frogley ran out from the wings with her hand mic and told me that we should start over. So we did, and though I didn't love the hand mic thing, it went fine. The second show was much better. That time my head-mic did work, and I was able to give the full performance with my hands free to really act out the song. I hope the somehow I'll find video of one or both performances, and if I do I will post it. Despite the challenges, I felt pretty good about it, and I got wonderful compliments all around.

So what next? I'm in a show! I've decided that I'd like to fit one full show a year into our lives, and I'm very excited about this show. The play (not a musical) is called The Plan by Eric Samuelson, and if we can do justice to the material, it will be something very special. Eric is hands down my favorite LDS playwright. I've always loved the quality of his writing, but nothing I've read of his has ever moved and impressed me the way this play does. It is a series of short plays/long scenes featuring the following people: Gaia (a premortal Eve) and Lucifer, Bathsheba and David, Ruth and Boaz, Leah and Jacob, Rahab and Joshua, and Eve and Adam (on Eve's deathbed). The cast is just wonderful, and I will be playing Bathsheba.

This is no My Turn on Earth or Saturday's Warriors. Eric's material is thought provoking and asks powerful questions. And, for me at least, the closing scene with Adam and Eve is genuinely spiritual. I hope that a lot of friends and family who are local will come and see this, because I really believe it's going to be amazing and powerful. If you are interested in seeing more about it, checking the running dates, and possibly purchasing tickets, here's a link to the Covey Center website. It's a very small space, so if you would really like to come, it might be wise to buy tickets early and online. I can't remember the exact number, but I think there are less than 40 seats in the house. But that means that audiences won't miss a word and every seat will be great! And oh how I love acting in a big black box!!!! So please check it out and mark your calendars!

That's all for now, but I'm hoping to post some pics of family and the concert very soon!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

I'm in a concert!

Last Friday, I got a phone call that made me just giddy. Every year, a director/producer/choreographer named Ben Tichy pulls together a huge concert of musical theatre pieces. It's all to create a scholarship fund for some Orem High senior who wants to pursue theatre in college, and it's kind of in memory of the late Syd Riggs. She was an amazing drama teacher at Orem High, and she was a pretty terrific woman.

I never did work with Syd, but like many I knew her. If you met her, she became your friend. I understand that she was a terrific drama teacher, not unlike my amazing high school drama teacher, Beverly Blanchette. She was also truly awesome and has gone on to greatness in performing arts education in Florida.

As I said, I never did work with Syd, but I wanted to. I auditioned for a Christmas show she was directing the year that I was a Young Ambassador. None of the YA's were cast that year, and my rejection letter pointed out that there were scheduling conflicts. (They actually sent me a letter! That was great!) But Syd was complimentary of my audition at the time, and on a few occasions when we'd see each other we'd express a mutual desire to work together. Finally one summer, I was attending a master class at Sundance, and she and I visited in the party that followed the event. She mentioned that she was directing the musical Jane Eyre soon. I LOVE that show, and I believe I'd be a good fit for a couple of roles in the play, including Jane. I shared my insecurity about being a bit overweight and approaching 30, and I commented that there was a tremendous amount of talent in the area. Because she's so awesome and so nice she said, "But there aren't as many really great actresses as you think, Dianna." I took it as a compliment and an invitation of sorts to audition.

Unfortunately, life happens and things don't always work out, and that's okay. I planned on auditioning, despite my insecurities. But within weeks of the audition, my husband received a wonderful promotion that was also going to amount to a bit more stress, and he sheepishly asked me to consider not auditioning. I wanted to support my husband, so I didn't. A month later I decided to check out the CD of the musical, and as I listened to each song, I just burst into tears. It was one of those shows that I would've fit into so well. I still think it's unfortunate that we couldn't work it out somehow, but I'm glad that I could support my husband just the same.

That was around 2003. Two years later, Syd Riggs passed away. I don't know all of the details. I think that it was due to some unforeseen complications follow foot surgery. Life is strange, but I guess when you're such a wonderful person and you've finished your mortal work, God might find a strange way to take you home. I understand that it was a terrible shock to everyone in her life.

I want to say this. Syd was apparently a great teacher, and she was a great talent. But what I admired most about her was that she was clearly a great wife and mother and a generally wonderful person. She seemed to have a terrific relationship with each of her children who I knew, which is really saying something of the kind of nurturer that she was. And she was a great nurturer to so many other people. As I've shared, even though I never worked with her, she was very encouraging to me as a person and as an artist. It really is a wonderful way to be, and I believe she probably felt great peace when she went Home.

So, about the concert, if you or anyone you know are free on Saturday at 6:00 PM or 8:30 PM, it is really going to be a terrific show. There are so many amazingly talented performers in it, and the director is crazy talented as well. I'm so excited to be singing "The Winner Takes It All" from Mamma Mia. If you come, be sure to say hello afterward! (Well, I think I'll be able to come out and say hello. At least I know I can after the 8:30 show.)

Anyway, tell your friends!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Fair Thee Well, Facebook

I just quit Facebook. Yes, I officially deactivated my account, but I did something even crazier, more permanent. I literally went into the profiles of each of the people I care to stay personally connected to, and I copied and pasted their contact info into a spreadsheet. Then I deleted them as a friend until I had no friends whatsoever. Am I crazy and weird or what?

But if you know me, then you know that I don't do things halfway. When I'm zealous, I'm pretty much so. (Though I want to make it very clear that being zealous about things, such as religion or politics, does not excuse people to be mean and stinky. Is that clear?)

Anyway, I'm serious about this whole rejecting Facebook thing. Well, for me, I'm serious. It's a great idea for other people. Say, people who have jobs that take them out of their homes and keep them busy. I'm very busy, but in a very different way. I can sit and feed my baby a bottle and, should I choose to, I can pull out my iPhone and check email or surf the net. Cool, but a little sad. Because there's this really cute, fuzzy person in my arms who I can disconnect from in an instant.

And I have some really successful friends who are doing exactly what I once dreamed of doing. Now I want to make another thing very clear. I've chosen this path of stay-at-home-momhood for myself. It was not forced upon me. These monkeys need care, and I may as well be giving them care since no one can love them the way I can. And happily some new aspirations are forming as I've step away from theatre a bit. I see more potential for myself than to just be a performer.

But that doesn't mean that I find it easy all of the time. And when it gets really stressful or tedious or occasionally even boring (gasp), it's so easy to seek out a distraction. And then I see all of these people having (evidently) a wonderful time and tremendous success pursuing what were once my dreams while I scurry around trying to find a lost sippy-cup full of milk. Well, that all can just lead to Discontent. And a discontent mom, while being human and natural and not the end of the world, can make for sad kids who feel unwanted.

So you see now the logic behind my rash decision? Yes, I will miss the hysterical anecdotes about my friend's genius daughter who I'm convinced will someday be a NYTimes collumnist. I will miss the photo albums that only load halfway with extremely dated photos of my friends and I wearing poofy bangs. And I will miss the almost Jane Austen-esque (or Conan O'Brian-esque) lessons in wit that I got from some other friends.

I will not, however, miss the News Feeds, when FB randomly tells me that I'm supposed to care about so-and-so today because I haven't found the time to scroll through my friends list to hide them from the News Feed. I won't miss the Farmville invites (no offense people!). I won't miss the feelings of jealousy toward 30 of my friends who attended a big party that I wasn't invited to (which is okay since I haven't seen most of these people for 10+ years).

No, as I deleted the names and deactivated the account, I felt a sense of relief spread through me. It's going to be okay. To my friends who I wanted to update with my contact info, I started an email with the following:

"I feel as if I’ve just spent a very long time at a cocktail party, and it’s time for me to leave my card and get my coat."

I do indeed. Mine's the black leather with the faux-fur lining. Thank you. :)

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

"Oh, the silly little things we worry about."

The above is a quote from a friend's blog. That friend recently gave birth to a beautiful little girl with Down Syndrome. What an amazing, humbling experience it has been for her so far. I know little of the current details of her life (it's probably just newborn craziness), but I was so touched by her account of her daughter's birth. Like me, she had been disappointed with her first birth experience, which was a very high-intervention birth and where her son was born covered in mechonium. For this second birth, her main focus was to have a safer, low-intervention, low-pain (I'm assuming hypnobirth) experience. Then, when her daughter was born, she and everyone else immediately noticed that her daughter's eyes were different from the typical baby's eyes. She had been advised that, based on a prenatal screening, there was a 1 in 23 chance that the baby would have Down Syndrome (she had opted out of having amniocentesis). Before long it was confirmed.

In her blog post, after describing her aspirations to birth unmedicated, she said the above - "Oh, the silly things we worry about." I couldn't help but laugh at myself. I guess in my head I thought, "Oh the silly things we mourn over." As I've struggle over my own disappointments with nursing and have felt ungrateful for my weak body, I've also looked around and remembered that I'm surrounded by women who've faced much more serious challenges and who complain a lot less than I do. I have friends and neighbors who cannot have children or whose children have major health issues or disabilities.

Not only do they complain less, they rejoice more. Instead of focusing on the trial, they see God's miracles in response to the trial. My friend's daughter may have Down Syndrome, but she will have a wonderful life and accomplish amazing things, and she must be a very special person. These are definitely the last days, and Heavenly Father has saved some of the choicest spirits to be born. Some of those spirits are so choice that they only need to come to earth to gain a body, and some of them have either short mortal lives and/or will be innocent and incapable of sin. Such thoughts might bring little comfort when someone is in the midst of rightful despair, but when someone is filled with faith and hope, it can bring great joy to them.

I don't know if any of this makes sense, and I have little personal experience with death and disabilities so far. I don't long for such experiences. But I do know that, because of the Savior and His resurrection, death and disabilities will be conquered, and that should bring so much joy to all of us.

Nursing probably won't mean much in the next life. :) But as I mourned over the disappointments with it, a good friend reminded me that infirmities, great and small, are all a result of the Fall and will be resolved through the resurrection of Christ. How timely it is that we just celebrated Easter! He lives, and through Him all will live again and be whole.

So I hereby resolve to try a little better to rejoice in the miracles and have more peace with the trials. And, really, who couldn't rejoice over such miracles?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Cherishing Motherhood

Here she is! Mira Lovisa Graham was born at 12:09 AM on February 17, 2010. She was 20" long and weighed 8'12". I promise to have more and better photos soon, but here are some glimpses of our Mira with her siblings and by herself. If you're a facebook friend, please forgive the repeats.

Mira is a sweet, tender-hearted little girl, and we love her so much. When you are bonding with her, she looks deep into your eyes, and she's seems very perceptive and almost thoughtful at times. More than any of my other babies, she seems rather sensitive to light and other stimulus, which has been a little challenging at times with all of her admirers. Still, she's becoming more accustomed to all of the excitement, and we are enjoying getting to know her more and more.

Becoming a mother of four has been, hands down, the most humbling experience of my life. I have never done anything to deserve such a privilege, and I'm mindful of how blessed I am to have 4 healthy little monkeys entrusted to David and me. I'm confident that so many could do this better, just as so many were better missionaries than I was and are more deserving of the blessings I enjoy. Oddly enough, God doesn't always measure out responsibilities based on skill or qualification. It amazes me how he often puts great, difficult, humbling works into the hands of the least qualified with the promise that He'll assist us in our work.

Of course, if you're anything like me, then you might often forget that He will assist you. Or you might have difficulty seeing His assistance as you receive it. I'll try to work on this.

Where is this coming from? Well, there is one thing that has always eluded me in some way and which hits a very sore spot in my heart. Well, of course motherhood is one thing, silly! But, no, this thing is smaller and is less significant, and yet my experiences with it have brought disappointment and pain that run deeper each time I've encountered it. I can only rejoice in the fact that I'll never encounter it again (unless I'm mistaken and there is another spirit waiting to join our family. But, no, I believe we're done). The thing I'm talking about is: breast-feeding.

Family members and good friends are probably rolling their eyes in unison, and I'm sorry to bring it up. I don't plan to ever again on this blog, and I'll try to stop bringing it up in conversations with friends, family, or even a whole Relief Society class. :) But nursing has been one of the most humbling challenges I've tried to tackle in my life, and it's something over which I've shed many, many tears.

Let me explain why it's so emotional. You see, when I had Sophie, there were so many difficulties with nursing. I had poor education, poor obstetrical care that affected my ability to produce a good milk supply, a small but annoying health issue, etc. There were enough issues and I made enough mistakes from the beginning that when Sophie was 6 weeks old, she refused the breast, and I stopped fighting to make nursing work. I pumped until she was 3 months old and then let go, and she was a happy, healthy bottle-fed baby. With Aidan, I didn't make the same mistakes, my body worked better, and I was determined to overcome whatever obstacle came my way - for four months at least. Our bout with yeast (which we had also had with Sophie) was brief and quickly resolved. And when we learned that Aidan had a dairy sensitivity so dramatic that he had bloody stools, I stuck it out and avoided dairy for the next few months.

At 4 months, though, I was exhausted, starving, struggling with post-partum depression, and dying for sleep. After much consideration and prayer, we switched Aidan to the bottle, and he and I both thrived better. I was grateful to have nursed him for that long, and I forgave myself for the mistakes I made with Sophie.

When Ian came, I hoped to pass four months, but I only made it to two months. He was a sleepy eater, had a dairy sensitivity as well (though not quite as dramatic as Aidan's), he gained slowly after the first month, and again I found myself anxious and overwhelmed. When David had a two day business trip, and Ian had begun wanting to feed every 1 1/2 hours for a good week, I broke down and offered him a bottle. We weaned him shortly after, and again he and I both thrived better. I was grateful to have done the first two months. I'm sure I mourned a bit, but Ian quickly started sleeping amazingly, and I couldn't mourn over that. So we moved on, and he was a happy baby.

With Mira I think a part of me had been convinced that if I could have an uncomplicated birth (for a change) and nurse a baby right away, we'd have a better start, the baby would nurse better, my supply would be stronger, and we'd have avoided half of the problems. So I was very focused on Mira's birth, and I failed to analyze the challenges of my previous experiences and really come up with a specific plan to avoid them in the future.

I could've hired some help for the first weeks to make life less stressful. I could've planned out my diet better, because I knew (and was right) that the baby would be sensitive to dairy (plus dairy fosters yeast in those prone to it). I could have wall mounted the pressure gate sooner to keep Ian in more control during feedings. I could have read a good book on nursing (I had hoped to get one). I could've pumped after each feeding for the first two weeks to get my milk flowing better and ensure a good milk supply. I could've called a friend and gotten childcare when we hit some bumps with Mira so that I could see a lactation consultant and bombard them with questions. I could've tried to get out of the house more earlier on, because the isolation of the first weeks (and being underclothed and chilly in mostly dark rooms most of the time) was not helpful for my emotional state. I could've done so many things differently to make nursing work better. As they say, "Coulda, woulda, shoulda."

But I didn't, and so between the 40 minute sleepy feedings, the dairy sensitivity, the shooting pains in my breasts from another case of intraductal yeast, the adequate but less impressive weight gain for Mira (and startling weight loss for me), and my overall anxiety and depression shooting through the roof while my energy tanked daily, we decided that it would be better for everyone if we switched her to a bottle. I felt sad but resigned after praying over the matter. I considered pumping my milk, and I even got up the first night to pump. But I knew that just lactating put such a strain on me, and the dietary limitations and the yeast issue would persist, at least for awhile. I felt that it would be best to just let go.

I know gradual weaning is best, and I wish I had chosen that instead. I had three days of terrible engorgement, and on the forth day I woke feeling tender but improved. Then my mourning began.

That was two and a half weeks ago, and now it comes in waves. When I can eat ravioli or peanut butter, sleep through her one night-time waking while David gives her a bottle, go out for more than an hour alone, or confidently snuggle and sooth her fussiness without questioning if she has gotten enough to eat, I rejoice in bottle feeding her. I love to look into her eyes while she feeds. I love that in 20 minutes or less, she's full and we can just enjoy being with her. I like how she has filled out more, and I'm not as stressed when she takes long naps (she is quite the sleeper!). I know that David is happy to bond with and care for more and to give me more relief and freedom.

I just wish I hadn't quit so soon, and there is nothing that I can do about it. When I see other women nursing, I regret knowing that, while it was problematic and challenging, I could still have nursed her. I had a choice, and I chose to quit at 2 1/2 weeks! Two days after we switched her to a bottle, every one of her siblings came down with an awful cold. I came down with the same cold a week and a half later. I could've done more to protect her from illness, and now all I can do is take good care of her and be a hand-washing, distance, and cleanliness Nazi. She just started doing this little cough, and I have no idea if it's the beginning of a cold or just her making new sounds. We'll just have to see.

Relactation is not an option. Even if it were medically possible, such a task would be more strenuous on my family, Mira, and me. I believe our family is complete. There will be no more chances, and another chance would undoubtedly have all of the same challenges arise, I know it. Besides, you don't have babies just for a chance to nurse again.

There is no turning back. I wish I could stop looking back. I know that I need to.

Sometimes we have disappointments, either inflicted upon us or resulting from our own choices, that we cannot undo. How humbling it is that only time and prayer can heal that wounds that result.

This is small, I know it. There are harder trials and bigger mistakes. As I shared before, I forgave myself for the Sophie nursing mistakes with Aidan, because my illusions about nursing were gone forever. I knew that, even when you can make it work, it's not some Utopia of motherhood. It's still work and sacrifice for many/most women.

I believe that Mira will be fine, and I hope we can keep her from getting sick while she's such a vulnerable little newbie. But this experience has taught me that opportunities are to be cherished. I had a limited opportunity, and I gave it up a little sooner than I think I should have. Last night, as I was holding Mira and gazing at her, what small amount of milk I still have let down (not even enough to leak), and I was reminded of what it was like to nurse her. I started crying, and when David asked what was wrong, all I could say was, "I wish I had cherished the experience more."

David patiently responded, "Let's try to cherish this." Sound advice indeed.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Long Time No See...

If you are reading this, then you are too cute and thank you so much. I wouldn't have blamed people for never reading my blog again seeing as it has been over two months since I've updated it. Anyway, I'm back to give updates and be my pensive self. Alas I only have one photo at my fingertips today, but that should suffice, right?

First of all, Happy New Year!! We had a wonderful holiday season this year. Halloween proved to be a three day event between the ward costume party, trick or treating at David's work, and the actual day. The kids picked some cute costumes as usual. Sophie chose to be Hannah Montana (since she has the perfect hair for it and adores Miley Cirus - I know...). Aidan picked out the most adorable Mario costume, which was unsurprising considering his infatuation with Wii. Actually it's an obsession, but we are dealing with it as best as we can. :) And Ian was a simply delightful Buzz Lightyear.

Of course, according to David's and my usual trend, we decided at first that life was too crazy to try and pull costumes together. Then we got too excited at the last minute and decided we had to share in the fun. Since this is our last baby, we didn't want to miss a chance to utilize the pregnant belly. So on the day of the church party, I dragged the boys to DI to pick out the cheapest and silliest looking wedding dress I could find; and we made a quick stop at Walmart to buy a toy shotgun. Here's the whole family:

By the way, shotgun wedding costumes make an interesting joke at a church party. I mean, it's kind of suggestive, but not. You know? Anyway, we still thought it was a fun idea.

For Thanksgiving, we took a long awaited trip back east to see some family. Though we traveled twice last year and I had originally promised myself that I wouldn't travel during this pregnancy (I've traveled during every pregnancy and didn't love it), all of my grandparents live in the same general area (well, if the "area" includes Rhode Island, New Jersey, and New York), and they are each declining somewhat. So I felt that we should take advantage of what was likely our last chance to see them in this life. The trip went pretty well, though it finally hit me hard that we really can't afford to continue to travel by air as family. It's too expensive and way too easy to overstay your welcome (I totally booked too long a trip). I'll just leave it at that.

We did enjoy seeing some wonderful relatives. We stayed with my father and step-mom for most of the trip, but we did take a two day trip to meet up with my Mom in Philadelphia (the most interesting "halfway point" between us). We had the chance to see Nonnie, my step-grandma, a couple of times, and that was very special. She's probably one of the sweetest people you could ever meet in your life. On our last full day before returning home, we went with my father and step-mom to Long Island to see a bunch of wonderful relatives (it really was a treat) and to visit my Grandma Mary at the nursing home where she lives. Grandma Mary is wonderful, and though she has declined quite a bit and has difficulty communicating and understanding what's going on, she's as beautiful as ever. It was so wonderful to see her with the kids, when her communication would suddenly improve greatly. All in all, it was a long but very special and meaningful day.

Despite all of the excitement of Thanksgiving, it really felt wonderful to be home for the holidays, especially as my belly has continued to grow and my fatigue has been increasing. We did have a wonderful Christmas though! Lots of wonderful family time and some yummy food. And we felt that we got a little bit closer to being able to have a spiritual Christmas as well. One of the highlights was a very special nativity performed on Christmas eve by all of the kids. Sophie got to play Mary, and Aidan was an extremely handsome (albeit shorter than Mary) Joseph. The kids did a wonderful job, and there was a lovely spirit as we sang a few hymns together. I think it was one of our most special Christmases yet.

After the Christmas holiday we had some winding down time, a fun evening of visiting with some of David's extended relatives who came into town, and a low key New Year's Eve together. For Aidan's birthday on the 2nd, we originally planned to head up to Salt Lake for lunch at California Pizza Kitchen and a few hours at the Discovery Gateway, but due to 4 out of 5 family members suffering with a cold at one stage or another we postponed the trip for this coming Sunday. Still, we made the most of Aidan's birthday with lunch at Osaka, our favorite Japanese restaurant (though the service was a little off that day), lots of Wii, a nice dinner at home, and cake and a movie before bedtime. We had a great day. Again, it was just so great to be together just as family. We feel so blessed to have each other.

As for January, it has thoroughly kicked our butts. :) But seriously, January will probably always be fairly hectic for us (lots of birthdays, check-ups, vehicle registration, etc), but this one has been one for the books. Add to our usual roster an impending baptism on February 6th (Sophie), colds for each of us (a persistent one for Aidan), one case of bronchitis (David's), weekly check-ups with midwives, a very pregnant mother in the house, and a moderate case of pre-childbirth anxiety, and you've got yourself a very interesting month. At least the month is almost over, and we've kept our heads through most of it (with the occasional meltdown from someone in the family - and really, not just me, I promise).

So our next post will contain some lovely photos of our new daughter Mira and memories of Sophie's baptismal day (which will hopefully not need to be rescheduled last minute with Mom and baby sister in the hospital). If you have a prayer to spare, we'd be grateful!