Saturday, November 30, 2013

I'm going to miss this

My little man-child has been getting bigger and stronger the last couple of weeks. That silly boy seems to be under the impression that my bladder is a trampoline, my ribs are monkey bars, and my innards are punching bags. But not all the time... usually just when I'm trying to sleep or in urgent need of a restroom, of course. 

It's lots of fun. And while that sounds sarcastic, I sincerely mean it. I love feeling (and sometimes seeing) him wiggle around, especially as he gets bigger.

While I was sitting on the couch this morning feeling him do his morning workout, I started thinking about how quickly February is coming up. My due date is 11 weeks from tomorrow, or 78 days, or 2 months and 17 days... not that I'm counting. ;) That's not that far away, not at all.

Part of me can't wait to meet him, but at the same time I'm going to miss this.

I'm going to miss trying to figure out what the heck is going on in there when he is really squirming up a storm inside my belly, and wondering if I'm actually going to give birth to an octopus. 

I'm going to miss having ultrasounds and trying to see what (and who) he will look like. 

I'm going to miss the quiet moments when I can't help but stare at my belly, overwhelmed with awe at the miracle of life that is happening inside me and how blessed I feel to be a woman and a mother. 

28 weeks, 6 days today. I may or may not have changed back into my PJs after my
shower and have absolutely no intention of changing into anything else all day. The end.
And that makes all the unattractive, uncomfortable, and unpleasant parts of pregnancy (and there's plenty of all three) worth it, one hundred percent. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Obligatory Thanksgiving Post

Yeah, I know this is what every blog post written yesterday, today, and tomorrow is about... but whatever. Happy Thanksgiving just the same! I spent the day stuffing my face with the people I love most, and while that sounded rather cannibalistic I think you know what I meant. Good food and good family... what else do you need in life, really?

I have a love/hate relationship with certain holidays such as Thanksgiving and Valentine's Day. I mean, gratitude and love are both great things to feel and express. We should do that all the time, right? Not just one day out of the year. Yet I guess it is good for us to be reminded.

I've been trying to be more grateful lately. It seems like the older I get the more cynical I'm becoming, a trend I'd really like to reverse as soon as possible so I can avoid turning into a crusty, irritable, grumpy old lady someday. One of the ways I've been trying to remedy my cynicism is being grateful for my blessings, not comparing my life with others, and looking for the uplifting things in life. I believe that is how true joy is found -- by feeling and expressing gratitude. I know I'm a lot happier when I take the time to think about the blessings I've been given instead of wishing for more. Now I just need to practice what I preach more often.

Monday, November 25, 2013

28 weeks down, 12 to go

I can't believe I'm already in my third trimester. How the heck did that come up so quickly? 

Everything is still going well! I've been feeling really good lately, which has been nice since I have gotten a lot done on the nursery. It's all painted, the crib is set up, I've finally figured out how I want to arrange all the furniture, the four bags of clothes my mom gave me have been organized and put away in the closet, and now I just have some decorating and a couple projects to finish up before it's just right. 

I've been nesting like nobody's business lately, so I'm really thankful that we live in a house where I can paint, decorate, and fuss over baby things to my heart's content, although that means I've been spending a lot more time messing with the nursery than doing the dishes the past few weeks... Oh well. ;) 

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Don't be too jealous of my incredibly attractive men's sweats from Walmart. 
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He's still really wiggly and has been getting much stronger. It's crazy to be able to see him move instead of just feeling it. I caught it on video when I was waiting for a doctor's appointment last week. Glad he cooperated!

On an unrelated note, school is on break for the whole week so I got to sleep in until 7am. I woke up feeling happier that a bodybuilder directing traffic. It was glorious. Annnnd I get to do that all week. This pleases me very much indeed. The end.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Storytime: Mikaela's (lack of) adventures in Zion

This past 4th of July we went to Zion National Park, a trip we had planned for a long time. We love going there; this was our 3rd time since we got married. It is such a beautiful place with lots of great canyoneering and hiking opportunities. 

The first time we went, around the 4th of July in 2012, I had the misfortune of cutting off the end of my thumb the day we left while chopping up some cabbage in a hurry. It was pretty bad and there was lots of blood and tears. I have never passed out before (knock on wood), but when I saw what I had done and then felt the pain start to shoot up my arm I thought I was going down. No fun.

This greatly limited my allowed activities since I wasn't supposed to get my heart rate up (it would start bleeding again when that happened) and I had to keep it dry. I don't know how much you know about canyoneering, but there is always a lot of getting your heart rate up and usually some swimming in stagnant, dirty water. And it came to pass that I was thus uninvited to all canyoneering excursions.

I did still get to see some beautiful stuff, though, like this amazing view. 

But I spent a lot of time just hanging out with my poor thumb, which wasn't too bad since Zion is so beautiful, even without doing any "real" hiking.

Still, there isn't anything quite like canyoneering. When we went later that year I had so much fun. Here are a few shots from that trip.

Rappelling into the Narrows from Mystery Canyon. See the tiny people down in the river?
Birch Hollow
Orderville Gulch
Orderville Gulch
Not so bad, eh? ;)

After getting a taste of what Zion can hold for those without open wounds, I was really happy when we planned another trip for July of this year. Dallin scored a few hard-to-get permits for some of the best spots and it was going to be a sweet trip. That was the plan, at least...

But... as luck would have it, I ended up getting pregnant (yay!) and was a nauseated, emotional mess in the midst of some intense pregnancy fatigue (boo!). In other words, since just walking to the shuttle stop right next to our hotel made me tired, canyoneering was out of the question. 

I spent my time sleeping at our hotel, walking short distances, finding comfortable places to relax, and sipping on cold gatorade since that was one of the few things that made my queasy stomach feel better. 

I also took a few pictures, partially because it was a good opportunity to work on figuring out my camera settings. Still need plenty of work in that department...

Meanwhile, here's what I missed out on: 

On the bright side, if this pattern keeps up I should be healthy (and in one piece) for our next trip, right? 

I guess we shall see...


(P.S. If you haven't been to Zion yet, you are missing out! They have a good shuttle system that takes you into the canyon from the cute little town of Springdale which makes it easy to get around, plus there are so many things to do whether you are the hard-core hiker type or not. Heck, you can even have a good time if you are missing part of your thumb or are in the miserable first weeks of pregnancy. ;) It's pretty child-friendly, especially since you can take a stroller on quite a few of the shorter trails, and this burger joint really hits the spot after a day of adventures. I highly recommend checking it out!)

Friday, November 15, 2013


I haven't always kept a journal, but over the years I've collected quite a few of them. Today I was organizing a bookshelf that mostly has my books on it, including quite a few of those journals. I ended up doing a lot more sitting on my haunches reading through them than organizing.
Annnd... I'm okay with that. 

These particular journals cover bits and pieces of my life from when I was 10 years old until just before I left for Russia at age 19. Those nine years held a lot of adventures and challenges that shaped me into the person I am now. I started out as a stubborn tomboy of a 10-year-old, then stumbled through my difficult (and very character defining) teenage years, discovered what a wonderful place college can be, and then fell for the man I would later marry, all in those nine years.

Flipping through the pages of the journals took me back and reminded me of what a surprise my life has turned out to be. I would never have guessed that I would be where I am now. It's quite a bit different than the plans I made when I was a little 18-year-old. I thought I was so wise then, but little did I know what was in store for me, namely a dashing young(ish) man named Dallin and a game of ultimate frisbee that would end up taking my life in a different direction that I planned.

My life has not turned out as I expected, and every day I'm thankful for that.

I'm thankful for the prayers that were not answered the way I wanted, the life plans that fell through, and the unexpected changes that landed me where I am now. I know I owe my happiness to failed plans and letting myself take chances.

During lunch today, when I was snuggled up to that husband of mine with my head on his chest and our little son kicking in my belly, I couldn't help but feel grateful. Grateful to be here.

Here, with a husband that is my bestest friend and makes me happier every day.

At the Mesa Temple a couple months ago.
Here, with a wee man-child that we get to meet in about 13 short weeks.

26 weeks
Here, living a life that is perfect for me. 

I think this picture that I posted on Instagram a couple days ago sums life lately up pretty well.
Here's the caption:

"I wanted to take a "baby bump" picture and started moving all the clutter out of the frame, but then I realized that sometimes "clutter" tells a story. So... here I am with le bump wrapped in my favorite comfy sweater, paint samples/masking tape on the wall, the one closet door (of four) that has made it back upstairs since I refinished them, a bunk bed waiting to be moved downstairs, bags of baby clothes from my mom, and the ipad I was using to prepare tomorrow's seminary lesson. 
Life is messy and imperfect, but oh so good."

(Most of this was written yesterday but didn't have time to post it until today, just FYI)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Happy snippets

Seminary went better today than it has in a while. At least, I was more satisfied with my lesson than I have been lately, like I wrote about here a couple days ago. I'll never know whether my sleepy students got much out of it (#holidayweekendproblems) but at least I felt I did my best. To me, that is a victory, and I'm so thankful. I hope things keep improving from here on out.

I'm making big progress on the nursery! We should be ready to paint in a couple days (at the latest) and I've finished painting the ugly brass sliding closet doors. They turned out SO well and I'm really relieved! I was a little skeptical, but they look really nice and it's an enormous improvement on the whole room. Now I just hope that the thrifted glider I'm working on will turn out well too! We should be getting our crib and some other furniture this weekend and I can't wait to set it all up.

Dallin and I made pizza last night and it was amazing. I forgot how much I love that stuff. After a failure of a squirrel hunting trip with Marc and Becca (Dallin's brother and his wife) in which we didn't see one single squirrel, something I didn't think was possible, at least we ended the night with a big fat win. And yes, we are rednecks... and proud of it. ;) (Also, don't tell Dallin... but I'm slightly relieved we didn't get any because eating squirrel meat is definitely not something on my bucket list. I know I'll have to try it though!)

My sister is expecting twin girls due next month, and my youngest siblings still refer to the "babies" in my belly since they seem to think I'm having twins too. It seems like they think I've been gypped because they give me such a funny look when I tell them there is just one in there, not two. Pretty sure they are thinking, "You only got one? Geeze, what a ripoff." If it is a ripoff, it's a ripoff I'm okay with, thankyouverymuch. ;)

On a somewhat related note, Marc, Becca, and their little 2-month-old baby Levi have been living at our house while they work on getting moved into my in-law's empty house (they are on a mission in TX right now). I was facetiming my siblings the other day when my 4-year-old brother Luke saw Levi and ran off yelling, "Mikaela has her baby! Mikaela has her baby!!!!" The whole herd came a-running and were sorely disappointed to find that it wasn't actually my baby. Sorry, kiddos... He still needs to bake for about another three months! ;)

Lastly, please tell me you love this video as much as I do. Hahahaha!

(P.S. All the Captain Literally sketches they've done are excellent as well... if you haven't watched them, DO IT NOW. You're welcome.)

Happy Tuesday, errbody! Hope your holiday weekend was a good one!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

On failure (and doing your best anyway)

You know that exhausting feeling of failure that sometimes comes when you put in so much work and still don't see results? Have you ever poured all your energy, time, and attention into something and wondered if you made a difference at all?

This semester of teaching seminary has been very, very challenging for me. I'm sure a lot of it has to do with the fact that I'm pregnant, since apparently making a human being kind of affects you juuuust a little bit, both physically and emotionally. Who would have thought? ;) My class is also very different this year. I switched from the seniors to the sophomores and it's been an adjustment. Things that worked last year just don't work with this group of students; they have very different personalities, needs, and levels of understanding. 

Whatever the reason, I've been struggling. Big time. Multiple times I've driven home from class in tears, feeling like a failure when my lesson went poorly, seriously considering the possibility of playing the "I'm a pitiful pregnant lady card" to get released early instead of sticking it out to the end of the semester like I planned. I've tried different things to get myself out of this funk, but so far nothing has worked. To put it simply, I guess I'm a little weary of putting so much into this calling when I never seem to see any results of my hard work.

This weekend I spent a lot of time mulling over all of this, trying to figure out what I could do to fix things, and searching for comfort, motivation, and the excitement I used to have about teaching. While I was sitting in church I thought about it some more and felt like it would be a good idea to read through the chapters I'll be teaching in the next few weeks to get myself ready to teach it. While skimming through the upcoming chapters, I came upon the story of Abinadi, which is one of my favorites. 

If you aren't familiar with the story or need a refresher, here's the very condensed version. (If you're interested, the whole story can be found in Mosiah 11-18)

King Noah was a wicked king that didn't follow the good example of his father, King Zeniff. Instead of taking care of his people, he taxed them heavily so he and his groupies (wicked priests that he picked to replace to righteous priests his dad had chosen) could afford to live extravagant, lazy, extrememly immoral lifestyles. Things were heading downhill quickly, so God sent the prophet Abinadi to call him and all the wicked people to repentance. King Noah didn't take too kindly to this (big surprise) and ordered his people to bring Abinadi to him so he could kill him, but they didn't find him and Noah kept on a-doing his thang. 

Fast forward two years. Abinadi comes back, in disguise, calls them to repentance again, prophesies of their destruction if they don't, and is imprisoned where he continues to teach them about many things including the Ten Commandments, Christ, and the atonement. Again, Noah is not impressed. Nosiree. He tells Abinadi that unless he recalls his words he will kill him. Abinadi, being a righteous man with integrity that I admire so much, refuses to take back his words, so he was then bound, scourged, and burned alive.

I like to put myself into Abinadi's shoes here. Can you imagine how he must have felt after doing his very best to help these people mend their ways, not only to have them refuse to listen, but end up killing him too? If I were him, I would have been so discouraged the first time that I'm not sure I would have gone back... but he did. That blessed man went back, knowing that they wanted to kill him, and tried again to get them to understand that they needed to change. What love he must have had for them to still try, even when he never saw the results of his efforts.

It gets even better though! Get a load of this... One of the priests, a young man named Alma, listened and believed. Although Abinadi probably never had any idea, his words sunk deep into Alma's heart. He knew they were true. He pleaded with Noah not to be angry with Abinadi and let him go in peace. This made King Noah extremely angry, so he cast Alma out and sent servants to kill him. Alma managed to hide from them, where he wrote down the words of Abinadi and went around secretly teaching those words to anyone that would listen. Many people (around 450!) began to gather to listen to him teach and they ended up being baptized, organizing themselves into a church, and then fleeing from Noah who was none too happy when he discovered them.

The part that really amazes me is that those 450 people are only the beginning of the the influence Abinadi had. Check this out, taken from this article in the February 2005 New Era:
Abinadi’s testimony to wicked King Noah cost him his life (see Mosiah 17:20), but changed the life of one of the king’s priests, Alma the Elder (see Mosiah 18:1), who at the time was “a young man” (Mosiah 17:2). 
Alma the Elder
Alma helped bring into the Church about 450 of King Noah’s people (see Mosiah 18:35). They joined the Nephites at Zarahemla, where Alma became the high priest of the Church and baptized many more (see Mosiah 25:18). His son was Alma the Younger (see Mosiah 27:14). 
Alma the Younger
Alma was the Nephites’ first chief judge and high priest of the Church (see Mosiah 29:42). He helped convert more than 3,500 people and converted many more during later missions to Nephite cities. Alma’s sons served missions as well. His oldest son was Helaman. 
Helaman, Son of Alma
Helaman kept the records and was one of the high priests of the Church (see Alma 46:6). At about 73 B.C. and again about 54 B.C., he reestablished the Church after years of war (see Alma 45:22; Alma 62:46). He led the 2,000 stripling warriors. His son was also named Helaman. 
Helaman, Son of Helaman
Helaman kept the records of the people as well. He became chief judge of the Nephites. During his righteous rule, “tens of thousands” joined the Church (Hel. 3:26). He had two righteous sons, Nephi and Lehi. 
Nephi and Lehi, Sons of Helaman
Nephi was chief judge before leaving to preach the gospel with Lehi. These brothers were such powerful missionaries that most of the Lamanites were converted to the gospel (see Hel. 5:50). Nephi turned the records over to his son, Nephi. 
Nephi, Son of NephiNephi became a great prophet. He taught and baptized many in the wicked days before Christ’s coming, even raising his brother from the dead (see 3 Ne. 7:15–26). He was chosen as one of Christ’s 12 disciples when the Savior appeared (see 3 Ne. 12:1). The disciples helped convert all the Nephites and Lamanites after Christ’s coming (see 4 Ne. 1:2). 
Isn't that a little mind-blowing? Although he may never have been able to see even the smallest success, Abinadi had an incredibly far-reaching influence. Plus, each of those people converted by Abinadi, Alma, and Alma's posterity certainly affected others, who in turn affected even more people. Not to mention everyone today that is blessed by learning about it by reading the Book of Mormon. The impact of Abinadi's message was and is enormous, even if he never saw any of it while on earth.

I love that. 

Re-reading Abinadi's story today gave me the comfort I needed by reminding me that just because I may not see results doesn't mean that I'm not doing some good, whether in my calling as a seminary teacher or other aspects of my life. You don't always know when you are making a difference, and sometimes it's the simplest things that have the greatest impact. I will probably never have the kind of influence Abinadi did, but I can still do good in the world in my own little way, and that might make all the difference to someone.  

Also, even with its challenges, teaching seminary is one of the best opportunities I've ever been given. I wish I could explain how much I have learned, how much I love my students, and what an impact teaching has had on my testimony of the scriptures. The blessings far outweigh the challenges, and even the challenges are often blessings in disguise. And even though I'm looking forward to sleeping in and passing the stress onto someone else, I am going to miss it when I'm released next month! 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

5 facts about yours truly

Also known as "I have writer's block." Let's be honest here. ;)

1. The mountains are my favorite place to be, and I'm happiest when I'm outside enjoying them. The picture above is from one of my favorite spots to do so, taken a few years ago.

2. I have come to accept that I will never understand Google+. Please tell me I'm not the only one that can't figure it out! Although it's not like I need any more social media in my life, so in the end maybe that's a good thing.

3. I'm not very picky, but I do not like shrimp, meatloaf, cream soda, or dark chocolate. I will still choke them down though, with the exception of shrimp, which is where I draw the line. Yuck.

4. I can count the caffeinated drinks I've had in my life on one hand. The only times I've had it were either accidental or because I really needed to stay awake while driving at night, partially because I'm really sensitive to it and it makes me feel very weird and leaves me with a headache. Probably a blessing.

5. I don't particularly enjoy cleaning, but I love organizing. Having everything in its place makes me really happy!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Why hello, November!

Is it really November already?? This year is slipping away so quickly. I hope things slow down a little bit though because November and December with their cool weather, holidays, and the abundance of delicious food that goes with said holidays make me really happy. I don't want it to slip through my fingers before I have a chance to thoroughly enjoy it. 

Today I wanted to put up some more fall/Thanksgiving decorations and I made these printables to frame. They aren't particularly festive so I can leave them up all year. Also, I couldn't decide which quote I preferred so I just made them all. :) Which one is your favorite?

(Click image to enlarge and then right click to save and print)

What are you doing to get in the Thanksgiving spirit? I have been nesting something fierce lately, so I plan on decorating my house, drinking lots of apple cider, and baking goodies in the next few days... All while wearing my favorite comfy, warm clothes since it has been pretty chilly here and I am hoping to avoid turning on the heat for as long as possible. In other words, I will be living in sweatpants, fuzzy socks, and my oh-so-cozy Hello sweater for the next 6 months.

I think I'm okay with that.