Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Mini Me

When I was younger my parents would say to me (as I think all parents must now and again), "I hope someday you have a child who is just like you!" My clever response was always, "me too! Then at last someone will understand me!" For better or worse, it looks like I'm going to get that opportunity. Last week we had a ultrasound and determined that our baby is going to be a girl! We learned a few other things about her as well....

Despite having been actively kicking away earlier in the morning, baby was sound asleep when we got to the ultrasound room. And she did not want to move. They always want me to come to the ultrasound with an uncomfortably full bladder (great for all the poking and prodding they then do). But after a few minutes of trying to get a good angle on the baby, I was ordered to empty my bladder so it might turn over. I did my part; baby didn't move. They tilted the examination table to raise my feet, then they tilted it the other way to raise my head. I lay on my back, then my side. The technician even put a large sponge under my hips for a while. No luck. The baby was not in a useful position and was not moving. For over an hour she tried to get a good look at the heart, brain, spinal cord, etc. It was more than a little challenging. At one point the technician was trying to get a picture of the baby's face, but her little arms were both right in front of her face. Then she tried to determine the gender, but baby's legs were crossed at the kneecaps. Great.

Finally, I was instructed to walk around for a few minutes and if the baby didn't cooperate, I would just have to come back. I did some walking, some gentle-ish bouncing and some rather dynamic movements. James gave the baby a pep talk. We tried again and were able to see well enough to be able to leave. And, of course, we got enough of a look to be pretty sure it's a girl. We did not, however, get anything approaching a good picture (as good as ultrasound pictures get). Oh well.

Now we know that this baby is like her mother. She's not what you would expect (in our case, a boy), she's stubborn, she does not like to be disturbed in her repose, and she doesn't want her picture taken. In fact, if everyone is going to focus on her, she'd much rather just go to sleep.

So now I'm trying to in still in her my love of music, because I'm told she can hear it. I'll probably start her on books soon too, though they're unlikely to be age appropriate at this point since I'm skeptical that she can understand them from the womb. If her mature food tastes mirror my pregnancy preferences, she will love Asian food (unlike me when I'm not pregnant), eat fresh fruit as much as possible, and avoid ice cream. Regardless of whether she turns out to be a Melanie-clone, and whether or not we truly do understand each other perfectly, I'm very excited for her arrival.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Last week was a historic one for our nation, one which I was happy to be able to witness. I found myself reflecting back on the week of the election and the great excitement I felt then. I remember talking to James the day before the election about how excited we were that it looked like Barack Obama was going to win. I had a hard time letting myself believe it, though I was so excited at the prospect. It still seems a little surreal, for many reasons. But I am so happy for our nation. I am truly proud of America for electing Barack Obama.

I know that a lot of people disagree with Obama politically. But, I was quite saddened to see several of my friends and acquaintances wilfully avoiding all things related to the inauguration seemingly just because their candidate (or party) did not win. It is important for us as a country that a black man has become the President. It is also a huge blessing that such a transfer of power happens peacefully. Perhaps we have become too complacent if we don't realize the significance of that blessing. Because of the current state of our country, this is an important moment in the history of the nation. Whether Obama becomes one of the "greats" or not, I think someday those people will be sad they allowed disappointment, prejudice (I mean political) or bitterness keep them from celebrating America and its greatness, regardless of who is at its head. If there was ever a day to put petty politics aside, this was one of them.

I felt like the inauguration was not so much about Barack Obama as about our nation. And I think that even the most avid conservative could find something of value in the festivities, whether it is in Obama's speech, the beautiful music, or the masterful prayers. I will share a few of my favorite moments:
  • Seeing so many of our nation's leaders past and present gathered together. I think Obama's words of appreciation for the sacrifice of those who have found meaning in something greater than themselves must have resonated with these people.
  • The quartet that played "Simple Gifts." I think Yo Yo Ma is a consumate artist. No one could possibly enjoy his music more than he appears to. He plays for the joy of the music.
  • Rev. Joseph Lowery's poetic benediction. He is a wordsmith of the highest ability.
  • The fact that so many people were watching that our internet reception was completely choppy. It was nice to participate in such a grand scale event.
From Pres. Obama's speech (and I heartily recommend the entire speech):
  • The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.
  • Greatness is never a given. It must be earned.
  • Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.
  • Our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please.
  • As much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies.
  • The values upon which our success depends: hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiousity, loyalty and patriotism.
As I said, the day was not about Barack Obama, it was about America. And his speech was not about him but about what each of us needs to do and who we need to be. He said everyone should come away from the inauguration with a feeling of personal responsibility. We will each do different things to help build our nation, but everyone can do something. I am excited by Obama's challenge to the country to engage in community service. What a difference a little giving can make.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Monday, January 5, 2009

La Mia Collega

Six-and-a-half years ago, I arrived in Milano, Italia, as a brand new missionary. I was immediately sent off to the beautiful town of Bergamo along with my new companion and trainer, Sorella Wycisk. She very patiently introduced me to Italy and taught me to be a missionary. Many of my sweetest memories from my mission come from my time with Sorella Wycisk. I could tell stories about the crazy things she endured from me and the adventures we had together for hours. We got along so well that I asked to remain companions with her for three transfers (two is the norm).

Since leaving Italy, I have only seen Sorella Wycisk once. Last week, we got together again. It was very fun to reminisce a little, but also to realize that we still have a great deal in common. She is one of those people with whom I think I would still be good friends even if we didn't talk to each other for ten years. What's more, she helps me to become a better person both through her example and through the always thought-provoking discussions we have. I am thankful for the technology that allows us to keep in touch despite living on opposite sides of the country (okay, I'm more in the middle now, but she's still extremely far).

I think it was with Sorella Wycisk that I began just talking about whatever I was thinking. Missionaries are spoiled in that way; there's always someone around to listen to your thoughts. And, since you cover the entire story of both your lives within the first few days, you're always up for random conversation. However, Kaija is one of very few people to whom I can still say whatever I'm thinking. Every topic is up for examination and discussion, without judgment or condemnation. She provides both a willing ear to listen and wise, caring counsel. Anne of Green Gables would definitely say that we are kindred spirits. For my part, I will just say that our relationship personifies one of my favorite quotes:

"Oh, the comfort -- the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person -- having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away."
Dinah Maria Craik
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Family Gathering

I know we don't call them homecomings anymore, but my sister returned from her mission and spoke in Church last Sunday. Afterward, the family came over to the house to celebrate. The festivities included:
naps for the young and old (including me)
two meals
dozens of plastic cups
hours of conversation
several card games
and plenty of shoes...

In the end, we had visitors for more than twelve hours of family fun!
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Saturday, January 3, 2009


I am aware that my blog does not currently allow comments. I am not, however, certain how to fix this problem. It isn't intentional. So, I'll keep trying. And if anyone has better knowledge of such things than I do, I would be happy to receive suggestions/assistance. I guess you'll have to email me....