The Shape of My Love


I’m reading The Bright Hour by Nina Riggs. She has a passage that’s been ruminating in my head:

Which makes my thinking go like this: When you fall in love with your kids, you fall in love forever. And that love forms the exact shape in the world of the cab of a beat-up pickup on the side of the dark highway — filled with safety and Steve Wonder and okay-ness.

Or the exact shape of a single hospital bed with two figures nestled in it. Which of course suggests that no matter what, the kid is going to be all right.

I’ve been wondering what my love looks like for Eldon, or what my love looks like for my parents. I remember having maori practice in my backyard some Saturday afternoon. My dad was teaching all of us a song, and when I started to sing, he smiled at me in a way that made me feel like the most important person in the world.

I remember when I took out my endowments in the Salt Lake City temple, my mom hovered and fretted over me the whole time. Her nervousness on my behalf somehow made me feel calm and loved and proud. When it was all over, she looked at me with a kind of wistfulness as if she was trying to capture the feeling of this moment for a little bit longer. Or maybe that was me.

What will Eldon remember? What will be the story that makes him say, “That’s when I knew my mom loved me.” It’s a silly notation, I know. The love I have for Eldon isn’t wrapped up in one story or one moment. I’m sure the shape of it will grow, expand, evolve into something solid, and eternal. I can’t wait.


galaxy lollipops

Galaxy lollipops are a thing now.

I mourn a lot over my past self. I remember this intense girl who picked spots on the horizon and tried with clumsy determination to make it into the general area. She accomplished a lot of what she set out to do, but she seldom felt the glow that seemed promised in her ambitions. She also talked more than she listened.

I bore my testimony in sacrament meeting today. Two different people came up to me after the meeting and prefaced the usual, “great job, thanks for sharing” church greeting with, “You know, it’s really scary to go up there, but…”

The husband assured me that I did not in fact sound afraid or nervous, but the comments have stuck in my head wondering when I became such a coward.

I’ve only recently begun to hear the voices in my head again. This is how it starts for me. A fragment of conversation between characters that with the proper nudging develops into dialogue. More nudging may invoke a theme. My hope is that the attention may lead me to a story. How desperately I hope that my fingers and my brain will get their act together long enough for a story. How much I have missed it.

I’ve been listening to the Hamilton soundtrack too much (is that possible?). The phrase “palaces out of paragraphs” sound so lovely even against its context. “You built cathedrals.” How glorious and frightening.


It Mattered to Me: The People that Changed My Life for the Better (my dad)

Last night I dreamt that I was explaining to a stranger that my dad had died and his funeral was going to be soon. In my dream I was the age I am now even though my dad really died when I was twelve.

The stranger asked what kind of person my dad was and I struggled to find the right words. I said he was the best. I said that he had been admired by so many people. Most of all, I told this stranger that he was kind.

I woke up and clung to those things I had said in my dream. They were all true. Although it’s still hard even now. Sometimes I look at these moments I had with my dad and it feels something like cheap consolations for the even more moments that he has not been here. I can find myself still suppressing the bitterness that can creep up in my throat as I wish and wish that I could talk to him, that he could talk to me, that I could hold my hand in his and wait until he squeezed and I would know that he loved me and that I was safe.

I think if I didn’t love him, if I hadn’t felt the great love he had for me, it wouldn’t hurt this much. This year has worn me down, and I’m glad we have only a couple more months left of it. I don’t know what the new year will be like, but I’m going to think about my dream. I’m going to think about my dad. And I’m going to try to be more kind.


It Mattered to Me: The People that Changed My Life for the Better (my siblings)

Thoughts about my older sister:

A year after I had graduated high school, I didn’t really think about my future beyond college graduation. I was a commuting college student taking a full load and working 2 part time jobs. My biggest indulgence was going to see movies, and my favorite movie partner was my older sister.

One weekend we rented the movie Before Sunrise and then went to see Before Sunset in theaters a few days later. We spent literally hours talking about Before Sunrise, and when we walked into the theater to see Before Sunset we kept trying to check ourselves from expecting too much only to be disappointed.

When the end credits rolled and we walked out of the theater, I felt like I was floating. I turned to my sister and she had the same dreamy look on her face. We recognized the shared expressions and started talking really fast, overlapping and interjecting with other insights or exclamations that the film brought out in us. It was one of the best nights of my life.

My little sister:

I have always described myself as loyal, and I seek after loyalty in my friends and my family. I sometimes think of loyalty as dutiful, responsible, honorable or some kind of boring affectation that fits into my own personality. My little sister is loyal, but she is very different in comparison. Her interests, her passions, the way she goes about things is entirely different from me. She is the kind of brave that I envy, the kind of dreamer that I admire.

When I was in shock the months after my boy was born, she would show up ready to hold him as I ran into the bathroom to doze off in the shower. She still shows up to make my son laugh at her funny faces or tell me about a new recipe that involves figs and carmelized-I-don’t-know-what-I’m-too-busy-rolling-my-eyes-to-listen-to-the-rest-of-these-ingredients-sorry-not-sorry.

My little brother:

I am a good singer. This does not mean I am a great singer, just good. Years of disuse has made my singing voice unreliable, but I still fall back on being a good singer. Once after a concert or some silly performance in high school, I was at home and my little brother came into my room and said, “Nani, you have a good voice.” I smiled and said thank you, but inside I was beaming.

My little brother has such a quiet way of making those around him feel good. He is the only boy of three girls and the baby. He charmed us all as a little kid with just a smile. He still charms with little effort. Now that he is a new dad, I can’t wait to see the generous love he will shower down on his son.




It Mattered to Me: The People that Changed My Life for the Better (the Leader)

One of the speakers at church sparked this post as well as the moving talk by President Uchtdorf in the Women’s General Broadcast yesterday. I feel like for the past few months I’ve been mired in a muck of ennui. I’ve had some encouraging moments sprinkled throughout the past week, and I wonder if I’m starting to climb out of it.

These two speakers prompted me to think about the miraculous people that have come into my life. I’ve thought about the teachers, friends, family members and mentors that have changed me for the better. They loved me and served me even when or especially when I didn’t deserve it. By thinking about these people, more and more names came into my mind until I realized how much I’ve been seen.

I’d like to post a new person once a week and see how many stories I can showcase.

When asked at church to think of a person that changed my life for the better, the first person I thought of was a former bishop I had growing up.

It should surprise no one that as awkward as I am today as an adult, I was an even more awkward teenager. Losing a dad right before you start junior high doesn’t help. I don’t know what I would have done without someone to talk to, someone that wasn’t a member of my family, someone that was always on my side, someone that thought I was wonderful, someone that cared.

Every Sunday he would ask me how I was doing. I always answered back, “Fine.” When I didn’t mean it, he would know and have me come into his office and talk it through. Sometimes when I did mean it, he would invite me into his office to share good news. He always had tissues and treats. He always had a kind word, and a compliment ready to dispense. I felt smart, and capable and believed in. I can’t measure how much and how often this man made me shine.

Those years after my dad died should have been unbearable, and I had many moments that were, but then again, I also had so many sweet kindnesses to think back on. He was a part of a lot of them. I hope one day he knows how much he changed my life, how much it was needed.


I’m the Mama


This Mother’s Day was my first baby’s-out-of-my-belly Mother’s Day. I’ve been trying to formulate my thoughts over the past two years from the time I first found out I was pregnant. I can say that motherhood has changed me. I don’t know that I am better or kinder or more patient. My anxieties haven’t seemed to lessen much. I am still the flawed person I was before this remarkable change.

The greatest part of being a mother is my boy. I hold on to that when the fears crowd my mind. I need it when I feel at a loss for the answers just out of reach. I can choose to care for my child using option A over option B and then switch to option B when option A only worked the first time but never after that and I am still his mother.

As my boy enters more and more new phases in his life, I am still his mother. When I feel so inadequate and I make mistake after mistake, I am still his mother. Through the well meaning voices that abound and offer advice and sweet counsel, I decide what will work for me because I am his mother. What a marvel to be this boy’s mother. What a gift.



A couple of weeks ago, I binge-listened Magic Lessons, a podcast by Elizabeth Gilbert. The last podcast she had with Brene Brown was so great. One of the ideas they shared was to tweak the often quoted pseudo-inspirational question “What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?” to “What’s worth doing even if you failed?”

I know I can be risk averse to a fault. Failure has always had such grumbling resonance in my mind that its mere shadow sometimes leaves me in a state of flush. And yet…when I thought of the moments where I knew failure could find me, I flinched, I worried, I consulted those I trusted, I read loads: I did it anyway. I listened to the risks as they howled my anxieties, my worst case scenarios. I did it anyway. I traversed through mistake after mistake and tried to learn and improve. I was competent. I was lacking. I am still working at it.

The two times when I felt it would be worth it even if I failed was choosing to be a wife and a mother. Maybe that seems silly compared to more vocationally impressive goals and aspirations. Maybe I will drum up the courage to find another thing I’d be willing to fail for. But at least in 2015, I can say that I was brave. I can say that I opened myself up to a new adventure that has changed the direction of my whole life. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t afraid. Yet despite the fear, I am unwavering in my conviction that they are both worth it.

10 Things I Didn’t Expect When I Was Expecting


Every lady has a different pregnancy experience, good and bad. Although I thought I was pretty prepared for all of the ups and downs, here are 10 things that still surprised me about my pregnancy:

  1. Sharing the burden with the husband will make you feel better. I used to hate the phrase “we’re pregnant”. And although there’s still only one uterus being effected here, I realized that suffering alone through the unpleasant moments of pregnancy only made it worse. As I was pouting not-so-silently about the physical discomfort and morning sickness, the husband pointed out that we were BOTH going to be parents and we might as well stick together.
  2. Advice received will only apply 50% of the time. You will have no idea which of the 50% actually applies and your tolerance for hearing it (whether or not it’s true) skews downward the closer you get to your due date. Most people were really kind to me and were eager to share their experiences of parenthood. At first, it was great. Unfortunately, it quickly became apparent that most of the advice shared was inherently negative, (especially about labor) and it was much better on my nerves to ignore most of the advice completely.
  3. You will come to hate the phrase, “Just you wait…” During those moments when I needed to vocalize my discomfort or all around stormy mood, my listener would smile sympathetically at me and utter those three dreaded words, “Just you wait…” My response was a joking, “Do you want to see me cry?” Which would usually elicit a hasty, “…but it’ll all be worth it when you [see your baby],[hold your baby],[become a mom],[Charlie Brown teacher wah, wah, wah]” I usually waited until they left the room to cry.
  4. “You look so cute” and “You look so miserable” will share the same meaning which is “You look EXTREMELY pregnant, let me let you know that I’ve noticed” I might have also lumped the question “How are you feeling?” into the mix, but sometimes that question was followed by hugs or baked goods and I certainly did not say no to either.
  5. Even if you don’t know how to swim and you embarrass yourself in front of a bunch of strangers by half-drowning in 4 feet of water, prenatal water aerobics is worth it. As my pregnancy progressed, this became one of the few things in my week that eased the discomfort, swollen feet/ankles and fatigue. It was also a chance to chat with other pregnant ladies which made me feel a little less alone. Added bonus: this was the first time in my life that I didn’t feel self conscious about wearing a swimsuit because I couldn’t see myself past my belly.
  6. Whoever you choose to deliver your baby, trust them completely and if you don’t trust them completely find someone you will. When the husband and I took a birth class, this was the advice from the instructor. She explained that by trusting in this person completely, you can let them worry about what might go wrong, and leave you to focus on staying calm, maintaining your breathing, etc. My OB was wonderful. She was respectful of my birth plan and explained to me every step of my delivery. It allowed me to get through it without being afraid.
  7. Yoga teaches you to listen to your body, but sometimes your body tells you that it hates you and wants you to be sad. My yoga teacher was the 2nd person after the husband that I revealed I was pregnant. She has 2 kids and was so excited for me to experience the baby movement during my practice. In the 1st and 2nd trimester, feeling my little boy move during postures like standing bow pose was such a weird/cool feeling. Getting only 2 hours of sleep because my little boy is kicking the crap out of me inside my belly, less of a cool feeling.
  8. Pregnancy books will be your friend and your enemy. Of the dozen or so books and Pinterest articles I read, the influx of information was encouraging at best and terrifying at worst. My favorite books were Real Food for Mother and Baby by Nina Planck, Hypnobirthing by Marie F. Mongan and The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg (not a pregnancy book). I’m pretty sure I would have been just fine reading these books only and listening to my doctor. They were encouraging without being scary or scolding, and they didn’t contradict each other.
  9. “Eating for two” really means being conscious about what you’re eating for yourself and your baby. Also, hydrate! I had no strange cravings, but I wanted sweet things constantly, and most people would not refuse a doughnut to a pregnant lady. The husband was really good at keeping me in check and my doctor gently cautioned the same thing. She mentioned that many times my hunger pangs might actually mean I was dehydrated so reach for water before chowing down. This was true more than half of the time.
  10. You will never be wholly prepared, but that’s mostly okay. Even though we were in intense baby prep mode for the majority of my pregnancy, we still ran up against a lot of blind spots once the boy finally arrived. Reading about giving birth/caring for an infant and the emotional/physical roller coaster that comes with it is a heck of a lot different than actually experiencing it. It’s challenging and scary. Two months out and I still find myself feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Still, this little boy is mine. He is perfect. He is loved by me, his dad and the family and friends that surround him. It is a burden. It is a blessing. It is being a mom.


Why I’ll Be Conceding to “Closing Time”


Remember when Dan Wilson from Semisonic revealed years later that his song “Closing Time” was just a sneaky way of writing the cliched songwriter-has-a-baby-and-writes-about-it song? I know, right? Mind blown. Well, just like Dan Wilson, I originally wanted to keep quiet about all things parent-related on the blog and now find myself so entrenched in mama-land all my draft posts seem to revolve around one nagging central theme.

Pregnancy and the new mama phase that followed have been such strange experiences that it only makes sense to me to try and put it to paper (or sending it off to The Internets, as it were). I will not be sneaky in any way about these future posts, but to appease the me of 2013 and prior, this site will not turn into an exclusively mommy blog. Eventually. Probably. Don’t judge me, 2013!


The Day’s Highlights


I want to be in a better mood. I want to have people stop asking me dumb but well meaning questions. I want to hear their dumb but well meaning questions and think of them as only well meaning questions. I want to tell my sweet husband how much I appreciated the homemade fried chicken and garlic mashed potatoes he made for dinner tonight. And while I went upstairs to veg in our bedroom playing Words With Friends, I wanted to tell him how awesome he was for cleaning the kitchen, washing the dishes and taking out the trash. I want to stop craving gummy bears and Swedish Fish and be happy that we will be going refined-sugar free in the month of April. I want to believe those people that say after awhile a person will stop craving sugar.

I’ve been reading The Highlights of My Day (via). It reminded me of my tendency to take pictures on my iPod of quotes that strike me. I haven’t looked at these pictures in awhile, but I went back to “Leaving Maverley“, a short story by Alice Munro. I snapped the last part:

He looked at the nurse in wonder. She thought he was asking her what he had to do next and she began to tell him. Filling him in. He understood her fine, but was still preoccupied.

He’d thought that it had happened long before with Isabel, but it hadn’t. Not until now.

She had existed and now she did not. Not at all, as if not ever. And people hurried around, as if this could be overcome by making arrangements. He, too, obeyed the customs, signing where he was told to sign, arranging—as they said—for the remains.

What an excellent word—“remains.” Like something left to dry out in sooty layers in a cupboard.

And before long he found himself outside, pretending that he had as ordinary and good a reason as anybody else to put one foot ahead of the other.

What he carried with him, all he carried with him, was a lack, something like a lack of air, of proper behavior in his lungs, a difficulty that he supposed would go on forever.

The girl he’d been talking to, whom he’d once known—she had spoken of her children. The loss of her children. Getting used to that. A problem at suppertime.

An expert at losing, she might be called—himself a novice by comparison. And now he could not remember her name. Had lost her name, though he’d known it well. Losing, lost. A joke on him, if you wanted one.

He was going up his own steps when it came to him.


A relief out of all proportion, to remember her.