Wednesday, December 21, 2011

If We Had a Christmas Card...

...the picture on the front would look something like this:

And just so you could see how cute and trendy we Lee people are, the photograph would be framed by some sort of cool modern pattern, like IKAT or Chevron (in mustard yellow of course). This Christmas card would truly depict how laid-back our family is, how together we have it. You might even be overwhelmed by our perfection.

A more accurate depiction of our family, however, would actually look something like this:

Me, looking shell-shocked, my children, adorable as ever, but rarely with brushed hair and washed faces, and Ryan, far far away in a distant land.

This year has been one of the craziest of our lives, but we have received so many blessings: Doug's successful open-heart surgery, the news of a joey in the pouch, a new job, new investment properties, THREE of our siblings getting hitched, and so much more. We have learned so much this year and grown closer to each other and, most importantly, to our Savior. He has held our hands through these crazy times and we owe Him everything.

This upcoming year looks promising and hopefully a bit more contained. After three months of being apart, we will be finally joining Ryan in Denver--oh, we have missed him! Then, in February we will be welcoming a new baby into our family. His name will be Desmond, and if he is anything like our other kids, he will be spectacular. Then we'll find ourselves a new home (we'll be staying with my folks till then), and then our lives will be simple and trial-free forevermore (keep your fingers crossed).

So, if we had a Christmas card, that would pretty much be what it would say. But we don't have one this year, so this blog post will have to do. Merry Christmas, you wonderful people, you. We wish you the happiest of seasons and best 2012 possible.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Fall Pictures That Warm My Soul (in no particular order)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Bella and Me (and Edward and Ryan)

The audience at Breaking Dawn Part 1 could be divided into two categories. First, there were those who laughed hysterically at all of the ludicrous parts. Second, there were those who wished death on the people who laughed hysterically at all of the ludicrous parts. While I belonged to the former group (and am still finding tomato seeds and other rotten vegetables in my hair), I found myself relating to the movie in a very strange way.

Remember when Bella drank human blood to satiate her half-vampire fetus? Well…the other day Ryan and I stopped at a gas station for drinks. I strolled the aisles looking for something, anything, that sounded good. Nothing did. Not the juices, not the sodas, even the thought of bottled water made me nauseous.

Feeling the impatient jabs of the hungry baby inside of me, I crossed my fingers and settled on a jug of whole milk. As I was accustomed to skim milk, the creamy consistency tasted positively decadent. It coated my throat and my teeth. It both warmed and chilled my stomach.

“This tastes… good,” I said to Ryan, surprised that it was milk, of all beverages, that did the trick.

And then it hit me. Of course! It was so obvious now that I thought of it: the muffled mooing sounds I heard at night, the strange hoof-shaped bruises on my abdomen. I was not pregnant with a normal human fetus, as I’d originally thought. No, this baby was different. Special. This child was obviously half human, half bovine.

What this says about Ryan, I can’t say. All I know is that I polished off the entire jug of milk within 30 seconds.

But seriously now. I felt an honest tenderness toward Edward and Bella the entire movie. I connected to their conflicting and evolving feelings about the human/vampire pregnancy.

When Ryan and I were discussing having another child, Ryan expressed many concerns about my health. My last pregnancies were difficult and I had a horrendous health scare after delivering Kiana. I assured Ryan that my body could handle one more baby and that there was nothing to worry about. When I finally did get pregnant, however, I instantly went into full panic/vomit mode. Thus began what I refer to as my own personal “terrible awful.”

Going through what I went through, and go through, is hard. But I know that Ryan suffers beside me. I’ve seen that horrified expression on his face, the one Edward had as he watched Bella shrivel in pain (although I still feel like my pregnancy has been worse than hers. Sure, her baby was eating her from the inside-out, but at least Bella didn’t have an anxiety disorder).

Even though I have moved passed the whole “I wish I never got pregnant” business, sometimes I feel like I am responsible for our trials. I feel guilty about being sick. Ryan is running a marathon—caring for two children and a partially insane woman, watching that woman cry, providing, back-rubbing, worrying, praying, erranding, cleaning, traveling, doing, going, being—while sometimes it is all I can do just to get out of bed in the morning.

But marriage is like that. Sometimes one partner has to fight the werewolves while the other lies helplessly on the couch. Both roles are difficult. Ryan has carried me through this hard time, but it also takes strength for me to allow myself to be carried. I am learning how to balance my emotions and needs so that being carried is even possible. I am learning about perseverance. Most importantly, I am learning about gratitude, for I am blessed beyond belief in a spouse who loves and supports me through my ups and downs. My own personal vegetarian vampire.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Battling the Beast

Holy cow. From the intensity of my last post and the gap between then and now, you must think that I am either dead or institutionalized.

Fear not, my internet friends; I am alive and kicking—although sometimes it feels more like kicking and screaming. This anxiety and depression stuff is hard core. It is the biggest battle of my life. At times I feel completely lost and defeated, wondering if I have enough faith and stamina to make it through. I miss myself. I miss my laugh and my sense of reason. I miss being able to wear mascara, knowing it will not spend the day running down my cheeks and merging with a stream of boogers.

Other times (on my good days), however, I understand that this adversity is actually a monumental blessing. I have opportunity for growth, here. Lucky me!

The trick of it is accepting what is and finding joy and peace despite my struggles. This is harder than how it sounds. My brain can be telling me all sorts of rational, soothing things. Meanwhile, my body is telling me that I am in danger and that I am dying. On any given day I have enough adrenaline coursing through my veins to fuel a rocket ship to the moon. Trying to find joy while internalizing my imminent death is difficult.

But possible.

I am in the process of reclaiming myself. I have felt prompted, time and time again, that writing is an important tool (one of many) for my healing. Today I feel like obeying that prompting. I cannot promise consistency, I can only give what I have and some days I don’t have much, but I can promise honesty. And humor. And good stories. I’ll see you when I see you.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Anxiety Sucks

Maybe the hardest week of my life. I do not write this for sympathy, but write in hopes that your prayers will be with me. I am not ashamed of what I am going through.

My pregnancy illness has evolved into sleepless nights, constant anxiety, and horrendous panic attacks. I spend each night awake shaking, throwing up, and feeling hopeless. I understand these feelings are created by myself (okay, and hormones) and I tell myself over and over that the anxiety cannot last forever. Right now, however, the anxiety feels bigger than me.

Here’s what my anxiety is telling me:

-You have ruined you and your family's lives by getting pregnant.
-You are selfish for medicating yourself while carrying a child.
-Your medications are never going to start working.
-You will never have a restful night ever again.
-This child is not worth it.

Anxiety is dramatic, isn’t it?

As I write this, my legs are shaking and I want to cry. I am willing myself to cry, but the tears are lodged as tightly as the air is lodged my chest.

It is now important to write about how I am blessed, because despite what I am going through, I know that my life is one of rare beauty and happiness. While it is hard to fully enjoy these blessings right now, I can certainly appreciate them.

-I have the most wonderful husband in the world. Heavenly Father created us for each other. Ryan is carrying me through this trial. Carrying me with courage, and understanding, and selflessness. I love him more than anything in the world. I love him so much. (Oh, the tears. They come now. They feel good).
-My children are lovely. They are good and happy, and so cute. If this next baby is anything like them, this suffering will be just a drop in the bucket.
-I am thankful for myself. Deep down inside, I am strong and I can get through this. I am a fun, loving, beautiful woman. I am not my anxiety.
-I am thankful for my family and all those who have rallied around me during this struggle. I have a hard time accepting service, but will do so now with gratitude and humility. Thank you.
-I am thankful for my Savior. He knows this pain. He will sustain me through this.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Here We Go

Despite the rules, I called a lot of people last week.

Me: “Guess what? I am pregnant!”
Them: “What! That’s great. How far along are you?”
Me: “Oh… about three and a half minutes.”
Them: “That far, eh?

It’s not that I have delayed gratification problems (although I do), it’s that I wanted to get the word out while I was still excited. I knew that those happy feelings would soon be replaced by what I am feeling right now and will continue to feel throughout my entire pregnancy:


I woke up in the middle of the night wrapped in the heavy blanket of morning sickness. I will be gripped in it, squeezed by it, for the next nine months. And, even though I am surrounded by people who love me and will help me, I feel so alone. I feel angry at my body for behaving this way. I feel guilty and selfish knowing that while I have to carry this sickness, my husband will have to carry everything else.

I take heart in knowing that this too shall pass, and in the end it will be worth it, but nothing can change the fact that this journey will be grueling.

I am so scared.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Green and Pink Girl Room

This room, this boring, green, lackluster room, has been my three-year-old daughter's reality for the past two years.
I sent Studio Five a photo of her bedroom hoping that they'd consider her for their "bedroom makeover" segment. Unfortunately, Teenie doesn't have cancer or any of the other typical ailments that seem to qualify one for a bedroom makeover (although I did mention in the letter, with fingers crossed, her vertical impairment. No one at KSL cared. Trolls.).

So with a budget of only $250, I set out myself to give my little girl a complete bedroom makeover. I wanted to celebrate her "Tinkerbell-ness" without being too literal. Here's how it went down...

First step, new furniture. Our next door neighbors gave us this awesome, solid wood dresser.
And I hunted down this cute sleigh bed on for $150, mattresses included.
Then I painted, painted and painted. The cub helped me with some of the details that women simply can't do with out a man's help. Good gracious me, what would I ever do without him?
Then came the bedding. I saw this gorgeous bedding from the Land of Nod, which I couldn't afford, but found something similar and almost as cute at Home Goods. I spent less than $65 for ALL of the bedding.
And I fashioned some rosettes onto a white pillow that I already had.
This is how the dresser came out. I used a free quatrefoil stencil from here.
Almost out of money, I had to get creative with the wall art (it's hard to tell, but this dresser is gigantic and needed something gigantic above it). I ended up finding a bunch of ugly old frames in the basement and spray painting them white. Then I found some cute fabric and, tah-da, ART! Only $30 for the whole project.

A few knick-knacks gave this room the perfect finishing touches: a silhouette made by my sister, Kristy, an antique bird, and statuette that happens to look JUST LIKE my daughter,
A Tinkerbell kitchen from Nana and Gampa.
And cute artwork by my friend Sarah.
I have a few more touches to add to this green and pink girl room (for me, there is no such thing as a finished project), but Teenie is thrilled by her new bedroom. But probably not as thrilled as I am!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

How it Began

When I was pregnant with Doug, the ultrasound technician slipped out of the exam room and quickly returned with the physician, who took charge of the ultrasound wand with a concerned furl to her brow. Ryan and I were soon informed that the baby’s heart didn’t look quite right. No one explained what the repercussions of a heart with only three chambers might be, but the gravity of the problem wasn’t lost on us. I remember all of the “what ifs…” that circled my brain, but never touched my tongue out of horror that the scenarios might actually come true. What if this child will be disabled for life? What if he needs a heart transplant? What if he doesn’t… make it?

The next day we got a second ultrasound with similar findings and were sent to a hospital in Dallas for a fetal echocardiogram. To our relief, the cardiologist was able to locate all four of the chambers and told us that baby Douglas looked healthy as could be. We asked the cardiologist about the funky ultrasounds and he shrugged. “Maybe the way your fetus was positioned hid one of the ventricles from view.”

I have a different hypothesis.

Doug was born a healthy, hearty 8.2 pounds, but the doctor thought it best that we do an echocardiogram just to back the cardiologist’s findings. That’s when we found the holes.

The doctor said they were small and would likely fill in on their own, but I needed to visit a cardiologist when Douglas turned four. As we moved from place to place, Douglas switched pediatricians several times before his fourth birthday, none of them noticing the faint murmur that must have been present. This past year, remembering the instructions I was given when Douglas was born, I took Doug to a cardiologist to make sure the holes had closed up. Instead, we learned that the holes were bigger than we’d originally thought and, without repair, Douglas would not survive past thirty-five. Doug’s heart had already started to swell and the only way to fix the problem was open-heart surgery.

I believe that we would not have known about holes in Doug’s heart had it not been for the ultrasound scare we had while I was pregnant. Surely we would have found out later in his life when problems became more evident, more serious. But Heavenly Father wanted to give us the heads-up, even if He had to scare the boogers out of us to make it happen. Heavenly Father can be tricky like that sometimes.

Because Douglas was able to get this surgery early in life, his recovery was quick and—if you saw him today, one week later, you would agree—miraculous.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Utah Pride

People told me not to do it. They said it was "Utah Hair."

Well guess what? I like Utah. And I like Utah hair.

So here it is, Kiana's haircut (and this time, not at the hands of her naughty big brother.)

A-lined and stacked in back. Just so you know, we condition her hair in green jello because that's what people from Utah do.

And here is Doug. He is five today. I love him.