Monday, February 24, 2014

A letter about the last two weeks of everything

Hey Elder Pehrson!

I hope this week was wonderful for you! We're all well here, and looking forward to seeing you soon! Princess G loves your picture, but don't be sad if she's a little shy of you at first. She's going through a stage right now where new people are hard for her to cope with. You'll just have to come and stay with us for a few days before you find a job so she can get used to you.

Enough with the trunky talk. I want to tell you about the last two weeks of my mission.

My brother Nathan (the handsome guy who lives with us) and I were missionaries at the same time. This is us at the very beginning of our missions - the MTC.


My back felt like it was broken. My sixth pair of shoes had worn completely through. We'd had some recent disappointments with investigators. We'd had some recent successes on the ward level. I was tired, and afraid, and excited and terrified and miserable and happier than I'd ever been all at the same time.

I felt like I'd finally entered a state of perfection with the mission. I was great at being a missionary and I knew it. I had a wonderful relationship with God, I walked arm-and-arm with Christ, and my companion had become my best friend (we'd been together for three transfers). I had established a rapport with the members, and didn't even need a map to navigate the complicated city anymore. I was home.

I could have stayed forever.

I was so ready to leave.

It was an interesting conflict of emotions.

Most of all, I didn't want to be trunky. I wanted to be sprinting when I crossed the finish line.I wanted to be working. I wanted to see more miracles. 

I really, really didn't want to be trunky.

So I prayed. A lot. I studied hard, and laughed harder. I began to see all the little hardships of missionary life as gems I wanted to treasure. 

A pebble in my shoe was no longer an annoyance. It was a reminder of the miles and miles I had walked, wearing those holes into the soles of my shoes. It was a memory of another pebble, a year before, and the funny conversation I'd had as I removed it. It was a word I'd learned so well I didn't even have to think before saying it. It was that hill leading to a friend's house which we climbed twice a week for months before we climbed it the day we climbed it for the last time.

That pebble was my mission.


Toward the beginning of my mission, in Liège, with my trainer, Soeur Thaini, bestie Myriam, and Soeur Marol.


I prayed for rain. For fat, heavy, warm summer drops to flood the gutters and tear apart yet another umbrella. I wanted to trudge through the downpour. I wanted water to be dripping from my eyelashes as I knocked on doors. I wanted to laugh and jump in puddles with my holey shoes. 

Because it doesn't rain like that in Utah. Because it was the last time I'd do something like that probably ever and I wanted to experience it one last time.

I struggled with the oddity of planning for my future and ignoring the idea of home.

I talked with my companion about heaven and hell and God's Plan. We discussed what we'd both learned over the course of our missions (she was headed home only six weeks after me) and realized that while we both had questions about a lot of things, we knew what the purpose of life was.

We taught a lot of lessons. A lot. 

We ate really good food with some really great friends.

We rode the busses and talked with everyone. I was a contacting machine. I felt liberated from myself as I flew on the wings of the Holy Spirit, sharing, sharing, sharing because soon I'd be giving up my badge and transform from a minister of Christ's gospel into just me. 

We saw miracles.

We said goodbyes.

I cried. 

I laughed.

I cried while laughing. 

I was happy. So very, very happy.

I saw miracles in those last two weeks. Crazy, gorgeous miracles. 

I wrote in my journal. I poured out my soul to God, and He answered. Again, and again and again, He answered me.

I finally realized that over the course of those eighteen months, I really had been changed. I was not going home the same person I was when I'd left.

And that was a good thing.

Looking back, I can see that I was always a good missionary. I had my high points and my low points, but I was a good missionary. But something happened those last two weeks. It was then, I think, that I truly became a Heavenly Messenger. 

Was I tired? Oh, yeah. 

Was I perfect, even then? Oh, no.

Was I afraid? Oh, yes. I was afraid I didn't measure up. That I'd slacked. That I hadn't given my all. That when I turned my mission years over to God he would shake his head and tell me they could have been better. I was terrified that I'd be found unacceptable. 

I was afraid of going home. Of having to rediscover myself all over again. Of (heaven forbid!) having to date. Of the enormity of my future.

But when I prayed, I knew God loved me. I knew He was pleased with my work. I knew that He knew He'd have years more to shape me into the servant He needs me to be.

Me, with my mission president and his wife, just before getting on the plane to come home.


I knew I was okay.

More, I knew that I was handling "the end" well. By sprinting, I was setting the groundwork for my actions for the rest of my life. I was choosing to endure to the end. I was choosing to enjoy the journey. I was choosing God.
I was learning something which has kept me going through the ups and downs of life as just me. 

So, Elder, keep working. Keep loving. Keep praying. These last two weeks just might be the most important two weeks of the rest of your life.

I love you.
Z

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Happy 30th, Uncle Deano!

First of all, Happy Belated Valentine's Day! I hope you all had a lovely day - I know mine was wonderful :)

Our Deano turned 30 this week! To celebrate, we all got together and went bowling today - had ourselves a grand old time. It's always fun to get together as a family. Watching the kids play together, chatting, teasing, and loving being friends with our family.

And now, without further ado, the pictures:

Deano & Grams


Aunt Brookie, the gingers and Mason :)

Daddy, Grams and Princess G
Daddy and Princess G


The cousins :)


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Fare thee well, Mr. Gallbladder

It has been several months since I identified Mr. Gallbladder as the antagonist in the the story of my body's welfare. Ours was a long war; the doctors describe it as "chronic pain." I, however, describe it as a series of battles in which my indomitable will came out the conqueror. I was injured, but not defeated, time and time again.

Why the wait? Why subject myself to so many hard-won battles?

Ah, my friends, because I am proud.

And I didn't have insurance.

I wanted to be sure I wasn't being a baby about these stomachaches. I wanted to do my research and ensure that when I did go to the doctor, it was with notes and evidence and a well-thought-out self-diagnosis because, as I'm sure you know, doctors tend to ask questions. If you don't know the answer, they can't really help you. And if they can't really help you, you're often misdiagnosed. And when you are misdiagnosed, you wind up on your bathroom floor writhing in agony in the middle of the night because you hurt and there's nothing you can do about it.

And I didn't have insurance.

I've been fairly certain of my self-diagnosed gallbladder concerns since October. I would have loved to go to a doctor then and tell of my evidence and my notes and get help, but alas, the whole insurance mumbo jumbo.

You see, insurance costs money, and while I am loathe to bring up the subject, the truth is we have none.

Ahem. Long story short, we needed to get me approved for Medicaid, since that's the only insurance we can afford. Government paperwork being what it is, the application took a while. We finally got the approval mid-December. But, being the holidays, we decided to wait until the second week of January to go and see a doctor.

Alas, Mr. Gallbladder knew his time in my body was coming to an end, and he chose to attack in great earnest. I fought as well as I could, but on Sunday night I lost my will to survive one more episode. So I did the only thing I could: I woke my husband and begged him to take me to the ER.

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The fancy hospital accessories. So, so lovely.

Because I am the Queen of Awkward Timing, we chose perhaps the busiest night our closest emergency room had seen in months. Nevertheless, I was well-cared-for, and can only say that the staff at Utah Valley Regional is superb. From the receptionist to the phlebotomist, the nurses and doctors and everyone in between, they were kind, thoughtful, personable, and made the whole ordeal as painless as possible. I applaud them all.

I told them what I was feeling and what I thought the problem was. They medicated me (hallelujah!) and sent me for an ultrasound. A word about the ultrasound technician: He was Tony Stark. I kid you not. He looked very much like him, acted as a much kinder though still Tony version of him, joked around like him, and it was all I could do to keep from giggling like...well, you understand. Ask my husband. He agreed that the guy was about as Iron Man a person could get without the suit.

I made Ultrasound Tony's night when he found the shape of the playboy bunny in one of the stills he took of my abdomen.

He made my night when he said "I can't tell you anything, but you're gonna be a lot happier without your gallbladder."

A little while later, the ER doctor came in, shrugged, and said, "Well, it's your gallbladder. I spoke with the surgeon and he says he can fit you into his schedule today if you want it out." Ah, such heavenly words have rarely been spoken. Within a few hours I was prepped for surgery, carted into the white room where they were playing fun music (I like knowing they rocked out while operating on me. It seems appropriate, somehow.), and then they magically knocked me out and I woke up two hours later without the offensive Mr. Gallbladder.

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These legwarmers are quite the fashion statement, don't you think? They serve an interesting purpose - you put them on your legs and they take turns blowing up the pouches on the backs of your calves which apparently simulates walking so you don't get blood clots in your legs while going through the whole surgery/recovery process.

They took pictures. I think they're pretty neat. In a grotesque sort of way. I'd post them, but that might be inappropriate. So if you want to see them, come visit me. My gallbladder had more than a few gallstones inside. And by more than a few I mean hundreds. According to Ultrasound Tony, I - and 20% of women - can thank pregnancy for the damage done to the gallbladder. Just another side-effect of having the interior of my body rearranged to make room for the Princess. Also according to Ultrasound Tony, women are insane for giving birth, and even crazier for doing it more than once. "Cause even you will probably have more kids, am I right?" he asks me. "Naturally." I reply.

So now I'm back at home. I'm sore, but the post-surgery pain isn't even in the same ballpark as the gallstone pain, so I'm feeling pretty good. My head is clear, thanks to my allergy to opiates (I love having an excuse to turn down narcotics). My mother is an angel. She came as soon as we called and has been having a blast with her grandbaby. Bless her.

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IV site in my arm. It was surprisingly not painful or irritating.

They tell me recovery from the surgery should take about six weeks, and during that time, I'm not supposed to lift anything heavier than a jug of milk. Unfortunately I have a one-year-old who, while petite, does weigh more than milk. Mom is going to stay and help me through these first and most tender days of recovery, but if anyone has suggestions for getting a baby in and out of her crib without lifting her, I'd be happy to hear them. (That goes for the high chair, the car, and every other time a mom typically picks up her child.)

I had been hoping to start 2014 off with rather more energy than six-weeks' recovery time allows, but since taking care of the gallbladder issue was on my list of resolutions, I feel we're off to a good start :)

A huge thank you to my hubby for missing his first day of class to stay at the hospital with me.
A very grateful thank you to my brother for letting me wake him up at 3am to tell him he's got the baby while we go to the hospital.
A HUGE thank you to my mom, for coming and staying and taking care of of my baby.
An equally huge thank you to my dad, for giving up my mom for a few days.
Thanks to Kim, for being there when I called in tears in the middle of the night and telling me to just go to the ER already.
Thanks to the rest of the family for your prayers and very thoughtful texts.
And thanks to the excellent care I received at UVR. I have nothing but positive things to say about the whole hospital experience. They say your nurses make or break your experience, and in this case, they made it wonderful. Thanks.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

G's Tales | Year Photo Shoot

I am blessed to have the most talented sister-in-law in the world. Aunt Brookie takes the most amazing pictures - if you want to hire her, she's not only amazing, but she's a lot of fun to work with! Going into the photo shoot, I scoured Pinterest for ideas. After realizing that I didn't have the budget (or location) for my idea which would have taken an entire Broadway production team to pull off, I discovered this gem and decided simple was totally better:


As the kids say, totes adorbs. And simple. And gorgeous. So I went to Target, bought some really awesome bubbles (which we had WAYtoo much fun with) and since there's about a foot of snow outside, went to the downtown mall where they have an indoor-outdoor heated walkway. So we got rocks and bushes and a stream and fish and outdoor pictures in the middle of winter. Love living in modern times.

We got Princess G excited for pictures, blew some bubbles, had some difficulties with her turning her head to look the other way, the camera being just a nanosecond too slow for the cute grin, and then we got this:


Which sorta reminds me of that scene from Cinderella where the bubbles distort everything and then all of a sudden Princess G has huge magnified lips and...

Sometimes things we find on Pinterest just don't work out the same in real life.

That's okay, because Brooke is a fantastic photographer and Princess G is photogenic and we ended up with the following priceless photos:




The next two require just a touch of explaining. In the first, Princess G looks like she has enormous lips. She doesn't, she just really loves to bubble her lips (you know, blowing air between your lips so they flap while making a noise like a car in the back of your throat?) and thought that kneeling on a bridge and looking down into the water was the perfect occasion for some lip bubbling.


In this second one, Princess G is popping her foot. I die every time she does this. She's just too cute! Princess G has always loved to watch people dancing, and joining in for funny little baby dances of her own. A couple of weeks ago, she discovered the shuffle step and ballet bar routines. She practices each daily.

Here, she was just so excited to be at the mall with Daddy and Mason and Mommy and Aunt Brookie and bubbles that she just couldn't keep from dancing. Too bad none of the bubbles I was madly blowing made an appearance here.


We all needed a break, so we went to the food court for some lunch. Chinese noodles - yum! Afterward, we had a costume change and then Brooke went outside to find the perfect shot. 

Good parent disclaimer: I stayed inside with the baby wrapped in a big fluffy blanket until Brooke was ready for the shot. Then I ran outside, whipped the blanket off, set the baby down, we took exactly three pictures, and then wrapped her back up. Rinse and repeat. In other words, I did not make my baby stand in the snow and catch pneumonia. 

Also: Princess G loves the cold. She finds it hilarious. It makes her light up and start giggling every time we go outside and there's a chill in the air. She has a song she sings which I like to call "Snow Song" because every time she sees snow, while she doesn't want to touch it, she sings about it. 

The point of this disclaimer? A) While it was chilly outside, it was midday, and not that cold. B) We took precautions to keep the little model warm. C) We got out best photos outside because Princess G was so delighted to be out there she laughed the whole time.

Without further ado, those perfect pictures:




And my personal favorite:


She's one, she's hilarious, and she's beautiful. That's my girl. Happy Birthday, Princess G!




Thursday, December 12, 2013

G's Tales | One Year!

A year. A whole year. I want to say something special and meaningful, but I'm just so amazed that she's one, I can't think of anything to say. So here are some pictures and updates and a prayer that this next year is just as fun as the first :)

With her first birthday landing on Thanksgiving, we didn't need to throw a party (phew!) since there was already a party! All we did was bring a balloon and candle and voila! Instant birthday party :)


  • First off, because it was such a big deal, I have to say Hurray! The pinching has stopped. Phew! 
  • Walking - the little pill is a darling, but she's a pill. She will walk with you if you're holding only one of her hands now, or with one hand on the wall, or when pushing something, but when you let go of her hand, she gives you a funny look and then squats. 
    • UPDATE: She Walks! Kind of...she walked the evening this video was taken, and has since shown a...certain reticence to the exercise. As in, if I try to get her to even stand up, she collapses to the ground and sobs.
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  • Grunting. She has been experimenting with sounds, and while I don't believe she always does it from frustration, she often chooses to point and grunt instead of using her words. When I remind her, or tell her what to say, she repeats me (in her own version of things). Most of the time. Sometimes she just gets frustrated and whines and grunts and even cries (or waves her arms in ultra-frustration). I know it's because she'd rather just have me know what she needs telepathically than use her limited vocabulary to make me understand. It's both adorable and frustrating for the both of us.
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I adore this picture - because we've got the same expression on our faces as we prep to steal some of Daddy's pie.
  • Words. New from this month: Drink please (sounds nothing like Drink, please, but it means it - even has a sign for it), Baa (as in the sheep sound), Woah/Wow, Woof (said this last month, but it's become her animal noise of choice and she says it all the time - pretty sure Grandma's name is currently woof since Gwenaëlle associates her with the dogs she loves so much), and more.
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The extent of her mess - what a silly goose. Silly, dainty, beautiful goose.
  • Excitement for things. Oooh, boy, does this girl get excited! She's got so much passion for life, it's incredible. She's such a joy to be around.
  • Clingy. She loves her Mama, and she's gotta be doing anything and everything her Mama does. Always. It's fantastic, because I adore her as much as she adores me. It's also exhausting, because gone are the days of quiet play while I get something done and there are the days of 'Mama pick me up or I might be scarred for life.' I love it. And I also love it when Hubby gets home in the evenings so I can hand her over and actually go to the bathroom by myself. Or take a shower. 

We threw a sort of second party the following day when Grams spent Black Friday with us. Here are the pictures and (if I can get it to upload) video. Enjoy!

She love, love, love, LOVED her birthday balloon.





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