Thursday, June 18, 2015

Loss and Lessons

I apologize for the personal nature of this post but the thoughts below are something that I never want to forget.

Since I have been posting (mostly) weekly on a blog that I have for school, I keep seeing my personal blog and regretting that I have not kept up with it. To think that my last post was more than a year and a half ago! And, wow, has my life changed in that year and a half. I’m not going to go into what has happened as the two people that read (or used to read) this blog already know. For now I want to say what I have learned.

Lesson 1: In the words of David Boreanaz as Angel “You never know your strength until you’re tested.”
I remember at Christmas time, while visiting my parents in SLC, standing in my mom’s kitchen crying. I broke down, “I don’t know how to do this…” She replied, “You already are.”
At the time that didn’t really help. Things were hard. I was feeling so alone and overwhelmed. Everyone commented me on how strong I was and how well I was doing. They didn’t see the pain. They didn’t see the confusion. They didn’t see anything, and I didn’t let them. I definitely didn’t feel like I had it as together as they thought I did, but I knew that I didn’t have a choice but to move forward. If I didn’t, who would pick up my slack?
Standing six months in the future, I look back on that night with gratitude. My mom saw something that I couldn’t; I was doing it. I stand where I am now, knowing that each day I am doing what I need to do, all that I can do, to make sure that my family ends up in a good place. I’m not perfect and with regards to certain aspects of my life I can’t even guarantee that I am making tons of progress. I do know, though, that I can do it. I know that the three of us can make it through this, will make it through this.
Doing what I have done, in the way that I have done it, over the course of the last year and a half is something that I never thought that I could do. And here I am, having done it.

Lesson 2: 1 Ne 3:7 “…the Lord giveth no commandment unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.”
This scripture, more than any other, has been a guiding light for me in the last year and a half.
It has always just been another previously memorized scripture sitting in the back of my brain, pondering its own existence. As the trials before me began to seem insurmountable, this scripture brought me peace. I knew that I could do what needed to be done, if only because I had the Lord’s help. I knew that through my faith in him, I could through this for the better.
I remember a day while I was visiting Soren in the hospital pretty early on in his illness. We had both been feeling weary, grief-stricken, and afraid. I had been praying, unceasingly, for reprieve and peace. I had gotten my answer as I visited with him that day. I knew that things would be okay. I didn’t know what “okay” meant, but that didn’t matter. I had a promise that it would be okay. That was enough.
Lesson 3: Our lives are only what we make of them.
The decision to live my life each day is my own. No one else can or will do it for me. That’s the beauty of agency. None of us know what is before us or what our lives are now preparing us for. We only know that we have today to make the best of what our lives are and have been. It is our choice to sit and lament our cards in life or to get up and do something with what we have.
A major feeling for me has been that I have no one to help me through this. I don’t mean that I don’t have friends or family that help in the ways that they are able. I mean that there is only me to make sure that my kids get a bath and are in bed on time. There is only me to make sure that I find a job. There is only me to pay my rent and buy food. I am the only one that can take care of my family.
Each of us is on the earth to fill a role that only we can. Each of us will face trials to keep us from completing that purpose. We are not interchangeable. There is no one that can do what we do with the same influence that we do.
President Joseph F. Smith said, “After all, to do well those things which God ordained to be the common lot of all mankind, is the truest greatness.”
Only we have the power to change our lives. Only we have the power to make it what it can be, what it should be. Only we have the power to make it great.

I’m sure that there are more things that I have learned. Mostly I am grateful to have become, through time, the person that I am. I have seen the Lord’s hand in my life, shaping me to be the person that I need to become.  I have seen Him placing people and trials in my life just where I need them. I have seen Him answer prayers and give blessings beyond compare.
Obviously, my life is far from where I thought it would be. “Widow and single mother by 24 years old” is definitely not the path that I thought I would be traveling as I left high school. Something more along the lines of “poor college student eating ramen and dreaming of owning 20 cats” is probably closer to the truth.
My life hurts. My life is hard. Sometimes, my life is lonely. I miss our life together and I regret many of the things that I have said and done in our marriage. I regret that I will have to wait so many years to make them up to him. But I am not alone and I am better for what I have been given.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Things We've Been Up To... (an old post - Sorry!!)

So this post was supposed to be posted in June. I never got around to captioning the photos and so it never got posted. I really want to share these photos though because they show a time in our life that I will forever treasure for the lessons that I learned and the time that I got to spend with my family.


So since we came back from Korea we have been living in Tehachapi, the place where Soren grew up. It's been stressful as we've looked for a new job but it has been nice to be close to family again. After three months and more than 100 applications Soren has finally landed another job. It just so happens that it is here in Tehachapi. 

It's kind of entertaining. He applied to places all over the state and he even interviewed as far north as Fairfield but he ended up with a job here. Even though things are still stressful at times, it really is a blessing to not have to worry about moving our things and finding housing quickly. It has made for a less stressful transition. 

It reminds me that we are put in the places that we are for reasons that we don't always see. Heavenly Father knows what we need and gives it to us without our realizing it. He answered our prayers for a new job and gave us more relief than we knew we would end up needing. It is so good to know that there is someone out there looking out for our family!

We will miss all of our friends in Victorville and in Korea but we are ready for many new (and old) friends and adventures in our new (or old) home!


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

We're back!

That's right! You couldn't get rid of us forever!

It's definitely been an interesting year. We had our share of struggles but it was an experience that I would not trade for anything. I learned a lot about myself, both good and bad. I know that I have changed things about myself and the way that I live.

I hope that I can keep up some of the good habits that I've made. Both Soren and I lost a bunch of weight while in Korea and I would love it if I can continue to make that progress. I want to continue to make food for us that is healthy. I want my kids to grow up without the self esteem issues that I had because of my weight.

I also became more comfortable with how I parent. It's amazing what not understanding the ridicule of others will do to your self esteem. If you can't understand someone it is SO much easier just to ignore them. I hope that I can continue to gain confidence in my abilities as a mother. I know that I am far from perfect and I don't hope to attain that. I just want to become better.

It was hard to leave last week. Even though I don't speak Korean, I had friends. Leaving behind the people that had meant so much to me for the last 7 months was very challenging and sad. I definitely cried as I bore my testimony on our last day at our Sokcho branch. I will miss them so much and I wish that I had a way to stay in contact with them.

I am not sad to be leaving behind the challenges that working for someone you can't talk to presents. One of the main reasons that we left is that we got tired of employers not keeping true to the signed contracts. We decided that we could not risk having to deal with the challenge that that presents for a third time. We were tired of people "not understanding" us for the sake of making things easier for themselves at the cost of our well-being.

It is too bad however that we didn't get to experience more of Korea while we were there. We had some ideas for trips this summer. I guess they won't be happening now!

On the other had we are both SO glad to be back in Ca! I have missed everyone so much. I missed talking to people and being involved in their lives and having them involved in ours. While we were gone I missed my sister's wedding and baby shower, my grandmother's wedding, my MIL's funeral, the selling of my parent's house, as well as numerous birthday's and family crisis.  It also saddened me that our family had to miss our on things like Hyrum's first birthday and Desmond's birth. I am so happy that our children will get to know all of their wonderful family. Besides, Hyrum needs to know that his Grandma does in fact exist outside of the computer screen! :D

For now, we are not sure where we will end up. We will work that out as opportunities present themselves. Hopefully, we can be of some use here in Tehachapi.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Encourage Them *Warning: May Contain Opinions*

I know that I don't usually post my personal thoughts on here but I feel that this is important. It's been on my mind a lot lately and I feel that I should share it. Who knows maybe someone will benefit from it.

Lately I've been feeling like I'm a horrible parent. It starts somewhere between the late dinner, the messy everything and the tired screaming. It usually ends somewhere near exasperation and wanting to cry in a corner somewhere. I know that part of this has been postpartum depression and now that I'm through that things are getting better. But during the last two months I've come to a conclusion.

We need to encourage parents not tell them how to be better (read "super") parents.

I feel bombarded by how other people feel I should do things. Like if I don't do things exactly how someone else does my kids will turn out to be horrible people that will, in the end, cause the destruction of civilization. I feel like I end up with a list of tasks often conflicting and always seemingly impossible. Then I'm a horrible parent because we had dinner too late and Hyrum didn't get a story before going to bed at 11 pm.

Then this happened.

It says exactly what I have been feeling recently, that we need to encourage parents instead of telling them what to do to better their parenting. We need to offer our services to parents instead of unsolicited, and often unwanted, advice. Show a mom more compassion when she is at her wits end instead of telling her that she's exhausted because she's doing it wrong.

I'm not a perfect parent and I doubt, seriously I might add, that I ever will be.

I let Hyrum eat sugar.
My kids go to bed late.
They make noise in church.
My house is rarely "clean".

I could keep going.

No one can do it all and we should help them realize that. Thankfully I have a husband who is good at reminding me of that when I get too discouraged. Try to be that person for someone else. Let them know that it's okay to eat dinner at 8 pm once in a while. That diaper rash happens and is not a cause for a public scolding. Assure them that there will be days when they won't be the best parent but that it won't ruin their kids chance for happiness or success.

Desmond Allan is Here!

So, I apologize that it has taken me so long to post about Desmond’s birth. The Saturday before he was born, we moved into an new apartment and it doesn't have internet. Unfortunately we still haven’t gotten this resolved and so now in order to go online I have to try to catch some stray network and hope that it stays for more that a couple minutes. Also, we recently had a computer go out and so I had no way to even get online if I wanted to.  

Anyway, here you go.

After the hard time I had with Hyrum's birth, the 27 hour labor and feeling brushed off by hospital staff to start with, I went into this birth with a better idea of what I wanted to happen.  We practiced for a natural delivery but I wasn't against an epidural if I felt that I needed it. However, I did not want to do an induction again!

Starting on March 19th, The Tuesday before Desmond was born, I started to have abdominal pain. As the week went on , it got worse. I went in to my OB on Thursday, had some tests run and was told that it was just because the baby was putting pressure on my stomach. My normal check-up on Saturday was fine even though the pain persisted. By Monday night the pain was horrible. I slept for an hour that night and woke up crying. I was in so much pain that I ended up walking  to the ER at 3 am  with snow and ice on the sidewalk(until I slipped on the sidewalk and was driven the rest of the way by a kind taxi driver) and was given an antacid and told to go to my OB when he opened.

When I did get in to the OB's office, more tests were performed and my fears from the start were confirmed: high blood pressure and extremely high protein in my urine, a very bad case of pre-eclampsia.  It was decided that my case was too severe for the private woman's hospital that I had been visiting to deal with so I was taken to the larger hospital in Gangneung, about an hour south of Sokcho (where we live). There the decision was made, based on my condition and because of the stress Desmond was under, that I would need an emergency C-section. 

I was pretty freaked out at this point. Let's just say that  horrible pain, a serious medical condition and emergency surgery make for a bad day. I'm glad that the anesthesiologist let me have an epidural instead of general anesthesia though because I was able to hear Desmond's first cry before he was taken to the NICU. Because of my condition and his I didn't even get to see him about 24 hours. 

My recovery took longer than for a normal C-section because after surgery it was discovered that I did not have pre-eclampsia but rather a similar but more serious condition called HELLP Syndrome. You should look it up.  (It was strange at first to be on the other side of someone's blood donation at first. Even though I  try to give blood three or so times a year, about as often as I am allowed, I have an even greater desire to continue to do so when I get home. )

One of the best things about this whole ordeal, aside from going home with a healthy,  8 lb, 20 in baby, is that we had a friend from church stay at the hospital for almost the while week I was there. In February, Kyujin came to Sokcho to stay with her parents until she left for her mission on April 22. Before that she had lived in the U.S. for a couple years and so she spoke really good English. She went with us to all of my doctors appointments before the birth and accompanied me to the hospital for the birth. I was lucky that most of the doctors that saw me spoke some English but almost none of the nursing staff did. Having her there looking out for me and helping by translating for both the doctors and the nurses made the already stressful situation much more bearable. Also, it gave me someone to feed my Korean hospital food to. ;) (Seriously though, the first four or five meals with seaweed soup were fine but the other eight or nine were just tedious.)

All in all though, this was a good experience. I have to say that the staff in Gangneung has the staff at Kaiser Fontana beat. Here, I actually knew who my nurses and doctors were. At Kaiser in the course of 24 hours I had four or five different nurses, most of which I would only see once. Also my whole bill for Desmond before insurance was only $1,000  more than what I paid after insurance in the US at Kaiser, and Desmond's birth was more complicated and involved a longer hospital stay. There were things about this hospital stay that I was not happy about but I am not sorry that we decided to have Desmond here in Korea.

Now, at almost two months, Desmond weighs 12 lbs and is 23 inches long. Hyrum absolutely loves him! He loves to lay down next to him and give him kisses. On a couple occasions he has even shared his toys with him. I think that I will savor Hyrum's love for him now before it it replaced with "He's breathing my air!!"  

Saturday, March 16, 2013

"Gangneung-Style" Relief Society Birthday Party!

One of the challenges that I have struggled the most with since moving to Sokcho is feeling like we don't really participate in church. We only attend sacrament meeting and then stick around for lunch after that and since our branch is so small, we don't have extra meetings. Since March 17th is the "birthday" of the Relief Society, our district put together a birthday party. It seemed similar to some of the same activities that I've attended in the States but there were some differences as well.

The first difference was that many of the men showed up from the various branches! This was so strange. At all of the Relief Society activities that I've been to there were only a handful of men and most were only there for a few minutes. It was more like a district meeting than a Relief Society meeting. There still were not more than fifty people or so but it was nice to be around so many Saints again. 

After the customary talks about the Relief Society program and a talk by a man in the district presidency (I think) talking about how he never had to do dishes or housework for 60 years until his wife broke her arm and about the new-found respect he had for her after having to help her out for 6 weeks while it healed, there was a branch talent show. There was usually one person or group of people from each branch that did a couple of acts apiece. Our branch did three traditional Korean songs. Soren and I were not given very much advanced notice so we didn't participate though I did end up taking on the role of photographer/videographer during their performance. Most of it was on another members camera though I did get one and a half videos and a couple pictures on mine before the battery quit.

Yes, this really is most of our branch! There are only four adults missing plus Soren and I. You will also notice that we have two red headed missionaries right now bringing the count of red heads in the branch and that entire building to three. I'm sure that the Koreans were stunned so see so much red hair in all in one place!

 Our Branch President's daughter is visiting for a couple months and speaks English really well. From her I've gathered that the song that they are singing in this video is a traditional fisherman's song. They would sing it while bringing in the nets at the end of the day to keep pace and make the work seem less laborious. Everyone in the audience seemed to enjoy it. All were clapping to keep time and many were singing along by the end. It was really neat to watch.

I couldn't get pictures of the other performances given the lack of a working camera battery but I think that our branch may have had the most crowd involvement. We even had more involvement that he guy that played "Oh Susanna" on the harmonica! :D

The meeting finished of with a yard-sale type fundraiser to help raise money for the district activities. Hyrum somehow left with a container of wooden blocks that someone was selling but gave to him instead. He seems to get free things from Korean quite often though so I really should be too surprised. :) I think that the real steal of the night was the handmade, Korean-style sponge that I got for just under $1! It shaped like awesomeness (read: purple strawberry) but Soren is bound and determined it is an eggplant (less awesome).  I would have gotten a picture but, once again, no camera battery. 

Basically, it was a good way to spend out Saturday afternoon and evening. Since there were some people that spoke pretty good English, we even got to talk to people. Hyrum also found some friends in a couple girls that wanted to play with his blocks! It was good to feel like I was really taking part in something instead of just showing up.