The First Year

It may sound cliche, but for months I have felt compelled to write this. Snippets of this story have come to my mind, but I worried that my experience or story is one that has been similarly told. I don’t want to sound like a complainer or that my first year into motherhood was harder than anyone else’s, because trust me, I know I had it easy compared to some.

My story is one I wouldn’t have been able to tell six or even three months ago. But I’ve felt a nudging inside me that I need to write down (or rather type up) my story. If for no one else, maybe my own daughter needs to read these words someday, and she will know that adversity comes sometimes when we least expect it, and lingers longer than we think we are strong enough for. I hope that if anyone else reads this and they have similar experiences they will know that they are not alone. They will feel a connection and know that while it may not feel okay right now, it does get better. I want to warn that I am going to tell this story how I remember it. It won’t be sugar coated and it may not be like the beautiful pictures of motherhood that flood Instagram, Facebook or blogs. It will be real, raw, and will tell what I remember really happening.

In my last post (from over a year ago) I wrote Ellie’s birth story. Though I was relieved and incredibly blessed that she made it to our family safely, the recovery after a c-section was something that I was not mentally prepared for. The drugs I had been given seemed to numb my mind and emotions as much as my body. When I saw Ellie for the first time she was as perfect as I had hoped she would be, but it was almost like she was a tiny stranger and my foggy mind was having a hard time processing that she was really the human that had grown inside me for the past 9 months.

In the hospital, Thomas and I were able to get better acquainted with Ellie but no birthing class could have prepared me for the physical and emotional exhaustion I felt. I was completely overwhelmed. Doctors, nurses and lactation specialists seemed to come into my room every few minutes and I hardly felt like myself. I tried nursing her but it just didn’t seem to be going well at all. The lactation specialist tried to be encouraging but I had flat nipples and the whole experience was stressful and painful rather than feeling bonded and in love with my baby. I was determined to nurse her though, and I gave it my best shot.

My final day in the hospital the pediatrician came by to visit. They weighed Ellie and she had lost 11 ounces of her 6 pound 11 ounce birth weight. The doctor advised me to feed her a small bottle to get some of the weight back because she needed to gain weight that day in order to leave the hospital.

As I finished feeding her the bottle, another lactation specialist came in and looked at me like I was a criminal for feeding her a bottle. She scolded me and said, “If you feed her a bottle now she will never be able to breastfeed.” I remember my eyes welling up with burning tears. I was just trying to feed my baby! I wanted to get out of the hospital and figure this out without being given conflicting advice. I wanted this lactation specialist to leave but I listened to some more criticism and then she left, telling me that my milk would probably come in later that day and that I better not feed her any more bottles.

Poor Elllie had reflux bad. Even at a day or two old I would pick her up out of her plastic hospital cradle and she would be covered in her own spit up. I wondered how one so small and who ate so little could throw up so much milk! By some miracle Ellie must have kept something down because she was able to gain enough weight and I was relieved to be out of the hospital.

After leaving the hospital, I went into survival mode. I felt sore and tired everywhere. Breastfeeding didn’t really seem to be going well. I tried to feed Ellie but it seemed like she was as tired as I was because she would cry or clearly be hungry and I would feed her for a few minutes and she would fall asleep what seemed like moments later. I felt constantly engorged and never like I was being emptied. I just kept holding onto a belief that this was “natural” “beautiful” and “breast was best” so it would all work out.

11 days after Ellie was born we were at my husband’s family’s Christmas party. I remember that night feeling so tired and not well. I was so glad to go home and lay down in my bed. I fed Ellie before trying to get some sleep and I remember it feeling like needles shooting into my right breast. It is some of the worst pain I have ever felt in my life. I cried but it was eventually over and all I wanted to do was sleep. I woke up in the middle of the night freezing and drenched in my own sweat. I fed Ellie on the other side and pumped (while sobbing) on the painful side. After taking my temperature Thomas and I realized that I probably had mastitis.

After a long night, we dropped Ellie off at my Mom’s with some pumped milk, and went to InstaCare. It was Christmas Eve and the line to see a doctor was outrageous. I felt like I had the flu and we waited for nearly 2 and a half hours. Finally, when we were called back to see a doctor he took one look at me, advised me to keep pumping and gave me an antibiotic to rid my body of the mastitis. We went back to my mom’s and I rested while my family members took care of Ellie in between the 2 hour feedings so I could rest.

That night, after a shower, I realized part of my c-section incision had split open and I was bleeding everywhere. I remember I looked at Thomas and told him I just wanted to die. Melodramatic? Probably, but I’m being honest when I say it’s how I felt. I sobbed on my parent’s hall bathroom floor. What on earth was wrong with me? Why did everything seem to be going wrong? Ellie seemed to cry a lot for a newborn, was often covered in her own spit up and I was a painful mess. I told him at this point I just wanted to bleed to death. Thomas held me while I cried and told me that THAT wasn’t an option. I smile back on this now, but at the time I felt like I was climbing an impossible hill with all the elements against me.

Thomas called my doctor for me and they said while not common, sometimes part of the incision can split open and that I would just need to “stick a pad on it” and make sure I didn’t soak through that pad in an hour. Otherwise it should stop in a few days, but to call them if it lasted more than a week. A FEW DAYS? Here I was on Christmas Eve with mastitis and covered in my own blood. I felt that I was a poor excuse for a mother.

For a week Ellie had bottles while I pumped and waited for my mastitis to clear up. Eventually it did, and I tried to go back to exclusively nursing and cutting out pumping. I hated pumping and if I’m honest I hated nursing. I was so tired and my whole body seemed to ache. I didn’t feel like myself but I didn’t feel like I had a choice so we kept at it. For nearly a month and a half I tried exclusively nursing Ellie, but it just didn’t seem to be working. Ellie cried almost all day and night. She spat up puddles and puddles of milk and we would both change our clothes sometimes 4-5 times per day because we were soaking wet from her spit up. The days were long and the nights were even longer. Thomas and I would take turns getting up with Ellie and holding her. The only time she cried less was if we walked around the house and bounced her. One night I just finally sat down because I was so exhausted. Ellie started screaming and I started bawling. I looked down at this poor, helpless baby who obviously didn’t feel well and I was so mad at her. Thomas came in and rescued both of us. I told him that I was probably the most unfit person to be a mother because in that moment I didn’t like Ellie and I was mad at her. Thomas reassured me that it was just because I had been up with her for 3 hours and that he would take a turn. It was after this night that Thomas came up with a rule that neither of us would hold her for more than 1.5 hours at a time during the night. Taking her in smaller chunks seemed to help and not make the nights seem like they were never ending.

I found myself resenting Thomas that he “got” to go to school and work every day while I felt chained to the rocking chair in our house. I didn’t like having to talk to people or really seeing anyone because I felt like I lying when I told them that “things were going well” because in reality I didn’t like my life. Most nights I went to bed dreading the next day. Little by little I went from being an extrovert who thrived on socializing with other people to an introvert who felt completely alone most of the day.

At Ellie’s two month check up she weighed only 9 pounds. I wasn’t surprised by this because I hadn’t felt like she had been eating well and also that she spat up so much. Ellie’s doctor advised me to meet with the clinic’s lactation specialist. I was so desperate and unhappy that despite my last encounter with a lactation specialist I met with her. Nancy was truly an angel for me. She was nothing like the lactation specialists who I’d seen in the hospital. The only way I can think to describe her was real. She treated me like I was a person and I wasn’t a bad mom if nursing wasn’t going well. After talking for a while and watching me feed Ellie, she suggested I track Ellie’s eating for two weeks. Ellie did need to gain weight, so I was advised to feed her on each side for 10 minutes, then feed Ellie a bottle until she was full, then pump for 10 minutes. Then I would repeat this every 2 hours for the first week, and then 2-3 hours the second week. I needed to repeat this every 2 hours from when I started, as well as writing down how many bottle ounces she drank & how many ounces I pumped out.

Those 2 weeks were grueling. Feeding Ellie, washing bottles & pump parts, changing her diaper, cleaning up her spit up and then starting it over again was all I did. It’s all I had time for. Sometimes I didn’t even have time to go to the bathroom in between cycles. I felt anxiety most of the day because while i would pump or wash bottles and pump parts I couldn’t hold Ellie and walk around and bounce her. This meant she would scream cry and listening to her cry all the time was hard for me. Twice a week I had to do a “power pump” session where I would pump for one hour, 10 minutes on, then wait ten minutes then start pumping again for another ten minutes until an hour had passed. Needless to say, by the time the 2 weeks were over I was so done. I was mentally and emotionally exhausted. From what the numbers on my chart told me, I had enough milk—I was pumping out enough for her to drink, but she was not getting full drinking directly from me.

When we saw Nancy, she agreed that I had enough milk, Ellie had gained almost a pound (!!!) but that for some reason Ellie just wouldn’t nurse. I remember she looked at me and asked, “What do you want to do? You are not a milkmaid. You’re a person too.” For some reason, that was so freeing for me. I told her that I was choosing to not breastfeed anymore, but that I felt like pumping milk (since I had enough) was something I could do for Ellie.

So, that’s what we did. I decided I could pump for 4 more months (until she was 6 months old) & then we would switch to exclusively formula. I pumped every 3 hours, and that included through the night. We still didn’t have a dishwasher and I couldn’t go too far from home for too long because 3 hours comes up quick and I needed to have somewhere I could pump.

Ellie still spat up. We finally took her to the doctor around the time she was 3 months old and she was given a prescription that saved our lives! While it didn’t stop her from projectile spit up all the time, it did help a lot. Ellie didn’t cry as much during the days and nights and eventually started sleeping 6-7 hours a night.

I don’t like quitting. I like the feeling I get of setting a goal and accomplishing it. So even though I hated pumping, I hated getting up at 3 am to pump, I hated washing all the parts, I hated the twice a week power pump, I did it. 4 months of exclusively pumping. But I look back and I wish I wouldn’t have. Mentally, the hours of sitting in that chair feeding and pumping did something to me. I wasn’t myself. I felt angry a lot. I felt like I didn’t have any hobbies & that I wasn’t enjoying motherhood. Social engagements stressed me out as I would calculate how much milk for Ellie I would need to bring, if there was going to be a place for me to pump, etc. I didn’t like the person I was and I felt pretty useless. Thomas would come home from school and work and I would have zero new things to tell him. I just felt sad.

I wish people would stop saying “breast is best”. Because I believe fed is best. A happy mom who loves her baby is best. No one forced me to pump until my baby was 6 months old. I chose that, but I believe I chose it because all I had ever heard was that “breast was best” and that if I didn’t do that, I would feel like I didn’t do what was best for my child.

The day of Ellie’s ½ birthday, Thomas did a nice ceremonial putting the pump away in the box and then he hid it from me so I couldn’t change my mind. You’d think that putting that away would mean my sadness would be put away in that box too. I wouldn’t feel like a prisoner to an activity I hated so much. At about this time, Ellie had started eating more solid foods and didn’t spit up so much. I assumed that not pumping and not being covered in spit up all the time would dissipate my sadness and bring back the optimism and happiness that I had felt before. But it didn’t. I felt self conscious about all the weight I had gained from poor eating habits & sitting in a chair all day, my new lingering shy personality, and I didn’t really feel like I had any close friends (the latter while not true, was how I felt).

As I realized that these feelings were a new reality and I didn’t have anything to blame them on (pumping, Ellie’s spit up, etc.) There came a day when Ellie was probably about 8 months old, that I realized I had a choice I needed to make. I could either keep being sad, or I could choose to take control of my feelings and seek out how I could be happy again. I decided to choose to be happy. This choice wasn’t easy and at first it didn’t come naturally. Sometimes I felt like I was faking it. However, through small and simple things, it did start to get better.

I began to ponder what I could do and what I could change to be happy again. I first felt the Spirit gently nudge me that I needed to improve my scripture study & improve my relationship with Jesus Christ. While I hadn’t stopped doing these things, I had not been as faithful as I could or should have been. I began to more seriously study and more earnestly pray. I tried to be better at reaching out to others and engaging with them. Instead of looking inward I tried to look for small ways to serve, especially those in my own home. I changed my diet and started exercising more. I started making sure that Ellie and I got out of the house at least once a day, whether that was going on a walk, going to the grocery store, or having a playdate. I made a conscious effort to spend less time looking at my phone and more time engaging with Ellie. I tried to improve the way I communicated with my husband and listen to the counsel he gave me. I started trying to learn more about Family History and how to do it. I chose to take control of my actions and pray more earnestly that Heavenly Father would help me overcome this sadness that I felt on the inside.

It took days, weeks, and months of consciously working on this and it eventually did get better. Around the time of Ellie’s first birthday I realized that sadness wasn’t my most common feeling anymore, it had been replaced with hope. Now I can say that I go to sleep optimistic and ready for the next day. I’m not the same person I was before I had Ellie. I’m happier now than I was before because of what I’ve experienced. I know that Ellie’s first year has opened my eyes to mental illness and I believe I am more compassionate because of what I experienced.

Ellie is now almost 18 months old. She is such a kind, happy and friendly girl. Everytime we go out to the store Ellie spreads sunshine to those we see as she waves and says hi to everyone we pass. Who would have thought that a baby who cried (what felt like) most of those first six months could be such an outgoing and content little girl? Ultimately, motherhood has helped me to rely on Heavenly Father more. I know that He lives. He has helped me to not only survive a difficult year, but has truly made “weak things become strong[er]” for me.

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All in a day’s work

On the morning of December 12th I awoke excited that it was finally the day I had waited for the entire semester. I was going to take my final 2 finals, and finally join the ranks of a college graduate. Our baby wasn’t due until the 15th, and I wasn’t expecting her to come until then or even days later. The whole semester, people had asked me what I would do if our little girl came early. I would laugh and jokingly say that I had spent lots of time talking to her (her being our baby) and I knew she would listen and stay inside me. However, there was more to it than that.

Back in February when Heavenly Father told me very personally that I needed to start trying to have a baby, (see my last post), I had an overwhelming confirmation that God wanted me to finish college too. I knew that ultimately He was in control here, & He had the power to help me finish school before this baby was born. I wasn’t surprised at all that December 12th had come and I had shown no signs of going into labor. Heavenly Father had blessed me and allowed me to finish my education.

After about an hour of early morning studying, something surprising began to happen. Every 15 minutes or so, contractions began seizing me from my back to my stomach and I could hardly focus on the notes I was studying for my finals. I called Thomas and asked him to drive me to campus because the thought of walking while experiencing these contractions was too much for me to handle. Thomas drove me to my finals but not before giving me some homework to do. He asked that I make a little tally mark on my test every time I had a contraction. I told him that these were false labor contractions and that our baby wasn’t coming for another week and a half. He smiled and asked if while I was taking my tests if he should pack my hospital bag. I told him no, and that this baby wasn’t coming for another week and a half. He just smiled again, gave me a good luck kiss and in to take my two finals I went.

Throughout the two finals the contractions continued and I raced through my tests so that I could go home and lay down. I made a tally mark about every 15 minutes and after an hour and a half I had completed my tests and Thomas came to pick me up again. We ate lunch, timed contractions, and then Thomas went to go take a 3-hour final. He told me to keep tracking the contractions and that if they got closer together to call him and he would leave his final and take me to the hospital. I laughed and reminded him our baby wasn’t coming for another week and a half and that I wouldn’t pack our hospital bag because I didn’t want to unpack it when I needed to brush my teeth that night.

In the 3 hours that Thomas was gone the contractions became longer and 8-10 minutes apart. I tried to watch mindless television via Netflix to take my mind off the increasing and reoccurring pain, but to no avail. Thomas came home, read me a chapter of Harry Potter, and then made us dinner. By this time the contractions were roughly 6-7 minutes apart and I was still in denial about being labor. I was in such denial that I suggested we go on a walk because I had read that if they are false labor contractions, a little walk would make them go away. Well, the walk actually didn’t make them go away and with the contractions then 5 minutes apart, I finally let Thomas pack my hospital bag and me into our car and away we went.

When we arrived at about 7pm, the nurses took us to a triage room to monitor me for an hour to see if I progressed enough to keep me for the night. I was dilated to a 4, but I was so sure that we would be sent home that I kept my sweatshirt on under the hospital gown to “save me some time later.” During the hour of being monitored, the nurse talked about how when I would have a contraction our baby’s heart rate would go down, but that it was normal. I wasn’t concerned at all at this point. We watched some Studio C, drank pebble ice water, and I thought calming thoughts every time I had a contraction. After an hour, they checked me again. I had only dilated to a 4.5 but because of the baby’s heart rate they were going to keep us. I was in shock! I was in labor and because of this felt it was probably best to stop being a noob and take off my sweatshirt. I was going to have a baby!

As we waited for my doctor to arrive, the anesthesiologist came in and gave me the epidural, which was just as wonderful as I had hoped. The doctor came, broke my water and then he said we would wait for me to continue to dilate. He also said that because they were having a hard time monitoring the baby, they were going to hook a monitor into her head to be able to monitor her more closely. 

It was only a few minutes later when I was having a contraction and I heard our baby’s heart rate continue to drop that about 4 nurses and the doctor rush back into our room putting an oxygen mask on me and say they were going to pump fluid back into me in hopes that it would help our baby calm down because it would create a more normal environment for the baby. It was at that moment that I realized everything wasn’t okay. The oxygen mask scared me & I started to go into a little but of shock and shake all over. “What if my baby wasn’t going to be okay,” I worried. “She just has to be okay, I have faith that she will be,” I said to myself. Then words from a recent talk from Elder Bednar came to my mind & I wondered if I had the faith for my baby “not to be healed” & not be okay. I prayed for Heavenly Father to protect my baby and “help my unbelief.” I felt in my heart that though such an outcome would be incredibly difficult, I had faith that Heavenly Father would help me get through it. It was when I began to feel that peace that I asked Thomas to give me a blessing. I felt Heavenly Father’s love for me and my family. 

Soon the doctor and several nurses returned. Our baby’s heart rate was dropping every time I had a contraction because the cord was wrapped around her neck. They decided to put a monitor inside me to measure the strength of my contractions to see if I would be able to dilate fast enough for her to be born normally. Her heart rate had been good for the past few minutes or so, and they said they would be back to check on us in an hour or so. I couldn’t help but be a little frustrated at this point. My mind felt all foggy but I thought to myself “why don’t they just do a cesarean delivery? I want my baby to be okay.” I looked at Thomas who I knew was wearing a brave face for me, but his eyes were full of the same worry I felt inside. 

Just minutes later I had a contraction that made our baby’s heart rate drop and go the slowest I had heard the whole night. Thomas later told me he looked at the monitor and it was in the 40’s and it’s supposed to be between 130-150. The doctor and all the nurses rushed in. The doctor gave me a clipboard to sign consent to have a c-section. He said that if her heart rate dropped that low again, it might not come back. I shankingly signed the paper and within 10 minutes I had been wheeled back to the operating room. I was so relieved that she was going to be born so soon. Thomas held my hand and within minutes our Ellie Rose was born at 11:20pm. She was alright and more perfect and beautiful than I could have ever imagined. 

Ellie’s birth was an incredibly faith building experience for me. I was reminded of the power of prayer and God’s love for us. Ellie has helped me to love Heavenly Father more, because since she was born I’ve needed to rely on him more. Ellie is also teaching me that God really does show us our weaknesses so they can become strengths. I feel that Thomas and I are learning and growing with our little Ellie girl. Above all, we are grateful to our Heavenly Father that she was able to arrive to our family safe. We sure love her! 

Why I chose motherhood

In January of this year, Thomas asked me a question that changed our family & our forever. I remember how sweetly he asked me about what I thought about starting a family and having children. When he asked me thousands of questions seemed to race before my eyes, but I told him honestly that I didn’t feel ready. I had one more semester of school before graduating (finally!) in December & I wanted to graduate before we went down the road to Babyville. He agreed that going to school and having a baby would be hard & so that was the end of our conversation for the time being. But it was only the beginning of a question that consumed my thoughts. 

“We have only been married 5 months,” I told myself. “I’m not ready for motherhood, I’m just learning how to be a wife!” Thomas has always loved children & his demeanor is perfect for that of a wonderful father. As I thought about myself, doubt crept in. I’ve never been a baby hungry female. I think babies are cute but I’m happy to look at them from afar while their mother takes care of them. I’ve never been one to drool over little baby shoes or keep a running list of all the children’s names I like. Now before you go thinking I’m a child hater, just know this– I was letting all these excuses cloud my vision of what motherhood really is. Motherhood is a calling from a loving Heavenly Father on high. 

As February came I kept having little baby thoughts. I wanted to forget them but I kept having the feeling I needed to ask Heavenly Father about what he wanted me to do. My problem was, I already felt deep down in my heart what He wanted me to do. My will wasn’t aligned with His. I wanted to graduate in December, get some good fulltime job & work & then when Thomas was closer to graduation, think about adding a number 3 to our family. That was my idea of a good plan. But my heart knew that I needed to pray & ask for myself. 

After a few weeks, I humbled myself. I remember one day I decided to fast & pray. I didn’t tell Thomas because I felt that he already had his answer and I needed my own. The feelings of peace that came were undeniable. I was taught for what was probably the 7x70th time in my life what it means to give my will to Heavenly Father and accept His plan. I did however, feel that Heavenly Father wanted me to finish my degree before I had a baby. As I did the math, I realized that very next month, March, was 9 months from December. “But hardly anyone gets pregnant right when they start trying,” I thought. “Maybe it was going to take us a while for me to get pregnant & so Heavenly Father wants us to get a head start or something.” But nonetheless, when I told Thomas about the answer I received he was ecstatic and he loved the idea of starting to try in March. 

In April, when my irregular 5-6 week visit from my good pal didn’t come, Thomas’ excitement grew about as fast as my fear seemed to. He basically dragged me to the nearby CVS to purchase a pregnancy test. I was looking around wildly in case we saw someone we knew like a ridiculous 15-year-old fully prepared to grab a big bag of chips to throw on top of the 2 test box so whomever it was wouldn’t see what we were buying. We left thankfully with only seeing strangers & then we went home. I told Thomas I needed to do it alone, which he kindly obliged. As a big, dark + sign appeared on the test, I again felt peace wash over me. This was right. This little child needed to come to our family now. This is what Heavenly Father wanted. It was in that moment where it truly became what I wanted, too. I don’t know why it happened for us so fast & for some who long for pregancy it takes so long. But what I do know is this- Heavenly Father has a plan for every single person. As we forget ourselves & put our faith in him, he creates a life more beautiful for us than we could have ever imagined. 

Choose the harder right

Conference this weekend was a wonderful reminder of God’s love for us & to hold fast to the things I know to be true. 

 I was inspired to see President Monson speak and share his heartfelt message and remind us that choices truly do determine destiny & to choose the harder right rather than the often easier wrong. 
 One of my favorite quotes came from the last speaker during the afternoon session. Elder Holland spoke on continuing on in the faith. He proclaimed-

“So keep trying. Keep trusting. Keep believing. Keep growing. Heaven will be cheering you on today, tomorrow, forever. I will be cheering for you too.”

What a comforting reminder that there are those both seen and unseen cheering for us. The unknown can sometimes be hard and a little scary, but this quote reminds me to keep being hopeful and faithful no matter what comes. 

I Love My Family

I am so so lucky! I have the greatest family in the entire world! I just wanted to say a few things about each member of my family and how much they mean to me.

To my sweet wife Ashley-

I love your patience with me. I love that we can talk for hours. I love that we love being together. I love that you push me to be my best. I love that you keep all of your covenants. I love that you love to learn. I love that you are slow to frustration. I love that you rely upon our Savior Jesus Christ. I love that you serve everyone that you meet. I love that you are a friend to all. I love that you think the same way that I do. I love that you are so gorgeous. I love that you are spontaneous. I love that you love me. I love that we have the same goals. I love your sacrifice to make me happy. I love your charity for everyone.

Grandma and Grandpa Day-

I love your tenacity for each other. I love your spunk and your great love for me. I love your friendly conversations. I love your happiness and joy. I love your optimism and peace. I love your devotion to each other.

Grandma and Grandpa Corsini-

I love your resourcefulness. I love your generosity. I love your support. I love your willingness to sacrifice. I love your attention to detail. I love your familial focus. I love your sticktoitiveness.

Dad-

I love your teachings of hard work and charity. I love your service. I have never seen a man fulfill his calling better than you do. You sustain your leaders. I love your decisions for our family. I love your protection. I love your faith. I love your testimony of the gospel. I love your sacrifice for us as your children. I love your consistency. I love your patience. I love your diligence.

Mom-

I love your smile. I love your beauty. I love your preparedness. I love your planning. I love your faith. I love your testimony of Jesus Christ. I love your excitement to serve. I love your finish at all costs mentality. I love your willingness to raise us! I love your waffles. I love your devotion to your calling. I love your faithfulness in scripture study. I love your motherliness.

James-

I love your diligence. I remember when I was younger and you would stay up late into the night reading Preach My Gospel. I took note of that. I love that you are like a scripture hero to me. I love that you are willing to teach. I love that you are willing to correct. I love that you are such a great example to me. I love that you work so hard. I love the testimony you have built.

Stacey-

I love your friendliness. I love your get back up attitude. I love your faith. I love your strength. I love your stories. I love your kindness. I love your patience. I love your faithfulness. I love your optical advice. I love your friendship.

Weston-

I love your cuteness. I love your passion for life. I love that you’re becoming a little man.

Robert-

I love your passion for things. I love how invested you are into everything that you do. I love your ability to learn. I love how smart you are. I love how you can make anything awesome. I love your humor. I love your patience and optimism. I love your persistence. I love your willingness to help a brother out.

Brandi-

I love your love for Myla. I love your problem solving abilities. I love your quick wit. I love your patience. I love your love for Robert. I love your abilities to make anything a hobby. I love your introductions to fun new things.

Myla-

I love your cute smile. I love your joy. I love your individuality. I love your creativity.

Emmali-

I love your ability to be kind. I love your pondering heart and mind. I love your faithful service. I love your sweet clothes. I love your willingness to understand. I love your patience. I love your charity. I love your zeal for gospel learning. I love your continuation of your mission. I love your faith. I love your smile and joy. I love your personality. I love your ability to feel what others feel.

Eldon-

I love your willingness to help. I love your patience. I love your willingness to laugh. I love your faithful serving. I love your kindness to me. I love your love for your children. I love your understanding. I love your dedication to those around you. I love your happiness.

Shelley-

I love your kindness and love. I love your cute projects. I love your strength and positivity. I love your service and your charity. I love your teaching and fulfillment of God’s plan. I love your ability to complete any task. I love your caring and loving personality

McKay-

I love your zeal for life. I love your positivity. I love your excitement about everything new. I love your service to me and your love of sports. I love your willingness to have fun in every situation. I love your faith that the Lord will direct you in every way you should go.

Spencer-

I love your faith. I love your persistence. I love your example to me to serve and have joy. I love your hard work. I love your grilling. I love your pathway to righteousness. I love your humility.

Wade-

I love your sense of humor. I love your intelligence. I love your happiness. I love your friendliness. I love your optimism and ability to make everything fun. I love your dedication and improvement in running. I love your smile.

Rachel-

I love your cuteness. I love your happiness. I love your commitment to the gospel. I love your ability to find things that you are good at and your ability to do those things. I love your love for your family. I love your kindness to me. I love your lessons on gospel things.

Grandma and Grandpa Gooch-

I love your willingness to support. I love your willingness to serve. I love your kindness and generosity. I love your strong will and your happiness.

Grandpa Palmer-

I love your amazing memory. I love your poems. I love your faith. I love your love for Grandma. I love your stories. I love your example.

I love my family and I love Jesus Christ and how through His power it is made eternal!!

He lives! Happy Easter!

Caucused

Yesterday, Thomas and I made our way to our local caucus to make our voice heard & cast our vote for the next President of the United States. It was exciting to be apart of! I couldn’t believe the turn out & felt (using the words of the famous anthem)..I was proud to be an American!

  The last time there was a Presidential election, I was in the MTC & didn’t have the chance to vote. However, as I’ve followed the presidential candidates on mediums such as The New York Times, CNN, The Today Show & The Deseret News I was excited to join the hundreds of thousands of other Americans and cast my vote.

Never attending a caucus before, I was a little confused how it all worked. I was surprised that there weren’t more clear instructions online as to how caucuses worked and what I should expect.

For those of you who are new at this, like I was, here is how caucuses work:

  1. Before going, register online at least a week before to vote so you can skip the crazy lines! (speaking of crazy lines, get there early so you can miss the mob/zoo of people!)
  2. When you arrive, find your precinct. (Assigned according to your address) There are large maps that can help you locate what precinct you are in when you arrive in the lobby.
  3. Go to your precinct’s location and find your name on the registered voters list, organized by last name. If you weren’t able/forgot to register online, you can fill out a little paper that you can register on site. (This isn’t recommended because of the lines!)
  4. At this point, you can do one of two things. You can vote for the presidential candidate of your choice, and then leave OR you can vote for the presidential candidate of your choice, and enter the caucus room. Each precinct then has a meeting that chooses delegates that will vote for the president later this year.

As I mentioned earlier it was great to see how many people came out to make their voice heard! Your vote matters.

#LDSFACE2FACE

Last Tuesday, Elder Holland, Elder Hallstrom, and Sister Stephens participated in a live event on lds.org. Did you see it?

As Thomas and I were finishing up washing the dishes at our little house, my brother texted us to see if we were watching. For some reason, we had not realized that it was that very night, (funny how that happens) and so we grabbed our laptop and ran to our front room, which is conveniently 7 steps away from our kitchen.

We connected to the free Brick Oven WiFi & started watching. It was absolutely wonderful! Not only was my dear friend from high school Levi Williams the moderator (single ladies, I’ll set you up! )

…but it was so refreshing and wonderful to hear from our leaders as they spoke candidly, didn’t try and skirt past the tough issues like the political leaders of today, & shared their powerful testimonies.

If you missed it– whether you’re married, single, unsure of your faith, need a boost of confidence, or just want to feel evidence of God’s love, head over to lds.org and watch this broadcast.

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I received answers to questions I hadn’t realized I had. Afterwards Elder Holland continued to answer questions on his Facebook page.

The prophets of today know us. They listen to the Lord and help us to understand how the Lord cares for and is constantly directing us.