Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Scenes from a Marriage: Tramp Hole

Nate's Boss: Nate has to leave early today to go dig a hole to bury a tramp in his backyard...(pause)...You know, for most people, I wouldn't feel the need to specify that the hole is for a tramp as in "trampoline," not tramp as in a homeless person, but for Nate, I suspect I do.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Feliz Navidad!

Because this is as close as we"ll get to a Christmas card this year :)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Emmeline's birth story

The picture (taken the first or second day after we came home) was a common scene at our house for the first few weeks...Asher and/or Luke playing with Emmeline's toys while she was nearby, screaming because I kept hoping they would work on entertaining her.

Just when I began to think of Emmeline's birthday as being November 22nd (I was scheduling an induction for that day so I didn't have to be in the hospital over Thanksgiving), I went into labor, but even then, I wasn't so sure it was labor because the contractions didn't feel much different than the contractions I had been having every day for the past two weeks.

So, Thursday, November 18th, began like any other, but I was feeling a little brighter because I had a doctor's appointment and was getting my membranes stripped. And, even if worse came to worse, I'd only have 4 more nights of sleeping (or not sleeping as the case may be) as a gigantic pregnant woman.

I went to my ob at 9:40, and she said, "I think you're going to have this baby tonight." I said, "Really? Well, strip my membranes anyway so I do!"

Then, I went to Asher's Thanksgiving feast at school (with Asher and Luke while thinking, "I wonder if these are contractions." And, "Do I really want to be throwing up this Thanksgiving feast if I am in labor? Meh, it'll probably taste the same coming up as going down..."). Yelled at my kids the whole time (awesome) and came home to try and rest.

That's when I realized those were contractions. Still not daring to hope, it took me until about 2:30 to cancel piano lessons and call Nate and tell him to come home. Nate said he was on his way and arrived at about 4.

At 4:10, we're leaving for the hospital while Nate is saying, "You know, Emily, those contractions don't seem to be that bad," which is not something to tell a laboring women. Though, really, he was right. They weren't bad, but they were 3-4 minutes apart, and I was not going to be one of those women who they say, "I'm sorry, ma'am, but you're too close to be getting an epidural now."

We get into triage at 4:45 or something like that. They see I'm already at a 7 (7--awesome!) and send me up quickly to Labor and Delivery. Within 20 minutes of getting there, I have my precious epidural (said with Golum-like intensity) and they've started my penicillin for Strep B because they're worried that I won't make it for the two doses in 5 hours.

Labor goes well except for some blood pressure dropping on my part, which led to some nausea that not even Zofran could keep up with. All the while, people at the hospital (students, staff, maybe someone off the street was interested for all I know) keep asking if they can watch while I deliver. I don't know if I would have been so willing with #1 or #2, but I've lost all pride, and I'll do what I can to train a rising generation of healthcare professionals (especially if all they're doing is watching).

By the time I'm ready to push, there are 12 women and Nate in my room. It was lovely to have a chorus of women there for the birth of my girl, and it was the most painful delivery (probably having something to do with the 9 pound 6 oz individual I was birthing), so I was happy to push to encouraging words in surround sound.

At 9:10 pm, I got my last dose of penicillin, and at 9:20 (or something like that), Emmeline was born. She didn't cry right away, and I started to see the panic in peoples' faces that we saw with Asher's birth.

The nice thing about my brain when my babies aren't breathing is that it goes into complete and utter DE-NIAL. Both times I've seen the worried looks on doctors and nurses faces, I've watched the neo-natal specialists turn their backs to me as they pound on my baby. I feel the tension in the room, and I rather serenely have thought both times, "He/She will breathe. There's just NO way they won't." (This is especially silly considering my former career as a chaplain where I saw several babies who didn't breath after birth.)

So, while I'd like to say it's because I have awesome mother's intuition and KNOW that things will be ok, I think it's just that the alternative is completely unfathomable to a woman in that situation.

And, she did breath about 6 seconds before she would have had to go to the NICU. So, they gave her back to me, and she started nursing right away. She was/is a pro!

Such a pro, that she nursed ALL NIGHT and cried often and rather incessantly until my milk came in 3 days later. (The nurse on the first night recommended that I cup feed her some formula, which I dismissed remembering that "babies aren't hungry until the milk comes in") The nurse the next day recommended cup feeding. By 5 pm the second day, I gave in, and Emmeline gratefully gulped down the tepid formula and slept for 5 hours. Whoops...

Emma has been a pleasure every since my milk came in. She's content to sit in her swing, wakes on a schedule of her own every night at 11 and 2:30 to nurse.

In fact, she's just lovely unless you forget to feed her. Then, heaven help us all, she'll go from quite to a wail that sounds like she hasn't been fed in 50 years.

Christmas ornaments 2010

Every year, I get the kids an ornament. My mom was more ambitious than I...I had all red angels, Sarah had all green angels, and Rachel had all blue angels with David having nutcrackers and Tom having Santas (or maybe the boys are the other way around).
This year, I let Asher and Luke pick the ornaments on a day when Asher had pink eye and I needed a bribe to get through the day. I had gone to the Hallmark website to look things over and had a pretty good idea of what we might get.

I wanted to get Luke this Animal from the Muppets ornament. I got Luke an Animal t-shirt this year that scared him until I showed him a few YouTube clips of Animal. Now, Luke LOVES Animal and unfortunately, imitates him at inopportune moments. Still, if Luke played the drums, he'd do it with his feet, too.

And, I wanted Asher to get this cute Green Eggs and Ham ornament because we've been working so hard on his reading. And, because we've tried a few new foods this year that Asher has ended up liking to which I point out, "Now, aren't you glad you tried it like Green Eggs and Ham?" Of course, then, he has to remind me he is allergic to eggs.

But, I'm flexible...I was willing to go with the Tom and Jerry ornament. Don't love it, but I was open to it.

I was hoping if Luke didn't want Animal, I could talk him into this Star Wars ornament, but I didn't have a lot of home. He's kind of burned out on Star Wars since the whole "my mom made me be a
Jedi for Halloween" thing.

I was even willing to go with this Scooby-Doo ornament (though I may have changed my mind the 532nd time I heard Scooby say, "RERRY RISTMAS!").
Like I said...totally flexible.
But, what I didn't forsee is the train ornaments because seriously, I like to think we're seeing the light at the end of the train fad tunnel finally (FINALLY!).

Totally wrong though...
Asher got this little Lionel steamer that is supposed to hook together, but won't.

And, Luke got this Polar Express ornament. We did this yesterday and have already lost the bell. But, don't worry, it never rang (I checked with Asher and Luke to make sure it wasn't me ;) ) anyway.

I was firm when both boys decided they desperately wanted this $45 ornament where that train you see? It goes around the ornament and through the tunnel--sheesh!

Not to fear, though...I got to pick out Emma's ornament from this shop. At least she's not old enough to fight me.

I just try to get my kids an ornament of something they liked that year.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Emmeline Starr Curtis

Phew! I thought I had enough energy to write her short and sweet birth story, but apparently not.

Here's Emmeline after her bath this morning (well, #1 bath, then, she pooped, so she got another, more perfunctory #2 bath, then, while she was doing a little naked tummy time she managed to pee all over herself--at that point, she just got a baby wipe bath).
These other pictures are of the hospital visit.

We're all thrilled she's here. The boys have been really good with her (though I wish they could get the hand-washing and no coughing in their sister's face). And, though I hate to jinx myself on day #5, so far things have gone pretty darn smoothly.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Gains and Losses This Week

(Can you tell I'm doing a little blog cleaning tonight?)

This week, I have lost:
-my appetite
-Luke--several times
-the ability to sleep more than 2 hours at a time
-the idea that it would be problematic to wear anything but the same pair of yoga pants day after day

This week, I have gained:
-the ability to walk like a duck
-four pounds (seriously, seriously?)

And, another thing not to say to your pregnant wife when she comes home from the doctor and tells you how much she weighs:

"Wow! I never thought you'd weight that much!"

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Halloween 2010

So, I've lost my camera, and I have a sneaky suspicion that I packed it with my Halloween decorations, which fortunately (or unfortunately), Nate hasn't packed it in the attic yet. And, I just find it too demoralizing to unpack it all to see.

I keep asking Nate to unpack the Halloween decorations, look for the camera, repack, and put everything away. Lately, I'm getting more insistent on him doing this because (as I like to point out) we'd probably like to document the birth of #3. Nate says we can just use our phones as a camera.

Luckily, other people took pictures of my kids...

Here's Luke at his preschool getting ready to trick or treat. (Though Luke begged to wear his Jedi costume ever since it arrived in the mail, he only actually wore it to preschool and quickly ditched it when he found his Woody costume from last year.)

{And, all my pictures from Trunk or Treating with our Church are on the missing camera.}

But, fortunately, Rachel took pictures of our impromptu Halloween evening with family.
Asher vetoed my Star Wars theme idea, which was fine. I've already been in full Jabba the Hutt form since the beginning of September (both in terms of size and personality).
He wanted to be a Hot Wheels car for a while but suddenly, decided to be Scooby Doo instead (which was a much easier costume to find!). So, we borrowed one from Luke's preschool teacher.
If I'd known Luke would want to be Woody so bad, we could have had a free Halloween (at least in terms of costumes).
My friend, Jessica, had the excellent suggestion of me being Mike Wazowski, using my stomach as Mike's face. If only I had thought of that about 3 months earlier, I might have had the time to get
the material and make--I mean, have my sister, Rachel, make it for me.
Hopefully, some pregnant woman can use this suggestion in the future.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Utah weekend

So, I did something a little crazy this weekend...with 27 days left before my due date, I got on a plane and flew to Utah to speak at a conference with some of my favorite people.

Asher and Luke, missing me, decided to take comfort in sharing my shape over the weekend. Nate did co-op duties at Luke's preschool Saturday morning, worked on reports at night, and used grandmother help when necessary. (Seriously, what do other people do without 2 grandmas living 5 minutes away?!)

My trip had to be pared down to essentials: a dinner with my Exponent bloggers (that I could only stay an hour for, though I was tempted to risk it and stay longer), the conference on Saturday, dinner with family on Saturday night, and then, back to Phoenix on Sunday. I was sad that I couldn't see any UT friends, but I knew that would push my schedule over the edge.

My part of the conference went ok; I hate speaking this late into my pregnancy. I get breathless and my brain is a little foggy. The rest of my panel was fantastic, as usual. The other speakers we heard were so good. And, I got to see one of my lovely friends recieve a well-deserved award for her work in Africa this year. I was bummed when I realized at 3 pm that I was going to be barfing if I didn't get back to Springville and rest.

But, I must admit that I was particularly thrilled to have D'Arcy, my friend, offer to do some pregnancy shots. We kept running out of time, so she did these in a corner of the University of Utah's cafeteria in about 10 minutes. And, she managed to make a tired, bloated, 9 month pregnant lady look pretty darn good!
Incidentally, D'Arcy will be here at the first of December if any Arizonans are interested in getting her to do a photo shoot of their family. (You can find her contact information on the blog link above or email me for it.) She's so good at putting people at ease and really has an eye for staging shots!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Naming #3

So, #3 is coming in 5 weeks (hooray!).

I always thought I'd be wading through girls' names, trying to find just the perfect one. After all, there are so many lovely options.

But, when I actually had to choose a name, I've found that I wasn't excited about the search I had so looked forward to. Throughout my pregnancy, I have had a very specific name in mind, and as much as people try to help me broaden my horizons, I remain set on just one name. My family reads to me from baby naming books, my friends send me links of good baby-naming websites, yet I remain stuck. I just think this baby should be named Emmeline.

I love it because it’s after the founding editor of Woman’s Exponent and former Relief Society president, Emmeline B. Wells. I love it because her nickname could be Emma. Look at that! Two strong Mormon women covered with one name! And, I’ll admit that I love it because she has a cousin who will be 13 months older than she who’s name is Eliza. Seriously, I can hardly wait to get pictures of those two together.

But, perhaps, I'm limiting myself and her by not exploring more options. And, I'm a little ambivalent about this name because it is so similar to my name, "Emily." That'll make things difficult for the rest of the family. And, with the current knowledge of famous Mormon women, I suspect that most people will think I was vain and just made up a name that was similar to my own.

I know that I do so want her to share a name with a strong Mormon woman. I think it is in large part because I hope that such a name will give her power and strength to thrive and grow in the Church. I also want her (and myself) to proudly tell the story of the woman she was named after when the topic comes up; I know I always love to do that with my namesake, Emily Dickinson.

I told this to Nate, and he thought these were good reasons to stick with historical Mormon women. (Well, that and the fact that the only name I could settle on from the Bible was Jezebel because really, that woman gets a bad rap!) So, he went through a bunch of books on Mormon Church history. He came back saying, "Huh, there really aren't many women in that book." Darn!

So, in the past couple days, I have felt like I should make one last push. But, I'm pretty lazy, which is why I turn to you.

What strong names (Mormon or otherwise) have you or would you pick for your daughters and why? Has your name helped you feel stronger or more confident in your life? How so?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Lukey, Caped Crusader

My mom had this great idea that I should take pictures of Luke wearing his cape, and in particular, that I should get some video of Luke flouncing around in his cape. I tried several times to catch Luke flouncing, but he usually does it in front of a mirror, so he can always see me sneaking up behing him.

My other problem is by the time I had the great idea to make a collage of photos of Luke in his various capes or cape-like pieces of fabric about a month ago. Right about the time that Luke stopped being as enamored with capes. Before that, for about 6 months, Luke would wear his capes school, to the store, to Church. It was very adorable unless you were his mother who ascribes to Edna Mode's ideas about capes for superheroes.

Asher's ideas

It's nice when your school picture can make your dad laugh after a 14 hour day at work. I left this out on the counter for Nate, and Nate's response, "Look at those photogenic Curtis genes coming through!" (Then, Nate said something else, but to save Asher the embarrassment as a teenager, please ask Nate what it was the next time you see him. And, Nate, um, let's keep it off the blog.)

I can't convince Asher to be anything but a Hot Wheels race car. The problem is that I remember enough about being a 5 year old to know that Asher has something very specific in mind as to what a Hot Wheels race car looks like and I have no idea what that is.

Asher has added something in his prayers that may make him my favorite..."Please bless Mom that she will get the baby out of her tummy really fast." He's been praying for that for about 3 weeks now (and we've got 5 weeks to go. I don't know if he says that so I won't be such a grump or if it's because he's really excited to meet his baby sister.

Best $12 I Ever Spent

Really, you don't need to watch this video; it's just Luke playing with a train set-up I got. Just be glad I didn't film the whole 5 hours he played with it.

Awesome when a toy works THAT well!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Nate and Luke's Profound Star Wars discussion

Nate: Thor, it is against the jedi code to attack dad with a light saber while he is in the shower.

Luke: Dad, you da evil empire.

Scenes from a Marriage: Pregnancy #3

Emily: (whispering during Sacrament meeting) See that woman? Her due date is 3 weeks ahead of me and she looks like she's 12 weeks behind me.
Nate: Yeah, I guess that's what age will do to you.

Note: Husbands and future husbands, this was not the correct response, even if the woman I'm talking about is 10 years younger and having her first baby.

Should I Be Worried?

This is a picture Asher drew of a blue shirt. But, it looks more like someone shooting a gun (and this didn't scan, but there' s blood or bullets or something falling out of the gun).
Then, there was this conversation:
Asher: Mom, can two people get married?
Mom: Yes.
Asher: Could more people get married?
Mom: Um, not really.
Asher: Well, like maybe 3 people?
Mom: Probably not. Who do you want to marry?
Asher: I was thinking Mary (his best friend), Evan (his cousin) and I could all get married.
I'm going to take it as a good sign that Asher has decided that marriage consists of getting to be with your most favorite people.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Halloween Plans

We've got big plans for Halloween...we just have to talk Asher into cooperating (he's rather insistent on being a Hot Wheels car). Asher and Luke can be Jedis of their choice, Nate will be Chewbacca, and I will be Jabba the Hutt--by then, I won't even need the fan to puff out the costume!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Summer highlights

We did do some fun things over the summer (besides our trip to Utah), but I wasn't very good at documenting them.

Thanks to their friend, Max's birthday party, Asher and Luke learned that they love to bowl with bumpers. Luke gets lots of lessons in patience while he waits for his turns. Asher learned the benefits of "helping" Luke bowl to earn extra turns

We also went to see Toy Story 3. Asher and Luke have been waiting a LONG time for this movie. So, I let Luke bring his Woody.

Luke got so into the movie and the injustices perpetrated by Lotso that he would yell loudly and indignantly at the movie screen. I finally had to take him out for a bit to have a talk about the movie--why Lotso wasn't real and why he needed to be quiet.

First Days of School

Luke went to his first day of preschool today. As we drove over, we heard the Smashing Pumpkins' song, "Today is the Greatest." I couldn't have agreed more. Luke was happy to go and very excited to put on his new lion outfit. Maybe we'll avoid wearing a superhero cape to school for a little bit!

Of course, I picked up a Lukey-boy who had peed his pants, but you can't win them all.

Asher's first day was a couple weeks ago. Asher vetoed the first day of school outfit I got him, which matches so well with his brother's. He also didn't get the back to school haircut in time, and you'll see his dad chatting on the phone. We got home from Utah late the night before school started, so we were a bit frazzled. Perhaps it was for the best, I hear a lot of moms cry on the day their kindergarteners start school.
Maybe it's because Asher started full days of school last year, maybe it's because I was worried he'd need special ed services forever, but for me, the first day of kindergarten felt like a triumph (mostly because it meant I got through the summer with two non-napping children).

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Some pictures from our trip to the Grand Canyon and Utah

Our second trip to Utah this summer began with scattering Nate's dad's ashes over the Grand Canyon. The place the family picked was beautiful despite the fickle weather. But, since I still haven't finished documenting my trip to Europe in May, perhaps it's best just to put all these up without much explanation.

Emily and Baby's summer

Ok, this is an old post, but when it's 105 out, really, it still feels like we're in summer. And, the picture? That's me at 16 weeks. Oh, I was so cute and tiny, I can hardly stand it! I need to get around to taking another picture (at 33 weeks), but it's rare that I have my hair and make-up done and I'm fully dressed. So, don't hold your breath.

This baby and I have been taking it easy this summer. We don't like the heat, but we did discover that we LOVE Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Yes, I'm completely embarrassed to admit that I watched all 7 seasons this summer (can I point out that I got 3 seasons done during my Rotavirus illness?), and I'm contemplating writing Sarah Michelle Gellar a fan letter about how she helped me get through a difficult summer.

As Asher gets back into school and I am in the final countdown for Luke to return (summer camp went WAY to fast!), I'm ready to start up piano lessons and get ready for this baby to arrive. But, I don't want to redo the nursery. I think a safari theme will be just fine for this little girl.
Today, Rachel and I went shopping, and I found an outfit for the baby, but like seeing the movie, Eclipse, I get all angsty when I see the problems inherent in our culture for raising girls. Important things like why have clothing manufacturers decided that boys=dogs and girls=cats? Pul-ease! And, why do girls get all the smocking fun? Ah! I'm loving the ease of finding smocking!

We're working on names for this little one. I have one that I can't shake, but it's not practical or particularly beautiful. I just love it and can't to think to call her anything else. Nate is being a good sport about it, but I feel like I have to work a little harder before I can make an official announcement.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Asher's summer

Asher has enjoyed having his cousins, Gwen, Harrison, and Max around. Add Evan to the mix and Asher has become conditioned to believing that he needs a cousin with him pretty much 24 hours a day.

He has enjoyed cousin sleep-overs with Evan, which has convinced Rachel and me that this whole parenting gig might just be worth it if we could get Luke and Cora on the bandwagon.

Nate had the well-intentioned idea that starting Asher on video games at an early age would ensure that Asher didn't get too addicted. We're starting to see that that may not be the case. In addition to having a cousin at his disposal at all times, Asher also believes it is an inherent right to play Lego Star Wars and Indiana Jones at any time, no matter what Mom says.

Asher and I are learning how to get chores done. It's an art to decide when reminding Asher to do chores does more harm than good.

Scripture Study:
After Starr died, I felt like we really needed to find a way to get a little more spirituality in our home. With Nate's work schedule, he hasn't been able to join us much, but I have found a lot of peace reading with Asher from the Book of Mormon reader my mom let us borrow. And, I think Asher has learned a thing or two. Luke, well, we hope Luke comes around in a few years.

Mortality Talks:
Reading the Book of Mormon along with Grandpa Starr dying has given Asher multiple opportunities to have some mortality discussions with us. According to Asher, heaven is a place where you can do whatever you want, i.e. you can play Lego Star Wars all day and no one will tell you you have to get off.

Luke's Summer

We've had a summer of being lazy, gestating, and mourning, and I can't believe how behind I've gotten on blogging. So here's a summary of Luke's summer...

Luke plays with his light saber ALL DAY. When he's really into it, you'll hear him humming. I realized this wasn't a tune, but the "mmmm, mmmm" mimicks the light saber noises.

Luke also exhibits flare when flouncing his cape in his underwear. Speaking of underwear...

Potty Training:
We're working on potty training. Well, I'm working on potty training. Luke is working on sending his mom to the nut house. Luke has been wearing underwear all summer (we took a few weeks off after Starr died). Would you like to know how many times he has gone pee in the potty?

Come on...guess!
Not once...every day, I wash 5-6 pairs of pants and 3-4 pairs of underwear (I throw out the poopy ones).

I'm out of ideas. This is a little boy who calculates his accidents, so I have no doubt he's capable of being potty trained. I know he'll pee 10 minutes after we've spent 20 on the potty, when he gets put in time out, but never when we leave the house.

Luke Speak Translated:

"Blue Star Wars" = Star Wars: Episode 1 (We also call Toy Story 1 "Blue Toy Story" because the DVD is blue.) "Blue Star Wars" is a burned DVD, so it's not blue, but realizing that it's the first Star Wars, Luke realized it must be "Blue Star Wars"

"Hot Star Wars" = Star Wars: Episode 3 (watch the end and you'll see why)

You know, I always worried that people would think we were some huge Star Wards nuts who named our kid after Luke Skywalker, rather than from the Gospel of Luke. I had hoped to the name would carry with it an inherent sensitivity to all people, an eye for things glanced over by others--characteristics of Luke's writings.

But, apparently, the name will bestow the namee (?) with super powers, including jumping off one's mom's desk, having light saber fights with his brother ALL DAY, and yelling at those who choose to go to the Dark Side.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

15th Anniversary of Life Without a Colon

Fifteen years ago, I wanted a BIG present to celebrate my birthday and graduation from high school; it cost more than both of their cars put together.

I was asking, pleading for a colectomy. Every year at this time, I think about this surgery, which for me, happened to be my cure from ulcerative colitis.

I am so lucky. Lucky, lucky, lucky.

Over the past 4 or 5 years, I've realized that now, I have lots of peers and dear friends who are far wiser than I--their struggles make this event 15 years ago look like a trip to Disneyland. That smug wisdom I had at 18 is over.

But, for a few years, that illness made me wiser than many of my peers. I learned about mortality. I knew, as only a select group of teenagers ever know, that sometimes, no matter how badly you want to live, your body won't cooperate. You'll keep bleeding, loosing weight, getting weaker.

No matter your positive thoughts.
No matter your prayers.

And, I learned that sometimes, for whatever arbitrary reason (because the older I get, unfortunately I realize that who stays and who goes feels terribly arbitrary), healing can happen, though it's often not in the form I originally thought it would come in.

Instead of the miraculous healing I prayed for, the one where my symptoms disapper, and I walk out of the hospital, leaving doctors scratching their heads... I ended up with a different result, one without a colon and a few adjustments to my life, but a healing just as miraculous because of the many lessons it taught me.

If I hadn't gotten so sick that summer, I think the life I led would have been very different. There are dear friends I would have never met.

I think it even had a profound affect on the person I chose to marry. Perhaps you've met Nate...We didn't (don't) seem to have much in common on the surface, but 1995 was a rough year for both of us. And the things we learned that year (though such knowledge came under very different circumstances) formed part of our immediate bond when we got reacquainted in college and still frames our lives today, carrying us through difficult times--perhaps you've also heard of June 2010? There have been days where I think it's trying to give June 1995 a run for its money as the WORST. MONTH. EVER.

Anyway, I wouldn't have gone into religious studies or found hospital chaplaincy. I don't think I would have applied to the graduate schools that I applied to and certainly wouldn't have had the courage to go to the one I ended up going to. In fact, my mantra for five years post-surgery was, "I can do that. I've gone without food or water for 40 days, I've been in the hospital for 2 months, and I've lost a colon. This is nothing."

That last flare-up taught me more about God and charity (and how God uses others to show love, do God's work, and comfort us) than I have learned before or since. It also taught me a reliance on God that I don't know if I could have learned any other way. I learned that when it's 3 am, and I had to wait 2 more hours before my next doses of anti-nausea medication and/or pain medication, well, there wasn't anyone else who was able to sit in that room and wait with me quite like Jesus did (though my mom was a close second).

And, on the lighter side, really, the excuse, "I can't...I don't have a colon," is just a pleasure to spout out every once in a while, even when it makes no sense.

A couple years ago, I had an ob/gyn give me an exam. She looked at my stomach 14 inch vertical scar and the 6 inch horizontal scar. She said (as most people do), "Oh my gosh! What happened?!"

I explained I had a colectomy. She said, "You know, they only make about a 4 inch incision now for the whole surgery."

But, I'm happy with my scars because a 5 inch incision just wouldn't do justice to the illness or the healing. As I've reflected all month on where I was 15 years ago (yes, I'm a little embarrassed that I have thought about June 1995 this much), I wish I could show that 18 year old Emily my stomach today, pregnant with Baby #3, with the faded scars and most importantly, I'd have her notice that there aren't any new scars. She never had another flare-up that would necessitate more scarring, she even got pregnant and that trusty pseudo-colon made it unnecessary for the Cesearans the doctors promised she'd need.

That ugly stomach would show her that she did what she feared she'd never be able to do when she got out of the hospital--grow up, move out, and move on.

Technically, this post should have been posted yesterday, but I was feeling just a little too tender to get it up.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Scenes from a Marriage: Who's Got Your Back

Actually, we've learned this past week that lots of people have our backs. Offers of babysitting, house and yard cleaning, and just genuine friendship have been given freely. We have a mountain of thank you notes to write.

Conversation 1:
Asher: Mom, you are REALLY hurting my feelings.
Mom: Asher, I'm not trying to hurt your feelings, but you've got to do what I ask.
Asher: Whatever, Mom. I'm going to have Aunt Rachel spank you bottom SO HARD.

Aunt Rachel is also the "best mom" according to Asher because she takes them swimming (see photos) and never yells at them.

Conversation 2:
Emily: Nate, tell me you made the little mouse teeth markings with a knife in the butter I left out last night, so I don't have to buy more traps.
Nate: Um, yes...yes, I was the one who did that. Certainly, not a roof rat like the one I caught while you were in Utah.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

My latest project

Once I commit to an organization, it's usually stuck with me. My Mormon feminist group, Exponent II, would be one of those groups.

Since September, one of my favorite friends, Aimee, and I have been rebuilding this historic paper as co-editors. And, today, we are excited to announce the publication of our first issue as co-editors (and the first issue since Winter 2009).

Aimee, our layout editor, Margaret, and our webdesigner, Jana, were lovely last week when I had to call 5 days before we published this issue and tell them, "Please change this and this and this and this, and I won't be of any help until next week if I'm even up to helping then."

It's been hard to get this out while we've been dealing with Starr's death, so I also want to dedicate my work on this issue to him. He was one of the best Mormon feminists I knew, and I'm grateful that he raised his sons to be like him in that respect. He always encouraged me in my graduate work in feminist studies, even expressing his pride in the work I had chosen to do. And, frankly, Starr put his own hours into this issue (Starr, could you watch the boys today, so I could get this part of the paper finished? And, what about next week when I meet with the Uppity Women's group for lunch?).

And, you can also see Nate's cousin, Tessa's lovely cover art above, and Nate's mom, Judy's diligent and inspired poetry collection as our poetry editor. Clearly, I married into an amazing family.

Monday, June 7, 2010


There are many different kinds of holes in the world. There are good holes, bad holes, big holes, little holes. Some holes lead to wonderful opportunities, and other holes just lead to the opposite side of the fence, button holes, rabbit holes, doughnut holes, and post holes. Truth be told, there is a hole for every occasion. But the grand-daddy of all holes is the black hole, the biggest, darkest, meanest hole of them all.

A black hole forms when a starr no longer burns hot enough to support its structure. When no fuel remains, the spent starr dies by collapsing on itself, and forming a dense dark mass with gravity so strong that nothing, not even light, can escape.

The starr is exhausted, collapsed, a black hole remains that sucks in the light and energy from our lives.

But this starr, while he was alive, gave life and light. This starr emitted charity and radiated kindness to friends, family and strangers alike. This starr's light will be recycled and passed on to warm hearts and strengthen minds generations removed.

When held in the balance, the knowledge, life and love that shown from this starr while he burned will eclipse the black hole that has been left behind.

Each night we search the sky for that guiding starr.


We find only this hole.

For H. Starr Curtis,
April 27, 1941 – June 7, 2010

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Pregnancy Indulgences

Treat Tummy*: I want a Tofutti Cutie.
Me: How about a banana?
TT: No, a Mint Chocolate Chip Tofutti Cutie.
Me: Ok, you’ve already had 2 of those in the last hour. What about cherries?
TT: No.
Me: a peach?
TT: No.
Me: Some toast with Granda's raspberry jam?
TT: No.
Me: Anything else?
TT: Well, I could handle a chocolate chip cookie.
Me: You just had two of those in the last 15 minutes.
(pause and sigh)
Tofutti Cutie it is.

*A Treat Tummy is a stomach separate from one's regular tummy. It allows you to have a complete meal at a resturant and still be hungry for dessert. It perplexes my dad and my husband that they can eat with the women in our family who say, "I am completely full," and then, say, "So, where's dessert?"

(And I do worry that my TT seems to negotiate with me the same way my 5 year old does.)

Friday, June 4, 2010

Memorial Day in Utah

Three days after I returned from Europe, the little boys (remember Nate's busy work, it continues), my in-laws and I piled in the mini-van and headed to Ephraim and Springville, Utah to celebrate Memorial Day.

The trip went well; our boys are starting to be good little travellers. We made it to Page before we had to break out the DVD's--a record for us!

First stop was Ephraim to Grandma Wanda's house. Nate's cousin (and my travelling companion), Tessa, has been renovating the house this year, and I simply couldn't believe the transformation. I'm kicking myself now that I didn't take any pictures.

We stayed in the local hotel where the boys slept ALL NIGHT and woke up to go to the Scandanavian Days parade. Asher and Luke were super excited about all the candy that was thrown at them. And, Judy had the good idea of getting Luke a dog leash at Wal-Mart because I had forgotten a stroller. The leash worked really well with the added bonus of getting Luke more worn out, but I think Nate and I will stick to strollers. The looks ones gets for putting their child on a leash!

And, I don't know if it was the pregnancy hormones or what, but golly, did I get emotional when I saw those people dressed in pioneer clothes with their pushcarts waving those Scandanvian flags. Every year we go to Ephraim, I think, "This was my ancestors' promised land?"Not that San Pete County isn't lovely, but really, what faith and determination!

Then, we went to the Scandanavian Days fair at Snow College, where it is one of the highlights of my year to get myself some Swedish meatballs.

Starr and Asher played some pioneer games. And, then, we waited in line for 45 minutes for hot dogs for the boys. After all the adults and children were tired and bored, I realized I would be waiting until next year for my Swedish meatballs. Asher got to play with some delightful second cousins, and Luke enjoyed a little Dora the Explorer at the Ephraim house. Once the boys fell asleep, I realized it was my chance to drive up to Springville.

We stayed with my grandparents who are some of the most gracious hosts around. Granda made delicious meals and Grandpa watched the kids in the yard.

Luke broke a paper maiche box that I remember from when I was growing up and a coaster and he pulled up about four tulip bulbs before unpotting 6 potted plants. Granda and Grandpa were very kind, but I was pretty embarrassed.

Granda and Grandpa also did their Memorial Day celebrations early on Saturday so that we could hit the rode early Monday to make it home in time for the boys to start school. We made the rounds at the cemetary, putting flowers on Granda and Grandpa's parents' and siblings' graves; it also gave us a good chance to talk to Asher a bit about mortality while Luke went and tried to spin all the pinwheels he could find.

It was another delightful Memorial Day Utah celebration, but one certainly made all the more enjoyable and possible by family members.