The Big 30

I recently turned 30. It’s weird to realize that this once daunting number, doesn’t feel any different than 29 did. And as I thought about it, I realized that 30 is still pretty young when you consider how long people are living these days. I’ve already accomplished a lot in my 30 years and hopefully I’ve got at least 30 more to continue learning and doing. Anyhow, I thought it would be fun to put together a list of 30 things I have done (or have not done) in my lifetime up till now. Here goes!

1. I have never broken a bone (knock on wood)

2. I have never had to get stitches (again, knock on wood)

3. I know how to crochet

4. I know how to cake decorate

5. I know how to play the piano

6. I am married to a really wonderful man

7. I have born 4 children

8. I have lived in Baltimore Maryland

9. I have visited Germany, Switzerland, France and Liechtenstein

10. I completed my High School Education

11. I have not yet gotten a college degree

12. I have created two giant binders (that are always needing updates) about my family history

13. I was an instructor at an annual Genealogy Workshop for 4 years

14. I ran a successful blog design business for a while

15. I know how to create jewelry, from shaping and hammering ear wires to creating beads out of polymer clay

16. I know how to get most household necessities from stores and either get paid for it, get it free or get it really cheap (all completely legally) and wrote a blog about it for a while

17. I have been learning the art of photography and have taken many photographs that are currently up for sale in an etsy shop that I run

18. I know how to prime and paint a room or a piece of furniture

19. If you need information and it’s on the Internet, I can find it

20. I’ve lost two friends to suicide, one grandmother to breast cancer, one grandmother and my father in law to numerous health problems and a niece to kidney cancer

21. I remember life before having the internet. We got it when I was 12. I dove right into it and a life long love affair with instant knowledge and communication

22. I have learned how to multi task to the extreme

23. I have played High School Basketball. My team really sucked so that ain’t saying much but man it was fun and I still love to play when I can

24. I’ve been chased, albeit briefly, by an angry cow

25. I’ve never gone toilet papering

26. I know how to gut and clean a fish

27. I saw the birth of my favorite cat. 14 years later she’s still alive and purring

28. I’ve dressed up every Halloween but two

29. My favorite food hasn’t changed since I was 10. A nice juicy steak with sauteed mushrooms

30. I have never been a home owner. But oh, just two more years and that is so going to change. I can’t wait!

31. I can use powerpoint templates sports

A Birth Story

It was early August. My mother, myself and my three children were packed into our van taking a drive across the country to our new home in Utah. My mom’s cell phone rang. Her sister was on the other end, crying. Their mom was in excruciating pain and had been hospitalized. Tests were being run but it looked as though this might be the end of a long battle with breast cancer for my sweet grandmother.

A couple of days later, while still in transit we received more news. The cancer had metastasized into her liver. She was discontinuing treatment except for medication to control the pain. She was preparing to die.

My mother and I, needless to say, were a mess. Driving and crying and lost in thought. I was 6 months pregnant at the time. How long would my grandma live? Would she get to meet her new great grandson? Could they control the pain so that her death wasn’t preceded by terrible agony? Could I somehow see her before she left?

A few days after we arrived in Utah, my husband defended his thesis in order to earn his doctorate in biology and then he flew out to join us. My mom flew to Houston to be with my grandma. She was prepared to stay indefinitely. Her work was very gracious in letting her do her job long distance. But my mom has always been someone you can count on to get the job done no matter the circumstances.

I called her often to get the latest report on grandma’s condition. She was deteriorating rapidly but the doctors had finally found a pain medication that grandma could handle that relieved her suffering. I got to see her during one particularly good evening, over skype on the internet. She was very thin and frail but she still had her beautiful smile and sense of humor. She was in awe at my swollen belly.

The very last time I talked to her was October 26th. She called me and sang happy birthday to me. It was actually my sister’s birthday. Her mind was obviously very muddled now and her speech slow and slurred. I cried. I had cried many times over those last few months when thinking of her.

She had always been the rock of our family. Patient, loving, a spiritual giant and a great example of a good human being. How could she go? What would we do without her? I hoped that I might have the baby early enough before she died that I could attend her funeral at least.

In the dark morning hours of November 2 I awoke inexplicably at 1:10am. Normally I woke at night because the baby pushing on my bladder caused me to, but this was not the case. I closed my eyes intending to go back to sleep when a few minutes later, at 1:16am my cell phone rang. It was my mother. Grandma had passed away about 5 minutes ago she told me. I was due to have my baby in 5 days. I would not be able to attend the funeral even to say good-bye. I couldn’t understand why everything had worked out in such a way.

The funeral was planned for November 8th and I was also due for an induction that morning. But at around 2:30am the morning of the 8th I knew no induction would be needed. The baby was coming on his own. My contractions seemed very strong to me. I had never felt them so strong and urgent before as I had always had an epidural in place before I dialated very far. Surely I must be at 8 centimeters I thought. But when the nurse checked me I was only a 6. When asked if I wanted an epidural I said no.

You see, I think I felt the need to connect to my grandma in some way since I had not seen her before she died and would not be seeing her before she was buried. I knew that if she could get through the agony of cancer gnawing at her liver, I could bear the pain of childbirth. I wanted to do it in her memory. Of course I wasn’t entirely sure I could trust myself to go through with it, especially if it were a long and difficult labor, so I had been hoping that it might be fast. My hopes were answered.

Fifteen minutes after the nurse first checked my progress, the babies heart rate dropped during a particularly painful contraction. She decided to check me again and found I was at an 8. I remember panicking at that moment thinking, the baby really is coming, now, without any pain meds. From that point on things were a blur. The nurse was calling the doctor telling him he needed to rush to the hospital. I asked to be checked again and I was at a 9. I was very proud of my composure at this point. The contractions were incredibly intense. I had never felt anything like it but I was able to silently bear and breathe through each one as they caused my entire body to tremble. Before the doctor had arrived I knew I was fully dialated. My entire frame was urging me - push! To fight it was torturous but the nurses asked me to try. Just then the doctor walked in, his hair a mess, his eyes still puffy from being awoken out of a dead sleep but in a moment his gloves, mask and covering were on and he was ready.

I pushed as hard as a I could and broke my silence. Oh such pain, such bearing down by the contractions on my body. And then during one contraction the doctor broke my water. I had not known that the pain could be any more intense but as I felt the water gush out of me, the need to get the tiny body out of mine doubled in intensity. I remember as I was pushing thinking, what unearthly shrieking is that? Oh my gosh, that’s coming from me? But I needed the power of my lungs to help me get the baby out. It wasn’t even a conscious choice. Finally my efforts paid off.

The day my grandmother’s body was to be laid in the earth, my tiny sons body emerged. The symbolism of that hit me with poignancy and power. Perhaps the timing of it was her way of saying good-bye to me personally. Perhaps she had been getting to know my little one in Heaven before he came down. But as I looked at my baby and thought of my grandma I realized while these mortal bodies come and go, our spirits are forever. I can’t wait to see her again.

Homemade Jewelry

A year or so ago I decided I wanted to learn how to make jewelry. I bought a basics book, some necessary supplies and set to work. I can’t tell you how incredibly easy it really is. I mean really really easy. And so much cheaper than buying from Claire’s or something. And the best part? When you find an awesome shirt like this:

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You don’t have to search high and low for jewelry that matches. You just buy some beads and make it:

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Carved cinnabar, blue dyed howlite and silver plated spirals.

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Or say you have a lovely shirt like this:

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Dress it up with a homemade necklace:

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Freshwater pearls of assorted size and hue, faux lapiz lazuli and aventurine

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An addition

I’ve not been myself for quite a few weeks now. I broke down in church on Sunday sobbing uncontrollably during a hymn. A few weeks before that I broke down sobbing in the car after I missed getting a breakfast burrito at McDonald’s by about 3 minutes. I’ve been carrying a plastic grocery bag with me everywhere and I’ve been ravenously hungry, on the verge of puking and disgusted by all food in sight, all at the same time on occasion. But they’re worth it every time right?

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Due early Nov. 2010

Finished Decoupage Box and Blocks Project

So I thought the end result turned out so well I wanted to share. I added the alphabet to my blocks and painted and decoupaged a box for them to go in.

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Go ahead. Try doing something new today!

Decoupage Decorative Blocks

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I got the urge to make something completely new today and I found the world of decoupage. It’s crazy easy stuff but can yield really amazing results. I decided to decorate some wooden blocks and show you how I did it.

1. First you’ll need an assortment of pretty coordinating paper.

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2. And you’ll also need some wooden blocks which you can find at most craft stores, along with the pretty paper.

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3. Now you need to cut the paper into squares that are about the same size as the sides of your block. If they’re not perfect, that’s ok. You can fix them later.

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4. Now, using some Mod Podge or other decoupage paste, coat one side of your block in a thin layer of paste and put a square of paper on it. Make sure you press down on all the edges for a secure seal. Wipe away any glue around the edges.

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5. If you find your paper is a little big, you can trim it to fit with a pair of scissors.

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6. Continue adding papers to each block to complete all sides. Be sure to let each block dry completely before the next step. Assuming you’re going to do the next step anyway. It’s optional. Once they’re dry you can sand the edges of each block if desired.

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7. Spray each block with some clear coat acrylic spray and let dry. Now you are finished. I added some alphabet stickers to all sides of each block later to give to a friend as baby room decor for a baby shower gift.

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Moving

Around six months ago my husband came home from work and said boldly, “I see a path!”

I knew it meant trouble before he even started explaining. Long story short, he had decided he wanted to go to law school. He had been toying with the idea of becoming a patent agent for a while but when he realized patent lawyers do a similar job but make more money he decided law school might be worth it. Surprisingly enough, I was on board with this plan by the very next day. It just felt right. And besides, what’s three more years of school when you’ve already done eight?

So in December he took the LSAT and scored a 172 (99th percentile). If only his graduating gpa had been just a tad higher we might have been able to attend our dream school with that kind of number. We got accepted to 7 different schools and two of those schools offered us full scholarships, one of them being BYU. Duke offered us a third of tuition which sadly, wasn’t enough to justify going there. The idea of adding 100k + in debt in addition to what we already have just wouldn’t be worth it.

After other school considerations, we finally decided on BYU. Tom put in his deposit and we’ll be moving to Utah this fall.

I know. Utah. The one place I never wanted to go back to. But in spite of my many fears and reservations about returning, I feel at peace with our decision. I’ve been thinking daily about the many positive aspects of moving back and I know my experience will be a good one if I maintain the right attitude. I am happy to see family and friends again.

Oh and for those of you wondering if Tom is simply throwing away 8 years of PhD study, he isn’t. He intends to be a Biotech Patent Lawyer so his Biology PhD will have been necessary for this step. Utah here we come.

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