Thursday, January 31, 2008

Free at Last

A few days ago I got a call from a member of the Relief Society presidency in my ward. She wanted to come visit me with the rest of the presidency. Of course I began to wonder why. Are they just visiting all the sisters in the ward and it's my turn? Are they going to ever so kindly remind me that I need to do my calling (as chorister) more consistently? I immediately began to feel guilty for every time I was sick and didn't call to get a substitute beforehand. The real reason for their visit never occurred to me.

They came to release me. Yea! I didn't consider that possibility because I was told I was going to be released in November 2006. It didn't happen. Then I was told I was going to be released before the baby was born in April 2007. It didn't happen.

I realize that chorister is not the most challenging calling in the world. It is Sundays only and takes no preparation. However, it is difficult with a baby. There are lots of nice women willing to hold Jenny while I pass out hymn books and lead each of the three hymns. The problem is that the baby doesn't really want anyone to hold her but me. Nor does she want to play on the floor while mommy is standing up leading. So I balance the baby on my hip as I lead. I hold the baby and a stack of hymn books at the same time. She gets fussy in the middle of a song, and I can't do anything about it because I'm the one leading the music. You get the picture.

For weeks I have been trying to talk myself into asking for a release, but I would lose my nerve every time I saw a bishopric member. I just don't feel good about asking to be released when we're taught to serve wherever we are called. So now, 14 months late, I finally get the release. I am so relieved!

Now I get to have just one calling instead of two. I will continue to be the ward choir director, a calling I will likely have for many years hence. And I'm okay with that.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

100 Things About Me

So on my friend Aimee's blog she responded to a challenge to make a list of 100 things about herself. It was really fun to read and get to know her better. I love Aimee, but haven't seen her in years, so it was really enjoyable to get reacquainted with her that way. So I'm responding to the challenge as well, and hope y'all will too.

1. I don't love ice cream as much as everybody thinks I do.
2. I think that chocolate is nasty, unless you get a high quality foreign-made chocolate truffle. I just don't waste my time on Hersheys. It is waxy and gross and not worth the calories once you have tasted real chocolate.
3. While we're on the subject of chocolate, dark chocolate is far superior. Trust me on this. It's like the difference between kalamata olives and black olives. Or imported English cheddar verses Kraft singles.
4. My dream vacation would be a mediterannean cruise.
5. I love Disneyland so much that it's embarassing. I feel like a kid. I can't wait till Jenny is big enough to appreciate Disneyland so that I can go and not feel stupid for wanting to meet princesses and ride the Fantasyland rides.
6. I won a gold medal in the Bella Vista Elementary Olympic Games for long-distance jump-roping.
7. I miss being a little girl with natural blonde hair worn in a ponytail that would swish as I ran. And I miss the little white cotton dress I used to wear that had red apples printed on it and a red belt.
8. I'm afraid. A lot.
9. I think hot lemonade is yummy.
10. I love love love reading.
11. I love reading well beloved books over and over and over.
12. I have probably read each of the Harry Potter books a dozen times at least.
13. I have read the Anne books probably a dozen times at least.
14. I have read each Jane Austen novel probably a half-dozen times at least.
15. I have read the Twilight series books probably a half-dozen times each.
16. I am currently reading "Go Tell It On the Mountain" by James Baldwin and it is uncomfortable and ugly and unpleasant. It is an excellent book and very well written, but it's upsetting and so I want to stop. It's on the list of the Greatest Books of the Twentieth Century, so I feel obligated to read it, but it's hard. I only like to read feel-good books.
17. I like movies where characters you love end up dying. I find it cathartic.
18. Out of Africa is my favourite movie. And of course Robert Redford's character dies.
19. I love to take bubble baths. Baths are my cure-all treatment. If I feel grumpy, I take a bath. If I have a headache, I take a bath. If I am cold, I take a bath. If I want alone-time, I take a bath. If I'm depressed, I take a bath. If I feel like reading, I do it in the bathtub.
20. I have cabbage-patch feet.
21. I fell in love with Brent despite the fact that on the first date I learned about his Bond addiction, his poker chip addiction, his pirattitude, and his slovenly habits.
22. I fell in love with Brent despite the fact that on the second date I found out about his ability to quote pi to 314 digits.
23. I love to teach. I would be happy if I could be a gospel doctrine or Relief Society teacher for the rest of my life.
24. I am the ward choir director, alas. I find if I focus on the teaching aspect of my calling, then I quite enjoy it. Almost.
25. Sunday is my least-favourite day of the week. I used to love Sundays. I became spoiled by being single for so long. Singles Wards are the best because they are uber reverent during Sacrament Meeting, and every talk/lesson is tailored specifically to your demographic. Now I have to struggle with a fussy baby during three hours of church, which pretty much nullifies any spiritual revelation that I might have received if had been able to focus. Also, Brent and I have to fulfill our Sunday calling duties at the same time, which leaves me to lead the choir and tend the baby simultaneously. Not a fun task, I assure you.
26. I feel guilty because I hate Sundays.
27. I feel guilty because I complain so much about my calling.
28. I love breastfeeding because it is so convenient.
29. I hate trying to transition the baby onto solid foods. It takes too much effort and planning.
30. I love being an auntie. I have the best nieces and nephews in the world and I want to be their favourite.
31. I have lived in Utah since birth and have never once gone skiing.
32. I have never been stung by a live bee. I have to clarify the state of the bee, because I have been stung by a dead bee. I was at a combined YM/YW pool party and I stepped in a puddle in which a bee had drowned. It hurt. Mom put a paste of baking soda and water on it. It didn't help.
33. I love pound cake and cheesecake but not really any other kind of cake.
34. My guilty pleasures are America's Next Top model and Dancing With the Stars
35. I wish I were famous just so I could compete on Dancing With the Stars.
36. I love listening to NPR. My favourite shows are Diane Rehm, and Talk of the Nation.
37. I think George W. Bush is the worst president in American history. Brent disagrees. He thinks Martin Van Buren was worse.
39. I am a bad mormon because I don't like the Republican party.
40. I am a bad mormon because I don't like Mitt Romney. Well, I like the old Mitt better than the new Mitt who has changed his positions to get the Christian Right to vote for him.
41. I love asiago cheese bagels from Rich's Bagels, especially accompanied by their pasta salad. Yum. I just had it for dinner, since Brent isn't going to be home until late.
42. I hate exercise. I do it because I ought to. I don't do it enough because I hate it. It never gets easier. I don't see results. Blech.
42. I want to learn to sew. I have made a quilt, sort of, and I have made a baby sling. I have hemmed my curtains. That's about it. I want to be able to make pillows and clothes and duvets.
43. I hate scrapbooking. I think it is lame. It takes the focus off the photos/memories and puts it on the cutesey crafties.
44. I love painting. Not painting pictures on canvas (I am NOT an artist) but painting the walls in my house. I like trying faux techniques and picking new colors.
45. I don't know how to balance my wants and my needs.
46. I talk to myself in the mirror.
47. I only have pretty fingernails when I have low self-esteem.
48. I love getting professional massages. To tell the truth, I've only done it once. It is too expensive for me to do it often, but man oh man! Why can't Brent do it as well? Maybe because he hasn't gone to school for it. Brent is excellent at many things, but massaging is not one of them.
49. I wish I was in Hawaii. I've never been. I want to be somewhere warm and green.
50. I love Spring bulb flowers. Tulips and daffodils are my favourite. The problem is that they bloom before anything else does, so they are set against a dead brown backdrop, rather than the lush green of the summer.
51. I wish I gardened. I theoretically love to garden. But I don't actually do it in practice because it's just too hard.
52. I don't sleep well. Ever. Not since I was 14. I had insomnia. Now I can get to bed fine, but I can't stay asleep.
53. I use q-tips to clean out my ears even though I know you're not supposed to.
54. My favourite hand lotion is White Almond by Perlier. It's way too fancy and expensive for me to buy for myself, but my mom gave me some once and I absolutely LUFF it.
55. I have a terrible ear. I love to sing, but I sing flat. I wish I had better innate tonality. Life would be so much better.
56. I'm jealous of my sister Emma. She is so fabulous and I want to be like her.
57. I can't believe how lucky I am. I am living my dream life, married to my dream man. How did this happen to me?
58. Before Jenny started solids I thought her dirty diapers smelled like popcorn. I don't like popcorn very much.
59. I have absolutely no talent for arranging/composing music. I wish I could just do very basic hymn arrangements for my choir, but alas, I am terrible at it. After years of unviersity training in theory, I still am hopeless.
60. I love fresh, home-grown tomatoes. There is nothing better. I used to think tomatoes were yucky, but then I served a mission and was given fresh tomatoes to eat at many a meal appointment. Yum. If they are ripe, they are absolutely delectable. If they are not ripe they taste like cardboard and have the consistency of styrofoam.
61. I think too many of my entries are about food. What does this say about me?
62. I like to vacuum. I don't do it often enough, especially considering the amount of satisfaction I get from doing it. I'm not great at many things, but I am great at vacuuming. What could be better than sucking up dirt and dust and bits of crud on the floor to lift your spirits and make you like your house better?
63. I wish I lived in a red brick colonial house instead of a 1970's rambler with a roof that looks like a Pizza Hut.
64. I love my ward and my neighborhood. This is a great place to live.
65. I love living only a mile away from my parents. I love being able to pop in on my mom and see her often.
66. I now realise what an idiot I was when I was a teenager. I thought I was cool. I really, really wasn't. I'm a total nerd, but at least now I recognize it.
67. I make really good cookies. Of course all my recipes come from my mom. She makes better cookies than I do. No one can compare. Whenever I get cookies from a neighbor or my visiting teachers, or whatever, they are never as good as what I can make.
68. I love "The Office". It is the best thing on television. In fact it's really the only thing on television worth watching. I wish the writer's strike would make an exception just for that show.
69. I secretly want to build forts out of couch cushions and blankets, just like I did when I was a kid.
70. I am rubbish at building snow forts and at throwing snowballs.
71. I am rubbish at throwing anything.
72. I am rubbish at catching anything.
73. I am really good at accessorizing. (Thanks to my mother, who taught me.)
74. I want to go to beauty school. I think I would be a good hairdresser. I love doing hair. My sister Annie always got me to do her hair for her whenever she had a formal dance to go to. And if I do say so myself, she always looked way cuter than any of the other girls in her pictures.
75. I have always wanted to be a redhead. Brent doesn't like redheads, so I guess it's good for him that I'm not.
76. I love to dance. I took a community ballroom dance class with Brent and was amazed at how uncoordinated most people are. Honestly, most people couldn't even find the beat. How do you not find the beat? How can you not FEEL the downbeat? Beats me . . . .
77. I want to go to NYC. I was there once for the ACDA convention a few years ago, and I loved the pulse of the city. I want to go back, because being there makes me feel cool.
78. One of the best times I have ever had was navigating the Tube in London. It is a good time and the tube map is my favourite map ever. If anyone is going to London, you can borrow my A to Z. Just bring it back to me.
79. I think I have good handwriting, but I don't really. However, it is much better than Brent's and so I always address our Christmas cards.
80. I think I want to give up on the idea of sending Christmas cards and send Easter cards instead. I mean who ever gets an Easter card? Wouldn't that be fun?
81. I get uncomfortable when the temperature varies by a margin of about 2 degrees. I'm always cold or hot. Never just right.
82. I love hats. I look really good in hats. I wish it was acceptable to wear lots of different kinds of hats, rather than just baseball caps and beanies. I want to wear berets and sun bonnets, and all sorts. One of my favourite hats is the straw hat that Marianne (Kate Winslet) wears in Sense and Sensibility when she is cutting straw, or something. She has the prettiest shaped hat on, draped with a transparent black scarf, and Colonel Brandon comes up to her and gives her a knife. Know the scene I'm talking about? Know the hat? Yeah, I want that hat.
83. I get an allergic reaction when I eat fresh produce. Sad, huh? Luckily, it's not so bad as to stop me eating fruits and veggies. My throat gets scratchy and breaks out into hives. Good times.
84. I am average in many things. Most things, I would say. Normally that would bother me, but I love it about my height. I am 5'4" and that is totally average and perfect, in my estimation.
85. I love the library. It is such a good idea. I go all the time.
86. My favourite store is Day Murray Music.
87. My favourite clothing store is Ann Taylor. I just wish I was wealthier and had my sister Katie's body. Then I could wear anything in that store and look fabulous all the time.
88. I fear that my adorable baby will become a pain as she grows up. I hope she will be the kind of teenager that my younger sisters were and not like I was.
89. I love typing. Last time I was tested I typed 112 wpm. Of course now I type significantly slower since I usually have to do it one-handed as I nurse the baby at the same time.
90. I have really skinny wrists and ankles. My neck and my calves are also really skinny. They make a nice contrast to the, ah shall we say, the curvy aspects of my figure.
91. I have a poochy belly. I have never had a flat stomach and don't expect to ever have one without lipo, but it would be nice to minimize my paunch. Although, since I rarely exercise (as previously mentioned) that isn't likely to happen.
92. I love Netflix. Brent & I have been geting "Alias" dvds lately, and we have really enjoyed that.
93. I like movies made by Merchant & Ivory. This British director/producer team has made some of the best films ever, usually based on some classic English novel and starring really superb actors like Emma Thompson, Helena Bonham Carter, Dame Maggie Smith, Anthony Hopkins, you get the picture.
94. I think people who run are masochistic. Running is terrible and awful and painful and a very bad idea. However, I secretly wish I was a runner and could run a marathon. Then I would be tough.
95. I am not tough. Not even close. I am a wimp and a 'fraidy cat.
96. I don't like hot-tubbing. I do it fairly often since I have a hot tub, and Brent really likes to use it. But it's too hot for me and the chemicals make me woosey. I always feel light-headed and slightly dizzy when I get out and it takes me a while to recover. I infinitely prefer a warm bath.
97. I hate meal planning and cooking dinner. It is the bane of my housewifely existence.
98. I can put my left leg behind my head, but not my right.
99. I like to play make-believe.
100. My first bowling score ever was a 12. I haven't improved much since then.

Now it's your turn!

No One Likes a Mr. Sniffles

Name that movie! Ten points if you get it.

So Brent came home a couple of weeks ago with a tickle in his throat. This is how it usually goes: Brent feels a tickle. He takes tons of vitamin C. Tickle goes away. Two days later Maren is hacking and coughing and dripping mucous and aching and complaining and shivering and sweating. This lasts for about two weeks. Then I just have minor amounts of coughing and mucous for another two weeks.

This time the baby got sick too. She didn't get it bad, just had a mild fever for a couple of days and has been a bit congested. Even when her face is covered in crusties she is still adorable. How does she do it? If I allow myself to get covered in crusties I can't believe how disgusting I am. But slap those nasties on an infant, and oh aren't they adorable?

So the last couple of nights the baby has finally started sleeping well again. (During her illness she was waking up every 1.5 - 2 hours. Just like a newborn! Not fun.) Also the last couple of nights I have been able to breathe through my nose without difficulty. Now that may sound like not a big deal, but to me it is. If I can't breathe through my nose with ease then I cannot sleep. At all. I still woke up every couple of hours, because that is my lot in life it seems, and every time I marveled at how comfortably I could breathe and consequently sleep. I felt like singing praises!

Praying in gratitude for unencumbered breathing may sound weird to you, but I've been doing it quite a lot lately. It is such a small thing but I am so grateful for it. You Rasmussens out there ought to understand what I mean; we all go through about a box of kleenex a day. Which brings me to another thing I'm thankful for: tissues with lotion. This has got to be one of my all-time favourite inventions. Those of you out there who know how often I blow my nose will be able to imagine why tissues with lotion are so important to me. No raw, dry, peeling skin! Time to sing praises again! Such small things that make my life so much better.

That's probably a good lesson for us all to learn. There are so many small things that make our lives so good, and yet we take them for granted. Hmm. I may have to ponder this for a while and come up with a list of seemingly insignificant things that we all ought to be grateful for. Any suggestions to get me started?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Family Prayer

I'm about to reveal that I am not a perfect person. Shocking, I know. I'm sure all of you reading this blog have long looked up to me as the example of the perfect woman and you all seek to emulate me.

However, even I have the need for repentance. Yes, I recognize my weakness. Humility, after all, is my greatest strength. ;)

Brent and I (oh no! I'm about to reveal his sins too. Hope he doesn't mind.) aren't the best at having regular family prayer. We pray over dinner, but that's the only time we are consistent. Why is this so hard for us? We are both good people who seek to be more righteous. (Well, I am. I'm not sure about Brent, considering his gambling problem.)So why the persistent struggle to do something that would strengthen our marriage, increase the Spirit in our home, bring us personal revelation, draw us closer to God, and improve our lives? We want to do it, but we fail so often.

Last weekend Brent & I were visiting his parents and they told us how they would always be confused about whose turn it was to pray with family prayer, praying over meals, etc. etc. Now they each take an entire day, one takes even numbered days and the other odd, to be in charge of praying or calling on someone to pray.

Brent and I just instituted the same practice. I have always just let Brent either pray or call on me. I don't think he realizes it, but lately he has called on me to pray every time for a week. Not that I mind. I just like hearing him pray too.

Brent and I both have a preference for odd numbers, so I didn't know who would end up being assigned to their preferred slot. Brent, wonderful husband that he is, graciously gave the odd numbered days to me. Now I know that is a minuscule gesture and may seem a strange thing for me to compose a blog entry about, but it was important to me. It was indicative of how Brent loves me and tries to give me the things that I want. It was a small gesture. But it was one of love, and that's not so very small after all, is it?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Infant & Feline Interface

When Baby Jenny first arrived in our home, Loki mostly just ignored her; occasionally he would walk over, sniff her head, then walk away with disdain. Now that the baby is mobile she often commando-crawls over to the kitty. She loves petting him (code for pulling out his fur). I thought I was going to have to protect the baby from the cat, but it's the other way around!

Today I was nursing the baby and Loki came in needing some lap-time too. So he jumped up on the chair I was sitting in an meowed loudly at me for a few minutes. He succeeded in distracting the baby from her breakfast and in irritating me. I figured I had extra room on my lap, so I patted the vacant spot, indicating that Loki should make himself comfortable. He stopped meowing and curled up with his back up against the baby's back.

Jenny liked that. She was able to nurse without distraction and pet the soft fur at the same time. She just reached behind herself and started stroking Loki's silky back. He purred. She would have too, if she could, I imagine.

Friday, January 11, 2008

9 months

Jenny had her nine month visit at the pediatrician's office a couple of days ago. She was perfectly healthy in every way. She has never had a cold or an ear infection, or anything (knock on wood). The only problem we have had is her plugged tear duct. Her right eye still hasn't cleared and the doctor said that if it doesn't fix itself in the next three months then she'll have to have surgery. Here's hoping we won't have to do that; I can't bear the thought of putting such a small baby under general anesthesia. She has dropped to the 10th percentile in height and weight, which is odd for a baby as tall as she has been so far. But she's still in the 50th percentile in head circumference. Looks like she's got a Big Danish Head after all.

I can't believe she's already nine months! I feel like I just brought her home. Next thing I know she'll be headed off to school and dance lessons. I keep telling her to stop growing so I can enjoy the baby stage longer, but she won't listen. I was recently looking at some of her newborn photos and I can't believe how different she looks!

Here's a look at how the darling looks now. Soon I'll take her for her 9 month portrait, and I'll post those when they're developed.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Holiday Photos

Here are some Christmas pics for you to enjoy:

We spent Christmas morning with Grandma & Grandpa Jensen. It was a very special holiday in their home. We wrote a letter to Santa, played games, read the scriptures, and just enjoyed one another.

Here is Baby Jenny on her first Christmas morning. She loved the bows and rolling around in the wrapping paper. Most of all she loved her new bling biko that Santa put in her stocking.

Here we all are in our new digs. Maren got new jammies, Brent a new pi-rate t-shirt, & Jenny's new outfit says "Daddy's Little Present".

Jenni and Jenny. Baby loved Auntie's playing. It made her laugh and giggle and pose oh so adorably for the photo.

At the Christmas Party at the Homestead. I caught Jonah and Noelle in this pose, and asked them recreate it for me, which they happily agreed to.

Baby Jenny has got a cat by the tail. I wonder why he's hiding in that bag? Loki likes burrowing, but it also makes a good hideout.

Teething Sorrows

Our delightful Jenny is teething and consequently was exceedingly fussy yesterday (and today, I might add.) The poor thing is uncomfortable and can only find solace in mummy's continuous presence. My being in the same room is not good enough for her, however. My lying on the floor next to her and playing with her is also not good enough. She is only happy nursing or in my arms while I walk around. No sitting down for me, or she immediately begins to cry or act like she's going to hyperventilate (it would be cute if it wasn't so sad).

After our very long and challenging day, Brent came home from work that evening. It was his first day back after the very long holiday he took for Christmas, and we missed him sorely all day. When he walked in and Jenny saw him, she immediately began lunging forward, throwing her entire body weight at him. She was wriggling out of my arms and grinning hugely; she was so excited to see her daddy. It was like she had forgotten him during his absence and her teething struggles, and when she saw him she was overjoyed. She was pleasant the rest of the evening, like his very presence was balm to her suffering.

I'm so grateful my daughter has such a father.