Tuesday, December 20, 2011

We're Still Here!

Well, I never thought I'd be saying this, but we are now 38 weeks along and have STILL not had our little girl. We really might be having a Christmas baby!

Since my last post, we have had a couple more ultrasounds, just to keep an eye on our fluid levels, etc. and although they are still low, they have not decreased and so some of our concern over that has diminished.    My cervix has pretty much thinned to nothing and the doctor says that can feel the baby's head, it's just right there when he checks me.  She has been that way for a couple months hence so much pressure I think.  In the ultrasounds I've been able to see my cervix and pushed right up against it is her little head of hair - impatiently (and now patiently) waiting to make it's debut.:) 

I was taken off bedrest and all my medications last Thursday (36 1/2 weeks along) and we thought for sure we'd have had her within a couple days. Finally, last Monday night (37 weeks along) I began having regular contractions and coupled with the regular pelvic pressure that I've had throughout the pregnancy, we decided I had better go to the hospital. We got there about 10pm and found I was dialated to a 3 and having contractions every 3 minutes. We thought for sure this was it!  And I was relieved, it seemed we'd have the baby at a perfect time. In my mind I kept thinking anywhere from 36-38 weeks would be perfect - if we could miraculously have her then I thought we'd be far enough along that baby should be healthy and fine but not too far along for baby to get too big. That might sound crazy but again, my body just has a hard time with pregnancy period - when the baby gets too big I tear terribly (and we're not even talking big - my biggest baby was only 6lb. 4oz. and I tore to a 4th degree) and I really want to avoid doing that again. Should we run into that again, we end up worrying about other complications and are even thinking about needing to do a c-section. I know, I'm a never ending basket of problems, but truly, we never thought we'd even have to worry about this side of things when we were so worried about the baby coming early!

Anyway, you can imagine my dissappointment when throughout the entire night, even though the contractions continued every three minutes, they never got things moving or advancing and by 10am they even started to spread out a bit more. We decided to just go home until either the contractions got completely miserable or my water broke or something. Really, I was totally bummed that the hospital wouldn't help things along a bit (like break my water for me or something, I mean we were there, ready to go, and again, we don't want the baby to get too big) but their policy is that they won't help in that way until a pregnancy is 39 weeks along.   Ahhh!

When we came home and picked up the kids, (who had stayed the night with a friend of ours) I told Cash that this little baby must have a personality like his - always teasing us.

Since that night, I haven't hardly had any contractions, I've pretty much felt better, slept better, etc. since, gosh, I don't know when! Apparently our little girl has finally gotten comfortable and now that I've been taken off bedrest and all my meds, and CAN have her safely, she's decided to wait. :) It's just so funny - you feel like you should have an idea about the way things should work by baby number three but for me, each pregnancy has been so different it is still so up in the air.

All in all, we are very grateful our baby girl has made it as far as she has. She should make it through things healthy now and we couldn't be more relieved!  The longer she waits the better - for her - for me not so much.   I'll tell you what, my body has been through the ringer for this little girl, but that's what we mother's do right - we sacrifice much for our children, however, the rewards are great and I am truly grateful for the opportunity and blessing!

So...until next time...which will likely be a post about our baby girl...we wanted to throw out our well wishes to you and yours this holiday season:


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Name That...Baby

Well, as we get closer to the delivery of our little girl, we find that we are not any closer to completely deciding on her name than we were several months ago - we've been at the same stand still since then.  It seems like we have a harder time deciding with our little girls.  Cash was named almost as soon as we found out we were having a boy, where Vanna Marie wasn't named until she was two days old.  Is that the fate of our new little girl too?  We think we have it narrowed down to three names and the whole family is pretty set on our first pick (as you'll see below) but we haven't committed completely to it yet so things are still a bit up in the air.  Here's what we've come up with:

1st pick:  Rosalie Kae or K. Bazil - We all really like Rosalie.  I remember a little girl, Rosie, from my home town and I always thought she was so adorable, with a matching adorable name. Ty liked it right off and it fits his criteria which is that he doesn't want to give any of our children unisex names (such as Taylor or Payton, etc.) simply for the reason that he feels so bad when he refers to such a name as a girl and it turns out it's a boy (he runs into this a lot at work as he's talking to parents about medications for their kids and without seeing them, he hates having to guess if the name refers to a boy or girl).  So our girls will be blessed with very feminine names that can't be mistaken for boy's names I guess, and Rosalie fits that description.  

I've always wanted to name a little girl after my mother in some way who I love and respect as much as humanly possible.  Her name is Karen and so Kae or K. will likely be our baby's middle name/initial.

This name is everyone's favorite and the kids have already kind of taken the name on as if it's set in stone.  I just have to add that it's so darling to hear Vanna call the baby "baby wosie" (she's not real great with her "r's" yet).   Our only hold up is if the baby is born with red hair, which could happen easily with the red hair in Ty's side of the family. Ty's not too sure about the whole combination of red hair - red rose name idea.  But you never really know what hair color a baby will really have.  Lots of times, their hair falls out and comes in a different color, or it lightens or darkens.  I guess we'll see.

2nd pick:  Lia Kae Bazil - Ty and I really like this name too because it encompasses both our mothers in the name.  Ty's mom's name is Orillia and since I've always liked the name Leah, I thought, "Hey Ty, what if we used the name Leah but spelled it differently to take in the end of your mom's name?!"  And then, of course, Kae is after my mom (as I described above).  It would be kind of neat for her to be named after both her beloved grandmas I think.  And we both think Lia would fit a little red-haired girl perfectly :).

3rd pick: Heather Kae or K. Bazil - Again, Heather is a very pretty and feminine name.  It actually has a connection to my name as well which is a small part of the reason we're considering it (Heather means Erica in Latin - not that we speak Latin or anything :)  And I like that although it's somewhat a common name among my generation, you don't really hear it much among our younger generation and I guess I like that it would be a bit uncommon.

So what's your vote?  Not saying it will hold any weight in the long run (and who knows, maybe we'll decide on name that 's not even listed above) but I'm curious as to what my friends like.  Or if you have any other great suggestions, I'm all ears. :)

Just a little update below on things for my own records (you're welcome to read, but I'm warning you - it's long!)

Our baby girl is very active  and seems very strong (reminds me a lot of my pregnancy with Cash).  I often just watch my stomach to see it just rolling and changing shapes as the baby moves around to change position/get comfortable.  I first felt her hiccups (or "pickups" - as Vanna would say) when I was at 29 weeks and nearly feel them once evey day now.  I love to sit/lay still the entire time she has them and feel their rythmic movements. I find them so fascinating  - pregnancy in it's entirety is so fascinating.  It's amazing all the changes a woman's body makes to accomadate a little one, and likewise, amazing the changes in development that take place as a little one grows.  What a blessing to experience such a thing - such a miracle, again.   

We're anxious to meet our baby girl and learn more of her personality.  And apparently she is very anxious to meet us too the little stinker (perhaps she's inherited a bit of impatience from her mama - we're hoping she can be just patient enough to last a couple more weeks though at least :)

Speaking of our little girl's impatience, here's an update on what's happened in the pregnancy over the past few weeks. 

My last update talked about when we first found out I was low on amniotic fluid (possibly as a result of being on Sulindac - a medication to help prevent contractions) so I was taken off that medication and put on Nifedipine which also helps prevent contractions - just not quite as effectively - but doesn't have the possible side effect of lowering amniotic fluid) ...so to start where I picked off...two weeks later, 32 weeks along, we went in for an ultrasound that showed my fluid levels had gone back up a bit (it was at 6.6 and went up to 10.8, again, normal is from 10-20) as a result of being taken off the Sulidac.  Yay!!!  BUT it did show that my cervix was still continuing to thin.  At that point, it now measured at .99cm (again, regular at this point should be 3cm). 

That same week, my dear sister brought our kids home for a quick hello over the weekend!  Oh, it was sooooooooooooo good to see them!  We had a great time.  I just loved their company and they loved playing with Dad.  Ty said afterwards how funny it is that you forget how much they wear you out.   I think it really eased the kids' minds too, to realize that they will be home soon for good and that everything is still here and just waiting for them (their toys, their beds, etc.).  They even left good too.  I was a little worried that after coming home for a couple days, they wouldn't be willing to leave again to be with Grandmas and Grandpas for another couple weeks but they did really good when it came time to say good-bye.  Such good kids!

I don't know if it was from having the kids home (which to me, was highly unlikely as I really didn't do anything more than usual) or what, but nearly as soon as the kids arrived, I began having contractions that were more noticeable than usual.  They continued all through that Friday and early Saturday morning (about 4am) I woke up and couldn't go back to sleep as they became for painful and more frequent.  So...a couple hours later, we headed into the hospital.  They had to give me a couple shots to stop the contractions and boy do those things sting - ouch!.  But they did the trick and my contractions stopped, thank goodness.  My doctor wondered if the Nifedipine wasn't strong enough to help me with my contractions so he again put me on the Sulindac and asked that I come back into the office on Monday for another ultrasound.  This ultrasound was supposed to just be to measure my fluid levels again to see where we were starting from at the time of starting the Sulindac - then we'd have another one in a week to see if the medication had had the same effect on me as before and was lowering my levels or not. 

I went in for my ultrasound on Monday (33 weeks along in my pregnancy) and we found that after only taking the Sulidac for two days, my fluid levels had dropped way down to the start of being critical.  My fluid level was down to 4.09.  I was so disappointed because I felt so much better when I was on the Sulidac and it seemed to work for me so much better than the Nifedipine at preventing contractions, but when I'm on it, my levels dropped.  After discussing things with my doctor, we decided I would take the Nifedipine throughout the day and take just one Sulidac in the evening (when my contractions usually picked up) and see if after a week, things had improved or not.

One week later (34 weeks now), the ultrasound showed that my fluid levels had risen back up to 6.6 which we were comfortable with AND my cervix length had not changed.  What good news this time!  So we are just going to keep doing what we're doing and check things out again in another week.  At that point I'll be at 35 weeks which is a huge milestone for me.  Even by hitting 34 weeks, I've found some of the weight of worry starting to dissipate and be replaced with excitment.  We are making it pretty far really and with every week, even every day, our little girl has such a greater chance at being healthy when she's born.  My goal is to get to 37 weeks, at which point my doctor said he'd take me off bed-rest.  Yay!  AND I'm almost to the end of my weekly hydroxyprogesterone shots (that help to strengthen my cervix) - after about 35 weeks they usually stop giving them, so I have just one more left.  Yay again!

I've now been on bed-rest for just over 5 weeks - ahhh!  Just a couple more weeks to go and if we make it that far, they'll take me off medications and bed-rest and I'm assuming we'll have her right away.  Who knows though - she might trick me and after all this trouble, change her mind and decide to wait it out for the whole 40 weeks.  Hahaha!  Seriously, what a ride it's been!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Cash's Latest

We are just so blessed to have this happy little guy in our family. Cash is now five and a half and is just growing up too fast. Although he's growing taller and stronger all the time, he is still the same little boy he's always been - with a love/passion for life and fun. He loves to play, play, play. We call him the energizer bunny sometimes, because he definitely has the happy energy to allow him to keep up that tough schedule of play, play, play too. We find it comical that one of the first things he asks his dad on his days off work is, "So...what do you want to play with me today dad?" His happiness and energy is contagious, he always has a big bright smile and bright attitude. We are so changed and often bored without his excitement and entertainment each day. We miss him so much and can't wait to have both the kids back home!

There's that big, happy smile we adore!

Speaking of growing, I have to add that Cash is such a good eater. He eats such a good variety and even asks me to make him things like stew. What kid asks for stew? And the reason...because it has carrots. He loves carrots and lately he tells us his favorite vegetable is broccoli (mac & cheese is his all time favorite meal though). We keep telling him all these healthy foods will make him big and strong like his dad (who he just idolizes) and he just can't get enough. He loves to go work out in the garage with Ty too and likes to show off that he can do pull-ups now, along with his sit-ups and push-ups.

I love these pictures because they show so much of Cash's personality. He is so silly and thinks he's so cool. He definitely has us laughing all the time. And they show his double-jointed fingers that we can't enough of.

Cash is cracking us up lately with all his new facial expressions. He has discovered a new found talent of raising his eyebrows and uses his talent as often as possible to add a bit of quirkiness to whatever he's saying. He also loves to crack us up by trying to tell us jokes. These usually don't make any sense - but it's just funny the effort he continues to put into them. For example: Cash - "Knock knock." Mom - "Who's there?" Cash - "A snake on your head". Ty told him a joke the other day that we now hear about ten times a day - Cash loves it. It goes: "What would you do if you got swallowed by an elephant?.....Run around until you get pooped out." Oh, how that makes Cash laugh.

Cash loves to go fishing. I'm sure he'll always be his dad's fishing buddy because they both just love being out doors, getting fresh air, relaxing, and hoping they'll hook a big one.

Cash is always happy to tease and trick us. Lately he's been playing a lot of jokes on us followed with an "I was just tricking you Dad." I'll have to read him the story of "the boy who cried wolf again" and see if it leaves any kind of impression :).

Cash loves to play in the water. He'd take three baths a day if he could and especially loved playing on the trampoline this summer with the sprinklers running under it.

I know you've seen this picture before, but is one of my all-time favorites of Cash. Again, just another example of the way he keeps us laughing.

Cash is still pretty competitive. He loves playing any kind of sport and loves to win. He has a hard time understanding that it's okay when we don't always win, not everyone is perfect all the time right? Wrong - according to Cash. We're working on that one.

Cash tells us he wants to be a missionary, a policeman, a fireman and lately, a sea lion feeder. I find it encouraging to see the way Cash truly wants to be good (unless we're talking about teasing his sister- ahhh). He genuinely feels bad when he makes mistakes and he suprises me with the things he is grasping in regard to the church and the things we're trying to teach him. I'm pretty proud of the fact that he always tells everyone that he wants to be a missionary when he grows up.  I hope he sticks to his young guns and remains worthy to be just that. 

I have to record an experience where Cash truly shined and was such an example to me: Our Stake was challenged to be better missionaries and we were asked to make a special effort to invite a friend to church on a particular Sunday. Then all of our meetings on that Sunday were especially designed to teach and encourage those that might be visiting us. So prior to that Sunday, in Primary, we really beefed up our effort to encourage our kids to make these invitations - who better to invite their friends to Church than such pure and sweet kids who seem fearless to do such things right? Well, that was exactly what Cash was. He came home from Church that day, we had lunch, and he took a nap. Just after he woke up from his nap, we went outside to play a bit and while I was sitting there watching the kids, he started walking over to our neighbor's house. I shouted out to him to come back and when he got closer, I asked him what he was doing. He responded by telling me he wanted to invite Kathy, our neighbor, to Church (and he even had our little paper invitation, that had been passed out in Primary that day, in his hand to give her). I thought he would have forgotten all about it but the message really sank in for him. So we went to our neighbor's and invited her to Church. But seriously, I thought - what a little missionary. Children truly can teach us so many things and I know I was taught by Cash's example that day.  I was so proud of him.

Cash loves to go to Primary. As soon as Sacrament Meeting is over, he books it to his Primary class all by himself (and has since he first became a Sunbeam). He's usuallly very careful to remember to take his "scriptmures" to class and on the rare occasion that he forgets them, he will go to the Library by himself and ask for a copy to take to class. Since I'm in Primary, I get to witness his desire to participate and answer questions. He always has his hand up and is so proud of himself when he gets an answer correct. I love to see him learning and wanting/loving to learn about our Savior and His Church.

In addition to being a missionary, Cash tells us he wants to be a policeman and a firefighter. Yikes - some dangerous jobs - those will keep his mother worrying. And of course lately, (in relation to our Oregon Coast trip I think) he tells us he wants to be a sea lion feeder. And he doesn't just want to be one of these things, but all of them - at the same time :).  He's such a hoot.

Cash loves to tell us bed-time stories. Cash has always pretty much stayed up until we go to bed (he thinks he's going to miss out on something if we try to put him to bed earlier and never ends us going to sleep until we do anyway...so...to compensate, he still usually takes naps) and it has kind of become tradition for us to tell eachother bed-time stories. Ty takes a shower right before bed and so while he's in the bathroom, Cash will climb into bed with me and we'll take turns telling eachother stories. He even occasionally gets to hear some from daddy when he's done in the shower (who always has such creative and scary stories that Cash loves) before we make him go get into his bed. Cash has some pretty creative ones himself too that he tells us.   It's a lot of fun.

Cash loves to feel the baby kicking and will just randomly put his hands on my tummy to see if she'll kick him.

Cash is completely facsinated with money right now. He loves getting his quarter each day for doing all of his chores and is always telling us what he's going to buy with his money. His new favorite store is Kings (which has a pretty good selection of cheap toys and some quater machines that the kids love) and he always talks about going there with his money. We even regularly hear him in his bedroom at night, after we've gone to bed, clanking his coins around and counting them by flashlight.

Cash's first day of Pre-School, 2011. He just had to wear his sun glasses. He looks like such a stud-muffin. We often call him that and sometimes, when I'm finished with his hair in the morning, he'll ask, "Do I look like a stud-muffin?"

Hilarious story that I just have to record:

This summer we attended one of Ty's co-worker's weddings. It was followed by a BBQ-type reception and we enjoyed our meal with many of Ty's other co-workers - most of whom drink alcohol. We had just sat down with our food and Cash said he wanted apple juice to drink. We told him there wasn't any apple juice but that daddy would get him a pop in just a second. Cash was very disappointed and kept begging for apple juice. We couldn't figure out why he was making such a big deal out of it. While we got all settled with our food, Cash wandered back over to the food tables (where we figured he'd look for apple juice, find there wasn't any and return to our table). In that same instant, I happened to realize that our friends' plastic cups were filled with beer, but to a child it would perhaps appear that they were filled with apple juice. Upon realizing that this is probably why Cash was so adament about having apple juice and not believing us that there really wasn't any (when he could "plainly" see our friends with "apple juice"), I quickly explained this to Ty and told him he'd better go grab Cash. As we turned to look at the food tables, we could see Cash just starting to return to us with "apple juice" in hand - looking rather pleased with himself. Oh, how Ty's co-workers laughed and laughed as they saw Ty take the beer out of Cash's hand and lead him back to the tables to pick out a pop instead - they teased Ty and asked him how in the world he explained that one to his son. Cash was so upset which sadly only added to the hilarity of the situation. We had a good little follow-up talk about that one on the way home. :)

Some of the funny things Cash has said recently:

"Whatever!" and "Yeah right Mom." - I keep thinking he shouldn't be talking like this still for a few more years :)

The other night we went to Arctic Circle for ice cream and Cash asked why there were so many cars driving around. Before we could answer the question, he said, "I think some are just drivin' and some are out making girlfriends." We just laughed, thinking where does he come up with this stuff?

That same night while we're sitting there eating ice cream, I suddenly smelled a terrible stench and asked Cash if he farted. He just looked at me and admitted with a mischievious sneer, "Yep...twice." What a boy!

No matter how hard we try to correct him, Boise's football team, to Cash, is the Boise "Steak" Broncos.

One day, as we were driving in the car, Cash brought up the topic of what happens to us when we die. He said, "I don't want to turn into a skeleton." I thought it was so sweet the way his little mind works and tries to figure things out. I tried to put his mind at ease with the happier parts of what we know will happen to us after we die.

Later that week, Cash had caught yet another grasshopper in a jar, and we were trying to explain to him that he would want to release it later that day so that it didn't die (like the last couple he'd captured). He asked me, "Will my grasshopper be resurrected?" Another teaching moment presented.

Out of the blue one day, when I asked Cash to do something for me, he replied by putting his hands together in front him, bowing, and saying, "Yes, your magesty." I laughed so hard that of course he does it more often just because he knows I get a kick out of it. Vanna has caught on too and I often have both my kids responding to my requests with, "Yes, your magesty." Don't I have them trained well? :)

Cash likes to give us ultimatums (perhaps I do that too often myself and that's where he gets it from). He'll say "This is your two chances." But what he means is, "This is your two choices or options." and then he'll proceed to tell us what they are like he's in charge. So funny.

In Cash's prayers lately, he usually always includes the following phrase, "Thank you for this opportunity." He never states what that opportunity is, but its funny how grown up it sounds coming from him. It also reminds us that perhaps we're a little too repetitve in our own prayers when we say things like, "We are grateful for the opportunity...."

Wow - this kid keeps us hopping, smiling, laughing and completely worn out but oh we just love him so much. We are grateful for such a good boy and for the spirit he brings into our home. We can't wait to have him fill it up again with his energy. Love you buddy!!!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Thirty Weeks

Well, we just keep plugging away and already two weeks has gone by since our last Dr.'s appointment.  As soon as my mom heard our last news, she headed up here to stay for a week and boy did she keep busy in that week.  She knows how I am - likes a clean house, always has projects to be done, etc. - probably because I'm so much like her.  She did my windows, my base-boards, helped me better organize my garage, clean out my stove and above all the kitchen cabinets, cook meals to put in the freezer, play with/take care of the kids...I mean she's just amazing...and that's not even all of it!  I hope she knows what a blessing it is to have her in my life.  I'm so grateful for her help, her support, her undconditional love, her sacrifices for me - I don't know what I'd do without her. 

And if that's not enough, she then took my kids home with her.  After a lot of thought, Ty and I decided it would be best for our baby girl, if the kids went to spend some time with Grandmas and Grandpas to try to help prevent me from doing too much and to allow me to be on the bestrest that I need.  We are so grateful my parents and Ty's were willing to go along with this plan and offer their help.  The kids will actually be gone until Thanksgiving - spending one week with my parents, one week with Ty's parents, and back and forth for four weeks.  Wow - what a long time!  I've never been apart from them much - we're used to spending all day everyday together.  It's been very emotional for me to have my kids gone.  The day they left, I just sat in their bedroom staring out the window, for I don't know how long, at the place I last saw them pull out of the driveway with my mom and sobbed.  It's still hard to talk about them being gone without breaking down and it's hard to hang up the phone each night after talking with them.  What is especially hard is to hear the sadness in their voices in our phone conversations, as they occasionally struggle with a bit of homesickness and missing us.  Oh how we miss them too - the time seems to pass so slowly and quietly by with them gone.  I have to remember that this time will seem short one day, when we look back on all of this but for now it is hard. 

Ty and the kids were able to go pick out pumpkins and we got some pumpkin carving in before the kids left.  We won't have them for Halloween and wanted to share in this at least with them.  We love hearing of their excitement for the holiday and can't wait to see pictures of them in their costumes!

Cash loves to do creepy ones so his is the scary/mean faced one.  Vanna loves kitties so that's what she got.  After gutting the pumpkins out and while Ty was working on Vanna's, he looked over at Cash who was "helping" and he was putting all the seeds back into his pumpkin. :)  Ahh, kids.  And Cash had to keep several pumpkin seeds cuz he hopes to plant them in our garden.  He's fascinated with seeds right now.  The other day we ate plums with our lunch adn he collected everyone's seeds and then ran out to the backyard.  He returned a minute later to report that he'd planted the plum seeds and can't wait until we see a plum tree growing. :)

Although it's been difficult, I am glad to report good news and that is that our baby girl seems to be doing very well.  She is healthy and growing wonderfully and we are just taking as many steps and precautions we can to help continue doing just that. 

We had another ultrasound which showed my cervix had not thinned any further and the doctor is hopeful that with continued bedrest (the less gravity on my cervix, the better) we can prevent too much thinning too early and keep our baby girl in the best incubater possible - me :).  The ultrasound did show I was low on amniotic fluid (not a critical low that can cause stress on the baby, but a low we need to keep an eye on and make changes for) most likely caused by some medication I was on to help prevent contractions and reduce pain/pressure - a possible side effect was that it could cause a decrease in fluid levels BUT fluids usually go right back up once you're taken off the medication, so I was taken off it, put on other medication (that is more for just helping with the contractions) and another ultrasound was ordered two weeks out where we'll hopefully find fluid levels back up and normal.   I will continue my weekly shots for hydroxyprogesterone in an effort to help with my cervix and today I got my first steroid shot (which helps with aiding the development of the baby's lungs should she come early).   Whew!  

My mom with the kids just before they left.  They each wanted to take their bears (and a lot of other toys too but we talked them into taking one thing and reminded them that their Grandmas and Grandpas have toys of their own they can play with :)

Our little heart-throb!  Cash is SUCH a sweet boy and we miss his energy and vigor for life/play in our home.  His smile brightens every day and we can't wait to have him home again soon.

What a sweetheart!  When we call her sweetheart, or princess, pumpkin or any of her other nicknames, Vanna will respond, "I not a sweetheart, I Vanna".  She is going to be a princess (a pumpkin princess in fact - perfect!) for Halloween so we'll have to remind her that she is indeed our little pumpkin and our little princess!

We continue to try and be prepared as best we can for whatever the future holds but we feel very blessed to have made it this far and really feel that things will work out and be fine.  We are praying and so appreciate all your encouraging words, thoughts and prayers on our behalf as well!

Side Note:  I just have to record this funny experience as well - When I went in for this last ultrasound, the woman performing it walked in and said, "So what's the deal with your kidney stones?"  I responded, "I wasn't aware I had any."  She just laughed and said, "There must be some mistake on my forms, cuz you'd know if you had them."  It turns out that on the Dr.'s ultrasound request form, he had circled 'incompetent cervix' as the reason for the request but the receptionist setting up the appointment misread it and thought he's circled 'kindey stones' (which was right next to 'incompetent cervix').  Anyway, I was thinking, "Oh no, not something else!"  I was glad to find out I don't have kidney stones too! :)  Kind of funny I thought.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Pregnancy Update

Well, I am now nearly 29 weeks along and due to some requests, I thought I'd post a couple belly pictures and record a little pregnancy update for my own records.

Pictures are courtesy of Cash.  He did pretty good really - he cut my head off on the one below but what you really want to see is that big belly anyway right? :).  I'm 27 weeks here.

We have had an interesting pregnancy so far...again. Early on (end of July/beginning of August) I began feeling pelvic/cervical pain and pressure and was told to try to take things easy (which isn't so easy to do with little ones around right?) as we kept a close eye on things throughout the pregnancy. At that time, I also started receiving weekly hydroxyprgesterone shots in hopes of helping reduce the likelyhood of pre-term cervical shortening and pre-term labor (we dealt with these issues in my pregnancy with Vanna).

As time continued, so did the pain and pressure but I was consistently surprised to find that ultrasounds showed no cervical shortening. However, come about the 25th week mark, I began to just feel different and really started looking forward to my next ultrasound where I was sure we'd find things had changed (but hoping we wouldn't).

Well, I had another ultrasound on Thursday and found that my intuition, in this regard, was dead on. I had thinned and my cervix measured half the size it's supposed to at this point in a normal pregnancy (at this point anything below 3 cm is too short and I measure at a 1.5 cm - with Vanna's pregnancy, we discovered problems when I was 30 weeks along and I measured in at 1.8).

From the beginning, we knew I was at a higher risk of this type of thing happening again, obviously for the simple reason that it had happened before but we kept hoping somehow that we might be able to avoid these problems.  Now that is happening again, we are certain the diagnosis of an "incompetent cervix" is accurate. Up to this point, we just kept hoping we could prevent the same thing from happening and that perhaps our experience with Vanna was a one-time thing darn it.

 I'm 28 weeks here.  My mother-in-law gave me this fun shirt and I love it.  Each time I put it on though, the kids always make a comment about my wearing a turtle shirt.  I'm sure I'll look more and more like a turtle in it as my "shell" continus to grow. :)

Anyway, we are now on bedrest and trying to figure out what we are going to do over the next two months to help keep the kids happy and entertained, allow Ty to keep working the way he needs to, and keep me down with my feet up the way I need to.  Even though we have no family around we are blessed with their willingness to come up here to help and to take the kids to stay with them for different time intervals.  We are also blessed with amazing friends here who are always so willing to help as well.  We are truly so grateful for such blessings!

So...we are hoping to make it at least to 37 weeks (eight weeks away from now) to give our little girl a healthy start and hope to be able to avoid additional problems or a stay in the NICU (again, like we did with Vanna, although it would be much more difficult to figure out here, as the closest NICU is in Boise where I'd want to stay with the baby but hate to be away from my family, especially so close to the holidays).  I lay awake at night thinking and thinking about what may or may not happen, how to be best prepared, etc.  but it's just a waiting and hoping game.  We continue to hope and pray for the best and know that things will work out, we simply need to be faithful and accepting of the Lord's plan. 

Wish us and our little girl luck in the coming weeks!

Monday, October 3, 2011

General Conference Fall 2011

This past weekend, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (of which I am a member) held its regular semi-annual General Conference where we are taught and receive instruction (via television)  from the leaders of our faith and ultimately from Jesus Christ himself, as these leaders serve as special witnesses of Him.  As one can imagine, I want to be sure I hear as much of their instruction as possible, however, this can be a little trying with little ones in the home.  So I prepared plenty in advance to keep my kids listening (while entertained) so that we might all be uplifted from the messages prepared and shared at this special event. 

I came across this idea for General Conference and thought I'd share it with you, if you care to use the idea too, because it was such a success for us.

It included simply printing off a picture and a get-to-know-you description of each of the First Presidency and each member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (which I already had saved from a previous General Conference packet).  I then stapled a picture/description to a bag containing either a treat or a quiet craft of some kind that the kids could do while sitting at their little table in the middle of the Living Room in front of the T.V.  With each new speaker, the kids would look through our basket to find the coordinating picture of the speaker, and then they got to either snack on or put together the craft contained in that bag.   I made several extra bags for times when other General Auxiliary leaders might speak as well.

I tried to do as much of the prep work as possible so that I wasn't disturbed or interrupted quite so much during Conference, perhaps selfishly hoping to glean some of the things taught in General Conference too. Most things I included were very simple, such as:  pre-cut string and macaroni in one bag for macaroni necklaces; a toy magazine, paper, glue and scissors in another bag for them to cut pictures out of and make a picture Christmas wish-list; lots of stickers to make cards with; coloring; etc.  I think the kids' favorite craft was making the below pictured masks.

It was so fun to take the kids to the craft store to pick out things and because I had the basket put together in advance and just sitting on my dresser, the kids would eye it and ask over and over, "How many more days 'til General Conference?  I'm so excited!"  Success right?!! 

Of course, we also played Conference Bingo all the while too, which the kids enjoy doing and which I think is a great idea as the kids have to listen carefully for key words from speaker's messages in order to put an M&M on a square to earn a Bingo.

My goal was to keep my kids quiet enough (through a bit of entertainment) that words and even entire messages might reach their little ears and enter their hearts as they hear our leaders speak of the things we need to be taught today - and I believe it worked wonderfully.  Let me share my example of why I believe so:

During President Thomas S. Monson's talk in the Sunday morning session of Conference, he talked a bit about prayer.  He shared a story of a time as a young boy that he had put a hard-earned five dollar bill in the pocket of his jeans and forgotten to take it out before the jeans were sent out to be washed.  He was certain his jeans would return without the five dollars but even as a young boy, he knew he could offer a prayer to our Father in Heaven asking for help, in this case for his jeans to return with his money.  He was relieved to have his jeans returned in a couple days WITH the wet five dollars still in his pocket and offered yet another prayer to Heavenly Father in thanks.  He then bore testimony of how important it is to pray everyday and develop a personal relationship with our Father in Heaven.

This story caught Cash's attention right away, as he is VERY obsessed/worried about/fascinated with money right now.  He and Vanna both receive a quarter each day they've done ALL their chores.  And of course, at their age, money simply burns a hole in their pocket (hopefully we'll get the idea of saving in their heads soon :) They collect their chore money and buy small treats and toys at the store as a reward for all their work around the house.   Anyway, Cash is especially fascinated with money and of late, we'll often find that when we've gone to bed, Cash will lay in his bed with a flashlight counting his money over and over.  We often go to sleep to the sound of his clanking money and hope that he'll tire soon and go to sleep himself.   

SO - President Monson's story regarding his money intrigued Cash.  After this portion of the Prophet's talk (for he continued on with his talk), Cash asked me if he could go into his room for a minute.  I told him, "No, when the Prophet is done speaking, Conference will be ending and you can go into your room then - I want you to stay in the Living Room until Conference is over."  He then asked if he could sit on another chair in our Living Room and I said, "Yes."   He promptly went to that chair, sat down, folded his arms, bowed his head, closed his eyes and offered a sweet prayer.  I immediately thought of the primary song Follow The Prophet (which is Cash's favorite primary song btw) and promised myself I'd remember Cash's example to so quickly, faithfully and obediently follow our prophet's teachings - in this instance - to pray as our Prophet counseled. 

By this and other examples, I know my kids DID hear much of what was taught in Conference and I hope that as we continue to try our best to make Conference something to look forward to with anticipation and as we continue to make Conference a priority, the messages we are taught each Conference will enter into my kids' hearts and touch them - that they might remember and heed the words of our dear Prophet and all our church leaders. 

I hope your Conference experience was a great one as well and hope you'll share any success stories or activity ideas in comments so that I might try them too. Anything and everything helps right!?  And they really DO help, I feel like I learned so much from the messages prepared.  I was truly touched and taught.  How greatful I am for Conference, for a living Prophet and for the Gospel in it's entirety!!! 

Monday, September 26, 2011

"Me fwee and a half!"

It is high time I update the blog and past time as well, to write out updates of the kids so I'll hit two birds with one stone and start with the Little Miss who is now "fwee and a half" (as she informs everyone).  It is so hard to believe she's grown up so quickly but we are enjoying her every stage. 

Vanna has gotten into the same habit that I have allowed Cash to get into, and that is watching a few minutes of cartoons when she first wakes up (whether in the morning or in the afternoon after a nap). Cash has always needed a few minutes to wake up before he's ready to get moving, eat breakfast, etc. and although Vanna doesn't require the same time to get happy after awaking, she thinks she should receive the same treatment as Cash and that is a little cartoon time. So often the first words out of her mouth in the morning are, "Will you turn me on a cartoon?" To which I usually respond, "Sure pumpkin!" Go ahead say it, I'm a bad mom :).

But like I said before, Vanna wakes up chipper and happy as ever in the mornings.  She usually starts to gab right away (and for some reason she talks so loud - on a regular basis we have to remind her that we're right next to her and that there's no reason to raise her voice to yelling all the time - it's quite comical actually) and she loves to sing in the morning as well - we call her our little songbird.  Lately, when she joins us for breakfast, she'll request not to have milk in her cereal (this is usually our breakfast of choice when Daddy works but on his days off we enjoy nice, yummy breakfast food - so no, you can't say I'm a completely bad wife too :).  She'll sit at the table and eat her dry cereal and then often fill up her bowl again and carry it around snacking on it later in the morning too.  Of course, she still picks off any sweet parts first (marshmallows first, the 'frosting' off frosted Mini-Wheats, etc.).

What an easy-going morning eh?  What could be better than that - Lucky Charms in your bowl and cartoon to watch, all while snuggling with a favorite blanket and pillow pet?

Vanna's sweet tooth carries over into snacks as well.  Her favorites include:  spoonfuls of peanut butter, gushers, wheat thins, any kind of fruit, and oreos...or rather, the frosting from oreos.  I found this many "leftovers" when I dug into the oreos the other day.  Apparently, Vanna's been sneaking into the pantry and swiping oreo frosting. :)

Vanna loves to play in the water.  She usually begs for a bath and gets so excited to go swimming.  For some reason we often find Vanna's little tongue sticking out when she's playing and usually when she's running - which scares us to death. We keep trying to tell her that she's going to accidently bite her tongue right off if she has an accident when she's playing but it doesn't matter what we say, we'll see it hanging out again. Maybe she really does think she's a puppy (she LOVES to play/pretend she's a puppy or a kitty, crawling around on her hands and knees saying woof woof or meow :) 

Vanna also loves to pretend at being a mommy.  She always goes up to Cash and points at his chest while saying "Cash you be daddy and I mommy".  She really is such a good little mommy too.  She takes her baby dolls (whom she has named Amy and Lisla - no that's not a typo, she insists the baby's name is LISLA!) for walks in her stroller, shopping in the grocery cart, feeds them whatever food she can stuff into their tiny mouth openings, drips water down their face while she gives them a bottle full of water, tucks them in at night with their blankets, and even tries putting diapers on them occasionally. 

Today, she had at one time put her baby in the corner for being bad.  Later in the day, she grabbed a pillow from the couch to carry into her bedroom at naptime, when I asked what she needed it for she explained that she was going to put it under her baby's legs because "baby's legs hurtin'!" - Vanna's legs often ache in the night (something she inherited from me I think) and she wakes up crying in pain.  We always give her a touch of medicine, raise her legs up on a pillow and rub them for a little while to soothe her.  Apparently she was taking care of her baby in the same way.   I have no doubt she'll be a wonderfully big help with her new baby sister.

Vanna thoroughly enjoys helping me clean.

Vanna can not get enough of puppies and wants to pet every dog she sees.  If she sees one in someone's car while we're passing it on the road, she'll say, "Oh, a puppy, so cute, I want a puppy like that."

Vanna loves to jump on the trampoline.  She has mastered the tricks of jumping and landing on her knees and bouncing back up to her feet WITHOUT hands, as well as doing the same by but landing on her bottom (she thinks these are such accomplishments and says over and over "Mom, watch this!" while Cash remains very un-impressed).   She loves to play "Dead-Man Dead Man" and "Keep Away" with Cash and Daddy on the trampoline too.

Love the static!

Even more than jumping - Vanna loves to swing and could do it ALL day!  And quite frankly, Vanna just loves to do ANYTHING with her dad.  He's so fun to play with!  The minute he lays down, the kids consider him a jungle-gym and are immediately climbing all over him.  She loves to sit on his lap while watching a movie, etc.  She just loves him too much!

 The kids with their dad in the back of our van for a late night "Drive-In" movie.  We had a great time trying that out this summer.

And even though we still struggle with their bickering often, Cash and Vanna are inseperable (whether they realize they're driving each other crazy or not).  They do everything together - one of my favorite things to see them doing is riding on Cash's four-wheeler together.  Cash gives Vanna rides all over the place and she just hangs on for dear life - loving it all the while.  Cash is really rubbing off on Vanna I think too as now, she can not resist teasing us.

Here they are wrapped up in our hand-towels.

The kids love to build "forks" or in other words, forts.  This was our creation the other day.

Swimsuits...bike helmets...socks & shoes...mmm - can you see why I still pick out their clothes anytime we're leaving the house? 

Vanna has turned into a bit of a pack-rat similar to her big brother as well.  She always packs up her shopping cart full of toys (as you can see in the picture above) and parks it right next to her bed where she insists it stays throughout the night.  And if you look at the above picture, you'll see how she sometimes hangs all her babies along the rails of her bed so she can sleep with all of them.  Funny girl :)

As I've mentioned before, Vanna likes to sing.  She likes music period.  She loves to dance and prance around to music as well.  And speaking of prancing - the other day Cash was running in place and we asked Vanna to try it - she absolutley can not do it.  Mainly because rather than actually running she prances and it's hard to do that in one place. :)

Vanna loves  to ring the doorbell AND knock at the front door.  When we open the door for her, she'll pretend she's lost or that her family is dead (learned that from Cash - don't know why they're so morbid) and that she needs a place to live.

Vanna still loves to primp up - loves her nails painted, etc.  She's so good to sit still and let me do her hair no matter how long it takes and has even started practicing hair-do's and primping up her rocking horse as well (she also brushes it's teeth with her own toothbrush - ahh :).

For as girly as Vanna is, we find it interesting (and not so lovely) that she finds it hilarious to make herself burp.  She has mastered the technique and we are forever reminding her that burping is not very ladylike.  Of course she always follows up a burp with a "scuse me", but still!

Vanna is just our little sweetheart.  She has ALWAYS been so good to randomly say, "I love you Mom!" in just the sweetest, melt-your-heart kind of way - several times a day. Now she adds even more emphasis by saying, "I weally weally weally super love you Mom!" She does the same thing for her dad. Ahhh - it's just the best!  She never goes to bed without giving us kisses goodnight and often uses it as an excuse to get out of bed to give us more kisses - which we simply just can't deny right!?

Vanna can't resist picking any and all dandelions (flowers to her) for her mommy - how sweet!

Vanna still always announces the fact that she needs to go potty.  And sometimes she'll come to us with that "look" and practically ask for permission to go potty in the way she announces it.  We always hurry her and say, "Just go honey - run to the bathroom!"  Don't quite know why she does that. :)

She's great at correcting Cash when he's done something wrong and coming to me to tattle and let me know she thinks he should go in the corner. Or sometimes she'll even lecture/yell at him with her finger pointed at him when he's in trouble (yikes - do I do that?:)  My favorite though is when she tells me about Cash saying a bad word (like stupid or something similar) and while she's telling me about his misbehavior, she repeats the same bad word about ten times. 

Funny things Vanna has said recently:

-It almost seemed out of habit, Vanna would say, "Hey Mom, hey Mom, heeeeey Mooom," until I answered.  Then it was sometimes followed by a bewildered look and a, "Can't talk about it." - meaning I don't remember what I was going to say.  She was just so used to saying, "Hey Mom" that she didn't even know why half the time.

-I need a swack! - meaning I need a snack!

-Vanna will give me this big explanation of a particular thing she wants to do and when she wants to do it and follow it up with this phrase, "Okay, Mom, that's the problem."  When she means, "Okay, Mom, that's the plan."

-If Vanna has something yummy and I ask her for one she'll say, "One muy (more) and that's it, okay Mom!"

-When Cash just sits at the table without eating, Vanna will try to persuade him to eat in the same manner that I do with something like, "You need to eat buddy."  Or when he first wakes up, Vanna will ask Cash (again, just like we do), "Did you sleep good buddy?"  I just think it's funny that she calls him 'buddy' like us.
-When Cash shares a toy with her she'll ask, "I have this forever?"

Vanna also went through a short couple month phase where she did a lot of baby talk (she'd kind of stick her tongue out a bit, just between her lips, and talk teh way she thought a baby would talk).  I just kept hoping it would pass and sure enough, it did.  It's just so funny what they decide to do isn't it?!

Just had to add this picture again because it is still one of my very absolute favorites of our silly girl!

Anyway, our little girl is still her very independent, beautiful self and we are enjoying her ever growing vocabulary and wit.  She truly is such a very good girl (it's when we combine her with her brother that we sometimes run into misbehavior, etc. - imagine that? :) .  She is so excited to have "fwee" girls in our family.  She's a great sister to Cash - trying to stay caught up with him in every way possible - and will be a great big sister too, I have no doubt.  What fun she is to have in our family!!!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

What Was Your Guess?

Well, if you guessed we were having another girl, you were right!  We are SO excited!  I have to admit though that anyone's guess was as good as my own as I was more inclined to believe we were having a boy for some reason (guess I'm not blessed with that motherly inclination). 

We had our ultrasound on Thursday and were relieved to see all is going as well as can be expected with the pregnancy and that our baby girl seems to be as healthy as can be!  When we told the kids, of course Vanna started squealing and saying, "Yay!" while Cash said, "Oh man, I wanted a boy, I like baby broders."  Then he jumped right back into playing and we haven't heard a word of complaint since.  The kids are both helping us out with little girl names and it's been interesting to see what they come up with.   We were pretty set on a boy's name and a little undecided in the girls department.  We were so undecided with Vanna (who wasn't named until day two after her arrival) and since I have a couple pretty good ideas this time around, I hope that won't be the case with this bundle of pink.

I already had Ty get all my saved baby girl stuff and am in the process of rummaging through it all.  Only about half of our clothing will work (as Vanna was born in April and baby #3 is going to be a winter baby) but I figure if I buy some sweaters and leggings/leg warmers maybe I can make the other half work too.  We'll see :). 

We are very happy to welcome another princess to the family, so relieved she's doing well, and really just feel so overwhelmingly blessed!  I have been strongly determined not to take such a blessing as a healthy baby for granted.  We just had a dear friend of ours lose their beautiful baby girl due to a very pre-mature birth and our heart aches for them.  In the short time their baby lived, Teagan Faith and her family-through her and her stuggles- have made a lasting impression on me and so many others.  Our sincere prayers are with them and we hope for their strength and comfort during such a difficult time.   I thought her name so fitting and have found so many thoughts, books, lessons experiences, etc. over the past few months touch my life in regard to faith.  You know how you hear things repeated over and over until one day it clicks in such a personal way?  I have really felt that in regard to the principle of faith recently.  Perhaps I needed a lesson in faith or perhaps it was that I finally opened my heart to the true understanding of it.  I have learned so much in my studies and thought maybe I'd share just a clip of what I began to feel in regard to faith and our pioneers as I recently had to speak on the topic:


As I’ve studied and read through histories of our pioneer heritage and all the early Saints of the Church endured, I found myself asking “How?”

How could our pioneer Saints have worked so hard and under such harsh conditions?: James Bleak of the Martin Company recorded their experience as they crossed the North Platte for the last time in October of 1856:  “The crossing of the North Platte was fraught with more fatalities than any other incident of the entire journey…Blocks of mushy snow and ice had to be dodged…Some of the men carried some of the women on their backs or in their arms, but others of the women tied up their skirts and waded through like the heroines they were.”  Following that crossing Patience Loader recorded: “We had to travel in our wet clothes until we got to camp.  Our clothing was nearly frozen on us.  That night the ground was frozen so hard we were unable to drive any tent pins in and the tent was wet…We stretched [the tent] open and got under it until morning.”

I thought how could they have ate so little?:  Rations were such that each adult received 10 oz. flour per day, 10 oz. pork per 20 days and short rations of tea, coffee, sugar, rice and apples.  It was said that “any hearty man could eat his daily allowance for breakfast” alone.  And later when times were severely despairing, it was recorded by one man (John Jaques) of the Martin Company, “you felt as if you could almost eat a rusty nail or gnaw a file”.   Children chewed on bark, leaves, twigs and the tattered leather from the boots of those who had died.

How could our pioneer mothers have survived burying their children in shallow, unmarked graves for sake of the frozen ground – knowing that the wolves that tarried behind the companies would soon dig them up again?

How, even after finally arriving in the Salt Lake valley, could husbands and fathers so willingly leave their families for missions that were termed “generally not to be very long ones” it was announced that “probably from three to seven years will be as long as any man will be absent from his family” (The Willie and Martin Handcart Story)?

How could the pioneers have endured SO much? What carried these Saints through such struggle? 

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland answered this beautifully, so if you’ll bear with me I’d like to read a portion of his message found in this up-coming month’s Ensign called “Faith to Answer the Call”:

What are we seeing in these examples of faithful pioneers? It is what we have seen down through the dispensations of time and certainly down through this dispensation…What we saw then and what we see now among the blessed Saints the world over is faith in God, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, faith in the Prophet Joseph Smith, faith in the reality of this work and the truthfulness of its message.

Little wonder that faith always has been and always will be the first and abiding principle of the gospel and of our work. It is the heart of our conviction that the work not only should go forth but that it also can and will and must go forth.

…The fundamental driving force in these [pioneer] stories is faith—rock-ribbed, furnace-refined, event-filled, spiritually girded faith that this is the very Church and kingdom of God and that when you are called, you go.

Elder Holland goes on to issue a call for conviction, he says:

“ we all must have burning in our hearts that this is the work of God and that it requires the best we can give to the effort. My appeal is that you nurture your own physical and spiritual strength so that you have a deep reservoir of faith to call upon when tasks or challenges or demands of one kind or another come. Pray a little more, study a little more, shut out the noise and shut down the clamor, enjoy nature, call down personal revelation, search your soul, and search the heavens for the testimony that led our pioneer parents. Then, when you need to reach down inside a little deeper and a little farther to face life and do your work, you will be sure there is something down there to call upon.

We must have faith in this work—faith in what all believers are called to do, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and in our Father in Heaven. We need to conform our will to Theirs and then make that will rock-ribbed and pioneer strong indeed. If we do that, I know we will be safe and secure in the inexorable onward movement of the Church and kingdom of God on earth.

I too know that we must have faith.  We must have faith to sustain us in our future.   We were taught by Elder Russell M. Nelson in our last General Conference:

We live in a time of turmoil. Earthquakes and tsunamis wreak devastation, governments collapse, economic stresses are severe, the family is under attack, and divorce rates are rising. We have great cause for concern. But we do not need to let our fears displace our faith. We can combat those fears by strengthening our faith.

He stated: Our faith now becomes part of our posterity’s faith later.  Which I might just add –  is a statement I believe the pioneers well understood – but Elder Nelson further taught:

Start with your children. You parents bear the primary responsibility to strengthen their faith. Let them feel your faith, even when sore trials come upon you. Let your faith be focused on our loving Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Teach that faith with deep conviction. Teach each precious boy or girl that he or she is a child of God, created in His image, with a sacred purpose and potential. Each is born with challenges to overcome and faith to be developed.

Teach of faith in God’s plan of salvation. Teach that our sojourn in mortality is a period of probation, a time of trial and testing to see if we will do whatever the Lord commands us to do.

Teach of faith to keep all the commandments of God”… for in order for us …“to prepare to meet God, one keeps all of His commandments. It takes faith to obey them, and keeping His commandments will strengthen that faith.

Teach of faith to know that obedience to the commandments of God will provide physical and spiritual protection. And remember, God’s holy angels are ever on call to help us.

Elder Nelson asks:

Why do we need such resilient faith? Because difficult days are ahead. Rarely in the future will it be easy or popular to be a faithful Latter-day Saint. Each of us will be tested. The Apostle Paul warned that in the latter days, those who diligently follow the Lord “shall suffer persecution.”12 That very persecution can either crush you into silent weakness or motivate you to be more exemplary and courageous in your daily lives.

Our beloved President Thomas S. Monson has given us his prophetic witness.  He said:  I testify to you that our promised blessings are beyond measure.  Though the storm clouds may gather, though the rains may pour down upon us, our knowledge of the gospel and our love of our Heavenly Father and of our Savior will comfort and sustain us and bring joy to our hearts as we walk uprightly and keep the commandments.”  He further encourages: “My beloved brothers and sisters, fear not. Be of good cheer. The future is as bright as your faith.

I love that – The future is as bright as your faith.  I do believe hard times are ahead, hard times are already here, but I gain much courage as I rely on our Prophet’s promises and hang on his encouraging words.  I know that we must develop that rock-ribbed, furnace-refined, event-filled, spiritually girded faith that Elder Holland taught us about in order to endure and survive all that life here on Earth throws at us but I know with an absolute assurance that we can make it through, for it has been done before.  How grateful I am for the examples of our pioneers who displayed powerful faith in their struggles – that we might learn from them how important the gospel is and should be in our lives – how important faith is to rely upon in trying times and how worthwhile our efforts in the Kingdom of God are.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.