The Vanderhorst Family

The Vanderhorst Family

Monday, December 30, 2013

Here Comes #2!

Well, it's true! We are expecting baby #2! I know Andrew and this baby are going to be ridiculously close (16.5 months apart), but we wouldn't have it any other way (yes, this was planned--I know, call us crazy). We always wanted our first two kids to be close in age, so we are excited that it happened!

When I found out we were pregnant Grant had already gone to work. I took a pregnancy test, and at first it came back negative. I knew that I had to wait at least 3 minutes though to get accurate results, so I went and cleaned up our bedroom a little bit. I was expecting to come back and see a negative result and just throw it away, but when I came back I saw a faint second line. I was so ecstatic! And was then reminded that I just went through 3 miscarriages, and to not get my hopes up. I was about 4 weeks along when we found out.

I prayed every morning and evening that I would get morning sickness and all the other
symptoms that come along with pregnancy, because then I would know that things were working like they were supposed to. A couple weeks later I woke up one morning with Andrew and wanted nothing more than to throw up. I've never been so grateful to feel like crap in my life. I'm sure all of my pregnant friends would like to give me a swift punch to the face for saying that, but when you've gone through the emotional roller-coaster of 3 miscarriages, you will be grateful for ANY sign that things are working--even feeling nauseous. I haven't thrown up, just felt nauseous--I'll take it!

Things are going to be crazy for a while after the baby is born, but we are so happy that our first 2 will be so close in age and we're excited to add another sweet child into our family. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

It All Works Out

I was recently reminded of an experience that Grant and I went through last year and I wanted to share it.

When Grant and I were first married, we both had a couple years of school ahead of us. It seemed like we were so far away from where we wanted to be--we were anxious to begin our family, but also wanted to graduate school without going into debt. We wanted so much to be done with school and move on with adulthood. With the economy the way it was a couple years ago, we were both a little stressed about whether or not Grant would be able to find a job upon graduation. At the time Grant was trying to decide what he should major in, and we would both discuss it pretty much on a daily basis. We are both planners and wanted to just know what would happen the next couple years so we could prepare. We really had to just take it one semester at a time. Each semester we would discuss our finances, where we would be working and how many hours a week, and discuss majors, when we should start a family, etc. And each semester things became a bit more clear. Last year when we were celebrating our 2 year anniversary, we were pregnant with Andrew and I was teaching, and Grant had just accepted a job offer here in DC. I remember us saying to each other that we wish we could go back to the newly-married versions of ourselves and tell them to relax a little bit, and just know that everything would work out. Something that Grant and I said to each other at the beginning of each semester was "Well, Heavenly Father hasn't let us down yet, so He's not going to now." That was pretty much how we went into each semester--not knowing what was coming down the road for us, but trusting that if we did our best to make things work and follow the spirit, that Heavenly Father would guide us to what we should be doing, and what He has planned for us. At times doors that we thought had promise would close, and other times where unexpected windows would open that would lead to things better than what we had planned.

Recently, we have kind of been feeling the same way we did when we were first married. This stage of life is difficult because you have so many options in front of you, and you don't want to be scared about making the wrong choice. We've been wondering if we should go back to grad-school, or wondering how long we will be here in DC, where we eventually want to live, when we should get a sibling for Andrew, etc. We were both reminded of that experience we had last year though, and we know that we'll be able to look back at this time in our lives and say "I wish we could go back to those versions of ourselves and tell them to relax a little bit, and just know that everything would work out." We've been reminded that Heavenly Father has never let us down, He has never lead us astray, and as we continue to seek His spirit daily that we will be guided. We've also learned that Heavenly Father trusts us to make our own decisions. Sometimes it's not a matter of making the perfect, right decision, but rather making the decision right or perfect. We know there will be times in our lives where there will be a clear direction of where to go, and other times when we will be able to make a choice for ourselves, and both choices will be good in the sight of Heavenly Father.

Heavenly Father has His eye on all of us and He hasn't forgotten about anyone. It life seems a little dark right now and you're not sure exactly where you're going and you can't see the light at the end of the tunnel, just take it one step at a time--you only need to see one step ahead of you. When you reach the end you'll be able to look back and see the marvelous path that Heavenly Father has led you down.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

To All My Pregnant Friends

A couple days ago I was reminiscing about the night that Andrew was born and I wanted to document some really tender moments that I wasn't expecting to have, but I think every woman has them after they give birth. So after Andrew was born, I held him for about a minute, and then they took him down to the NICU to get an IV in him and check his vitals and what not. Grant went with him, and I was just caught up in the whirlwind that just happened that I was grateful for some peace and quiet with my mom who had just gotten into town. I was also starving, so I talked to my mom while I ate, and waited for the bleeding to slow down a little bit before they could take me downstairs. It was about an hour before I was able to see Andrew again. When it was happening I didn't really think much of it, but looking back I wish I could've been there with him.

I'm sure Andrew was wondering what on earth was going on. I think every baby feels this way. They are snug as a bug, and then all of a sudden they are put into a completely different environment. For Andrew, I'm sure it was quite the shock because he was 6 weeks early, and the first hour of his life was probably not the most pleasant. They had to try 4-5 times to get the IV into his little arm, and being around voices you aren't familiar with I'm sure is a little scary. I'm grateful that Grant was there, because I knew Andrew recognized his voice.

So after an hour I was able to go downstairs and be with him. When I got into the room they were able to give Andrew a bath, which was mostly scrubbing off all the sticky white stuff (I can't remember the technical term). Any who, Andrew did not enjoy it at all! I'm sure he was sick and tired of people bugging him, putting wires on his chest, putting needles in his little arm, etc. so he was crying quite a lot. I felt helpless! No mother wants to hear their newborn crying! I had a little voice in my head say "start talking to him" so I did. Within about 10 seconds the crying stopped, and his head was turned toward my voice. The thing I love about this is that babies can't see any color--they are drawn mostly to black and white patterns. They can't focus on images that are more than about 8 inches away from their face, so Andrew couldn't see my face. But he didn't have to--he heard my voice (one that he head heard for 8 months), recognized it, and knew that he was by his mom. I reached out my hand to grab his, and he instantly clutched his little hand around my finger. That was the most tender moment I had with him.
This is in the middle of his bath. The nurse put him down to go get more water, and he was so calm. I just kept talking to him for the rest of his bath and didn't hear a single peep out of him.

Right after his bath. It was such a tender time to finally be with my baby boy!
In the weeks that followed when he was in the NICU, every time either me or Grant would show up and start talking to the nurses, he would pop his eyes open. He had people talking around him all day, but he always knew when his mom and dad were there. This still sometimes happens. If Andrew is asleep during Sunday School, Grant and I have to think twice before raising our hands to make a comment, because most times Andrew wakes up because he hears our voices. People around us can be commenting and even talking loud, but it isn't until one of us starts talking that he wakes up.

So, to all my pregnant friends, you have tender moments to look forward to! Your babies already recognize your voice, and sometimes in the midst of all the commotion, hearing your voice is the only thing that will calm them down. They know who you are, and you know what is best for them. Don't think that you don't know what you're doing--motherly instincts are very real. I personally believe that they aren't just instincts, but promptings from the spirit. These children are God's children, and so of course He has a vested interest in their well being. Enjoy these tender moments! Write them in your journal and take pictures of them, because they make the 9 months of pregnancy and labor and delivery totally worth it!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Parents Kind and Dear

I sing Andrew a couple of hymns or primary songs each night before putting him to bed. I find that he goes to bed much easier--I firmly believe that babies are very sensitive to the spirit, and even though they don't understand what you're saying while reading the scriptures or singing, they can still feel a difference. Anywho, I always make sure to sing the primary song called "I Am a Child of God." The beginning part goes:

I am a child of God
and He has sent me here
has given me an earthly home
with parents kind and dear

and then it goes on. As I was singing this out loud I paused in the song for a couple of seconds and realized what I just sung. "With parents kind and dear." As children sing this, they are reminded that they are sent to parents kind and dear. Parents who love them and would do anything for them. Parents who are trying to raise them up in the gospel. Parents who beat themselves up over mistakes and wish they could redo the moment in the day where they lost their temper. Parents who are trying their best, and their best IS good enough! But we as parents often forget that Heavenly Father doesn't expect perfection out of us--He just wants us to try our best, and rely on Him for the rest of this beast we call parenthood. There have been a few times where I've had a hard day with Andrew, so I close my eyes and say a quick prayer, and I've heard a very quiet voice whisper to me, "You're a good mom." There are people in the world that may think I'm too young, that being at home isn't a worthy goal, that I'm wasting the prime of my life staying at home, and all of those voices are very loud. It isn't until I am quiet and really listen that I can hear the Holy Ghost with His quiet voice saying "You're a good mom." I genuinely believe He whispers this to every parent who is giving it their best, and often feeling like they come short.

I then had another realization after singing I am a Child of God. I can be doing my best to raise up a righteous family, but there may be one of my children that strays off the path for a little bit. This is something I thought about even before I was married, and it has always been a concern of mine. After realizing how deep the words are to "I Am a Child of God" my mind immediately thought of the beginning of the Book of Mormon when Nephi said "I Nephi, having been born of goodly parents...". I don't think it is a coincidence that this is the beginning of the Book of Mormon. Lehi and Sariah were wonderful parents who tried to lead their family in righteousness, yet they still had 2 rebellious sons. I think anyone who has been in this situation can look to them as an example of faith on the Lord, and still being at peace. I've been learning to realize that mistakes are ok to make and that kids learn from them, and most importantly I as a parent learn from them. We do our best to teach our kids what we know to be right and true, but men are free to choose for themselves. I don't know if one of my children will go wayward and that will be a huge trial for me, but I do know that as long as I try my best NOW to raise them in the gospel, that Heavenly Father will still look out for them. It is never too late to come back to the gospel. It was huge for me to realize that as long as I do my best and stay close to the spirit in parenting, that my kids still have their free agency, and that God doesn't give up on His children.

I'm grateful for my parents, my in-laws, my grandparents, my aunts, uncles, and brothers and sister-in-laws. All are wonderful examples to me of what a good parent looks like. All have made mistakes. All have had successes. All have tried their best, and it has been and will be good enough.

Always remember to stay close to the Lord and the spirit, and you will be blessed in parenting (all in the Lord's way and in His time).

And remember, no matter what the voices of the world say (sometimes that can even be you're own), "You're a good mom." "You're a good dad."

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Whole Wheat Bread Recipe

Props to this recipe goes to my sister-in-law, Emily. Enjoy!

Whole Wheat Bread

1/2 cup oil (either canola or vegetable)
1/2 cup honey
1 egg
1 can evaporated milk
3 cups hot water
1 rounded Tablespoon of salt
1 Tablespoon wheat gluten
2 Tablespoons instant yeast
9-10 cups whole wheat flour (or you can use white whole wheat flour too)

In mixing bowl combine oil, honey, egg, milk, salt & water. 
Add 4 cups flour, wheat gluten, and yeast. Mix for 2 minutes.
Gradually add 5-6 more cups of flour. Mix 5 more minutes, then gradually add enough flour for sides of bowl to come clean. 
Remove dough to oiled counter-top and divide into 3 large loaves or 5 smaller loaves. 
Allow to rise 30-60 min in oiled pans until double in size. (I cover them with a towel while rising).  
Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 23-33 min, depending on size of loaves and how brown you like the crust. 
Cool 5 min. in pans, then finish cooling on clean towel. 

* some notes about this recipe (these are Emily's notes--very helpful!):
I usually half the recipe because it's actually meant to be made using a bosch mixer and since I don't have one, this much dough is really hard to knead by hand. I halved this recipe, and it either makes 1 large loaf of bread or 2 smaller loaves.

* Wheat gluten is hard to find in a normal grocery store. For those of you who live in Utah they sell it in the big bins in WINCO, but if you don't have a WINCO arround you can find it in a Whole Foods or Trader Joes.
* If you use bread flour instead of all-purpose, you may not have to add the wheat gluten, because I think the difference between the two is bread flour naturally has more wheat gluten already in it.

Here is a before rising picture

Here is the finished product. Enjoy!

Monday, October 28, 2013


When we first moved back East, I realized very quickly that I needed a GPS of some sort--either just a GPS or a smart-phone that had a GPS-app. I use my GPS-app on my phone on a daily basis, and I rely on it completely to help me get to the places I both want and need to be, and most importantly, it gets me home safely from those places.

As I've been driving around relying solely on this GPS function, I've often had the thought pop into my mind that my GPS is a good spiritual application.

Whenever I want to go somewhere, I always type in the address--or where I want to end up. I have no idea what route to take to get there, but my GPS does, so I have to trust that my GPS won't lead me astray. Likewise, I know that I eventually want to return home to my Heavenly Father. I knew that I wanted to get married and have a family, and I knew that I wanted to graduate from college. Those big life goals I knew I wanted, but Heavenly Father guided me through small steps (and sometimes I had to step into the darkness and trust Him completely), but then I successfully reached my end goal.

My GPS talks to me, giving me step by step directions and guiding me through each turn and light and on-ramp. There are sometimes where the GPS has enough distance to warn me of what's coming up ("Stay on this road for 2 miles and then take exit 64"), and other times where the next step jumps out of nowhere ("Now in 500 feet turn right"). The Holy Ghost will sometimes warn us when trials or temptations are coming our way, and other times, life just happens to us and we have to roll with the punches, but our spiritual GPS is still there telling us how to navigate through unknown roads.

If I am talking on the phone, my GPS will still talk to me through the phone and give me directions, but it is a very quiet voice. Whenever instructions come, I have to listen very intently and tune out of my conversation on the phone for a second while I listen to the instructions the GPS is telling me. Just like in life, we will have many conversations and many things to juggle, and the Holy Ghost speaks to us very quietly. We need to tune out those other voices in order to hear where we need to go.

There are other times when I miss a turn or take a wrong exit--most times on accident, but other times on purpose. Sometimes I think I know what route is best and ignore the route my GPS has given me--often times I'm wrong. Sometimes I think I know what is best for my life and what route is best for me to take, but Heavenly Father always knows what is best for me, and His timing is best for me. Other times I will miss a turn on accident, either because I forget what the GPS said, or I have the voice turned off, or it comes up to fast and I miss it. Sometimes in life, I forget to read my scriptures, I tune out the Holy Ghost because I'm too distracted with other things, or my life is so busy that I miss spiritual promptings. The thing I love most about my GPS, is whenever I get off-route, it simply says "rerouting" or "recalculating." I'm sure my GPS would really like to just say "You idiot! I've been telling you for the past 4 miles that you have to turn here! How could you miss it?! I gave you 3 warnings! Now we have to figure out a new route and it's going to take us longer to get to your destination! Listen up next time!" Now that I think about it that would actually be pretty funny if my phone started yelling at me ;)  Heavenly Father doesn't scold us if we mess up--it's bound to happen. We're not perfect, and we don't get everything right the first time. Heavenly Father simply gives us another option to get to where we want to go. Sure, it might be harder, more of an inconvenience, or take us longer, but we will eventually get to where we are going as long as we listen to that still, small voice.

There are other times where I supposedly arrive at my destination (perhaps at a shopping center or a road that is under construction), and the GPS says "You have arrived at your destination." I look around, and think "Um, this is my destination? I don't see the store." Sometimes my GPS puts me in a huge shopping center, or within 1000 feet of my destination, and once I get there I have to look around a little bit to find the store. I think it's that way in life sometimes as well. Heavenly Father leads us down a particular path and we could say "Um, this is what you had planned for me?" It isn't until we open up our spiritual eyes and look for why Heavenly Father has placed us somewhere that we realize it was what we wanted all along, and then some.

I'm grateful for both my physical GPS and my spiritual GPS. Both guide me every step of the way and get me to where I want to go.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Easiest Pumpkin Cookies Ever!

Alright guys, you ready for this? These pumpkin cookies have 3 ingredients and are delicious!

1 15 oz can of pumpkin
1 cake mix (I usually do spice cake)
1 12 oz bag of chocolate chips (I usually do milk chocolate)

Mix together the pumpkin and cake mix. Add in the entire bag of chocolate chips. Bake at 350 degrees on a greased pan for 20-25 minutes.

These cookies don't really spread out, so you don't want to put them into balls, but spread them out a little bit more. This also gives you the chance to be creative since the shape pretty much stays the same. You can shape these into a ghost, a pumpkin, a witch (or whatever you like) before you bake it, and after it bakes it looks pretty much the same. This is a fun one to do with the kiddos!

It's that easy! I also like it because you can get creative with your add-ins. You can do vanilla or chocolate cake mix instead of spice, or you could do nuts instead of chocolate chips (or in addition to). Seriously, so good and so easy!


Saturday, October 19, 2013

All Things Denote There is a God: My Testimony

I have had a prompting lately to record my testimony about what I believe, and I figured what better place to do it than on my blog. Throughout my blog, I'm going to refer to 3 books of scripture listed below, so those of you who aren't LDS can look at these definitions and know what I'm talking about when I refer to them :)

Book of Mormon: On the cover of the Book of Mormon, it states that it is another testament of Jesus Christ--that's exactly what it is. This record begins with a family that leaves Jerusalem around 600 BC and crosses the ocean to the Americas. The book is passed down from generation to generation and is a record of the history of those people living in the Americas. Christ comes to visit them after His resurrection, and this record was buried in a hill by a man named Moroni (around 421 AD) and was later translated by the power of God through Joseph Smith.
Doctrine and Covenants: This is a compilation of revelations that Joseph Smith received from God during his time as the prophet.
King James Bible: Many claim we aren't Christians, but we also believe in the bible. As stated above, the Book of Mormon is ANOTHER testament of Jesus Christ--the first one is the bible. We believe in both.

Recently I have been thinking about an experience I had in High School. It was my Sophomore year, and I was taking Biology. We got to the subject of evolution in our class, and while I don't believe humans evolved from monkeys, I do believe that all species (human or otherwise) develop different characteristics to help them adapt to their environments. I was fine accepting this part of evolution, but then my teacher made a point of bringing in a religious aspect. Since class was running out, he said "We can't discuss the implications evolution has on the belief that a higher being created this world and humans (as he scoffed), but if you'd like to come discuss your viewpoints with me I'd be more than happy to." I knew I was signing up for a possibly heated discussion, but I felt like I had to defend what I believed. I told my good friend, Andrea, about what happened, and she decided to come with me during our lunch hour to talk to him. We discussed each of our different viewpoints, and agreed to disagree, as he openly admitted to being an atheist. I didn't say anything to this, but inside felt compassion for him, and a sense of pity. I pitied him that he led a life thinking that there wasn't a Heavenly Father who cared for him, loved him, and wanted the best for him. A Heavenly Father who wanted my teacher to return to live with Him forever. I can only imagine how lonely it must feel to not know or even believe in an afterlife.

As the years have gone on and I've thought about this conversation, my mind keeps going back to different truths I've read in the Book of Mormon. There was a prophet named Alma, and he had a similar discussion with a man named Korihor. Korihor went around preaching to Alma's people that they couldn't know that a God exists, or couldn't know that Christ would come (the timeline was BC). Alma says to Korihor, "All things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator."

This reminds me of a primary song in our church called "My Heavenly Father Loves Me." The words read this:

Whenever I hear the song of a bird
Or look at the blue, blue sky
Whenever I fell the rain on my face
Or the wind as it rushes by
Whenever I touch a velvet rose
Or walk by our lilac tree
I'm glad that I live in this beautiful world
Heavenly Father created for me

He gave me my eyes that I might see
The color of butterfly wings
He gave me my ears that I might hear
The magical sound of things
He gave me my life, my mind, my heart
I thank Him reverently
For all His creations, of which I'm a part
Yes, I know Heavenly Father loves me

In all the beauty around us, it seems impossible to me to deny that Heavenly Father exists.  Who needs proof that God exists when there are so many evidences around us?

There have been too many experiences in my life where I knew that someone was looking out for me for me to deny that God exists. He has led me through my darkest days, He has been there to celebrate my happiest moments, and all things good in my life I have because of His tender mercies and love for me.

Some people might argue that "If God exists, why does he allow bad things to happen?" This is something that I've been pondering for quite some time, and have realized a few things. First, Heavenly Father would cease to be God if He took away our agency. People choose how to act. So if someone chooses to commit acts of terror, tease someone else, or any other bad thing you can think of, that is their choice, and eventually they will suffer the consequences. Secondly, I firmly believe that trials make us better people. There is a scripture in the Book of Mormon that states "I have refined thee, I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction." In Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord is addressing the early saints of the church who had to deal with much persecution, and He states "They shall be mine in that day when I shall come to make up my jewels. Therefore, they must needs be chastened and tried." This reminds me of how diamonds are made. Coal is put under intense heat and pressure (sometimes for a long amount of time), is chipped away at and buffed, until a beautiful, sparking diamond is made. Heavenly Father has the ability to take coal and make diamonds, but we will only become diamonds if we put our trust and faith in the Lord, and trust that trials are for our good, and we become stronger.

You always grow from a trial. You always learn something. If we didn't have trials, we wouldn't learn anything. If this life were easy and trial-free, that would be like taking an exam without questions on it. We have to prove that we have learned how to put our trust on God. When my water broke 6 weeks early with Andrew, I choose to put my trust in the Lord. It was the hardest thing in my life to have Andrew in the hospital for 20 days. I think I cried every day or night for a good half hour while he was in the hospital. It was so hard, but I also had an immense amount of peace during that whole experience. I grew closer to Heavenly Father through that experience, and as a result I have a closer relationship with God, I have learned and grown so much from that experience, and have developed more faith in God's timetable.

Sometimes our trials that we're asked to go through might seem unbearable or too much for us to handle, but God doesn't leave us hanging. He hasn't left us out in the cold. He has given us prophets and apostles, scriptures, the power of prayer, families, wards, stakes, and so much more to help us through this life. We are never alone. Sometimes it may feel that the windows of Heaven are sealed and our prayers aren't being heard, but I know that dealing with trials or uncertainties in life require us to have an eternal perspective and to trust in the Lord. I have also learned that God's timetable is what is best for me--even when I thought my timetable was best for me.

As my dear friend, Andrea, and I were leaving from our discussion with my science teacher, he said "You know, I thought I had everything figured out when I was 15 as well." I just turned, smiled, and said "I'll see you in class tomorrow. Thanks for talking with us."

He was right about one thing: When I was 15, I believed the church was true. I believed what I was being taught in church, seminary, and at home, but didn't yet know it was true. 8 years after that experience, I can say with a surety that I know the church is true. I know God lives. I know the Book of Mormon, the Bible, and the Doctrine and Covenants are the word of God. I know God lives. I know Jesus Christ atoned for our sins, that through Him we can become cleansed, we can become better, and we can heal and become whole from hard trials in our lives. I know Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and I know that Christ will come again to earth. I know that I can live with my family together forever. I'm grateful for temples, and for the peace that I feel there. I know that the atonement is real--it can help us repent, become better, and heal from spiritual wounds. It is never too late to use the atonement. I know Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love each of us, and that we are never alone. I'm grateful I'm a member of this church and for the peace, comfort, and joy it has brought into my life.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Trip to Colorado

Grant went out of town a couple weeks ago for a business trip, so my parents had the brilliant idea for me to come home and visit for a week while he was gone. It was an inspired idea! I would have gone insane being in an apartment with just me and Andrew, and it is always so great to be home. I flew out early Monday morning (and I mean EARLY!), and came home on Saturday afternoon. Andrew did wonderfully with all the travel. He slept pretty well on both flights, and only fussed for about 10 minutes each way. He's a pretty easy baby to travel with, so that made flying by myself with him so much easier.

My sister-in-law, Emily, who lives in Utah decided to fly out to join in the fun as well! We spent a lot of time with Stephen and Emily before we moved to DC, so it was fun to be around her and Daniel again. I remember Daniel when he was born, and it was fun to see him walking around, talking a little bit, and his general enthusiasm for life. He loves opening and closing any doors, and he has a general bounce in his step whenever he walks. It was fun to be around him :)

We also went out to eat with Grandpa Woodhouse and April, and then afterwards me, Emily, and April took the kiddos to the park, where Andrew tried swinging for the first time. He screamed and cried the whole time and totally hated it. Maybe when he's older he'll like it more :)

April, Emily and I also went shopping (without the kiddos!) and out to dinner. This was one of my favorite things we did in CO. It was fun to have some girl time and talk about anything and everything. I think we stayed at dinner for close to two hours because we just sat around and talked. It was much needed bonding time :) We also had lunch together and let the kiddos play together. Andrew tried out an exersaucer, and Charlotte was nice enough to come play with him and even push him around in it :)

I also got some cute clothes for Andrew at a hand-me-down kid store. Cute button down shirt with a sweater vest (much like his daddy), a winter coat, and a winter onesie (he looks like a blue-mini-chewbaca).

We were also able to get some down time around the house, and every night Emily, mom and I watched chick flicks (including Sherlock, which Grant and I now love!)

We also took the kiddos swimming! It was Andrew's first time and he loved it. As soon as I put him in the water he got a huge smile on his face. Daniel was able to show off his water tricks (such as floating)--it was a blast!

Emily and I were also able to go to the temple together, and we had a lot of good conversations throughout the week.

It was surreal for me to be sleeping in the same room that I had in high school, only this time I'm a married-college-grad-mom. Life goes by way too fast, but I'm always grateful to go home to the house I grew up in. I feel so much peace every time I turn into our culd-e-sac, and it was a much needed break to go home. Thank you mom, dad, Reed and April, and Emily for making such a fun week in CO!

Headed to the airport to go home.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Best Burritos You've Ever Had

Grant made the most amazing burritos last night. Seriously, they are better than any Qdoba or Cafe Rio burrito I have ever had. I don't know if it was the queso or the cilantro that we used, but it was incredible.

Ok, here is each element of our burrito:

Sauteed onions/peppers

Chicken: Cook a couple of chicken breasts until they are almost done. Cook on low temperature for a long amount of time for best results. Shred the chicken and let it simmer on low in mild or medium enchilada sauce for about 15-20 minutes (we prefer green enchilada sauce).

Guacamole: Get a couple of soft avacados and beat those in with milk (about 1/8 of a cup--we just play it by ear) and garlic (garlic powder also works). When you have the consistency you want, add in some crushed red pepper (not a lot) and put in the fridge for about 15-20 minutes.

Queso: We used this recipe for the queso and we used a little bit more milk than asked for because some of the milk cooked out as we were cooking the other things at the same time. You don't want the cheese to harden, so add milk as you go to keep it soft.

Rice: We have a rice-cooker, so we put in white rice (you can also use brown rice), a little bit of cilantro, and about a lime per cup of rice. We just squeeze out the lime juice. Before we cooked it, we let the rice, lime juice, and cilantro sit in the water to let the flavor soak into the rice (do this for about 10 minutes), then we cooked it.

Lettuce: Do NOT use iceberg lettuce. Romaine or green-leaf is the best.

Sauteed onions/peppers: Optional, but not necessary.

Corn: We just used canned corn and warmed it up in the microwave.

Put in wheat or white tortillas (we used wheat and it was actually really good!).

Just a few tips about the burritos--you don't need to add salsa or cheese because the salsa flavor comes from the enchilada sauce, and the cheese you already have with the queso. Also, you don't need to add a lot of queso to your burrito to get the flavor. More is less with the queso.


Monday, October 7, 2013

Heavenly Father Answers Prayers

I couldn't go to sleep until I documented what happened today. These past few days I have been keenly aware of Heavenly Father's love for me. Very specific questions and concerns that I've had the past couple weeks were all covered in detail this past weekend during General Conference. Just another manifestation to me that God answers prayers. Well, today I had another manifestation happen.

I went to the grocery store at about 10:30 am. It wasn't sunny, but it didn't look like it would rain at all. When I was checking out at 11:15 am, I look outside to see sheets and sheets of rain coming down. I wait it out for about 15 minutes hoping the rain would let up a little bit, but I'm pretty sure it actually got worse. I couldn't wait any longer--I had to get Andrew home to feed him and put him down for a nap. But I didn't want to trek out to the car with Andrew. While I contemplated for a couple minutes what to do, I finally saw a woman walking into the store that I recognized from my ward. I stopped her, told her who I was, and asked her if she would watch Andrew while I pull the car up to the curb. That was the first small answer to a prayer.

When we got home, I tried waiting in the car for a few more minutes to see if the rain would let up, but again, it was no use. I finally decided that I had to make the somewhat long trek from our car to the apartment with all of my groceries, and Andrew in his carseat--no way was I about to make 2 trips. Our building is the only one in the complex that doesn't have a parking lot right next to it, so we definitely get our exercise in whenever we go anywhere. As I gathered up all the groceries on one arm, and Andrew in the other arm, I took about 10 steps and realized that there was no way I could make it on my own. I said a little prayer, just asking Heavenly Father to send someone to just help me get to my apartment. I didn't need the rain to stop, but I needed an extra pair of hands. Right as I finished saying the prayer, I saw a woman walking up to me, completely drenched, and asked if she could help. She took the groceries from me and helped me up to the third floor. Me, her, and Andrew were all drenched, but at least we made it to the apartment safely and in one trip.

It might seem like a small thing, but it was just another manifestation to me that God is aware of me. He didn't have to stop the ridiculous down-pour of water to show me He loved me. Instead, He sent an extra pair of hands to help. I've never had an answer to prayer come so immediately, but I know that Heavenly Father is aware of all of us.

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Modesty Debate

Disclaimer: This is not the most politically correct post/the nicest post I've ever written. Sorry if you get offended, but it has to be said.

It took me way too long to fall asleep last night. I have been pretty infuriated with all the debate going around (especially on Facebook) about 2 articles in particular. One was a mother of boys who wrote a letter to teenage girls telling them that they needed to dress modestly or else they would no longer be Facebook friends with the boys' family. Another article was saying that no matter what a woman wears that a boy should always look at women as other human beings, and not a piece of meat--I appreciated this article very much.

While both articles to me have excellent points, and honestly I love both articles, I guess the thing that has bothered me the most with reading all the comments from various people is the lack of responsibility that genders take for themselves. Boys want to blame girls for their impure thoughts and girls want to blame boys by calling them animals and for being offended when they are looked at as nothing more than a great body. Here are my thoughts on the issue:

1) How you dress will send a message to other people about yourself--whether you like it or not. You cannot and will not avoid the fact that people are going to make snap judgments about you by what you wear. Is it fair? Probably not. Is it all that you really are? Most likely no. But you cannot avoid it. It will happen. You would never see someone interviewing for a corporate position walk in wearing jeans and a t-shirt, and expect the interviewer to say, "Wow you are super professional." You could be the most professional person in the world, and the most qualified applicant, but they are going to have a problem trying to accept the fact that you are professional because of how you dress. Likewise, boys cannot wear muscle shirts and low-hanging pants without SOMEONE saying "Wow, that guy is a meathead." Girls cannot wear shirt skirts and cleavage-showing shirts without a guy noticing her body, and probably nothing else about her. Is that fair? No. Is it accurate? Probably not. Is there more to you than meets the eye? Absolutely. But you need to ask yourself what kind of message you are sending to people when you get dressed in the mornings. I have gotten some pretty odd looks when I go to the grocery store at 3 in the afternoon with Andrew and I'm not wearing any make-up, my hair is in a messy bun, and I'm wearing sweats and a t-shirt--I look like I need a self-help book. I'm sure some people have thought, "Really? You couldn't find 10 minutes in your day to get decent?" Here's the thing, when I go to the store looking like that, I know what message I'm sending, and to be honest, I don't care. They are catching me on a bad day, and I know that there is more to me than meets the eye, but other people don't know that because they are only catching this one glimpse of me. My point is, if you care what other people think of you and if you want them to really get to know you and not make a snap judgment about you, then think more carefully about how you dress. Girls, if you don't want to be seen as just a piece of meat and nothing else, then cover up. Don't be offended when a guy is checking you out and only complimenting you on your looks. What message are you trying to send by your outfit?

2) You are responsible for your own thoughts and actions. If you see something that you shouldn't see or stirs up feelings in you that maybe aren't so virtuous, you have the choice to look away. You have the ability to drive out impure thoughts. You have the choice to NOT judge someone based on what they wear. Finishing up my story of looking like a hobo mother at the grocery store, I had one nice lady come up to me while I was still living in Utah, and she was able to see past my looks. I was still working, exhausted from having a newborn, and feeling pretty unsure of what to do. Andrew was at the store with me, and he was freaking out and I didn't know why. I went off into a little corner of the store and started to cry a little bit, and an older woman came up to me, gave me a hug, and said "You are a wonderful mother." She was able to see past my ridiculous looks, and see that I was really trying my best. Likewise, we have the ability to try and see past others' dress and appearance, and not make snap judgments. We have the ability to drive out impure thoughts, and we have the choice to fall victim to the inappropriate dress of others (and believe me, I know both men AND women struggle with this).

I guess my point is that we take responsibility for us. Would it be nice of guys looked past girls' looks and rockin' bods and were only interested in their personality? Probably. Guys, would it be nice of more girls covered up to help you keep your thoughts clean? Yep. But things aren't always ideal. Girls, if you want the right kind of attention, dress for it. Guys, if you want clean thoughts, then do the work to drive out impure thoughts.

I'll end this post with this scripture--this is for both guys AND girls

Mosiah 4:30 says "But this much I can tell you, that if you do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not."

Notice how it says YOUR thoughts, YOUR words, YOUR deeds. YOU have your agency to choose your dress, your thoughts, your judgments, and your actions. Stop blaming the other gender.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Life of a Baby

I've been pondering the past few days how frustrating life can sometimes be for a baby. I'm not saying this in a joking way either--I'm sure at times life can be pretty hard for them! You may be thinking "How on earth could a baby have a hard life? Someone feeds them, changes them, plays with them, etc. They have everything done for them! How could that be hard?"

I had this realization last week when Andrew was trying to learn how to roll from his back to his stomach. He would try for a couple of minutes on his own--arching his back, throwing his hips over, the only thing he was forgetting was lifting his head up. After a few minutes of trying it on his own he started to freak out and get frustrated. At first I didn't understand why he was freaking out. Then one day I helped him onto his stomach and he was so happy! He got this big smile on his face, and stayed on his stomach for about 20 minutes just playing happily (tummy time was something he only did for about 2-3 minutes happily before wanting to be on his back again). He was so excited that he was finally on his stomach after working so hard for it. This process went on for a couple days, and I knew that if he was crying he was either hungry, tired, needed a diaper change, or wanted to roll onto his stomach. Once he learned how to roll on his stomach, he couldn't stop! He was too excited that he learned how to do something with his body.

That has kept him happy for about a week, but the past couple days I've seen him get frustrated with his body again. Now that he rolls, he wants to know how to crawl. I've walked into his room as he's trying to go to sleep and he's pushing up on his feet and hands wanting so badly to move! So now the list is this: check if he's hungry, tired, needs a diaper change, or if he wants to crawl. So we've done some crawling lessons. I push his little knees up under him and he scoots forward with excitement, and we go through this process for about 20 minutes.

A couple days ago he was freaking out for a good 20 minutes and I had no idea what to do. He didn't want to be held, he wasn't in the mood for crawling lessons, wasn't tired, wasn't hungry, and had a dry diaper. I decided to let him cry in his crib for a little bit while I went into the other room and said a prayer. As I said "Heavenly Father, let me be patient with Andrew," I realized that Andrew was probably frustrated too! And for good reason!

Ever since he's been born I've had so many realizations of who this special boy is. He has a special, strong, kind spirit, and I realized he is frustrated having such a strong spirit in a tiny body. Even once he learns how to crawl, eventually walk, and start talking a bit, I know he'll sometimes get frustrated when he doesn't know how to express himself (much like toddlers do). It must be so hard having the spirit of a grown person stuffed into the body of a tiny human. Really, the body needs to catch up to the spirit, which I think is what infancy and the toddler-stage is all about. The spirit is willing but the flesh isn't ready.

I now have a different outlook when Andrew is crying and I don't know what to do. Instead of me praying "Heavenly Father, let me be patient with Andrew," I pray "Heavenly Father, let Andrew be patient with me as I try to figure out what he needs right now." Babies do require a lot of patience from their parents. They need to wait to be fed, have a diaper change, go to bed--they are solely dependent on us, just like we are solely dependent on Heavenly Father. Just like we need to be patient with Heavenly Father as he lets us learn, grow, and yes, sometimes struggle, babies need to be patient with us as we help them learn, nourish them to grow, and yes, sometimes let them struggle. Just like we can someday grow up to be like Heavenly Father, babies will someday grow up to be parents.

So yes, life as a baby is sometimes hard. Life as a parent is sometimes hard. Thank goodness babies have their parents, and parents have their Heavenly Father.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Recipe Post for the Week

More recipes for you to try! Easy, fast, delicious, and cheap :)

Korean Beef and Rice: 

You will need:
1 lb ground beef
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 Tbsp sesame oil
3 cloves garlic; minced (or a couple tbsp of garlic powder)
1/2-1 tsp crushed red pepper (season to taste)
salt and pepper
sliced green onions
cooked rice

Brown hamburger over a medium-heat skillet with the garlic in the sesame oil. Drain most of the fat and add brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger, salt and pepper and red peppers. Simmer for a few minutes and stir occasionally. Serve over steamed rice and top with green onions.

Pineapple Pork-Chops:

You will need:
1 20 oz can of pineapple rings, juice reserved
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
4-6 pork chops

Put pineapple juice from can into a zip-lock bag along with the brown sugar, soy sauce, and garlic powder all mixed together. Add the pork chops and let marinate in the fridge for 8-12 hours (the longer the better). Put grill on medium to high heat and put chops on (continue to marinade the pork chops while they are cooking). Cook until pork chops are browned and no longer pink inside (about 7 minutes each side). Place pineapple rings on the grill and cook until they are warmed through. Serve pork chops with grilled pineapple on top.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Meal Planning and Recipes

I've had a couple people ask about meal-planning and some recipes that I make, so here ya go! **HUGE DISCLAIMER** I realize that I am no expert at cooking, and I do not claim to be a super-domestic lady who makes everything from scratch, and I'm not an expert at meal-planning when it comes to freezer meals, canning, etc. These are seriously the basics and it has worked for me. I also realize that I am a stay-at-home mom full time which means that I have more time to go grocery shopping and cook on my hands than others (trust me, I was not this good about cooking when I had a job or was going to school), and I realize that I only have one child who isn't mobile yet, thus making life a lot easier than most other moms out there. These are just some tips that have worked for me. Enjoy :)

First is meal planning: Now, lest you think I'm totally organized and on top of it--think again! Seriously, the only reason why I meal plan for the week is because I only want to have to go grocery shopping once during the week. In our apartment complex we live in a building that isn't close to any of the parking lots, which means it's a pretty long walk from the car to the apartment, which means that I only want to make one trip a week of carrying groceries and my rapidly growing baby boy at the same time.

When you think of meal planning for the week it can sometimes get over-whelming, but here are a few tips.
1) I stole this from my sister-in-law, Emily, who does the same thing. She writes out the menu for the week and keeps it visible in the kitchen. This has really helped me because it is a quick reference of what I will be making that night instead of figuring out what I'm making for dinner last minute. It also makes it easy if I want to switch things around last minute I have options readily available and I know that I already have the ingredients to make those other meals. Here's an example of what it looks like.

 Also, since it's just Grant and I eating, we have lots of leftovers not only for Grant's lunches, but also for dinner. It's good for your mental health to have one or two nights a week where you say you're just going to do leftovers for dinner. If you have a larger family, you can make more of each dinner if need-be (usually recipes feed 6-8 people).
2) I pull out the recipes for that week and make a list of everything that I need, and then also add to the list anything I might need for Andrew (more formula/diapers), or anything for breakfast (cereal/milk/fruit), and then any basics that are needed (usually for us it's bread, milk, fruits, vegetables, lettuce, and toppings for salad). I know it sounds like a lot and that it will be really expensive, but we've been able to stay well within our budget for a couple reasons. First, I try to make it so our recipes for the week use similar ingredients, and I can buy things in bulk. It is a lot easier to stick to a grocery list that has been well thought out than it is to try and mentally go through your kitchen at the grocery store.

Now for some recipes: These are staple recipes that have been tried and true in our house. I try to cook at least one new thing a week, but these recipes are delish!

Saucy Meatballs: This is a Vanderhorst tradition and has been my father-in-law's favorite dish for decades, and probably Grant's favorite dish.

You need:
1 lb hamburger
1 egg
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs (I just put in Italian seasoning with crushed up crackers)
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 soup can full of milk
1 pt. sour cream

Mix hamburger, egg, bread crumbs, milk, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper to taste. Form into 1-inch balls and fry in pan or on a flat grill until cooked through. For the sauce, mix cream of chicken soup and milk in a sauce pan over medium heat. Continue stirring until smooth. Be sure that the soup and milk mixture isn't boiling when you put in the sour cream or else it will curd up if it is too hot. Mix in sour cream, and once the sauce is smooth, add the meatballs and simmer for a few minutes. Serve over cooked white rice.

Sweet Pork: This is the easiest and quickest recipe you will find for sweet pork ever, and it is delicious.

You need:
6 lbs of pork roast
16 oz of salsa (I usually blend the salsa in the blender to make it smooth)
1 can of cola or Dr. Pepper
2 cups of brown sugar

Cook meat in a crockpot that is 1/2 full of water overnight on low. Drain off the water, de-bone the meat and cut into thirds. Mix together the sauce ingredients and put back in crockpot with meat another 5-6 hours on low. Shread meat with forks and leave on low until ready to serve. Serve on rolls or salad.

Crockpot Orange Chicken: Again, easy recipe that is delicious!

You need:
1 cup of BBQ sauce
1 cup of orange marmalade
3 tablespoons of soy sauce
4-6 chicken breasts

Put it all together in a crockpot and cook for 5 hours on high. Serve over rice. (Yep, it's that easy!)

French-Dip Sandwiches: Kind of an easy spin-off of actual french dip sandwiches. What can I say, I'm not gourmet by any means. I'm all about quick and easy that also happens to be delicious.

You need:
1 lb of thinly sliced deli roast
Provolone or Swiss cheese
2 packages of Pillsbury refrigerated rolls
1 package of Au Jus mix

Take the rolls out of the packages and flatten out the rolls into triangles. Put a slice of deli-roast and cheese on each roll, and then roll it back up. Cook in the oven at 350 degrees for 11-13 minutes or until the rolls are golden brown. Serve with the Au Jus and enjoy!

These are just a few to get you started, but I'll post more recipes as I find them. If you go to this blog, you can also find a ton of easy, cheap, delicious recipes!

Thursday, August 8, 2013


Andrew will be 5 months on Saturday and I haven't done a single blog post about him yet! So, I have some catching up to do.

Here are Andrew's 5-month stats:

Height: 25 inches (actual age: 25th percentile. gestational age: 75th percentile)
Weight: 15.2 lbs (actual age: 15th percentile. gestational age: 50th percentile)

I do both the actual age and gestational age since he was born 6 weeks early. It takes about 2 years for kids to grow out of the premature label, so as long as he is on track gestationally that is all I care about. I'm really happy with his actual age percentiles! Up until last month he was in the 1%-5%, so I'm glad he's starting to catch up :)

Andrew's favorite things: This kid is so much fun! I love being his mom! He loves...
~smiling and is generally a very happy baby
~looking at himself in the mirror
~watching me do my hair and makeup (he is very fascinated. He will carefully watch me pull a piece of hair and then watch the straightener or curling iron go through my hair, and then keep eyes on them as I put them back on the counter. He also loves the blow dryer)
~he has a little play-mat-jungle thing where different toys can hang down and he loves grabbing the toys and trying to shove them in his mouth
~tummy time
~bath-time! This kid loves loves loves his bath
~getting a baby massage. I've just started doing it this past week after his bath and he loves it
~going on adventures. This kid is so easy to run errands with. He is really chill while we are out and about and loves looking around. He especially loves going on walks or runs with me.
~the TV. The first time he saw the TV he was totally captivated. We don't have it on a whole lot at our house, but when it is on he enjoys seeing all the moving colors.
~sitting up. He loves sitting in his bumbo and whenever he is laying down, if I grab his hands he will automatically clench up and try to sit up. He's getting some washboard abs!
~being sung to. We sing lots of songs during the day and I have music playing quite a bit.
~reading books. He loves looking at really colorful pictures.
~talking. He has been blabbing a lot lately and we love it! Lots of ooos, ahhhs, and "guh" sounds.
~playing with mom and dad. He loves being tickled and he loves this little trick that Grant does with him. It's gotten to the point where he will lean back on his own whenever Grant holds him like this. In the video he isn't smiling as much because he is pretty fascinated with my phone haha, but you catch a little smile at the beginning. He usually flails his arms straight out as well--pretty cute :)
We sure love our little boy! :)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Our Apartment in DC

I've had a few request for pictures of our apartment in DC. Now that we finally have everything put away and pictures up I felt ready to post pictures. Enjoy the tour!

Here is the entry way. 
Once you walk in there is the living room and then on the left you can see into our kitchen.
Here's another shot of the front room.
Dining Area
Desk and Piano right behind the family room


We had to get a couple storage racks because there isn't a lot of cabinet space

Down the hall and to the left is the bathroom

Across the bathroom is Andrew's room. Crib courtesy of Mom and Dad Vanderhorst--thank you both so much!
At the end of the hall is our master bedroom.
A huge thanks goes to those who helped us move in (lookin at you Rick and Marnae, as well as Steve and Janae), and a HUGE thank you to my wonderful mom who helped us get settled the first couple of days. It would have taken forever to get unpacked with you!

More posts of our adventures in DC will come soon :)

Sunday, July 7, 2013

When Life Didn't Go According to Plan...

We are finally in DC, which means that life is about to go back to a normal schedule. Our family has been in constant change mode ever since Andrew was born, and we've had a lot of things thrown our way. I've been reflecting this past week on the past 4 months and all the changes we've been through (many of them were not planned), but I'm beginning to understand that what the Lord has planned for me is far greater than what I had planned for myself. 

Those of you who know me well know that I like to have things planned and organized. I like to plan out my life in great detail and most times I have an attitude of "This is how everything is going to turn out because I said so." I've been going through quite a learning process though, and have come to realize that while it is good to have a plan, if things don't go according to plan that I can still be happy and trust that the Lord is watching out for me. So, rewind a little before Andrew was born, and this was my plan.

~Andrew would be born no earlier than 38 weeks, and no later than 41 weeks, and would come home with us from the hospital.
~Once Andrew was born, I would take my 6 weeks off for maternity leave and not go back for the rest of the school-year. 
~I was going to nurse Andrew until he was a year old, and it would be an enjoyable experience.
~We weren't planning on getting pregnant until Andrew was about a year old (I'm not pregnant right now, FYI).

Now, contrast this to what actually happened.

~Andrew was born at 34 weeks, and stayed in the hospital for 20 long days.
~I came back from my maternity leave 2 days after my due date and had to work for an extra 7 weeks.
~I nursed Andrew while he was in the NICU, but he wasn't gaining weight fast enough, so he had to have fortified feedings twice a day, which obviously had to come from the bottle. Well, Andrew learned pretty quickly that bottle feeding is much easier than nursing (we didn't know at the time that he was tongue-tied, so I can't blame him) and so he wouldn't nurse anymore. I still wanted him to get breast-milk, so I pumped out milk, and then he would drink it from a bottle. I pumped for 4 months, but then...
~Like I said, we weren't planning on getting pregnant for about a year after Andrew was born. Just as a warning for all those nursing moms who are also on birth control, it is still possible for you to get pregnant...twice. Since Andrew has been born, I've had 2 miscarriages back-to-back. While we weren't planning on getting pregnant, both times we were very excited at the idea of our children being so close in age, and were excited to meet our 2nd child. It has made me so grateful for the child I do have, and I have so much respect for women who are going through miscarriages that don't have any children yet. Going back to pumping for 4 months, 2 miscarriages will completely destroy your milk supply. I was able to come back up from my first miscarriage, but after my 2nd miscarriage, I haven't been able to bring it back up despite putting in the effort. I know if I keep at it that it could come back up, but with Andrew being able to eat formula and digest it well, I've decided I want to spend my time doing other things and have stopped pumping completely. 

Now for the point of this post. I have never ever been good with change. I do not adjust well when things don't go according to plan, so when Andrew was born 6 weeks early, I made a conscious decision to turn to the Lord and ask Him to help me overcome my weakness of not being able to trust and be comfortable with change. When trials come upon us, we can either turn to the Lord or turn away from the Lord. I don't think our trials turn out any differently if we do or don't turn to the Lord, but rather our ability to handle trials and changes, as well as our attitude in handling those trials, is strengthened when we turn to the Lord. If we can get through a trial with a happy attitude and trust that the Lord will lift us, it's not from anything that we've done, but it's everything that the Lord does for us. He truly is our best friend. Because I tried to rely on the Lord, He has helped me adjust to constant change. Now, don't misunderstand me. I am still mourning over 2 miscarriages and frustrated with not being able to nurse, but I can still be at peace that everything is ok, and that just because things didn't go the way I thought that somehow life is terrible. Life is great! I have a healthy, happy son, I'm married to my best-friend forever, and we are off on our own little adventure. Elder Holland this past general conference counseled members with this "I am not asking you to pretend to faith you do not have. I am asking you to be true to the faith you do have. Sometimes we act as if an honest declaration of doubt is a higher manifestation of moral courage than is an honest declaration of faith. It is not! So let us all remember the clear message of this scriptural account: Be as candid about your questions as you need to be; life is full of them on one subject or another. But if you and your family want to be healed, don’t let those questions stand in the way of faith working its miracle." Let me bear my testimony to this point. I do not have perfect faith, but by exercising the faith I DO have, I am happier, more calm, and more at peace when life goes off my planned path. At the end of his talk, Elder Holland invites those who are struggling with their testimony to lean on his testimony. I'd like to make that same invitation. If you're going through a difficult trial, or life is taking you on a path that you didn't plan, know that you can rely on your Savior. Your trial won't be taken away, and it won't change, but your ability to handle that trial will increase, and you will be happier. You will be at peace as you lean on the Savior. I know this is true because I've done it. This principle in my life has been tried and proven to work. Lean on the Lord, fan the flame of your faith, and miracles will happen.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

What We've Been Up To...

Wow, I haven't written on this thing in a while. This is the blog post where I catch you up on everything that has happened! Since Andrew has been born it's been change after change, and it's not going to stop until we get settled in Washington DC. I should start back when Andrew was in the hospital.

Andrew had to be in the NICU for 20 long days. To be honest he did a lot better than many of the nurses and our pediatrician expected. He never had to be put on a CPAP or ventilator because he was pretty solid with breathing (although there were a few times when he had to be put on a trace of oxygen), but the only thing keeping him in the hospital was being able to nurse and gain weight at the same time. Being a premature baby is pretty rough, but Andrew is a fighter. Instead of being able to grow in the womb, where you don't have to breathe or eat on your own, premature babies have to learn how to breath, eat, and grow all on their own. Once Andrew had the suck, swallow, breath motion down, he was home within a few days. It was a lot of up and down days, and quite an emotional roller-coaster, but I grew a lot through that experience, and it has definitely made me appreciate Andrew being home (even with the occasional blowouts and fussy days and long nights). Even during those "hard days" it is still so much better than having him in the NICU.

Right after Andrew was born

All dressed up for General Conference. This is a typical Andrew move--putting his hand on his binkie and moving it around like a steering wheel. Pretty cute :)

Andrew had to be at home for about a month before we could take him out in public, so this was our first outing as a family since we brought him home from the hospital.

Andrew's baby blessing day :)

I was pretty sad that I only had 6 weeks off, and half of that I couldn't even have Andrew home with me. I felt a little jipped out of my maternity leave, but at least I got 3 weeks home with him before I had to go back to work.

The week I went back to work was the same week of finals/graduation for Grant. My wonderful mother came into town that whole week and watched Andrew while I went off to work and Grant finished up school.

I'm so proud of Grant! He graduated with a wonderful GPA and a job! I'm so grateful for all of his hard work in school--it definitely paid off.

So proud of my wonderful husband!

With Grant done with school he was able to be Mr. Mom while I finished up the school year. It was the hardest thing for me to be a working mom. I hated leaving Andrew every morning and couldn't wait to go home and be with him. I'm grateful for this experience though because it made me realize how much I really do want to be a stay-at-home mom. The Lord definitely works in mysterious ways. I'm grateful for the degree I have because it allows me to tutor and work from home if I need, but I can still be with my children. 

Now that I'm finished it's just packing up and moving to DC! Time is certainly flying! I'm grateful to move and finally get some sort of stability. The past couple years we've been in constant change with me graduating, us moving to Lehi, me working, Grant finishing school, becoming parents, etc. Those years are fun (and I know I'm going to miss being around so many of our friends and family), but I'll be happy to feel like we're in a place that we can call home (as least for a few years) and feel a bit more established and grounded. More updates will come when we move!

Monday, March 11, 2013

A Birth Story

I'm sitting here in the hospital trying to gather all my thoughts of the past 24 hours. Right now Andrew is having 3 hours feedings in the level II nursery (half-way between the regular nursery and the NICU) so I decided to come back to our quiet room and write down the birth story before I forget everything.

Before I say everything that happened let me preface this. A couple weeks ago when I was 32 weeks along I hadn't felt him move around very much so I went in for a non-stress test. Thankfully Andrew was doing fine, but the nurses were concerned that I was having contractions every 2 minutes apart. With all that said, I went home and was put on semi-bed-rest, meaning that I could still teach at school, but other than that I had to take it easy. I was careful to drink a lot of water and careful to take it easy at work, and the contractions definitely slowed down.

I had a few tender mercies happen before I went in to labor on Sunday. Last week I really felt the urge to get my copies and lesson plans done for the rest of the year. I figured if I did I could just relax for the rest of the year and take it easy at work that the rest of my pregnancy would be a lot easier. Little did I know what would be coming a few days later. Another tender mercy happened on Sunday during sacrament meeting at church. I just felt the most overwhelming sense of peace--one that I've never felt before and I didn't know why at the time. Looking back I can now see that Heavenly Father was giving me peace because of what would be coming in a couple hours.

I had been drinking a lot of water on Sunday morning because drinking lots of water is supposed to help keep contractions under control. I probably had 50 oz of water that morning. After church on Sunday when we went home I went to the restroom and after I was done there was still trickling coming out. It wasn't a huge gush, but I figured I would get it checked out anyways. I didn't bring anything to the hospital--not even my cell phone. I was just expecting to go make sure it wasn't amniotic fluid and get some peace of mind and go home to take a nap. Grant was in the middle of cooking some pizza, so he just left all the ingredients out thinking that he would be back to finish it in about 45 minutes. So we went to the hospital and sure enough--it was amniotic fluid (it was about 1 pm). They checked me and I was 100% effaced and was dilated to 2 cm. I was also at a +1 position, and +3 is when you start pushing (it's how far down the canal your baby is). At this point I had a flood of emotions come over me. My sister-in-law, April, gave birth to a 34 week old baby girl a few years ago and so from her experience I knew that 34 weeks was the cutoff to delay delivery, and I also knew that we wouldn't be taking Andrew home with us and was expecting him to struggle with breathing and nursing, so that made me very sad and nervous. On the other hand I was so excited to meet our son! I am so grateful Grant was there. I started crying because I was scared and concerned about Andrew's health, and also nervous about going through the labor process.

Grant started notifying his family while I called Emily and Stephen and asked them to stop by our apartment. I had no idea what on earth to pack for our bag, so I just told Emily where everything was and basically just said "Can you just bring whatever you think we need? K thanks!" Her and Stephen were seriously a life-saver. I also called a fellow math teacher at Lone Peak and told her what happened and basically said "Uhh, I called in a sub but have no idea if they know math. Can you just take care of my classes for the next week? K thanks!" I have such wonderful family and friends and am so grateful for all the support they give me.

I then called my mom who didn't answer her phone, so I called my dad and told him what happened. He told me mom was in a meeting but he went over to the church and told her she had to get to Utah because her grandson was on the way. She was on the road 45 minutes later. I'm so grateful to both of my parents who have seriously dropped everything for me and Grant. Now that everyone knew, we were ready to get going.

Even though we had only been to one birth class (I was expecting 4 more!) I had read a lot about labor and talked to so many people about their experiences that I also was filled with courage. All along this labor I wanted to go un-medicated, so I figured that even though I only had one birth class we would still give it a try. The nurses then moved me to labor and delivery and prepared me to get started on pitocin. After asking for a few minutes alone with Grant so he could give me a blessing, they started me at a level 4 on pitocin around 2 pm. My contractions were about 3 minutes apart at this point and then at 2:30 pm they upped me to a level 8. By this point my contractions were coming on pretty quickly and lasting for a while. They were a minute apart and lasting for a good 45 seconds to a minute. They checked me at about 4 pm and I was at 5 cm, so I knew that I was progressing fairly quickly. They left the pitocin at an 8 (thank goodness!) and we decided to keep going. Grant was a freaking champ! He seriously was my professional doula. He knew exactly what I needed and how to give counter pressure, and he knew exactly how to encourage me. He was seriously the best support I could ever ask for. By about 5 pm I was at a 6 +, and at 5:30 I was at a 7. By this point the contractions were still a minute apart but lasting about a minute and a half and were pretty intense. I knew that I could go the rest of the way un-medicated if I had made it this far, but I also realized that this was really the last time that Grant and I would have as just us 2. I wanted to be able to relax and spend time with him--especially since we weren't expecting 6 weeks to be taken from us, so I decided to get the epidural. We notified the nurses and the anesthesiologist was on his way. As soon as I found out he was on his way I started to lose focus. I wanted nothing more than to just get the epidural so I could spend time with Grant. It took him about 20 minutes to get to the hospital because he was at home and let me say I was not too happy about that. I remember saying to the nurse "Is there only one freaking anesthesiologist for the whole hospital?!" Looking back now I can crack up about it, but I was a little frustrated. I am proud that that was the only rude comment I made to the nurses while in labor :) I then got the epidural and was on cloud 9. It was wonderful to spend time with Grant and just relax with him. All kidding aside, this is probably my most fond memory of labor. Grant sat on my bed while we talked about the past 3 years since we met each other, and we talked about how awesome our new baby boy would be. I was very concerned about him, but Grant was constantly reassuring me, and gave me courage to get through the pushing stage.

Finally at 7:15 pm I was complete and ready to start pushing. At first pushing was a little difficult because I couldn't feel anything and wasn't sure if I was making progress, but after about 15 minutes I started getting the hang of it...the reason why? My epidural was starting to wear off. The nurse offered to give an extra dose, but when I saw how much more effective my pushing was without the full on effects of the epidural I turned it down. It was so much easier for me to feel contractions and feel myself making progress with pushing. I really enjoyed this part because there were many times where it was just Grant and I. The nurse left a few times to go check on other patients or go make phone calls to my doctor, and just said "K, you two just keep pushing." At first I thought "Is this lady crazy? We have no idea what we're doing!" but it was such a bonding experience for it to just be Grant and I pushing together. Grant was so great about counting while I pushed and also coaching me through it. He was good to remind me to relax my shoulders, breath deep, and bear down. He knew more about pushing than I did! He really was a natural at being my support man. We brought in a mirror so I could see the progress, and then we later took it away. It was so much more encouraging when I would see Grant get excited when I was pushing. He would look and see Andrew's full head of hair and get a big smile and look at me while he was counting and just nod to encourage me. He was letting me know that Andrew was close, and that's all the encouragement I needed. After about an hour and 15 minutes it became a party in the labor and delivery room. Andrew's pediatrician came, the doctor came, the head nurse from the NICU came, we had a respiratory specialist there, and a couple labor and delivery nurses. The knew Andrew was coming out soon and wanted to be ready to assess where he was. After an episiotomy and 15 minutes of more pushing Andrew was born at 8:52 pm. I burst into tears as Grant smiled and kept saying "He's out! You did it! We have a son!"

About a minute after the placenta came out and my doctor starting stitching me up. I think he was startled when I yelled "OW!" when he started stitching me. All he said was "Yep, your epidural definitely wore off" and he gave me a local to numb the pain while he stitched me up. During this time my body was shaking all over and I was watching Andrew and asking every 5 seconds if he was ok. I was nervous because I hadn't heard him cry and his body was pretty limp, but no one seemed all that concerned. Soon he started to cry and flex his little fists and feet, so he was doing better. Grant was wonderful to reassure me and held me tight as they assessed where Andrew was at. He started to breath on his own and they took him down to the nursery level II to do more tests. I told Grant I'd be fine and to go with Andrew--I didn't want the poor kid to be alone.

It was like a tornado disappeared. When Andrew was gone so was everyone else and it was me and one nurse left in the room. I called my mom who was pulling into town (Yes dad, she beat the 7 hour record) and she came straight to the hospital. I was SO HAPPY to see her! With Grant being gone I felt alone and scared about where things were with Andrew, so seeing my mom was a huge comfort. Grant kept texting me updates telling me that Andrew's breathing was great and he was doing so well, so that helped me relax a little bit. About an hour later I was able to go to the nursery and see him get bathed for the first time and then get him situated into his little spot in the nursery. I will say it was hard for me as a mom to see a little IV in him and wires attached everywhere, but the kid is a fighter! He has a strong grip and is breathing like a champ. I couldn't be more proud of him.

We will be discharged from the hospital tomorrow and Andrew can't come home with us. He still needs to learn to latch and nurse, so we'll just play it on a day-by-day basis. Hopefully he can come home within a couple weeks, but it may be more. Right now he's on a feeding tube, so once he can stabilize his weight without that we should be good to go.

I know Andrew is big for a premee and doing so well with breathing on his own, but it is still emotionally challenging to think that I won't be just a few steps away from my son. He's right across the hall right now and so going home without him will be so hard. It will make all those sleepless nights seem like blessings instead of trials though. I love Andrew and am so excited to be a mom!