Saturday, December 7, 2013

Realization(s)

So we've been busy around here. I just finished up everything for my ASU master's class on Thursday.  We had Thanksgiving in Idaho Falls with Greg's family the week before that. I wish I had pictures, but I am fantastically bad at taking pictures.  So just imagine Greg eating as many roll sandwiches with leftover turkey as humanly possible, and me sneaking back to the refrigerator at weird times of the day to eat pieces of the delicious chocolate cheesecake that my mother-in-law made for dinner and you'll have a pretty good idea of what we did on our time off. 

Here's a realization I had over the Thanksgiving holidays:  Chocolate cheesecake is a way better dessert than pie. Any kind of pie.  The only reason the pilgrims didn't make cheesecake instead of pie is because they were too cold to make their own cream cheese, and they probably thought the Native Americans would be weirded out by it anyway. 

Although we have been busy around here, I'm not sure our busy-ness is the real reason I haven't written in a while.  Don't get me wrong, I like being busy.  I honestly have really really liked being busy. I consider it to be an incredible blessing in our lives right now.  I sincerely believe that my cousin Tania was totally inspired to come over and talk to us and tell me to apply for a job where she works. I turned her down flat at first, but I'm glad I felt directed to take her up on it.  I feel so happy that I have a Master's program to do at nights and that I have a TOTALLY HOT and fantastic husband who kept telling me I could do it, and that I should apply at ASU.  

Realization numero dos: We have lots of blessings, and lots of things that have been made up to us.  

But like I said, I'm not sure our busy-ness has been the reason I haven't been writing.  I guess there's only been one thing that really is on my mind to write about.  And you know what?  

Realization three:  Sometimes you have said everything you need to say. 

I guess there is other stuff I could write.  Like: 

1. While I had a wonderful Thanksgiving in so many ways, I also had way too much time on my hands to sit and think about how unhappy I was.  I have been thinking about my babies for so long.  I miss them. And now that time has gone by, I have also been confronted with what our future will be like.  And it is frightening. And I crashed and burned and felt like I was drowning. 

2. We've actually had a great week this past week, even though Thanksgiving was hard.  Like I've said, we keep busy, and that's so good. I have finally gotten comfortable enough to joke around and be my normal sarcastic snarky self with my co-workers.  Yeah, I know, took me long enough. I will never be the same person I was three years ago, or even three months ago, but I am settling into a new version of myself that I am happy with.  

3. Also, it's been a great week because we went to Christmas Around the World at BYU last night, which the folk dancing ensembles put on. I told Greg months ago that I wanted to go this year.  I talk about it every Christmas we've been at BYU, but we always have just missed it.  I haven't mentioned it in awhile and Greg bought tickets three weeks ago and didn't tell me until Thursday.  Yeah.  This is why my husband is THE BESSSTTT. 

4.  I had a follow-up appointment at the radiology center at the hospital that went kinda bad.  I have to go back again because things are not looking like they should.  Depending on how everything turns out next time--and it might be totally fine--this could lead to other procedures being done in the Spring.  I'm not super worried about it, but it's just kind of freaking annoying. 

Realization:  Greg and I may never have any more children.

Realization: If that was the case, it would be okay. 

Dedication to Heavenly Father's plan doesn't entail any kind of boundaries we might want to draw, like "I will be faithful in this thing, but if you ask me to do this, I will go berserk.  And I won't do it." There are people who don't have their own biological children.  Why not us?  My desire--and my capability--to be obedient is not dependent in any way on the thing that Heavenly Father has asked me to do.  I guess I always thought things like "There's no way Heavenly Father wouldn't let me have my own children who I can carry safely and raise.  There's no way He would ask me to do that." But He might ask me to do that.  And that would be okay.  

I remember toward the end of High School I had some experiences where I really learned a lot.  I had this phrase running through my head over and over right about the time that I graduated: I will do whatever you ask me.  I will do whatever you ask me.  And I really meant it at the time.  But now that my life is in such a different place--a harder place--I have been given the opportunity to internalize what I said, and to prove if I mean it now.

Realization:  I still mean it.  

Greg and I have found so many ways to be happy.  We are happy.  Things are working out.  We have so much hope.  Although so much is so uncertain, I feel something in the deepest part of me that tells me that we will have more children one day. I sincerely believe that more blessings are coming, and when they happen, they will be miraculous, and that all the promises that have been made to me will absolutely be fulfilled in the best and most meaningful ways possible. We have already been given so much, why couldn't good things keep happening? We already have children, and they were beautiful. And they are an incredible part of my life, and they are mine. 


And I think they have younger siblings.  And I think everything is good. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Greg and Heather Go on a Date


Last night we were crazy.  

We went on a date.  The kind where you SPEND MONEY. 

The kind where you LEAVE THE HOUSE. 

We had a gift card to Olive Garden, and instead of waiting for some special occasion, we decided to just go out and spend it.  We both went nuts and ordered drinks. Not water, my friends.  Not water. 

As insane as it sounds, we were not finished after that.  We didn't just do one fun thing yesterday night, we did two fun things.  

I'll give you a hint.

  




 One of them entails wearing someone else's shoes. 

You'll notice I'm also wearing a skirt and tights.  Not very many people can pull off bowling in a skirt and tights, but I like to flatter myself that I am one of them. I wore a skirt to work yesterday for no particular reason except I wanted to feel pretty.  I just wanted to be cute. It's been awhile, you know?

We bowled two games.  Greg won both of them, but I'd like to submit Photographic Evidence A that at one point, I was beating him: 

And that’s pretty much the only time I was ahead. 

Here is Greg in all his bowling glory:


You will notice the semi-freaky hair on his upper lip.  Yeah.  Greg is doing that no-shave November thing.  I am not the kind of wife who forbids facial hair.  But I’m also not the kind of wife who feels any obligation to make him feel good about it.  When he says something like “Doesn’t it look good?” I usually say something like “No.  It looks bad.  Super bad.  Anyways I still like you.” And then Greg laughs.

Our date to an (overpriced) Italian restaurant and the BYU bowling alley has got me thinking about some other things. If this post could have a secondary title, I think it would be something like “The Purpose of Sorrow.” I’ve been musing on that for the last few days.  Sometimes I feel guilty that we are recovering.  I wonder if guilt is something that always hangs over the people who are left over when something scary happens to a family. Or maybe it’s just me. 

But I’m learning that there is a purpose to sorrow.  I remember a few days after Danny and Austin were born, I was sitting on the bed, crying.  I think my stomach still felt strange and empty and like all the muscles were missing.  I still looked pregnant, because somewhere around 14 weeks a bump showed up that was larger than I thought it would be and wonderfully full and round. Newsflash:  It doesn’t go away immediately.  Everyone at the funeral home will know that you are the mother of the two little boys as soon as you walk in.  And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

But anyway, I remember sitting on the bed and crying, but saying to Greg, We don’t have to feel despair.  We never have to feel that, because that is never something God intends for us.  It isn’t constructive.  It isn’t purposeful.  Despair accomplishes nothing. Greg agreed with me.  After all, Greg is the one who taught me that.

There are two kinds of sorrow: the kind that is from God, and the kind that is not.  God intends for sorrow to teach us things.  It teaches us to be more like Him.  It teaches us to be compassionate.  It teaches us to feel grateful for our blessings.  It allows us the capacity to see blessings in our lives we would not have noticed otherwise.  It teaches us how to find strength within ourselves, a strength that comes only when you say to God, This is hard for me, but I’ll do it if you want me to. And I won’t even be mad about it. In short, Sorrow is the thing that allows us to be older—not older and weary, but older and wise. 

I do not know if I would call myself wise, but I would say that Greg and I have had very purposeful sorrow.  And, funnily enough, one of the purposes of sorrow is to teach you to be happy. I am finally understanding at a meaningful level what the scriptures mean when they say, if they never should have bitter they could not know the sweet. My little family has imparted a kind of sweetness to my life that I have never had before. And it's so hard, but so worth it. 

Greg and I don’t know what will happen.  I don’t even know what I want to have happen.  Sometimes I feel like I don’t know anything.  But, we know enough. I am not happy every second of the day.  I am not even Okay every second of the day, but I remind myself that Sorrow has a purpose, and the kind of Sorrow that does not have a purpose—the kind of Sorrow that is mostly discouragement and despair and hopelessness and anger—has no place in my life. 

This is why Greg and I went to Olive Garden.  This is why we went bowling.  Because it’s okay to be happy, even though something bad happened.  It’s also okay to be sorrowful, but only if there’s a purpose in that.  There is an opposition in all things only because these two great extremes—Happiness and Sorrow—are actually so interconnected.  Like Greg says, I would go through anything to feel what it’s like to hold my own child again. Anything.  I would handle this kind of Sorrow as long as I was asked to if it meant bringing our children to our family in the way God wants us to.  It makes us happy.  It has a purpose.
 

If you made it this far, thanks for listening to my musings.  Who knew one date could be so abstractly meaningful? I suppose finding meaning in smaller things is the epitome of parenthood, especially the kind of parenthood that Greg and I know. 

Okay.  Cheesy musings done.  Have a great weekend. Love, Heather




Monday, November 11, 2013

Things That Make Me Happy

Allow me to romanticize and do some cheesy writing. Writing makes me happy.

(Other) Things That Make Me Happy

1.  I want you to do me a favor.  Listen to this song.  The whole thing.  Close your eyes.  Sit back on your couch, and just listen.  Let your mind wander and let your heart feel happy, and good, and peaceful.

I know what you are thinking.

I don't have time for this...

Yes you do.  You have 3 minutes and 44 seconds.  You have time.

I don't know where I originally found this song, but today it made me happy.  It always makes me think of beautiful things and I don't even know where they come from. An apartment in Europe that is quiet and simple, the ocean under an open sky, the moments when I am with my husband and thinking of nothing else.

Now, this song makes me think of my children as well.  I say, Listen, little boys.  This is beautiful.  This is called music.  It is beautiful.  And it teaches us there are still beautiful things in the world. 



2. Today I drove home from taking Greg to work.  I parked the car.  I felt so heavy.  I felt so old. But then out of nowhere the sun was shining.  It was so bright.  It hit my windshield perfectly.  I love the sun.  I hate dark and dreary winters.  Today Heavenly Father sent me sunshine and I closed my eyes and sat in the sun for as long as I could, and it was warm, and I cried.  For my family and for myself and because I love the sun.

3. Greg makes me happy.  Happier than anything else.  On Friday when I came home from work I stepped in the door to the smell of bread baking.  Greg made homemade pizza with homemade sauce, pepperoni, and Canadian bacon.



It doesn't get any better than this, my friends. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Life Now

She says, How long have you been married?

I say, Three years.

She says, Wow.

Because it seems like a long time to her.

She says, So do you have any kids?

I say, What?

Not because I didn't hear her, but because I'm stalling.  I've started answering that question differently.

She says, Do you have any kids?

I say, Yes.  I have two little twin boys.

She looks happy.

I let her look happy for a little while.

And then I say, But they were born really early, so they were stillborn.

She looks like she doesn't know how she's supposed to look.

I wonder again if I'm handling these conversations the right way.

She says, Oh.

I decide I don't care if I'm handling these conversations the right way, or the wrong way.  I want to tell her not to be sad, or sorry, but it doesn't ever come out of my mouth.  I wish there was some way that I could explain to her--and to everyone--that I actually don't mind conversations like these. I am proud I get to tell people about them. I am proud of them.  It reminds me of the feeling I had when the nurse let me carry them out of the delivery room and up to the recovery room while I sat in the wheelchair.  I was so glad no one took them away from me.  I wanted to protect them and I was so, so proud of my little boys. I have never felt that full in my entire life. It doesn't make sense, but that's how it was.

These conversations where I tell people I'm a mom...they almost make me happy.

And that's the thing.  Greg and I are healing.  I might even say that we are healing beautifully.  Some days are harder than others.  Some days I feel so heavy inside and so empty inside all at the same time.

But we have decided that we will move forward.  That means I keep myself busy.  I have a new job.  I work full time.  I come home and study.  I go to bed.  I think of my sons in the moments before sleep and in the darkness of the early morning hours. Their names run through my head over and over and over.  Sometimes my arms just ache to hold them again. Sometimes when I am sitting at my desk I will think of how bright the sun was on the morning we buried them, how the flagpole clinks in the cemetery and sounds like a swing on a playground.  Sometimes I picture them so clearly for no reason at all. Sometimes I look around myself and think, What am I doing here? What even happened?

But mostly, we are moving forward. We are so changed. But you still have to do laundry, get groceries, sit in Relief Society, drive to work.

I am almost doing better than I ever thought would be possible.  I am more resilient than I thought. This, I suppose, is just a sign of the blessing that our years of infertility and our experience last summer have been.  God has been making me stronger. He knows what He's doing, and He always did. Even during the months when I sat and thought, This can't be right. This is not how my life is supposed to be.

But everything has been how it was supposed to be. And because of that, we step forward.  We remember them, day by day, even minute by minute. But somehow we are moving forward.

It makes me worry a little. Like maybe moving on is some kind of betrayal. How can I love so much, and still worry about that at the same time? But how can I love so much, and move on? Turns out, you don't have to spend too much time physically being with your children to wonder and wonder and wonder if you are a good Mommy.

I have this picture in my head sometimes.  I picture a loving God somewhere in Heaven looking down at me.  I picture there are tears on His cheeks because He knows He has asked me to do the thing that was most difficult for me in the world.  And He says, You can do it, Heather.  You really can.

And I picture my little boys with Him.

And I say, I know.  I know I can.



Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A Blessing for Our Little Boys

So our lives for the past month have been different than Greg and I thought they would be.  Different, but the way they were supposed to be. 


We received an unexpected blessing this week.  We started working on getting a marker for Austin and Danny as soon as we could, but we were warned that it would take 4 weeks to get it made, and that the cemetery did not allow markers to be put in during the winter because the ground is too wet. A nice lady at Memorial Art in Springville told us as gently as she could that the marker most likely wouldn't be in until March. 

This broke my heart.  It's hard to go to my little boys empty-handed.  Sometimes I just feel like I have so little to give them. It's hard to go with nothing to take for them and nothing to leave, and we just can't afford flowers every time we go. It was so so hard to walk away from that unmarked spot.  So hard.  And I couldn't bear to leave it empty all winter. 

But, like I said, Greg and I have seen a tiny miracle in that our little boys' marker was laid this past week.  Now everyone knows they are there.  They are such good little boys.  Everyone needs to know this is where they are. Now it isn't so empty. 

Thank you for everyone who helped with donations to make this possible.  Greg and I were set on giving our little twins a resting place, and we were so amazed and humbled at the people in our lives who innately understood how important this would be for us and who so selflessly gave.  In the end, we received enough that all of the mortuary, cemetery, and memorial fees were covered. We are so humbled by that. Thank you so much.  It means everything to me. 


This is the Angel Garden.  It is such a sacred place to us. 

We are doing okay.  Every time I feel sad, I remind myself that I haven't missed out on anything.  Not one thing.  I will have all the experiences and time with my Austin and Daniel that a Mother would usually have, if I try my hardest to do what's right.  Greg and I will raise them together. We are a family, and we always will be. This is only possible through the Atonement.  It increases my love for the Savior and my appreciation of what it is that He has done for me.  

Sometimes our greatest trials are also our greatest blessings in disguise. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Faith in the Zollinger Household, Part 2

One day, not today, but one day I will be ready to tell the whole story.  It is something people have done for me and it needs to be something I do for other people.



We had two beautiful baby boys born in our family on October 4, 2013. Austin Scott Zollinger was the oldest and born at 6:47 pm.  Daniel Keith Zollinger followed at 6:53 pm. They were both gorgeous. 

Every single thing we have been through in the past 2-3 years was absolutely worth it to hold my little boys, even just for a little while. They were perfect. I could feel how important these children are to our Heavenly Father, what amazing missions they had to fulfill, and how wonderfully strong and faithful they are. I feel so very privileged to be their mother. 

We buried them in the Angel Garden at Provo Cemetery.  It was a bright morning. The place was dedicated as a place of comfort and peace, but also a place of learning for Greg and I and for all our future children. 

It has taken me off guard, but I feel an immense gratitude.  I am grateful to know that these are my boys.  I will have them again. One day I will raise them. They will be with me my entire life. They will watch over our other children like the big brothers they are. I am grateful I had the amount of time I had with them.  I am grateful that Heavenly Father allowed Austin and Daniel to join our family. Never has any blessing of such worth been given to me. Our hearts are full of them. I am a Mom. 

The most important thing for anyone to know is that Greg and I have testimonies of the Plan of Salvation and the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Heavenly Father watches over us.  Priesthood blessings are real and the words in them are sure. Families can be together forever. Because we know these things, Greg and I don't feel we must focus on anything we might have lost.  We focus instead on all the things that we have gained. 

When things started to go wrong, Greg and I asked for a miracle.  We did receive a miracle, of a whole different kind and caliber. We have had so many personal manifestations that this is what Heavenly Father had planned for our children, that they came to our family for a purpose, and that we will see them again. 


This I know the same way I know anything. We love our little boys, and we know everything will be okay. 

Please keep us in your prayers just a little longer, and remember also that many families go through this, but don't have the truths we do. They deserve to know, and we must try to help teach them. 

Love, Heather and Greg 



Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Time for General Conference



So, Greg and I are both members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Some know us as Mormons.  You can view our personal member profiles on Mormon.org here:


Heather
(Don't mind the glaring typo on my intro...I'm still a nice person)

Anyway, so General Conference for the church is coming up this weekend.  General Conference is an opportunity for members and nonmembers alike to listen to church leaders talk about gospel topics.  We believe that just as there were Prophets and Apostles in Biblical times, there are leaders called by God on the earth today who are able to help us know Heavenly Father's will for us. Prophets and Apostles talk about church doctrine that relates to the stability of the family, our relationship with God, and the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

I know that General Conference can be a source of guidance and inspiration for all of those who take the time to watch and learn. Last October, Greg and I had a particularly awesome experience with listening to conference.  If you remember, we had been through a miscarriage in the summer, and were still not sure when we would be able to welcome children to our family. Greg and I specifically talked about things we needed to hear at Conference.  Mostly I think we were just looking for guidance and comfort. There were a number of talks that gave us peace and helped us gain understanding. 

One talk in particular that hit us was given by Elder Shayne Bowen, a member of the Seventy (a priesthood church council).  This talk was called "Because I Live, Ye Shall Live Also." Elder Bowen described his experience with losing a child, and his faith in the resurrection due to the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  He taught about how he knew that families could be together forever, and that our extremely difficult feelings that follow a situation like this one can be soothed through our relationship with Jesus Christ and our faith in His power. Here is a link to his talk.

I remember sitting with tears in my eyes and on my cheeks. Certainly the experience that the Bowen family went through was much different than our own, but it still just really helped. This talk was amazing to us not only because it reiterated things that both of us needed to hear, but because Elder Bowen actually is from Greg's home ward, and knows Greg's family personally.  They sent us a wedding gift, for crying out loud. In a global church with membership topping 14.7 million, Heavenly Father found a way for us to gain comfort and peace in a very meaningful way at General Conference. 



You can stream General Conference from lds.org live, so it’s really easy to take a look. Conference is on October 5-6, so this Saturday and Sunday, starting at 10:00 a.m. and then again at 2:00 p.m. mountain daylight time.

Here is a webpage on lds.org with videos and other information about General Conference.  (I wish I was cool enough to embed videos and stuff...) 

I know that there is peace to be found on the earth if we listen to the word of God.  I believe in Jesus Christ and I’m glad I have opportunities to learn more about Him.  If anyone has any questions about Conference, I really hope you ask us. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Going Home

This is Jacksonville.




Greg and I officially accepted the offer to go back to JnJ in Florida.  Start date is May 27. We both feel really good about it.  Yes, it's far away, but we feel like this is an awesome thing for us to do. Most importantly, we've felt like there are opportunities to serve in the church there, and that's actually our highest priority. 

And to be honest, Greg and I both feel kind of like we're going home. 

In some ways, I can't believe real life is starting. I have a degree.  My husband has a job offer.  I'm working on my Master's.  AND, we're having a baby. 

And soon we will be returning to paradise. 

Life is good. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Our Conversations Have Changed

Me:  I think it is WAYYY too early to think about wearing maternity clothes.

(Pause)

Greg: But, uhh...

Me: Yeah?

Greg: But you don't own a pair of jeans that fits you.

Good point, Greg.  Good point.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Job Offer!

So, today we got the call! Johnson and Johnson in Jacksonville, Florida, has officially given Greg his offer to return to the company after he graduates.  The offer is not just for any old entry-level position.  It’s for a rotational FDP program.  Basically, it is meant to stand in place of an MBA program and give Greg experiences working in a lot of different areas.  A rotational program at a big-name company looks SUPER COOL on a resume (which is important, because we actually do want to do the MBA eventually).

We are pretty excited around here.  We knew that Greg had done well at his co-opt.  His manager was really fighting for him to come back, and he did a lot of work on high-visibility projects.  One of his projects he presented directly to the company CFO, which had never been done before. But, at the same time, you just never know with these things.  JnJ told Greg that they might have 0 spots open for anyone at all, and obviously there are a lot of candidates, so we knew there was a chance we might not be able to return. But looks like we can head back to the Sunshine State in May if we want to!  I’m so proud of Greg.  He works hard, he learns, and he remembers what he learns. Pretty much, he’s cool.  

We have a week to give them our response.  We’ve already thought a lot about going back to Florida, but I’m sure we’ll do some more thinking in the meantime. Because it’s a rotational program, we won’t be spending the whole time in Florida, we’ll actually go to a different JnJ umbrella company after a year, which means we’ll spend some time probably in New Jersey (???), Philadelphia (!!!) or California (!?!). There are a lot of things we need to consider, especially since just earlier today Greg had an interview with another company who sometimes sends people to Israel or Singapore.  Living international would be so awesome! But it’s also a long shot.


Anyway, all musings aside, we are just really grateful that things have worked out this way.  We feel blessed that we’ve always felt directed about what to pursue and where to go. I’m excited we have this opportunity, and I'm happy for Greg.  Growing up is such an adventure. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Follow-up

First of all, we're so grateful for all the well-wishes and supportive responses we've received.  Thank you everyone! It means a lot to us.

Second, I've been thinking about some things I'd like to acknowledge.  I've been thinking about them for weeks and weeks, actually.

I just really want to express my feelings for those of you who are still going through hard things with trying to have kids or losing a baby. While I can never know exactly what someone else goes through, I do know that it's hard. I know how difficult it can be to feel happy for other people.  I know how easy it is to feel jealous, and how bad that can make you feel. I know that it just really, really sucks.

And I want to say I'm sorry.  I'm sorry for what you've been through and what you're still going through. Just because we've gained this blessing doesn't mean I don't remember what that pain feels like. I will always remember--it is so much a part of me now. And I'm just sorry. I'm sorry if the way we did announce our news was hard for anyone--trust me, I've been there. I hope you are reading this now, and you know that I still pray and want the best for you.

Please know you can talk to me anytime.  I understand if you don't want to--been there too. But just because we're expecting doesn't mean I'm going to forget how difficult this can be for anyone.  I have prayed that good things would come from our experience.  And good things have come.  One of those is that Greg and I are willing and able to talk to anyone who might need to talk.  We might not say the exact right things, but we love you.

Last thing--I know you are probably super sick of getting advice from people. If it really annoys you--and that is TOTALLY fine--just skip this part.

There are some things that worked for us that I might share.

1. Reach out. Even if you are not a member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I would recommend looking at perspectives on infertility at lds.org.  Just reading other people's experiences helped me to know I wasn't alone.  Also, blogs are fantastic.  I made some friends from all different backgrounds, and these friends communicated with me and supported both of us in wonderful ways.

2. Don't take You Are Fine and You Will Probably Conceive Real Soon for an answer if you expect something is really wrong (this seems to me to be an especially prevalent mindset in Utah). Sometimes you will conceive naturally on your own "real soon." Sometimes there are other things that need to be addressed, so if you have suspicions, I want you to march right into a good clinic and sit your little tushie down on the receptionist's desk until someone listens to you.  Chances are they will listen to you, and it might even be more affordable than you think.

3. Don't compare yourself to other people.  Just don't.

4. Miracles do happen.  I stayed awake many nights hurting all over because it just never seemed like things would work out.  But they did.

So let me know if you want to talk. Facebook or email are good.  We hope we can still help anyone who needs it.  Love, Greg and Heather

Saturday, September 7, 2013

For This Child I Prayed



This is a statue that Greg bought for me a while ago. 

I love it.  I have always loved it.

But, to be honest, sometimes it made me sad.

So, Greg, being the discerning and wonderful man that he is, discreetly put it away.  It hasn’t been out of the box in more than a year.

But, a few weeks ago, Greg pulled it back out, and put it up for me.  And I cried. 

Because we are—finally—having a healthy baby. 

Due date: March 17, 2014.

The blog is relatively recent.  But this—this news—for us has been literally years in coming.

I am extremely grateful to everyone who has helped us out along the way.  I am very grateful to my Heavenly Father who has answered this prayer and answered many, many others in the meantime.
 
But I have been nervous that something would go wrong.  But it hasn’t.  Nothing has gone wrong.  We have had two really good appointments.  I saw our baby on the screen, just the exact size it was supposed to be.  I forgot to ask for a photo because I was such a mess and so relieved.  And I heard the gentle swish-swish-swish of the heartbeat, strong and perfect.

We got this baby with some help…the last set of femara, follistim, ovidrel, and IUI paid off.  To me, it is just a specific example that hard work and patience pay off. 

March 17.  March 17. March 17.  WE ARE SO EXCITED.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Graduate School, Or, How I Got Thrown Out of a Class at ASU

Okay, so I know I've been a slacker blogger, and to be honest I'll be surprised if anyone is still reading this. But now that we have (semi) reliable internet in our new apartment in Provo that has a (slightly) acceptable speed, I should be blogging much more often.

But only if graduate school and working part-time does not kill me.

Yes, I started the ASU Liberal Studies program last week.  So far, it hasn't been too terrible or time-consuming, although with a few projects and some longish papers due in the next 6 weeks, I know it will get harder. I was taking 2 classes that span for 7.5 weeks--or, at least, I WAS.  Now I suppose I still am taking two classes, but to be honest, I am confused about it.  Here's why.

One of my core classes was a Film Theory and Analysis class (the other is Ethics and Science-BLEH).  I am not sure why this is a core class, but it is.  I've never taken a film class  before, so I was kind of interested and thought it would be a pretty good experience, or at least a better experience than my Ethics class (again, BLEHHHH).

I did realize before class that there would probably be rated R movies on the syllabus.  This is a problem for me because it is part of my religious and personal standards as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints not to watch rated R movies. (Yes, I've heard the argument that exposure to violence and s.exuality makes a person more in tune with the human condition.  But I think that more often, it just makes you more used to violence, and less careful in making wise moral choices. These two things are something our society should be super concerned about, in my opinion.)

Back to ASU.  While I guessed there would be rated R movies, I thought the number would be limited, and I could find a way to get reliably edited versions or make other arrangements.  It would all work out.

Then I looked at the syllabus.

Every single movie was rated R.  All of them.  All, that is, except for a few which were unrated.  Looking at the movies, I am not sure that this meant the movies were harmless.  There was also one film with a rating I did not even recognize.

Let's just say, I did some research and now know what the rating means.  It means NEVER NEVER NEVER EVER LET A PERSON UNDER THE AGE OF 17 WATCH THIS MOVIE.  If that's not clear enough for you, I will just say that the film was totally banned in several COUNTRIES.

Yeah.  The whole country.  Multiples countries, actually.

So, this story is beginning to be very long-winded, but I will finish soon.  I started looking at options for edited movies.  I looked at subscriptions, TV versions, BYU versions, possible Netflix edited versions, everything.  But there were some movies that I could just not locate, probably because A) they were foreign or not mainstream titles, or B) there was so much bad stuff that no one had attempted to edit them.  One source basically said, "If this movie were edited, nothing would be left but the opening credits and....yeah, that's pretty much it."

I also began to feel uncomfortable with watching edited versions.  How did I know the editing job could be trusted?  Was I still keeping my standards if I allowed someone else to determine that a movie was now acceptable for me to watch?  I was also uncomfortable with the idea of just not watching the movies and trying to struggle through the course by making up crap whenever I was expected to talk about the movies. That isn't honest, and I would be insinuated that I had watched the movie, instead of standing up for what I believed in.  I couldn’t drop the class, because the drop deadline was already over (that came speedy quick!), and it was a core class anyway. I did know one thing--I wouldn't be watching the films.

I emailed the professor, trying to explain my situation in as humble and clear a way as possible.  I did not know how she would react.  After all, we’re not at BYU anymore, Toto.
And can I just say, she was totally lovely about it.  She accepted my standards gracefully, but she also told me I couldn’t participate in the class discussion without watching the full versions of the films that were on the syllabus.  She told me she had talked with the Liberal Studies program manager (eek!) and that he had told me I could drop the class with special permission and take a Reading and Conference class with him, where the material would be up to my own discretion.  This had been a solution I had never considered before! She then bid me farewell.

My first thought:  I was just kicked out of a college class!

My second thought:  I’m so grateful my professor had the decency to kick me out of class!

The second thought probably should have been my first.

Some things  I’ve learned:
A) While ASU is definitely run different than BYU, people are willing to work with you.  I appreciate that immensely.
B) It is totally worth it to lose credit for classwork you have already completed if it benefits you in other awesome ways.  Sunk cost, my friends, sunk cost.
C) My other class is with the same professor.  It is about Ethics.  I could not have demonstrated my opinion on ethics any more clearly than I already have.

Okay, long-winded post and pointless story over.  It feels weird and good to be back in school again.



Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Nauvoo

Okay, so I know that the events that happened in these pictures took place awhile ago, but hey, you still want to know what we did in Nauvoo, right?

We first drove in to the Carthage Jail, where we met my parents.  They had flown in to see this leg of the trip with us, and it was fun to have them there! We took in a lot of sites in the general Illinois/Missouri area in a few days.  It was fun to be in Nauvoo while the pageant was going on. Also, if you ever go to Nauvoo, make sure you see the show Sunset on the Mississippi.  It was super hilarious.

Here are some pictures (I know you want more):

Carthage Jail.  This is where Joseph and Hyrum were martyred.  It was a very humbling place to be.


The second story window and the well 


The Mississippi River driving into Nauvoo.  It was gorgeous! 


The burial site of Joseph, Emma, and Hyrum 


The Mansion House.  This is actually not owned by the LDS church. 


If you drive north out of Nauvoo and take a little walk into the woods, you find this old Nauvoo cemetery.  When Greg and I took a church history class from Susan Easton Black at BYU, she said she feels like this is one of the most sacred place in Nauvoo because so many faithful Saints were buried there, and this is where temple work was revealed. 


One of Greg's favorite tour sites in Nauvoo was the Browning gunsmith home/store.  Lots of guns. 



The ballroom on top of the Assembly Hall (or I think that's what it was called).  This was one of my favorite places.  The Senior Missionary lady said 5 prophets would have been in this room at one time (Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, Lorenzo Snow) 



Rocking chair made by Brigham Young 


I dragged my family to Sarah Granger Kimball's home outside of town.  This is where the Relief Society was formed! 


Nauvoo Temple.  We did a session here one of the mornings and that was really nice. 



Where the Saints would have left Nauvoo to go West.  This is also probably where a lot of the first baptisms for the dead were done. 


After we left Nauvoo, we went to Adam-ondi-Ahman. It was such a beautiful and peaceful place. 


This is where the cornerstones of the temple still stand in Far West. 


Haun's Mill.  There is not much here, but the church has just bought this site and is trying to locate where things would have been so that they can commemorate it better.  We had to drive through some seriously rough farm roads to get here.  I'm talking dirt paths with overgrown grass through someone's field.  But hey, Greg's GPS still found it. 


The temple site in Independence.  That curly building in the background belongs to the Church of Christ (RLDS) 


Liberty Jail.  They have rebuilt this jail from the original materials inside of another building.  This was a very powerful place to be. 


The loose rocks on the side made it so no one could tunnel out and escape. 


The Memorial at Richmond Cemetery.  This is where Oliver Cowdery is buried, but the grave site is not marked. 


And...looks like I finally took a picture of my parents.  I promise they were there the whole time! 


Anyways, after the trip ended, we drove to Idaho Falls by way of Kansas, Colorado and Wyoming.  And now we have less than a week until we can move back into our own apartment!  Yay!  This probably sounds silly but I'm excited to see our own furniture again! 


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Kirtland and Michigan

Okay...so I know I'm a super slacker blogger lately.  I didn't drop off the face of the internet, I promise.  Or, if I did, at least I'm back, and dedicated to posting EVEN MORE PICTURES OF GREG AND I ON OUR ADVENTURE.

After we left DC, Greg and I spent one afternoon and one morning looking at the LDS church history sites in Kirtland and Hiram, Ohio.  When we were at the John Johnson house in Hiram--where the 76th and many other sections of Doctrine and Covenants were received and Joseph Smith was tarred and feathered--a flash flood warning and tornado warning sounded.  So, we got to sit in Elsa Johnson's kitchen, basically just us and the Senior missionaries, for probably an hour and a half, listening to the crazy storm and thinking of all the incredible things that people would have experienced in that home.  Sadly, we don't seem to have any pictures of the house, probably because of the insane weather. Once we left the house, we did have to make a few u-turns to find a country road that had NOT been turned into a cascading river.  Seriously.

Newel K. Whitney Store


The Temple Quarry


Happy Greg...budding beard 


The Kirtland Temple.  This building is amazing and it was a meaningful tour because of everything that has taken place here. 


One of the workshops


The Chagrin River, next to the store and the Visitor's Center.  One of Greg's ancestors was baptized here. 


The Ashery.  Somehow they made a lot of money from ashes.  I forget how, but it was smart. 


After the excursion to Kirtland, which was fantastic, we spent a few days at Greg's brother's house in St. Joseph, Michigan.  It was a really fun little town, and, of course, we loved getting to stay with them! We were not super good at taking pictures on this leg of the journey, but that is not a reflection of how much fun we had! WE HAD A LOT OF FUN :)

Ellie must have had a rough day...


Went to the beach at Lake Michigan.  It was almost as cool as Neptune Beach in Florida :) 


Another rough day, apparently. 


Here is a large Heather Hand.  I either wanted the camera badly or did not want my picture taken. 


I still have to blog about Nauvoo, Adam-Ondi-Ahman (sp?), and Liberty Jail, so stay tuned.



Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Great Zollinger Cross-Country Adventure: Chapter One

So, we made it.  We survived the 2 1/2 week drive across the country!  Not only did we survive, we had the time of our lives! Now we are hanging out in Idaho Falls waiting for our apartment in Provo to become available.  I love being here with Greg's family, but it will also be nice to get back and remember what kind of furniture I own and stuff.

I've decided to divide up our trip in a few posts of pictures.  We have a lot of pictures.  Today I think I'll post about our time in Washington DC and our stay with Morgan, Stephanie, and Alexander.  We have both been to DC before, but it was SO much fun to be able to go together, and choose exactly what we wanted to do.  Had such a blast!

Last Day in Florida... We spent the Fourth of July at the ocean. 


The rest of these pictures are not really in order because I am not patient enough for that.  

WWII Memorial



The church both George Washington and Robert E. Lee attended in Alexandria.


At the Washington DC temple.  You can learn more about LDS temples here. 



Where George and Martha Washington are buried at their property, Mt. Vernon.  We both loved Mt. Vernon.  The estate was so gorgeous and peaceful and I learned a lot.


Kitchen, Mt. Vernon. 


View of the Potomac from the back balcony.

A guy who takes pictures for a newspaper snapped a few of us and gave us a little photography lesson at the same time.  Do not center the subject, or something like that. 




The Library of Congress. 


Korean War Memorial 

The Lincoln Memorial, probably my favorite place in DC. 


 Nationals Game (of course) 






One of the only remaining original sunstones from the Nauvoo Temple, built in the 1840s on the Mississippi.  It is currently in the Smithsonian.  I was happy to see that the US is remembering American Latter-day Saint history.  This was also cool because we got to go to Nauvoo later in our trip, and the temple has been rebuilt with new sunstones that look identical to the originals. 


This was as close as they would let us get to the White House.... ???



Stay tuned...next up is Kirtland and Michigan!