Saturday, October 18, 2014

Feliz Cumple, Heather

So I've been waiting a good couple of months to say I'm 24. Twenty-four just sounds WAYYY better than 23, you know?

I did this for my birthday:

Yeah. Went to the ocean to go "running." Mostly I just sat around and thought about how pleasant the beach is. This is your cue to be enormously jealous. 

^ This meanie crab attacked me though, so be grateful you missed out on that. 

Greg told me he's a really good wrapper. After a few birthdays, I'm not entirely convinced. They look a little lumpy, right? The reason why is because Greg tries to disguise all his presents. My shoes were wrapped up in an old Carhartt sweatshirt and my vase was in a shoe box that wasn't closed all the way. Whatever. I'm cool with that. 

If Greg has questionable wrapping skills, his shoe shopping skills are top notch. Better than mine, actually. He picked these out all by himself. Super cute, right? Look at that plaid on the sides. All I told them him was that I needed sturdy, cute-ish shoes that I could wear in the Florida rain. And now I have my first pair of Sperry's. Score, Greg. Score. 

I also got this pitcher. I always like looking at pitchers. I just think a nice vase with good lines and a good shape with flowers in it is just fresh and lovely. But I never buy them for myself. It was a fun surprise present. My husband has a good fashion sense, I'm realizing. 

What birthday is complete without Reese's as a present? No birthday. 

The "cake" was a little special this year. Normally I'm a birthday cake purist. No other dessert will do. And since high school I've typically made my cake myself just for quality control purposes (no offense, general family members who have made cake for my birthday). This year I really felt like instead of cake I just wanted a fatty cheesecake of some sort. So I pulled out my trusty Hershey's cookbook and did a special dark three layer chocolate cheesecake. 

Divine, my friends. DIVINE. 

Happy birthday. To me.  

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Four Years, and Disney on a Whim

The cool part about my non-pregnant state? I can go to Disney and ride whatever I want, whenever I want. 


Today is our four year anniversary, and we celebrated in style. Last week we bought a four day pass to the happiest place on earth, mostly for our four year anniversary, and also partly for my birthday, and also partly because we're adults and we can go to Disney if we want to. 

We spent Saturday in the Magical Kingdom. Excuse my washed-out appearance, I was just not going to worry about being cute and stuff. Us in the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse: 

On a raft going out to Tom Sawyer's island: 

The Castle. Dreams come true and all that jazz. (Also a fellow in an orange shirt). 

Thanks to Heather's research, we did the park like pros. We rode Splash Mountain, Thunder Mountain, and The Pirates of the Caribbean all within an hour of parking. Disney is so commercialized, so predictable. But I'm always surprised at my own nostalgia, the way that musty smell inside Pirates makes me feel like a wild ten-year-old, the way the first glimpse of the castle makes me want to point and show people, the way I scream on Space Mountain just kinda because I want to. Call me sentimental, but it's a good feeling, you know? 

We have three more days...three more parks. Prepare to be inundated with blurry photographic evidence of our travels (if I can get myself to blog, that is). 

Four years. It's crazy. I had never meant to get married that young--and I told him so. 

But I wouldn't change anything. Through everything, our marriage has always been good and strong and happy. I think I have smiled more with him than I ever did in the whole rest of my life put together. I could go on with this cheesy stuff forever, but I'll just say that we are strong. We are just strong. The last four years have been the hardest of my life, but also the best, and I wouldn't change a thing.  

Saturday, October 4, 2014

October 4th - One Year

I've been confused over the past month about what exactly this day is for us. This demonstrates, I think, one of the smaller heartaches that accompanies a life experience like this. We just don't have the language to describe the loss. What is it? Austin and Daniel's one year birthday? One year since a miscarriage? One year since the stillbirth of our sons? Sometimes I feel a little bit like I'm just stumbling around in the darkness in a very large room, and I don't know where the walls are or how long I'll keep looking, and all I can feel is the floor, and the floor is cold.

But other times I feel like I'm sitting in an open field with my hands folded, and there is sunshine everywhere. I decided a few weeks ago that I would simply think of this day, October 4th, as the year anniversary of the hardest and the happiest day of my life.

One year ago today I made such difficult decisions. One year ago today I was so extremely angry. One year ago today I labored for three and a half hours with hardly any help because I knew I had to be as aware as possible, and because I wanted to feel every bit of pain I could because I wondered if later the pain would be the only thing I would have left, and the only thing I could hang on to.

But all of that just pales in comparison to the blessings that we saw. One year ago today I felt the Spirit stronger than I ever have before. One year ago today I was told exactly what to do. One year ago today I gave a strong declaration that I would keep my covenants. One year ago today we saw the Atonement working in the most profound of ways. And one year ago today I held my children for the first time, and Austin looked more like Greg, and Danny looked more like me, and they were just absolute troopers. They did so well. And I have never been more proud in my entire life.

Today we did what we could to remember. Oaklawn Cemetery here in Jacksonville is beautiful, with spanish moss hanging from the trees and a riverbed running through. We walked in the quiet and found children. A set of siblings who both passed away in the fifties, and a set of siblings who passed away in the thirties, and others, too. We had two dozen roses and we made sure that all of them we could find were remembered. Of course, they don't really need the flowers. The ways their parents love them could never be fully described, and God himself is aware of these children in the most beautiful of ways.

We kept two flowers, just for us. One for Austin, one for Daniel. Now they are on my kitchen table, and they don't make me sad. They make me happy.

I don't know if anyone visited Austin and Daniel today. I hope some did, not because Austin and Daniel need it, and not even exactly because I need it, but more because I think that it is a place on earth where we can understand what is really important.

I know that things work out. I know the gospel never ceases to work. I know we are stronger than we seem, and I am grateful for a God who lets us realize it.