Tuesday, January 31, 2006

I'm back! With exciting news, too!!!!

OK, it's been quite the couple of days. Sunday I had some pain in my lower left abdomen, and it got worse as the day went on - much worse. At night it was tough to sleep because it hurt badly enough to awaken me in the middle of the night. I had been coughing a lot from the stinking cold that Calvin gave me, and Loren thought that it was possible I had a hernia. So, Monday morning I called my OB and went in. He didn't think it was a hernia because the pain was higher than he thought it should be, but he did think it possibly could be an ovarian cyst. He ordered an ultrasound, and I had that done early Monday afternoon. It showed nothing as far as the ovary (thankfully), and while they were there, they did a thorough ultrasound on the baby as well. We found out two interesting things: 1) It's a girl! (At least they're pretty sure...) and 2) She is measuring at 18 weeks 2 days even though by my reckoning (which should be pretty darn accurate because of my charting for infertility) I am 14 weeks 4 days pregnant. This is pretty weird, so I called the OB and we scheduled an appt for today to talk about it. Turns out that the ultrasound at this point in pregnancy is very accurate for dating purposes. He knows that my history and my charts are accurate, and that my expected due date should be what I think - but given the measurements of the baby, he thinks the best explanation is that I conceived a month before I thought I did and that I actually had a period while pregnant. Strange but true. Apparently it's possible that the maternal hypothalamic signals are strong enough to trigger menstruation even though the embryo is sending out signals of its own, and somehow the embryo can survive all of this and voila! I'm 4 weeks MORE pregnant than I thought.

My only concern at this point is the following: what if the ultrasound is wrong? Well, Dr. S says that we'll get 1-2 more ultrasounds and see what they say. If they all agree, we'll assume they're correct. If not, we can always have an amniocentesis done at the very end of pregnancy and they can test for lung maturity in the baby before doing the C-section. I am reassured by these measures, so on we go. Hey, I get to hold my baby 4 weeks earlier, so I'm happy!!! Plus she looks perfectly healthy and normal by all the measures on the ultrasound. I'm really thankful that all is well, even if my head is spining a bit with the news.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


Wal-Mart has announced that they will soon be offering customers a new discount item: Wal-Mart's own brand of wine. The world's largest retail chain is teaming up with Ernest & Julio Gallo Winery of California, to produce the spirits at an affordable price, in the $2-5 range. Wine connoisseurs may not be inclined to throw a bottle of Wal-Mart brand into their shopping carts, but "there is a market for cheap wine," said Kathy Micken, director of marketing. She continued, "But the right name is important." Customer surveys were conducted to determine the most attractive name for the Wal-Mart brand. The top surveyed names in popularity are:

10. Chateau Traileur Parc

9. White Trashfindel

8. Big Red Gulp

7.World Championship Riesling

6. NASCARbernet

5. Chef Boyardeaux

4. Peanut Noir

3. I Can't Believe It's Not Vinegar!

2. Grape Expectations

And the number 1 name for Wal-Mart Wine...

1. Nasti Spumante

The beauty of Wal-Mart wine is that it can be served with either
white meat(Possum), or red meat (Squirrel).

(Thanks, Dad, for the joke!!!)

Monday, January 16, 2006

Tree trimming and such

Today was tree trimming day. Or, go broke while watching a crew of 5 guys remove about half of our trees (much needed trimming & pruning, though). It was expensive, but they did a good job and did what we needed done. The trees were too close to the power lines, the roof, the garage roof, the ground, etc. There were lots of dead branches that needed to be removed. Owning a house is great, but days like this make it an expensive proposition. Oh well, we do enjoy the shade of the trees, the convenient place to hang our hammock, and we also appreciate the fruit (pears, plums, apples, walnuts; well, maybe not the walnuts since they're just too much work to crack!) , so it's worth it.

It's nice having Loren home today. I watched Calvin/played w/him/took him grocery shopping, etc. this morning. Then after his nap (during which we watched a movie), Loren took him and has been playing with him. It's really cute to watch them together. I've been using the time to start making dinner, work on the laundry, and catch up on my blog :).

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Warm today

Can't believe it - our thermometer said 60 degrees not long ago! Wow! It's the "warm before the storm" for sure, because we're supposed to get 4-10 inches of snow tomorrow. Loren, thankfully, had a huge burst of energy today and raked the smidgen of the remaining leaves, scooped dog poop, put a new headlight in the Geo, got the oil changed on the Buick, and more. Fabulous... all of that is MUCH easier before there is 4-10 inches of snow on the ground.

In turn, I managed to not go outside at all (bummer!) because I've been cleaning the house top to bottom, which is good. I also made Loren some banana split bars (mmmmmm). I might have to have one.

My piano students are here so gotta run. More later.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Thoughts about "States of Grace" - movie by Richard Dutcher

Last night we went to see a free screening of "States of Grace" by Richard Dutcher. It's billed as the sequel to "God's Army", and really is only a sequel in the sense that it's about Mormon missionaries in Los Angeles. Overall, the movie was very well-done (though occasionally the pace was a bit slow), and I personally found it to be moving and thought-provoking. Before I go any farther, I must thank Nate & Sara McNeil profusely for providing babysitting so we could attend --- and they had to stay an hour later than we told them for reasons detailed below. They truly went above & beyond the call of duty and we are VERY grateful.

One big disappointment was that because we only got to the movie 10 minutes before it was scheduled to start, we had to wait over an hour to get into a second theater and then wait another 30 min for them to finish dubbing another copy of the movie (hello??? preparation anyone???). So, we missed the panel discussion slated to follow the movie (it was over when we finished watching), which was (for me) at least half of the reason to go. Fortunately, Richard Dutcher did address us before the movie, and hosted an informative Q&A that at least somewhat made up for missing the panel discussion.

I'm NOT a movie reviewer or huge movie buff (though my husband is!), so I'm not going to structure this like a review. It's not. I just want to ramble a bit about things I liked/didn't like/things that made me think/questions I have.

Things I liked:
1. Dutcher really puts a lot of thought and depth into the characters. As he explained to us before the movie, he doesn't shy away from Mormon characters who have flaws more serious than "feeling down sometimes". He's not into presenting a falsely squeaky-clean image of Mormons, but rather portrays them as real human beings that (gasp!) non-Mormons can relate to.
2. (Closely related to the previous point.) I learned more about why Mormons are so darn worried and amazingly insecure about what everyone thinks of Utah. I've been here 6 1/2 years now (so maybe I should have learned some of this before???) and have noticed that the image the LDS church puts out is always this pristine, perfectly-scripted, masterpiece of PR. Not only that, but articles in even the "independent" (non-church-owned) Salt Lake Tribune are continuously focusing on what other people think of Utah/Utahns/Utah issues. World events cannot be covered here w/o a recap of how it relates to Utah or to Utah's image or something. TV news is even more fanatic about this. Granted, I've seen this elsewhere, but not to the extent I've seen it here. Anyway, during Dutcher's Q&A I came to realize more fully that because Mormonism is so missions-minded, members are really anxious about presenting the best face possible to attract converts. Duh! Of course. (WHY did it take me 6 1/2 years to figure this out?). This theologically-based evangelical zeal has translated, culturally, into an imperative to make everything look perfect on the surface, even when it's not. (And of course it's not - Mormons are human like the rest of us - and being human means being deeply flawed (dare I say "sinful"?) by nature).
Previously, I had thought of other reasons that contribute to this cultural imperative, but they were more theological in nature. Popular Mormon theology (which is almost certainly NOT orthodox Mormon theology, according to my reading of it) seems to espouse the belief that if you perform well, God will reward you with earthly blessings and will make your life a happy and materially blessed life. If you have problems, it may be because you are slacking. So, appearing happy and perfect on the surface means that God is blessing you and that you are doing the right things. Add this to cultural pressure in Utah of living geographically close to your fellow church members (so close that they can really keep tabs on you), and there's a lot of pressure to make sure things look good. Now, granted, much of this is cultural, and not theological orthodox, as I've said, but I have personally observed it in many instances since moving here.
The bottom line is that I've added a new reason to my list for the perfect image zeal. Interestingly, it's a problem that is not limited to Mormons - any faith which espouses proselytizing is vulnerable to it, mine included. I admit there have been times when I have tried to put on a good front to make my faith look better. But ultimately, a lot of that comes from seeking man's praise rather than God's, so I have tried to focus more on loving God and neighbor and leaving it go at that. Image consciousness never works very well. It's really the opposite of truly believing in grace; the grace of God often works through us better when we're weak, showing God to be strong.
This was a long point, but this is what I liked about the movie and the Q&A - it made me think a lot about important stuff.
3. The movie did make me think about grace, an important theme in the movie. Regardless of whether one thinks Richard Dutcher or Mormons have a correct understanding of grace or not (see discussion below under "Thinks I disliked"), the theme here was undeniable. No matter what one has done, no matter how bad ("sinful") you have been, you are never beyond the reach of the love and grace of God in Jesus Christ (and some of the movie's characters really blew it!).
4. I really liked that the movie had as one of its major points that Mormons and non-Mormons have a lot to learn from each other. As a non-Mormon Christian, I often feel like Mormons think that their faith is just my faith plus more stuff. (I disagree... I think that our faiths are pretty different at the core). I don't often feel like they are really interested in what I believe, or feel they have much to learn from my beliefs. The movie had several key moments in which Mormons learned some important concepts/truths from non-Mormons. Especially interesting was the use of a cross necklace at one point in the movie - when asked about it in the panel discussion (heard this from a friend since I couldn't go), Dutcher said that he really appreciates the symbolism of the cross and wishes Mormons would appreciate it more.

Things I disliked:
1. Sometimes the plot got a bit slow. Maybe a bit more editing might have helped things move along at points. Mostly it wasn't a problem, just sometimes. It's not like you'll be bored watching this movie.
2. Some scenes seemed a bit contrived or overly sentimental to me. The scene of Carl's confirmation intertwined with the murder of another character was in some respects very artfully and beautifully done - but I found myself thinking about the artistry during the scene, and it took away a bit from the drama/emotion of the moment. At the same time, I did like that scene, because it was very artistic. I wonder if there is a way to keep the artistry more subtle? Maybe not. The final scene seemed overly sentimental - a lot of audience members obviously really liked it, and I liked the idea behind it (don't want to spoil the film so can't say much more here), but the way it was carried out was a little too gooshy for me.
3. The movie seemed to imply as one of its major themes (didn't think about this until later when Loren pointed it out to me) that the Jesus worshipped by Mormons, Lutherans, Pentecostals, Baptists, Catholics, etc. is the same Jesus. Honestly, I would love to believe that Mormons believe in the same Jesus I do, but given my earlier book review of Bob Millet's book "A Different Jesus?", I just can't go there. The movie studiously avoids any controversial issues which would distinguish the Mormon Jesus from the Jesus I believe in. The ultimate nature of who God is and who man is never comes up, and neither does the central Mormon doctrine of eternal progression. Clearly, Dutcher wants to unify and not to divide, and this is why he does this. The problem is that you can't unify people without discussing the issues that they believe divide them.
4. The concept of grace cannot be divorced (in my opinion) from the nature of God and the idea of eternal progression in Mormon thought. This means that even though I really liked the presentation of grace in the movie, I am not ready to say that the Mormon concept of grace matches my own. To me, the worldview that humans are "gods in embryo" and are on earth as a time of mortal probation takes away from the idea of grace as undeserved, unmerited favor. If anything you do at all is contributing to your justification (or whatever you want to call it), then grace is not grace. I know Mormons believe they are powerless w/o the atonement of Christ, but nesting this in the concept of eternal progression ruins it for me. I could write pages on this and probably not articulate it clearly enough, so I'll stop here.

Would love to write more, but am really out of time. Please do comment!

Monday, January 09, 2006


Calvin is happily playing for the moment, so I'm going to try a brief post, if he'll let me.

Last Thursday was a VERY cool day. I had my first doctor appointment this pregnancy w/my OB/Gyn and we got to hear the baby's heartbeat! That has got to be one of the best moments in pregnancy - hearing the baby's heartbeat for the first time. It just doesn't seem very real before that, as you're not bigger yet - you're just sick/queasy/tired. But once I hear that little heart beating, it just seems easier to imagine a baby growing inside. Very cool.

It was a pretty good weekend. Got some good relaxation inbetween teaching piano students, raking the leaves in the back yard (that was a big job but had to be done before it snowed again, which it did on Sunday!), helping my friend Ye paint her kitchen cabinets, going to church, etc. Loren and I enjoyed watching football and a fluffy but entertaining Disney movie called Sky High.

Today I'm catching up on grocery shopping & laundry & finances, and I have the usual slew of piano students this afternoon. Tonight I'm planning on going to women's Bible study group, which for some odd reason is now starting at 7 pm again... very hard for me to get to since my students leave at 6:45 or so. Guess I'll be late. At least dinner is simmering away in the crock pot - "Ultimate Split Pea Soup" which is really yummy.

Calvin's playing the piano now - so cute! He just likes to bang on it, but mommy can always hope it means he's a budding young musician :).

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Hey, I'm actually posting

But probably no one reads this now since I've been so irregular. Well, maybe if I put some EXCITING news in here people will start to read it?!? Maybe most of the regulars who read this page already know. Maybe not. But the news is: we're expecting baby #2 on July 27th! I've been feeling exceptionally tired and so perhaps that's why the posting has slowed down. Perhaps not... maybe that's just an excuse. Anyway, I'm almost 11 weeks along and we have our first dr appt on Thursday - hoping to hear the baby's heartbeat. That will be exciting, since the beginning of pregnancy is long and tiring and it's hard to imagine that it's real until you hear that little heart beating.

The nice thing was that we were able to conceive relatively easily - we tried 2 different drugs, and the first (clomiphene) was a bust, but then we tried bromocriptine (which worked to give us Calvin), and even though my prolactin wasn't high this time, it worked wonderfully the FIRST month! Needless to say, we were thrilled. It's actually pretty convenient to have to take a pill to get pregnant (wouldn't it be great if everyone could just do that? no more unwanted babies!), especially when it works well for you and you know which one to try. We don't think we want any more kids after #2, but if we did, we would know what medication to use.

In other news, our Hawaii pics are now up at www.kaminy.net - just click the camera and then click Hawaii under the December 2005 pics section. There are LOTS of pics, so enjoy the ones that look interesting to you and don't bother w/the rest.

It's not that late (8 pm) but I'm super tired so I think I'll curl up with a book --- goodnight!