Monday, May 1, 2017

Strawberry Pancakes

"You must tell me all about yourself, in every detail, but oh, so slowly, 
so very slowly, so that it takes a very, very long time."
- Sir Percy Blakeney, Baronet 




Friends and Family,

Yep, that's right - Bacon wrapped fried jalapeno poppers
Sorry I haven't posted in a while. I think I started this post before Christmas but ran out of time. Then the winter quarter started up and I haven't had much time for anything since.




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You hopefully already know that Merilee and I are expecting twins in July. It's been amusing how some people reacted when we told them. I've gotten a few "... congratulations?" Usually those are people who don't know me so well. We would also get a lot of "oh I think I kind of knew"s even when people were so surprised when we spilled the beans.
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Thanksgiving was a lot of fun. We had Friendsgiving with a couple different families. After a big lunch with the Mays, we went over to the school next door and played kickball. The group featured a wide range of ability, but full stomachs became the great equalizer and it was a pretty close and entertaining match. I don't know how we were able to eat more that day, but we then went over to our friends' the Clifts' place for dinner and Mario Kart.

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We found out about the pregnancy the week of Thanksgiving. A week or so later, an ultrasound revealed the twins. While we were over the moon excited about it, we kept it pretty much to ourselves for a while. The infertility clinic told us after we graduated at eight weeks (a week or so before Christmas) that we could make our news public, but we still held it in. This was partly because we think that seven months advance notice is a bit ridiculous, but also because Merilee wanted to prove her family wrong and show that she could keep a secret. #Merilies


6 Weeks
12 Weeks
18 Weeks
24 Weeks














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maaa
For Christmas, we were able to have Mer's brother Christian and sister Bonnie over to visit. We had fun playing cards, going to the movies, staying home and watching movies, checking out the architectural graveyard, and mostly just staying inside. We also had fun doing Morse code. The Clifts adopted us once again for Christmas and took us out kayaking to the Avila lighthouse the next day.








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So how's pregnancy? At first, it was pretty amusing. Pretty soon, however, it started to get harder. It's been exhausting, nauseating, and uncomfortable. It's been hard on Merilee too.



At first, she was eating like a horse, except she'd also get really aggressive during feeds (I almost lost a hand). If I dismissed the early warning signs of her hunger attacks or turned my back for two minutes, I'd find her hunched down on the ground ready to give up. All she needed was a good sandwich and she was fine. 

"You sleep so angelically when you're pregnant"

As things have progressed, she's had a lot of heartburn (did you know that pregnant women can only have 6 tums a day?). The critters also seem to lodge themselves in uncomfortable places and swim around as much as they like, causing Merilee some trouble. The kicks have been awesome for me to feel, though. The hardest part for me is finding things for Merilee to eat. I could eat the same thing every day if it was easy to make, tasted good, and was "healthy." With Merilee though, it's been more like:


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Soon after the winter quarter started, we got a lot of rain and our property had some water damage. The railroad next to our complex had a drain that clogged and was causing water to back up and cascade down through the apartments behind us and into our property. Long-story-short we had some tenants leave and it's just been a lot more work for me than it usually is trying to fill it.

The river Merilee had to ford to get to her car
What it usually looks like (notice there's not a river)

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A week or two before Christmas, Mer started throwing up two to four times a day and was a zombie for a while whenever she came home from work. I'm talking about "7:30PM bedtime" zombie. While Christian and Bonnie were visiting we managed to conceal our secret by claiming it was just the drugs she was on. Until around 10 weeks (that's when the placenta takes over hormone production), she was still taking estrogen and progesterone. Bonnie was blessed with the opportunity to witness an intramuscular injection in preparation for becoming a nurse

A needle was Several needles were here
She fell asleep with a sandwich resting on her chest. The flash from the camera woke her up and she's smirking because she loves avocados and English muffins.

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Since then, things have been pretty stressful between my two jobs and school. Senior design is picking up and we're at the stage where everyone is putting in a lot of hours and a lot is expected from each team member. Argggh, it's so frustrating that it's only a 3 unit class.

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So we eventually did tell people (around 13 weeks I think). Family first, of course. We broke the news over gchat to Mer's family. They were all impressed with how long she had been able to keep the secret. We would have waited longer, except a few people were starting to get suspicious and we figured we should tell family before we were found out. It's hard to conceal a pregnancy when you're so sick.



The next week, we were visiting my brother's family for my nephew's baptism. It was a prime opportunity to tell my side of the family since we could catch all but two in person. I didn't want to steal the kid's thunder on his special day, though. So, I pulled him aside to tell him the news first. I also told him that since it was his special day, he could decide when to break the news to everyone else. We were pretty impressed when he decided to wait until we were all gathered in a big group for dinner to announce it. Seeing everyone's faces as he told them was pretty fun.

Our nephew takes great photos




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Right now I'm just trying to get all the turnovers taken care of for next year. I have 3 more to go, then hopefully this apartment managing job can go back to its previous pace. Then I can focus more on feeding Merilee and on school.

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As I write this, Merilee is now heading into her last week of her second trimester. Though it hasn't been without its own challenges, it has been a lot nicer than the first. She started getting even sicker when she began taking pre-natals around 13 weeks, but we finally got her on some anti-nausea meds and she's done a lot better. She only needs to be careful brushing her teeth and she's good. Both her and the babies are looking healthy so far and we are so grateful.

In case you haven't noticed by now, I can't help but snap a picture when Mer passes out. I guess she's sleeping for three (four if you count the sleep that I'm not getting). She looks so peaceful.

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What else is new? Well, I'm now riding a bike to school and work. The PT Cruiser is almost out of commission and I need the exercise anyways (thanks Kim!). Also, I'll be leaving towards the end of July for an internship. It's a really great opportunity (or else I wouldn't be leaving my wife and two newborns) and should only be gone 7 weeks.

Mid-Sneeze
Her Sneeze turned off the microwave
Easter Sunday





















April Fool's Prank
April Fool's Truth




Today

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Making Things Grow

Hey guys. I guess I haven't blogged all summer. A lot's happened since we last talked. I even had a birthday. Don't worry if you didn't get me anything. It's never too late.

I got out of school OK. Merilee was telling everyone I finished with a 4.0. It's true, but it's almost as embarrassing as your mom bragging about you getting on the honor roll in middle school. I guess I'm getting that now since I failed 8th grade the first time.

A paperweight for Boeing's 100th birthday.
There's a bunch of these on Ebay now.
I've started two new jobs since we last talked. I'm working as a software tester for a company here in town. I'll be carrying the job into the school year. Extra money will be nice, and for many reasons it's just an amazing job to have as a student. I also pretty much had to commit to working this school year for them to consider hiring me. I could seriously burn some bridges if I put in my two weeks before next summer. Training took over a month and I'm still getting the hang of things, but I really enjoy it most of the time.


My second job is as an apartment manager for a small complex close to campus. We get a discount on rent in addition to earning a little each month. The result is that our cost of living is significantly lower and we're looking forward to saving lots of money in the next 2+ years. Being the manager for the 15 units really isn't that big of a deal, but it does get hectic at times. Right now it's annoying because people (probably not even from our complex) are dumping couches by our dumpster. It doesn't affect my paycheck, but I still hate that it's costing my company $50-$100 every time they do it. 

As an on-site manager, I have to live on-site. So we moved. We'll miss our old apartment complex which featured coin laundry and two pools and a hot tub we never used. We also changed wards. It's nice meeting new people and not having 4 callings.

My wife is so cute.
Speaking of callings - Merilee and I were invited to speak with a member of the bishopric 15 minutes before sacrament meeting on our second Sunday there. Since our records had been requested the previous week, we were extended the calling to serve as primary workers. We were sustained 30 minutes later, then our records were read in so we could be welcomed into the ward. I felt the order of things was appropriate given the state of things. I guess willing volunteers are scarce here as well. The ward does seem to be a bit bigger than our last one though.

It's hard to see, but basically there were a lot of eggs in our compost.
Unfortunately our apartment isn't any bigger. Somehow I feel like we're able to utilize the space a bit better though. We have less space yet everything seems to have a place. There's a community garden in our complex that no one uses. We had the worst time trying to garden in the back patio of our previous apartment. It would have been nice to cultivate our own little vegetable patch but the sun just didn't shine enough on it. This community garden gets plenty of sun, but I don't think I like sharing dirt with other people. There are some weird people out there, you know?

At the moment we're hosting some friends who are in limbo with their house being worked on. They had to sell their home when they bought a fixer-upper and it's taking some time to get it habitable. I've been helping them with some demo and other miscellaneous work. It's nice learning a little bit about the renovation process, and they've been paying me, so it's nice.

Sewing machine, 3D printer, computers, electronics,
Rubik's cube. Yay for being kind of a nerd. Mer sews not me.
I've been saving my dollars with the idea of buying a 3D printer. My friend Sam took his with him to his internship. I don't blame him, but at the same time it's hurt my progress on our project. Rapid prototyping is really hard without a quick and easy manufacturing method. The plan changed when I realized that our new apartment gets a lot hotter than our last, especially with the gas oven pumping out bread and pies and cakes and cookies. I invested in a portable AC unit instead. It's pretty cool.

That didn't stop me from getting a 3D printer though. Peterson in-laws are awesome. It turned out that Randy had built one at a workshop and brought it to us from Missouri when they visited us. I thought he just brought it so we could play around and nerd out with it, but he gave it to me as part of my birthday ensemble. It was awesome having them over to visit, and my workshop has been upgraded significantly with their contributions. So I'm giving a shout out to Randy and Sheralyn for making Christmas come early this year. By the way, you too could earn a shout out on my blog. Find out how. #Shameless

I was trying to take a picture of a rocket part. I got some sweetness instead.

We might be re-locating the workshop, however. Though our apartment is full of stuff, we have yet to fill it with another person. Just as meeting with the fertility specialist this time last year had somewhat calmed our anxiety about the uncharted realm of IVF, we thought this year it would be beneficial for us to take the foster care classes the county has. We would likely be going in that direction eventually, even if IVF worked the 3rd or 4th time.


Egg Harvest #1
I don't think foster care will be how we start our family for a few years. It became pretty apparent to me early on, but I was waiting until the last class before totally ruling it out. I just couldn't see a possible way for it to work between work schedules and school. I was also going through a rough patch, rougher than I am now at least.

I don't think I've taken offense too many times for things that have happened to me in life, but after our last failed attempt it just started to feel personal. I really don't think I knew what it was to be infertile until I had to tell Merilee the results of her last (as in final) pregnancy test. I thought I was really fortunate (and I was) to know, even before dating Merilee, that I would need to do IVF to have children. I was fortunate because I, unlike so many couples, could go straight to the fertility specialist. I wouldn't have to try for months or years to get pregnant naturally before I could get a referral. I wouldn't wonder what was wrong. However, now I really have no idea why IVF didn't work. On paper, Merilee and I look like ideal candidates for in vitro.
Our first embryos.


That's one reason why it feels personal.

It feels personal because Merilee can't have so much as a caffeinated Dr. Pepper while undergoing treatment and gets injected with expensive drugs that are supposed to help her get pregnant. All the while, meth addicts and abusers of all other kinds of drugs can't help getting pregnant and continue to use during their pregnancies. Maybe our doctor should have prescribed Merilee meth instead of fertility drugs?


The two which were thawed for our frozen cycle.
It feels personal because, though Merilee has served exclusively in primary callings since we were married and has helped so many of other people's children, she will never have one of her own.

It feels personal as couples who have been married much less time than we have are starting their families.

It feels personal when there are people who think that they have too many kids or say things like "if it's a girl this time OK, but if not..." We will never know their struggle.

It feels personal when a cycle ends and all the other women in the doctor's office got pregnant but your wife.

It feels personal because facebook is full of children and "hey we're having a baby in 6 months" announcements (please don't take offense, your babies are cute and you have every reason to share pictures of them. The chances are that if you're reading this, we want to see more pictures of your babies).

It feels personal when I remember our first visit with the doctor who told us that we were going to "make [him] look good."


Egg Harvest #2
I've felt so angry with Him (at God, not our doctor). It's an anger I haven't felt since I lived at home with my parents. Do you remember when you wanted something so bad, but your parents wouldn't let you have it? It doesn't matter how unimportant it seems now, but then, you had an insatiable desire for whatever that thing was. Those fools, they just wouldn't listen. They would not budge no matter how much you begged or were willing to sacrifice. The answer was always no (unless you were one of those spoiled ones?).

That's a lot how this feels. He's said no. He's been showing us this past year, in no subtle terms, that we will not have our own child, and that is what makes me angry at Him. Then a lot of the time I also feel guilty. I stopped feeling guilty for being the reason why we can't have children when I considered that if the situation was switched (ie if Merilee was infertile), I would know she was not responsible. I would never want her harboring guilt over something so beyond her control.


What I do feel guilty about is feeling like God is picking on me when there are people who have real problems. I'm not fighting for my life, neither is my spouse nor are my siblings. I have plenty of work and so does my spouse. We are able to live comfortably and watch movies and eat cookies every day. My spouse is a constant source of comfort, joy, love, affection, excitement, and laughter. I'm progressing towards an exciting career, excelling in school and gaining valuable work experience.

Egg Harvest #3
The list goes on to prove my point that I don't deserve to be pitied. Yet at the same time, I do feel a huge loss. A loss of a family I'll never have. A loss of being able to see my wife bear and nurture our children. A loss of seeing resemblances in my children of their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. It's knowing that our children will have other parents. It's accepting that our family can only grow by the dismantling of others. It's expectations since childhood that will never happen. It's many things that I feel guilty for wanting so earnestly.

I knew that it was wrong to be angry with God, just like I was probably a brat to my parents. I'm trying to repent and get rid of the guilt. Already I'm seeing some results. Since I started making a more conscious effort to see things His way and really be open to whatever His plan is (even though it would certainly not have been my first choice), I've noticed a few things. Over the last few days we've randomly met friends of friends who have done foster care in the past, we've discovered that acquaintances from work and church also have done foster care, and particularly for me I've had some specific words spoken over the pulpit pointing me in the right direction. Thanks Bishop Canaan (he didn't buy anything but gets a shout out anyways).


Third fresh cycle embryos from my sperm.
I've started to believe that He (again - God, not Bishop Canaan) needs us to care for someone. I think that He's been preparing someone for us, and us for him/her. It must have needed to be now. Perhaps he didn't bless us with successful IVF because he knew we'd delay foster care until I was out of school if we had a baby. I could be wrong, but I don't feel like this is the time that we'll start our family. I think we're more likely to be a temporary support for the a child in the age group we can manage (which is right now probably between 5-10 yrs old).

Third fresh cycle embryos from donor sperm.
We had high hopes for the big one.
The system favors reunification because studies have shown that biological parents that provide the bare minimum for their children are still better than perfect strangers. Even if we were perfect foster parents, I don't think I could go into the arrangement with the idea to take away someone else's child anyways. We're not against adoption or another type of permanency, but I like the idea of helping a young person during an extremely difficult time before they are reunited with their parents more than being plan B.

So anyways, that's why we might be moving the workshop into the bedroom. We're thinking if we can curtain off the den, it might pass as a bedroom for one or two kids. We don't have our license yet but will probably start parenting before the end of the year. It's kind of scary but at the same time I feel assured that this is what God wants us to do right now.

Merilee's dad said that we would need a miracle to have a baby, and we do believe in miracles. It's true that He could bless us with that tremendous gift. Right now however, we're focusing on what He wants us to do instead of what we've been trying to get Him to do for us. Maybe we'll plant something in the community garden too.

Hugs and bubbles.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Super Smash Bro's

On Tuesday we had our pack's Pinewood Derby. It was pretty cool despite having to put it on ourselves. Last year was epic because we had a man from out of town come and do it for us. He had a light show, music, and games with the audience between heats. He came equipped with helpers, a jig for qualifying cars, and much much more. Most importantly, I didn't have to do anything. 

I was an idiot and didn't get in contact with him until about 6 weeks ago about doing it again only to learn that he wouldn't be available. It turns out we were the last derby he had hosted and he had to focus on his "family" or something. Whatever. Anyways we made it work and the kids had fun even though there was no rock concert this time. I'm just grateful for all the help I got from the other den leaders.

We have some new leaders that were called to help out since our Webelos leader graduated from Cal Poly and moved away. Hashtag lifegoals... About graduating I mean, not about moving away and being released from scouts. Have you seen my list of callings? Most people have one or two lines, I have a paragraph.

Note: I'm a substitute seminary teacher. (in case you thought
I was that righteous)
Worse than bragging, I'm complaining. I've decided that I can consider saying no to callings in the future. That way I can feel unworthy for not doing enough rather than be unworthy for resenting having so much responsibility.

There's a fine line between doing too much and thinking you do more than you do. And how can I complain about so many people in our ward not accepting callings when I complain about my own? The Savior gave His life for us, and we should strive to follow His example of selflessness. However, I think He also understands sometimes. People are usually given a break from callings for special circumstances, and it's not because they're selfish or because they lack the faith to receive the divine help they need.

Anyways, I should stop complaining. Merilee and I are the same in that we complain. I complain about being too busy and not having time to work out and she complains about 22 gauge needles going into her lower back and anything that has to do with being a woman.

300 IU of FSH analogs +Lupron
and Omnitrope

If you've played this game, you're hearing him say it.
Hopefully you saw our update on our fundraiser page. Some people having offered to fast for our cause. If you didn't know, that's fine. We appreciate your prayers. Of course whenever we post updates about our infertility there's always the adoption brigade that comes out to tell us how blessed we could be if we adopted. There's also people that just seem to know what we need to do (like go to Nebraska). They are sincere and kind and want only the best for us. However, I'm more than kind of sincere when I say that I want to falcon-punch some of those people in the throat.

Seriously though, I understand that adoption is very important, and indeed it blesses lives. Yet I really can't believe that it is the same thing as having your own child. And I mean that without trying to imply that one is superior to the other in any way or that an adopted child is not a real child. 

Birthing and adopting are, however, different in the way that children become sons or daughters and adults become parents. I could go on and explore my feelings about adoption, but my point is that it's not the grassy meadow of contentment that everyone tells you that you should be grazing in instead of doing IVF. Both are hard, and at this point in our marriage, adoption/foster care is even less of a fit for us than shooting Merilee up every morning. So when you tell me how great adoption is as I am about $30,000 into IVF, consider the following:

Made this meme all by myself.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Surviving the Harsh Environment of Space

A few lies:

  1. Removing the battery from your cell phone makes it charge faster.
  2. It will be bronze in the morning.
  3. The cake.
This last week was possibly one of the heaviest work-wise that I've had in a while. It couldn't actually have been that bad since I only remember getting less than 7 hours of sleep once. School has been pretty easy this quarter so far actually. Perhaps I'm just slacking.

I had a lab report due Tuesday, Structures and Spacecraft Environments homework due Wednesday and a Structures midterm Wednesday. I also had an Aerothermodynamics III quiz and a Spacecraft Environments Midterm today (Thursday). 

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Courtesy: nasa.gov
Interesting...

Spacecraft Environments is a pretty interesting class not simply because of the material covered, but because it, along with the associated lab next quarter, is possibly not found in any other undergraduate program in the country. The courses were developed in reaction to industry feedback. Graduates performed well in many ways, yet many lacked the knowledge of why spacecraft look the way they do and why they need certain components, etc. It makes sense that knowledge of the environmental effects on spacecraft would be essential in design and execution of missions in space.
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This weekend was supposed to be packed as we prepared for our first launch attempt this coming Monday. Our oxidizer isn't arriving until Monday, and we won't be able to get the powder we need for the ejection charge until next week. Oh well.


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"Not-know-it-alls"

This is space. It does not cooperate.
Courtesy: The Martian
After so many trips up there, humans have learned a lot about space. We've also done a great job at making it more dangerous. However, despite our advances and engineering feats, there are still mysteries, surprises, and failures that serve as reminders that we don't know everything. Some of the equations we use for calculating orbital debris flux or solar intensity are stuffed full of random-looking coefficients that scientists made up, based on data collected. We're just trying to make it fit the model. We don't necessarily have a grasp on what's going on.
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You'd be surprised how hard it is to find black powder where we live. Well, you actually might not. What we need can be ordered, but the hazmat fee is almost $30 which more than doubles the cost. A local store here carries it, but only orders it for the hunting season which I guess is around October? Good to know.

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Trying to get it right

Spacecraft glow on shuttle.
Courtesy: NASA
I think that it's obvious for many people why it's important to do all you can to make sure something will work before sending millions of dollars into space on top of a controlled explosion. A major obstacle is that the space environment is very difficult to recreate on Earth's surface. Vacuum chambers, rail-guns, and other devices help, but not many can be used in conjunction for synergistic effects. Plus, you know what they say.  Failing to plan for any aspect of the space environment can easily result in complete failure of the mission. So many things can go wrong even when you're aware and plan for them.
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Despite having only rockets and lines of code in my brain, I was able to give a talk last month and I don't think I used any aerospace analogies this time. We also had Christmas. I guess a lot has happened since my last post.

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LDEF - The Real Thing

Stands for: Long Duration Exposure Facility
With the space shuttle, prolonged in-space experiments became possible. In class we learned about the LDEF, which carried panels with different materials all over the outside of a cylinder shape. Besides being able to view the effects on many different coatings and materials, LDEF also made possible the observation of the effects on different surfaces based on their orientation. This included the forward direction versus the sides and back of the space craft. Some coatings changed color while others eroded and some held intact. The experiment was so valuable for its ability to directly measure the effects of the space environment, that similar experiments have also been done on the International Space Station (ISS). 
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In my talk I was strangely given the choice of what I wanted to speak on, which was frightening as I usually get lost in my own thoughts when that happens. Luckily I was given an alternative topic which I blended with things that I had been thinking about lately.

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Our LDEF

This experiment reminded me of a YSA fireside I went to in Oakland after I got home from my mission. The speaker talked about how collision survival rates in cars rose after safety advancements were made thanks to the implementation of crash test dummies. Like the LDEF, a dummy is put right where the action is. The idea is that the dummy undergoes the same exact experience a human would, leaving estimations from complex models and equations behind and going for real, accurate data. The speaker's point was that our crash test dummy for life, of course, is Jesus Christ.
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The truth is that I've felt an increase in compassion for those going through difficulties, whether I'm aware of them or not. This compassion is imperfect, but is becoming more consistent. I reflected on my parents' challenges in a way that I hadn't before. After then considering my own challenges, and extending that to those around me, I've come to the conclusion that compassion is a catalyst which allows humankind to grow together. Think about that the next time you want to flip off the driver next to you.

Unfortunately, we can only do so much for each other. Sometimes I feel like sympathy only goes so far. In a way I've felt like my trials were like personal spiritual experiences. I think that one reason why it's not always appropriate to share them is because they usually don't mean as much to other people. I may have an increased feeling of sympathy for my parents as I get older and relate to them more, but unless I went through what they did, that sympathy is all I can have for them.

I don't know what it's like to grow up in an abusive home. I wasn't a marine in Vietnam. I've never lost children to miscarriages, buried a child, or had a rebellious child leave the church. I've never been through a divorce. Though I've never been swimming in cash, I've also haven't faced long-term unemployment or lost my home to foreclosure.

Everyone gets their own unique set of circumstances in life, and we're often ignorant of each other's. Thankfully, we have a loving Heavenly Father and His Son.

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The Book of Mormon, Alma 7

11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.

12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.

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Christ's love was so great that just knowing about the human experience wasn't enough. He could have known everything through the Spirit, but decided to experience it himself. He preferred to be empathetic instead of merely sympathetic. Who better to judge us than Him?


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13 Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me.
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To all of you also trying to survive the harsh environment of mortality: know that the Savior knows precisely what is coming your way as well as what you are made of. More importantly, He's already been there and is ready to help with any situation. Mer and I have witnessed first hand that, though we have our challenges, we've also been blessed with prayers answered, the knowledge of the Gospel, and each other.

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"As we rely on the Atonement of Jesus Christ, He can help us endure our trials, sicknesses, and pain. We can be filled with joy, peace, and consolation. All that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ."

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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Marie, the baguettes, hurry up!

Sam and I machining the mold for
the carbon fiber fuselage lay up.
During a stake conference in Livermore a few years ago, a recently converted member of the Spanish branch bore her testimony in her native language. Fortunately, for most of the congregation who didn't understand Spanish, a young woman was translating. She was probably in her mid-teens, and I imagined that she had grown up in the US but with Spanish speaking parents. I think I was unkind later as I expressed dissatisfaction at her translation.

Tiny lizard sun bathing on the back
porch.
The woman who bore her testimony talked about the bitterness and the darkness that filled her soul before she found the gospel. The young woman's translation: "I felt really bad before I found the gospel." The testimony went on, explaining the emptiness, despair, and hopelessness she felt going through life. Translation: "She felt really bad."

I think I didn't feel mean chuckling about the poor translation with others afterwards because it was truly a bad translation. Those who didn't know the true meaning behind the convert's words were given a fuzzy image of what that woman had been going through.

Recently, the bishop in our ward issued a challenge to read the Book of Mormon before the end of the year. Going through it a little faster than usual, something stuck out to me while reading 1 Nephi 17. In the past, I would share select verses of this chapter with people to compare Nephi's perspective of his blessings in the wilderness to that of his brothers who only saw trials.

Observe Nephi's pairing of blessings with trials:
1 And it came to pass that we did again take our journey in the wilderness; and we did travel nearly eastward from that time forth. And we did travel and wade through much affliction in the wilderness; and our women did bear children in the wilderness.
2 And so great were the blessings of the Lord upon us, that while we did live upon raw meat in the wilderness, our women did give plenty of suck for their children, and were strong, yea, even like unto the men; and they began to bear their journeyings without murmurings.
6 And it came to pass that we did pitch our tents by the seashore; and notwithstanding we had suffered many afflictions and much difficulty, yea, even so much that we cannot write them all, we were exceedingly rejoiced when we came to the seashore; and we called the place Bountiful, because of its much fruit.
A few minutes before egg harvest.
I've heard it said that the reason behind the frequent repetition in scripture is because that was the way to emphasize ideas. Given that this chapter is full of verses outlining trials and blessings, and that Nephi mentions a quantity of trials incapable of being written, I'm wondering what exactly he went through, and if I could even understand it if I knew.

In the last year or so I've been frustrated a few times when trying to express myself to people. Sometimes I just keep things more or less to myself. When I don't, I often hear myself and I sound like that young woman trying to translate depth of emotion that I understand natively into the English language.

Then here's Nephi trying his best to tell me how hard things were for him and I just turn the page and hope there's not an Isaiah chapter coming.

It's like there's some sort of communication barrier that sets the cap at 98%. The last 2% is always the hardest. That's why they leave it in the milk.

Squash and quesadillas because
I love you.
So I'm trying to be more compassionate. Maybe people are doomed to never fully understand each other, but they can get a lot closer if they try harder. I'm also recognizing that coupled with my trials are immense blessings. Even so many that I could not list them here. I have a wife who loves me truly and fully, and I feel a happiness in that which alone makes up for everything else.

$3 Boo-ritos at Chipotle. No we didn't get sick
Those of us who have testimonies of Jesus Christ have hope in the atonement, something that is free and which encompasses and surpasses all our needs. I could go on and mention all the tender mercies Mer and I have received as we confront our challenges, but in the end my truest feelings of gratitude would just end up lost in translation, leaving here a fuzzy image in their place.



Trying to get the right lighting for our fundraiser picture.
Still not right