Friday, April 29, 2011

The Royal Wedding

I'm not the kind of person to keep up with the latest fashions or follow celebrity gossip. I don't care what so-and-so was wearing to whatever party and I really don't care what so-and-so decided to name their baby or that so-and-so got a tatoo in such-and-such unspeakable place.

In keeping with that opinion, I have hardly taken a second-glance at any of the to-do over the royal wedding the last few months. Weddings are wonderful--I LOVE weddings--but I have better things to do with my life than endlessly speculate over what Kate was going to wear and who was invited and where they would sit and what the cake would look like.

Of course, as the day approached, the romantic in me was drawn in a little. I couldn't help it. I grew up reading fairy-tales and playing princesses. I might even still do it, once in a while. So the idea of a beautiful "commoner" marrying a handsome prince caught my imagination, even if today "prince" is little more than a title and he's certainly not a handsome one.

So I clicked on an article and looked at some pictures.

I quickly became border-line obssessed with the whole affair. Not because of the romance, the mysterious details, the pomp and British tradition, or even all those royal guards in funny hats.

It was Kate.

You're all going to think I'm crazy, but I took one look at her and felt like I knew her. Like we had been best friends growing up but had drifted apart and now I was seeing her get married and wishing her well and all that stuff you do for old friends.

I know. I'm crazy.

Maybe it's just because she has that girl-next-door down-to-earth look. Or maybe I just feel like I can relate to her as she lives out my childhood fairy-tale fantasy of becoming a princess. Or maybe we really did know each other in the pre-mortal life. Maybe?

*Crickets chirping*

Whatever the reason, I got sucked in and read all about the wedding because of it. And I started wondering, looking at pictures of Kate's smiling face, what she was really thinking about all of this. She really is perfect princess-material; in every picture she's so elegant, so together, so calm. But I'm dying to know what's behind the surface, the real honest-to-goodness feelings that she would never tell an interviewer because now that she's a princess she has to do everything just right. Is she excited? Is she scared? Does she really love Prince William? Does she wish her life were normal again?

I wish we really were friends so she could confide in me everything she's really feeling.

I know. I'm crazy.

No, I did not get up at three o'clock this morning to watch the wedding. I'm not that obsessed.

However, I did glance through some pictures of it this morning, and I had one question answered.

She really does love Prince William. You don't look at someone like this unless you are really, truly in love.

I wish you nothing but happiness, Kate. Great choice on the wedding gown. And your new husband looks quite dashing in his red coat, even if he does have horse teeth. Enjoy married life! It's the best.

The Brown-Eyed Girl

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

One Year

One year ago today, I made a big, delicious dinner of soup and bread and settled in to eat it with my husband in front of the TV. "Settled" is a relative term, as I was eight months pregnant and my huge belly and swollen ankles made it pretty much impossible to get comfortable in any position. But I was with my Mr. Brown Eyes, our unborn baby was tickling me from the inside, and I was happy.

Here I am, just a few hours before going into labor.
During commercials, I got up and waddled to the bathroom. I noticed I was leaking quite a bit of fluid, which I had been told just two weeks before was a natural preparation for labor and nothing to be concerned about. It sure was annoying, though. I put on a pad (sorry if this is TMI), and made my way back to the living room, thinking maybe for Family Home Evening Mr. Brown Eyes and I should take a trip to Wal-Mart and buy me some Depends.

I hadn't even made it back to the living room when I realized my pad was soaked through. Already. With a grumble I detoured to the guest bathroom. As soon as I sat down on the toilet I felt Baby Brown Eyes jerk his head. A torrent of water gushed out of me. My heart stopped.

"Sean!" I called out, my voice wavering. "Come here!"

Mr. Brown Eyes appeared in the doorway a few seconds later. I locked eyes with him. "I think my water just broke."

His eyes widened. His unasked question was answered by the sound of fluid still merrily trickling out of me into the toilet, gentle but steady. We laughed and stared at each other in disbelief. The midwife had told us during my appointment just a few days before that she didn't think I would make it two weeks longer, much less all the way to my due date. In terror, Mr. Brown Eyes and I had spent that whole day washing baby clothes, setting up the carseat, cleaning the house, and generally preparing ourselves for the life change that could quite possibly come much sooner than we had been expecting. But even then, we had thought we had at least a couple weeks. Yet here I was, just under a month away from my due date, and Baby Brown Eyes was telling us he was ready.

Our twelve weeks of Bradley birth classes immediately came to the forefront of our minds, and our first concern was if labor was going to start on its own or if we'd have to help it along. Mr. Brown Eyes gave me a blessing, then crouched beside me, holding my hand, as we called our parents to tell them their newest grandchild would soon be born. While I was on the phone, not twenty minutes after my water broke, I felt the first tugs of a contraction. It was gentle and easy, but thrilling. I squeezed Mr. Brown Eyes' hand. "I just felt a contraction," I said excitedly. 

Mr. Brown Eyes made me a makeshift diaper out of a piddle pad so I could waddle around the house without leaking all over the floor. He started loading the car while I eased my way through the relatively painless contractions. I called the hospital to tell them we would be arriving sometime that night. The midwife called back and told me I had tested positively for GBS, so we needed to be sure to arrive at least four hours prior to delivery so I could receive antibiotics.

Four hours. Sure, no problem. We thought we had all the time in the world.

The contractions started getting closer together and more intense. Instead of just walking through them I found myself pausing, trying to breathe steadily, sagging against Mr. Brown Eyes. I couldn't decide if I was more comfortable on my feet or sitting on the toilet. Finally, at the peak of one contraction, I told Mr. Brown Eyes it was time to go to the hospital. But then, once it subsided, I felt fine, could laugh and smile, and figured it was still too early. The last thing I wanted was to get to the hospital too soon and be nagged by the nurses to try interventions I didn't need.

"I'm going to go give the neighbors our keys," Mr. Brown Eyes told me. "Will you be ok?"

"Yes," I assured him, but while he was gone another contraction hit me, the worst yet. This one was strong enough to double me over. When Mr. Brown Eyes came back he declared it was time to go to the hospital. I didn't argue.

The hospital was a good half an hour away, but thankfully it was late enough at night that the freeway was virtually empty and we made it in half that time. Or at least it felt that way to me. The contractions were coming right on top of each other now, worsened by each jerk of the car as Mr. Brown Eyes shifted gears. I tried to breathe, tried to relax, but all I felt was wave after wave of pain. I closed my eyes against it, and opened them again to see we were turning into the hospital parking lot.

Since it was after-hours we had to check in through the emergency room. Mr. Brown Eyes helped me inside, one hand on my elbow, and I sagged against the counter, my face contorted in pain.

The receptionist looked up at me from her paperwork and asked, "Are you having contractions?"

I was in too much pain to be sarcastic, so I just nodded.

I was given a wheelchair while we waited for the nurse to come get me, but I couldn't sit. I alternated between pacing the ER lobby and bending over a trash can, certain I was going to retch. From what I had learned about transition--what some women consider the most intense part of labor, right before your cervix is fully-dilated and it's time to push your baby out--this was it. But I couldn't be that far into labor already; it had only been about two hours since my water broke. Oh, but if I wasn't in transition...I couldn't see how I could possibly make it through labor. It was too much.

I bent over the trash can again and Mr. Brown Eyes stroked my hair away from my face. "I am never doing this again," I moaned to him.

The nurse was taking her sweet time coming down to get me; as we waited, another burst of fluid gushed out of me, and I learned that if you find yourself waiting in the ER for an indefinite length of time, all you have to do is threaten to leak bodily fluids on their freshly-mopped floor and they will rush you of there faster than you can say, "I need to push!"

The nurse arrived within the next minute.

Mr. Brown Eyes held my hand tight as they wheeled me upstairs to triage, where I changed into a slinky hospital gown and laid down in a curtained room so the nurses could check my progress. It was so excruciating to lie on my back I had to keep sitting up, pulling Mr. Brown Eyes close, much to the consternation of the nurse trying to check me. She left without saying a word and I jumped to my feet and paced some more, then stopped. The contractions had taken on a different feel.

"Oh," I moaned. "Sean, I think I need to push."

He stroked my back. "Don't push yet. Just breathe."

"I can't." I felt myself starting to panic. "I can't not push."

We listened to the nurses talking on the other side of the curtain. The only word we caught was "seven."

"I think you're at a seven," Mr. Brown Eyes said.

"Seven? I have to be farther than that." If my body had three more centimeters to go, I might as well die now.

A couple nurses came back into the room. "What is she at?" Mr. Brown Eyes asked them.

"Oh, she's fully dilated," one of them answered, and I was so relieved I almost cried. "But we have to wait until the midwife gets here for you to start pushing. We're going to take you to room seven and get everything set up."

So much for arriving four hours before delivery.

As they wheeled me to the delivery room and helped me into the bed I prayed and prayed for strength to make it through. All I wanted to do was push; forcing myself not to was like trying to fight the urge to blink. But Mr. Brown Eyes was right there, feeding me ice chips and telling me to pant through the contractions. He was my rock. I clung to him.

"When did labor begin?" one of the nurses asked Mr. Brown Eyes. He told her my water broke around nine thirty. It was after eleven now. "She's a rockstar!" the nurse exclaimed.

"She's an over-achiever," Mr. Brown Eyes teased, and even in my pain I heard the love in his voice and smiled.

Lisa the midwife finally arrived and at last they let me push. Everything slowed. The pushing contractions came every couple minutes; Lisa would instruct me and I would push for all I was worth until I felt my dinner surging back up my throat, which was when Mr. Brown Eyes would present the little plastic tub for me to retch into. In retrospect, if I had known I was going to go into labor that night, I wouldn't have eaten so much soup.

Between contractions Mr. Brown Eyes, Lisa, Peggy the Awesome Nurse, and I would just joke and chat. It was just the kind of atmosphere I had wanted to give birth in. There was no rush, no sternness. Only excitement and encouragement. Lisa asked if I wanted to feel my baby's head. I wasn't sure that I did, but I reached down anyway. It felt squishy and wrinkly and decidedly un-head-like.

With a few more powerful pushes Baby's head was out and Lisa called Mr. Brown Eyes down to deliver the rest of the body. He plunged in without gloves and I screamed through one last, burning push and suddenly our baby was out of my body and in Mr. Brown Eyes' hands.

One year ago, I laid eyes on my baby boy for the very first time. They placed him on my chest, his blue-gray eyes wide and peaceful, his body warm and waxy with white vernix. The first thing he did was wrap his tiny little hand around my index finger. He didn't cry, but tears filled my eyes, all my pain forgotten.  Mr. Brown Eyes came to my side and we marveled at our little miracle. It was love at first sight.

One year ago, I became a mother.

Mr. Brown Eyes became a father.


We became a family.


For Baby Brown Eyes, his birthday will come to mean turning one year older, getting presents, eating cake. But for me, it will always be the day I brought him into the world, the day we first met, the day my life was changed forever.

Happy Birthday, Baby.

I love you,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Friday, April 22, 2011

A Certainty

A coworker came to my desk a few months after my wedding. "How's it going?" he asked, leaning against the shelf. "How's your marriage?"

I beamed. I did a lot of beaming back in those days. "It's really good. I love being married."

He smiled. "Good. You guys seem real happy together. I think you guys will be married for at least fifty years. Till death do you part." He scratched the gray stubble on his chin. "Isn't that what they say?"

I squirmed in my seat. I sensed an opportunity to share some of my beliefs, and I am always nervous about doing so. "Actually, we were married in the temple. We didn't say 'till death do we part.' In the temple we're married for eternity." It came out in a rush, my heart pounding.

My coworked shrugged. I can never understand how a person can hear such glorious doctrine and respond with indifference. "Yeah, that's a nice concept. But how can you be sure it's true?"

How can I be sure it's true? I had never doubted it. "It's not a concept for me," I replied. "It's a certainty."

He raised his thick eyebrows. "Really? You're that sure?"

"Yeah, I am." I can't imagine not being sure. What a terror death would be if I had no reason to believe it would not be the permanent end of my marriage. What a sad and hopeless future I would have to look forward to. Of course a loving God would not subject us to such a fate. Of course He gives us the chance to make all that is most precious to us here on earth last into the eternities. I have never doubted that. It is doctrine that "tastes good."

"You could know for yourself," I told him.

I wish my conviction was enough to convince him. Maybe someday in the future I will have the chance to tell him about Priesthood authority, about the sealing keys passed down in an unbroken line from the Savior Himself, given to Joseph Smith in this dispensation by the ancient prophet Elijah. About the Holy Ghost and its power to testify truth to us, truth that may appear as foolishness to anyone else. Maybe then he would understand a little better.

His blue eyes twinkled the way they do when he is enjoying a good joke. "How about I come back after I die and tell you whether it's true or not?"

I laughed. "Sure, you can. But it's not necessary because I already know what you'll say."

He shook his head, smiling. It seemed unreal to him that someone could be so sure of anything. But it is a comfort to me, in this ever-changing and uncertain world, that some things--the most important things--are certain.

Click here to learn about more things that are certain.

The Brown-Eyed Girl

Thursday, April 21, 2011

For a Smile

I was going to post something a little more on the somber side today, but after being told multiple times that my last post was a tear-jerker, I decided to save it for another day. Instead, I will make you smile by showing you the many faces of Baby Brown Eyes.

First up:

Cowboy Baby. The rootinest, tootinest baby in the wild, wild west. (And the drooly-est, too. He drooled so much on his red bandana that it turned his shirt pink.)

Attack Baby. I had something he couldn't have. So he wanted it.


Brushing his six teeth.

Fourth, sigh, and one of my all-time favorites: 

Making a poo.

I'm so sorry, Baby Brown Eyes. I know someday this picture will become a bitter source of embarrassment for you, especially when your father and I show it to your future girlfriends. But you should take pride in the fact that you are adorable, even when you're pooping. 

On the flipside:

Here he is as his incredibly handsome self. Look at those eyes. So many girls are going to lose themselves in those eyes. Then we'll show them his pooping picture and they will realize that he is a mere mortal, after all.

And finally, here he is with his cousin:
Plotting to take over the world.

Someday they just might,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

What Love Does

Of all the topics of conversation Mr. Brown Eyes and I covered during our first date, I will never forget him telling me about his crazy, snaggle-toothed cat, Critter, that he had had since he was a teenager. His description of him made me laugh out loud. I had no idea then that I would later have the opportunity to get to know Critter very well.

When we got married, Mr. Brown Eyes' oldest sister drove down with her family from Kansas for the occasion--and deposited a cat carrier full of smelly Critter into our apartment. My first impression of him was exactly as Mr. Brown Eyes had described him. His ears were torn and scarred, his left eye cloudy, the fur on his nose zigzagged from old scratches. A rough old tomcat, he didn't take to me right away. For the first few days we lived together he spent most of his time on top of the fridge, watching me warily. But it only took a few feedings for him to decide he liked me.

Critter was not so easy for me to love. I found myself constantly scolding him. If there was something I didn't want him to do--sharpening his claws on the couch, napping on the counter, sneaking into the cupboards--he was sure to do it. I learned to keep edible items away from the edge of the counter when I was preparing a meal because inevitably Critter would pit-pat into the kitchen next to me, stand up on his hind legs and reach one paw as far as he could, sometimes snagging a piece of chicken or cheese. He was like a puppy, always hovering around the table, begging for scraps. The first month of our marriage, Mr. Brown Eyes left a sandwich he'd made for his lunch in the living room; Critter got the bag open and ate out the lunchmeat. Once I made the mistake of turning my back on Critter during breakfast, and when I turned around I found him on the table, happily lapping up the milk from my cereal.

His eccentricities drove me crazy, but slowly endeared him to me. As annoying as he was, I had to admit he was smart. It didn't take him long to discover that if he stuck his paw underneath our closed bedroom door just so he could rattle the doorstop, rudely snapping the newlyweds out of our blissful sleep. That became his daily ritual of alerting us it was morning and he wanted to be fed. Until we finally removed the doorstop. And he was amusing, with that one snaggletooth that occasionally got caught outside his lip and his habit of racing around the apartment after he had a good poop in the litterbox. Mr. Brown Eyes and I had a good laugh the night we bought a scratching pad infused with catnip and watched Critter protect it from my high-strung kitten, Oot. He'd lure her in, pretending he'd lost interest in it, then pounce the minute she got too close.

One night while exploring the closet Critter got his claw stuck in one of my favorite dresses. I stormed over to him, grabbed his paw, and pulled his claw out of the delicate fabric. I didn't hurt him, but I was unreasonably harsh. Later that night I found him sitting by himself on the moonlit balcony. I crouched down next to him.

"Do you forgive me, Critter?" I asked. "I'm so sorry. I am mean to you and you don't deserve it. I know you and I have not really had a chance to bond. But Sean loves you. So I love you, too. Do you forgive me?"

He probably hadn't heard a word I said because the minute I stepped onto the balcony he was up and rubbing his head against my hand, purring contentedly. I knew all was forgiven. Critter loved unconditionally like that.

That certainly wasn't the last time I scolded Critter, but we continued together in harmony. There were times when Mr. Brown Eyes and I would be lying together on the couch and here comes Critter, jumping up onto our sides and weasling his way into our arms, sinking his claws into our flesh as he made himself as comfortable as possible. It felt like we were one happy--if slightly alternative--family.

We knew Critter would love all the room to run around at our new house. He had his very own kitchen windowsill looking out over the grassy pasture. The outdoors beckoned him and a few times he escaped outside, once to be attacked by the neighbors' dog. Critter was noticeably old then, little more than skin, bones, and fur, but he gave the dog a good fight, clawing her on the nose and trotting away without a scratch. He was a fighter, clear to the end.

When Critter first got sick, I was relieved. The first thing I noticed was that he wasn't yowling at me every two minutes to be fed, chasing after my heels and tripping me. I thought that maybe he had settled down a bit and I enjoyed the peace and quiet. It didn't even cross my mind that he was sick. Not at first. Then I noticed that he didn't seem very interested in food, which was very un-Critter-like. But I thought that maybe he was eating while I was at work, so I wasn't too worried.

One morning I saw Critter try to jump up on the counter and he didn't even get two paws up before he fell back to the floor. He took to sitting in the bathroom, or one corner of the living room, his paws tucked underneath him, staring ahead at nothing. Slowly he would stand up, pad his way to the food dish, take a few licks of water, then return to his sitting spot.

I brought it up with Mr. Brown Eyes.

"I tried mixing it with water," I told him. "I even tried giving him canned food. He always loved that stuff before. Now he just turns his nose up at it and Oot eats it all and barfs it up five minutes later."

"Are you giving him that ground-up stuff?"


"He only likes the chunky cat food."

I raised my eyebrows. "He never cared before."

But Mr. Brown Eyes was convinced that that was the problem.

The next evening I was proud of myself. I offered Critter a little bit of milk and he took it, gently lapping with his scratchy tongue. Maybe he's going to be all right, after all, I thought.

But later that night when Mr. Brown Eyes came to bed I sensed his anxiety before he said anything. "I want to show you something," he said. "Tell me if it looks like what I think it does. Critter threw up, and it looks red."

I followed him into the dining room and almost gagged. A puddle of dark red stained the floor. I nodded, my earlier triumph fading. "That's blood."

Mr. Brown Eyes stared at it. "How much milk did you give him?"

I tried to bite back my irritation, feeling like he was blaming this on me. "Not very much. Sean, this isn't a matter of him having too much milk. This is blood."

Mr. Brown Eyes didn't reply. He had been in denial, and now the awful truth stared him in the face.

I found him in the bathroom later, crouching down and stroking Critter's head. I knelt beside him and put an arm around him. Big, salty tears rolled down his nose and he buried his head into my shoulder, sounding for all the world like a crushed little boy as he wept, "Critter's going to die." Seeing my husband cry is always enough to move me to tears and I started to cry, too.

I thought myself a very loving and supportive wife as we cried, saying nothing. I knew I would miss Critter, but in my mind he had lived a good, long life and now that he was old and possibly suffering, it was best to let him go. He would be happier.

In my selfishness, I took for granted that Mr. Brown Eyes felt the same way.

Mr. Brown Eyes called me the next day at work, sounding dejected. "Could you call the animal hospital and see how much it would cost to bring Critter in?"

I was taken aback. "Babe, you know it's going to cost a fortune..."

"I know..."

"I've seen plenty of old cats in Critter's condition come into the hospital. Their owners spend hundreds, even thousands of dollars on bloodwork and ultrasounds, whatever it takes to find out what's wrong, and in the end there's nothing they can do."

"But maybe it's something simple. Maybe there's some medication they can give him or something we can do."

"Even if there was something, at Critter's age it's not going to improve the quality of his life." I was adamant about this; there comes a point when owners just need to let their pets go, a point when extending their life is not a kindness.

Silence on the other end of the line. "They won't be able to give me an exact price, anyway," I continued. "There's no way for them to know what he needs until they see him."

"Could you please just try?" he asked hollowly.

I realized I had hurt him and I bit my lip. "Yes."

I was able to get a rough estimate on an exam and bloodwork, but my heart felt ready to break when I hung up the phone. I wasn't sure why. I was absolutely convinced I was in the right. So why did my husband's hollow voice still ring in my ears, piercing me with guilt?

I knew why. If the roles were reversed and it was my precious pet on the verge of death, Mr. Brown Eyes would not simply hug me through my tears and then pat himself on the back, telling himself what a great husband he was. I recalled a few months before when my horse had suddenly stopped eating. Mr. Brown Eyes had been right there, sticking his fingers into Sultan's mouth to administer a syringe full of mineral oil, listening to his bowel sounds with a stethoscope, giving him a bucket full of sweetened mash. And as I cried he had leaned in and said softly, "We can call a vet if we need to."

He probably knew it would be expensive. He probably knew there was a chance it wouldn't do any good. But he also knew that sometimes those things don't matter. That there are times in life when logic and sensibility must stand aside for love.

Suddenly I understood the break in my heart. In my overzealousness, I had missed it all. Now, in addition to a dying cat, Mr. Brown Eyes had an insensitive wife blind to her own husband's pain.

Ashamed, I consented to taking Critter to the vet. But we had to wait until Monday for the vet's office to open.

That Sunday Critter spent most of his time in the laundry room, climbing into his litterbox but unable to get back out. For a while I sat beside Mr. Brown Eyes on the cement step, watching helplessly as his tears fell and Critter's breath came so faint I wasn't sure if he was breathing at all. I felt like an intruder. And remembering how willing I was to let Critter die, I also felt shallow and selfish. I kissed Mr. Brown Eyes' forehead, stood up, and let them have their time alone together.

That night Mr. Brown Eyes jumped out of bed every time he heard Critter cry. It didn't matter that there was nothing he could do. He was there for him because that's what love does. Even love for a cat.

Mr. Brown Eyes called me at work the next day to tell me that Critter had died. He died in Mr. Brown Eyes' hands just before he took him to the vet. My heart hurt to hear my husband's voice like that, broken with tears. But I was glad Critter died there with the man who loves him most, and that I was not there to take away from their last moments together.

Mr. Brown Eyes showed me the grave that afternoon, painstakingly dug and mounded with rocks taken from the yard. I praised it and said we should make a headstone to mark it, but I felt uneasy, not sure how to act or what to say. Did Mr. Brown Eyes know that I loved him, even though I had been insensitive and selfish? Did he blame me for Critter's death?

We stood in silence for several minutes, the spring breeze rustling the weeds in the pasture. I shifted my weight, agonizing over what I should say. But before I could whisper a word of apology, Mr. Brown Eyes put his arm around me and pulled me close. I knew by his touch that I was forgiven. Maybe not because I deserved it. But because that's what love does.

Critter taught me that.

The Brown-Eyed Girl

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Death of Sir William

Ever since we moved into our log cabin in the country, Mr. Brown Eyes has been waging a constant war against gophers. I would come home from work to find him in the yard, shovel in hand, watching at the entrance to a gopher hole, just waiting for the little rodent to make the fatal mistake of showing its ugly mug so he could smash it with the shovel. I would cross the lawn and kiss his sweaty cheek, wondering if maybe the little rodent was down in its hole playing its own waiting game, laughing to itself about this foolish human who thinks it's stupid enough to crawl out of its hole when death awaits above.

After minimal success with that method, Mr. Brown Eyes suggested doing away with the gophers by using propane and a match. When I turned down that idea, he started setting traps instead. He's gotten pretty good at it, catching a gopher with almost every trap he sets. Proud as a hunter with his kill, he'll dangle the dead gopher in front of me to show me how much bigger it is than the last one. And then he'll chase me around the yard with it, or strategically place it in front of the door to freak out my friends when they come over.

At the beginning, I was indifferent to the gophers. I didn't care for the piles of dirt they scattered through our otherwise green and grassy lawn, but I didn't feel driven to destroy them the way my husband did. That is, until Sir William Kirkaldy.

Sir William Kirkaldy was the first tree we bought to plant in our yard. Ok, Sir William Kirkaldy was actually one of my husband's somewhat nefarious Scottish ancestors. We learned about him right after we bought our little apricot tree on sale at the local nursery, and decided Sir William Kirkaldy was a good, strong name that an apricot tree could live up to. We planted it lovingly in our yard and watched it grow. I smiled when tiny green leaves started to bud on its branches; I thrilled when the buds burst into fragrant white blossoms. Pregnant at the time, I couldn't help but relate with Sir William, both of us blooming, about to bear fruit.

Then the unthinkable happened. One day Sir William was snowy with delicate blossoms; the next, those blossoms started to shrivel up and die. I held onto hope as long as the tree's tiny leaves were still green, but after the blossoms went the leaves, too, turned brown and withered away. Before my baby was born, all that remained of Sir William was a trunk and barren, spindly branches. I was devastated. Yes, over a tree. I had already envisioned myself sinking my teeth into sweet, homegrown apricots, making pies and jams and all the domestic things that women do with homegrown fruit. But it was not to be.

We chalked Sir William's death up as a mystery and went on with our lives.

A few months later, a blustery rainstorm ripped through the valley. When it was over, I noticed that Sir William (or what was left of it) was leaning. Mr. Brown Eyes went outside and, with very little effort, pushed our little apricot tree over. And that's when the truth of Sir William's death was revealed.

It had no roots.

The gophers had eaten them.

That was it. I wasn't indifferent anymore. By bringing my precious apricot tree to an early death, the gophers had made things personal.

Not that I go out into the yard with a shotgun and blow their heads off or anything. Killing the gophers is still Mr. Brown Eyes' job. But I cheer him and encourage him at every opportunity. All in honor of Sir William's memory. And if he brought it up again, I may just agree to the propane and match method now.

Ok, maybe not. I want to kill gophers, not blow up my house.

The gophers have grown to fear Mr. Brown Eyes and have begun escaping into our neighbor's yard. I like to think they fear me, too, especially after I killed their king. I lost an eye in the process, but he lost his head.

Ok, that was just a dream.

A really weird one, too.

But I do miss my apricot tree.

The war is not over,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


I'm a bit of a grump this morning and in need of a pick-me-up, so here's a list of things that make me smile.

1. Last night Baby Brown Eyes insisted I kneel on all fours while he crawled back and forth, back and forth underneath me, laughing his little head off. Every time I tried to sit up, he cried.

(Wow, I must really be grumpy. I really had to stop and think before I started my list.)

2. A little girl from my church called the other day and asked if she could "come work on the farm." Apparently she meant could she come work with the horses. She and her family came over and she voluntarily scooped poop and brushed the horses and then begged for more work to do. I've done the math, and I think offering horseback rides to starry-eyed little girls in exchange for a wheelbarrow load of poop = I may never have to shovel poop again.

3. Mr. Brown Eyes just sent me a text, telling me Baby was really fussy, but "I stood next to the mirror and he calmed down! Just like momma. :)" Yes, our child gets his vanity from me.

4. I get to go prom dress shopping tonight! No, I am not dating a pimply-faced high schooler behind my husband's back; our stake throws a prom of sorts for the youth every year, and the night before they let the adults participate in the fun. The decorations are always amazing. This year's theme is "Night in New York," and I plan on buying the slinkiest dress I can find (at Saver's). And I will most certainly be going home with my date at the end of the night...since he also happens to be my husband.

5. Two weeks until Baby Brown Eyes turns one year old! (Or a finger, as my sisters like to say.)

6. There is a tub of homemade ice cream in my freezer so delicious that Mr. Brown Eyes eats it even though it gives him a terrible stomach ache. He told me the ice cream was so smooth it was as if it had been made out of "angel baby bottoms."

Angel baby bottoms.

That man makes me laugh.

There! I smiled.

I feel a lot better now.

Happy Wednesday,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

Friday, April 8, 2011

"Use Your Hands"

This last weekend was General Conference for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Twice a year, members of our chuch gather to hear our prophet, Thomas S. Monson, and other church leaders speak on various topics to strengthen our faith and give us heavenly guidance in our day-to-day lives.

One of those talks addressed the topic of sharing the gospel in this social media-rich age. "[P]erhaps the Lord's encouragement to "open [your] mouths" (Doctrine and Covenants 60:2) might today include "use your hands" to blog and text message the gospel to all the world! But please remember, all at the right time and at the right place..." (Waiting on the Road to Damascus, Dieter F. Uchtdorf).

When President Uchtdorf spoke these words, I felt like he was talking directly to me. Starting this blog began as a prompting of the Spirit that I tried to ignore, but inevitably couldn't. While I love just writing about anything and everything, whether or not anyone reads it, I also feel like the purpose of this blog should be to make people's lives better, and I can do that by sharing the greatest treasure I've ever been given--the gospel of Jesus Christ. I'm lousy at talking to people about the gospel, but writing about it is one thing that I can be good at.

I realize that most of the four or so people who read this blog are already members of my church, so any gospel-sharing I do will probably be preaching to the choir, but the beauty of the Lord's work is that He can take small and simple things and work miracles with them. I will do my meager part, and let the Lord work His miracles, trusting that there is nothing He cannot do.

Said President Uchtdorf, "[W]ith the blessing of modern technology, we can express gratitude and joy about God's great plan for His children in a way that can  be heard not only around our workplace but around the world. Sometimes a single phrase of testimony can set events in motion that affect someone’s life for eternity."


You can find the full text of President Uchtdorf's talk and all the Conference messages here. (I hope that link works.)

The church is true!
The Brown-Eyed Girl