thinking about mother-daughter relationships

ReedWomenEver since I was little, I imagined myself as a mother of sons. I suppose growing up with 5 brothers and only one sister played into this. Perhaps it was influenced by my tomboy leanings, my love of sports, and my preference for playing with GIJoes over Barbie’s (though I had both). Whatever the reason, I was surprised when I was told, during my 2nd pregnancy, that I was going to have a girl.

I thought of all of the boxes of boys clothes in storage that I wouldn’t be able to use.

I thought of this expectation since my childhood that I would rear up a brood of boys.

I also thought about how my childhood self wanted six kids. Silly little me.

My husband and I talked long before having another kid about what size our family should be and we knew: two would be enough. Two would be perfect. And so I assumed that I would inform my childhood self that we would be raising two boys, not six.

But now we have pink clothes and hair bows and dresses.

And for weeks after Gabbi was born, I continued to make comments about how I wasn’t prepared to raise a girl because I didn’t want to raise a daughter like me.

Until one day I realized: this comment said A LOT about what I thought about my relationship with my mother.

As I said it in the past, I thought I was communicating faults about MYSELF and my shortcomings as a daughter. But you can’t talk about a relationship and only “blame” one person in it.

And that’s when I realized that it’s not true. At all. I really WOULD want to raise me because if my daughter and I had the same relationship that my mother and I have, I would love that.

My mom is incredible. People say that about their moms and I’m sure they have great women who raised them. But they don’t have my mom.

Mom taught me to love music. I begged and begged her to teach me violin when I was little. I was jealous that my younger sister could take her violin anywhere in the house to practice. I couldn’t take the baby grand piano up the stairs and into our room to work on my latest sonatina assignment. But Mom kept me at the piano, for 14 years, in spite of the violin-lessons-begging, or the constantly increasing demand from sports teams, and other time commitments. I remember practicing in the front room, Mom was doing dishes in the kitchen, and I couldn’t figure out the right note so I kept playing the run incorrectly. I knew it sounded wrong, but I was terrible at reading music. Eventually, Mom came to the rescue, shouting from the soapy sink: “It’s an A flat, sweetheart!” Oh. That sounded better.

Mom taught me to drive. She helped me get my license and I was off, a sophomore in high school, carpooling my siblings and friends to classes each day. But she wanted me to learn to drive a stick, too, so one afternoon, she got into my brother’s old Volvo with me and explained how it worked. We pulled away from the house, jerking and dying, starting again, until I screamed and cried, two short turns away from home, getting out of the car and walking back to the house. She drove the car back home. Years later, I remembered her lessons as I sat in my friend, Byr’s, little Hyundai, in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, and she had me drive her stick. Oh. I already knew all this. I remembered from Mom. But I didn’t yell at Byr. Because she wasn’t my mom.

Mom taught me to love reading. I devoured books as a kid. When I came down with mono and spent a month home in fourth grade, I read the entire Chronicles of Narnia sitting in the branches of the chestnut tree. I learned to love reading because I saw Mom reading all of the time. She read all of the books we had to read for school. She read books she wanted to read for herself. She reread books (Pride and Prejudice). And she gave me books as gifts. I loved those birthday and Christmas presents.

Meredith_violinSometimes, I get to play the piano for my Mom. I mentioned this in a previous post, about how much I love bringing her to church with me to play. She’s the real deal and her violin resumé is simply impressive, so people don’t know what’s coming. I love to glance out at the audience, as soon as we’ve finished, and see their expressions. They’ve been moved by the beauty of music. It’s full of the spirit and listening to my Mom play, I hear (and feel) her testimony loud and clear. It’s powerful. And I get to sit behind her, at the piano, and play the background music to that. Each time, I think of my piano as a church-goer in the audience, moved by the spirit and her testimony, shouting, “Amen! Hallelujah! Oh Lordy, it’s true!” And I try to remember to lift the pedal a lot so I don’t muddle the sounds. (Piano strings pick up the violin notes, too, so lift the pedal!) When I still lived at home, I used to randomly ask her to come and play with me. Convenient beauty.

I hope that my daughter is like me. I hope that I am like my mom. I hope that we have a similar relationship. We should be so lucky.

Welcome to the decade of your 30s, husband of mine.

Nathan hit the big three-oh milestone and we celebrated by being sick together. Thankfully we are recovering and felt well enough to go out to dinner. This dinner was so fancy, I felt out of place wearing a slightly bulky sweater and still trotting around in maternity pants (they don’t quite fit but neither do my pre-pregnancy pants so we’re in the land of nothing-fits for a while).

Delectable would be an appropriate word for our dinner: elk carppaccio, bison steak, duck, maple crème brulee and goat cheese cake. We enjoyed a romantic evening at the Log Haven. They surprised us with a candle in the cheese cake—well done fancy pants restaurant, well done.


The best part was spending some time with my husband where neither of us were handing off a child to change a diaper. Thanks to Grandmer for taking our happy little Dom so we could enjoy the dinner together.

Back in 2010, on our very first date together (one of those super awesome blind dates), the conversation was superb. It included plenty of humor, delving questions, interesting commentary and even a bit of scholarly discussion. We are a nice mix of quirky, intelligent, and thoughtful folk.

After just over two years of marriage (and about half a year of dating), we still make for very interesting dinner conversations. We covered everything from siblings and their spouses, to what type of person Dom might become, to cooking and soccer. Our smorgasborg of chatting topics was as good as the fancy spread from the restaurant.

It was a great reminder that I married an incredible man. He makes me feel smart and funny, even when I really feel a bit foggy from the lingering sickness. Dom is a lucky child, I tell you!



Nathan blessed Dominic in church today and little man was very reverent. This time, I remembered to take pictures (unlike Christmas, but I suppose I blame that on being really sleepy after a very rough night). Mom and Dad Elkins are up here for the week for the holidays and to spend time with their new grandson. We love having plenty of family time and have been lucky enough to get that on both sides of our family this holiday. I am sure that I take for granted how fabulous my family and in-laws are. I am one lucky girl, but mostly I feel happy that Dominic will grow up with such amazing aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. Hopefully we trick him into thinking that his parents are pretty amazing, too.


A few thoughts on the day for my future reference:

I was worried this morning that I wouldn’t be able to “schedule” things correctly. Dominic nursed at 9:30 so that would mean he’d be hungry around 12:30 and the meeting started at 12:50. It’s funny, I suppose, the things that you worry about as a first-time mom. Maren came over a little after 11:00 so that I could jump in the shower while Dom took a nap, then he woke up around noon just as Mom and Dad Elkins arrived with Aunt Janeen. I nursed him while Mom helped get things together for me and then get Dom dressed in his little white outfit after he finished. By the time we got to church, he was a content little boy, which was superb because he’s been quite fussy this last week regardless of how well fed he is or diapers changed or well slept.

I was a little sad that some of my family wasn’t able to be there (because of sickness and being out of town), but the small circle of priesthood holders that stood next to Nathan were plenty and men that we love. Not every little boy gets to have both of his grandpa’s holding him for his blessing so that made me happy. After his blessing, Laura came up and sat next to me on the bench and held him, wrapped tightly, sleeping. Like I said, Dominic is blessed to come to an amazing family and because of a recent phone conversation, having my cousin Laura come and sit next to me for part of the meeting was quite appreciated.

After the blessing, for the sacrament meeting, we had several youth speakers and a “missionary farewell”, but they finished quite early so Brian, the first counselor, asked me to share my testimony. As I walked up to the podium, I was pretty nervous. I definitely rambled while I stood up there, but hopefully I shared a little bit of what I was thinking about this Christmas with becoming a mother. I’ve been thinking a lot about Mary. I have such a new perspective of her now. We often focus so much on the baby Jesus at Christmas, which, of course, is the right thing to do as He is the Savior. But, I know now, really, so much more about the incredible role that Mary played and how difficult her calling was. Raising a child–raising your first child– is not easy. At least, it’s not for me. It hurts. It’s exhausting. It’s emotional. I am so thankful that I don’t do this alone. And now, I have so much more awe for Mary and her sacrifice to bear the Savior and raise him in righteousness–with Joseph’s help.

After the meeting, Mick and Tracy hosted for food. Great Grumma Campbell gave the opening prayer and we are all very happy to have her there after time spent in the hospital just after Thanksgiving this year. Really, it’s been a bit of a tough Thanksgiving-Christmas for family members with hospital trips, car accidents and a beloved aunt with a cancer diagnosis. It reminds me that we live in a very imperfect world and sometimes I wonder why we said yes to how difficult this would be. But then I can remember all of the positives that we have in this life as well. As difficult as it has been to be pregnant, bear a child, figure out how to nurse, rarely sleep, cry and feel frustrated or worried, it really is amazing just to look at Dominic and think, “wow, he’s mine.” I know that I’m the mom, but I think he’s mighty handsome. If we didn’t have the darkness, we wouldn’t realize how bright it is when in the light.


Wisdom Teeth

I’ve been thinking today about my senior year of high school when I had my wisdom teeth removed. I remember having to schedule it in between the end of a fall basketball league and before tryouts started for the high school team.  I
was a little worried about this because I needed to be in good shape for tryouts and didn’t look forward to taking a week off from activity. It was my senior year so I had to set the example of working hard for the younger girls. Or something.
Also, the day that I had my wisdom teeth removed was the same day we had to finalize the layout for the weekly school newspaper. I had to write up captions for pictures and get my layout finished for the sports section. So many worries in high school, ha.
Mom took Maren and I to the oral surgeon that morning. I remember asking the doc about my jaw that had hurt for the last year and finding out I had dislocated it…a year ago. Good one. Then, to sleep for surgery. As I woke up, I was climbing into the front seat of our van and Mom was helping Maren lie down on the first bench behind me. On the way home she bled all over a t-shirt under her cheek. Later that day, I went to school so I could get my stuff done for the paper. Maren was in bed feeling nauseous.
We went to a movie that night and I snuck some popcorn. Don’t tell the surgeon. We went to Nielsen’s for custard after and I ordered a cookie dough shake.
I’m not sure why I remember all of those random details but I was lucky to have a pretty easy recovery.
Today, in fact right this moment, I am sitting in a waiting room while Nathan is getting two of his wisdom teeth removed (his other two were removed when he was a teenager). Reading over the post op info, I realize that this is crappy for him: bleeding, swelling, pain killers, ice packs and a liquid diet. How jealous are you?
What was it like when you got your wisdom teeth out?

My First Elkins Christmas

Last year, Nathan and I shared our first Christmas, but we were a few days short of being married so I slept at my parents, then drove over to our condo to exchange gifts. It was so nice this year to wake up next to him for our first married Christmas.

I could go on and on about everything that we did to celebrate, include all sorts of details and go off on tangents, but then this blog would be too long for Nathan to read 🙂

Instead, here’s the summarized list of a beautiful Christmas:

  • Having a real pine tree in the house smelled festive.
  • Dinner on Christmas Eve with Ryan, Laura and Bears was tasty, relaxing, and fun to open gifts from them and Mom & Dad.
  • I’m really blessed to have such wonderful in-laws (besides giving great gifts, they’re also just great people that I love spending time with).
  • Christmas morning, Nathan and I opened gifts from each other and everything was just what we needed.
  • My favorite part of Christmas was going to church–Nathan spoke in our ward and brought the spirit to the meeting, then I had the chance to accompany my Mom who was a special guest playing an arrangement of Silent Night on the violin. Mom, Dad, Grumma, Pete, Genny, and Cat all came to our ward with us so we shared the meeting with family as well as ward family.
  • After church, we went home to wrap gifts and call Mom and Dad Elkins to wish them Merry Christmas in Texas!
  • Sunday afternoon was the traditional lunch at Grumma’s where she served lil’ smokies on an orange because we all told her it wouldn’t be Christmas without them! The great grandkids had a blast with a white elephant and then the grandkids (which includes me and Nathan) received a special book this year that Grumma made for us. I love it.
  • Christmas evening was with my parents and the entire family where we spent a long time opening presents because of the number of people exchanging gifts we got for each other. Good thing we draw names so we’re not opening even more gifts. Grumma would just love that.
  • At times, the get togethers would get really loud with so many people in one room and so many excited children, but it reminded me of something Nathan told me he’d been thinking about in preparation for his talk: that when Jesus was born, we sing about it being a Silent Night, however, it probably wasn’t silent at all up in heaven. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to think that I at least tried out for the choir of angels who sang at his birth 🙂

Thanksgiving Confession: I Ate Sugar

You knew, didn’t you? You knew that I couldn’t quit sugar during the holidays. But you didn’t say anything. You just waited… knowing.

I ate sugar on Thanksgiving. So kill me. And do you know that it tasted delicious?

It is NOT physically possible to turn down Grumma’s pumpkin pie.

And Maren made pear pie. That’s just fun to say. Try it. Pear pie. Great. Now, EAT IT. Yum!

This year, we celebrated at my parents’ home, even though Mom was dealing with some major jaw/tooth pain and swelling. We had no idea until we showed up at the house, though.

Nathan and I walked in, bearing food, the house smelled like a feast, we waltzed into the kitchen and surprise, Mom’s face is swollen.

And yet, the turkey’s nearly done, the table’s set, and the buffet of goodness is spread in bowls along the kitchen counters. This is where you look around, holding your measly one appetizer and one bowl of mashed potatoes and say, “oh, we could have helped if we’d known.” Thankfully Grumma helped them.

Here are a few pics of the tasty event:

Prosciutto-wrapped crudités as an appetizer. And it’s my fault the olive oil isn’t nicely drizzled, but looks like it leaked out of random stalks of broccoli.

Mern and Dustin eating very small amounts (don’t you think?) at their first of two Thanksgiving dinners.

Check out the purple plates—more appropriately they should be called platters. The larger the more food you can pile on. And so many pretty colors, Margie King would be proud!

Yay family! Me, Nathan, Grumma (hiding), Mom (hiding her swollen jaw), James, Grandma, Dustin and Mern. Dad took the pic and look, his plate’s already been licked clean, he was THAT hungry.

Hip Hip Pooray It’s October

I heart October.

Autumn is my favorite season and I’m pretty sure that I mention this in some way every year on my enthralling blog. Are you used to it?

How about if we take the time to celebrate lots of things that make you happy this month? Personally, I think this is a GREAT plan and since this is my blog, it’s what we’ll do.

We started off with a little mention of LDS General Conference. That’s one thing that makes me happy.

And I promise this won’t just be a month long tribute to Nathan. Unless he REALLY REALLY wants it to be and then I will happily oblige.

It could be a month long tribute to ME because it’s my birthday month. Happy birthday to me.

But to start, let’s go with my Mom today because it’s also her birthday month. Hooray Mom! And here’s a great picture of her doing something she does best… or hardly ever… or I don’t even know the last time Mom went golfing but Dad sent me this picture today so there! Proof!

And doesn’t her pose/face/energy just make you happy? Yay, me too.

Happy October!

What makes you happy this month?

A Loverly Mother’s Day Weekend

Earlier in the week, Nathan asked me when I would like to celebrate Mother’s Day. I was surprised. I wasn’t a Mom yet. I just figured that we’d have a busy weekend and then go over to my parents’ for dinner Sunday night and finish the evening with talking to James on the phone (missionary Mother’s Day call).

But lucky me, Nathan wanted to make me a fancy dinner to celebrate. And I’m serious about fancy. Here are pictures to prove it. Be jealous.

It was a pretty fabulous weekend, despite the rain clouds rolling in on Sunday. A few highlights:

  • We ended up on a spur-of-the-moment outing Friday night to the batting cages with the Childs (favorites) and Allyson. Most of us took a shot at trying to hit one of the fast-pitch softballs, but it was malfunctioning and would throw the ball at your ankles every 7th or 8th pitch. Stepping up to try and hit those, you were practically taking your life into your own hands. And that didn’t seem like such a good thing because your hands were occupied with gripping the bat. Dangerous stuff. We survived the batting cages.
  • After the Saturday-morning soccer game, Nathan, Maren, Dustin and I decided that we needed to try out one of the local breakfast joints in Kaysvill that boasted “scones the size of your head.” I ordered the “German toast” and they brought me French toast that was also dipped in pancake batter. Mmmmm. We all ate head-sized scones as well. Delicious and oh so healthy. Thankfully, nobody died of a clogged artery on the drive home.
  • Saturday afternoon we played an aggressive game of Frisbee golf. And by aggressive I mean really casual. I am no bueno at that game, but being outside at the park, enjoying the sun, searching for wherever I threw my Frisbee in the trees, and having a good time with Aaron and Ada was muy bueno. Treats at Arctic Circle after made for a good cherry on top of the afternoon.
  • Nathan’s dinner that night was 26 times more delicious than the noggin’-size scones. Mmmmm mmm mmm mmmmm mmm.
  • And of course Sunday we celebrated our Moms. Moms are the best. My favorite part of dinner at my parents was when Mom had a giggling fit while washing dishes when she started rambling on about opening the pantry and sending us home with food. I know, doesn’t seem so funny, right, but believe me… Nathan and I were laughing, mostly with her.
  • Nathan also got to call his Mom on the phone. There was chaos in the living room with siblings, nieces and nephews, so he escaped to one of the upstairs bedrooms where, once I found him, I curled up with him on the bed to listen to his side of their conversation.

All around, can’t complain about the weekend, despite the rain staying around for a couple of days. Yay for Moms.

Simply an Account of the Weekend

I need to make new headers for these entries. It’s not so much Larrie’s World anymore as it is The World O’ The Elkins, or something. Turns out, I am selfish with my blog headers. Honestly.

Having a sick husband is no fun. It’s no fun because, when it’s the flu, there’s really little I can do to help him feel better. Feeling helpless, I tell you, is not my favorite feeling.

When I’m sick, it’s all I can do to get out of bed. I have a high pain tolerance for things like sprained ankles or dislocations, but feeling sick really puts me down in the dumps. I would have had a hard time feeling well enough to still go out to the movies if I had the flu. But my husband is a trooper.

Quick update for you of our sick-with-the-flu weekend:

  • I’m a mean wife so I made Nathan go to the clinic to see the doc. The verdict: the flu. The treatment: rest, fluids, ibuprofen, time.
  • We watched The Social Network at home on Friday night—pretty good movie where somehow, you end up feeling bad at the end of it for one of the youngest billionaires.
  • Saturday: slept in. Ah.
  • That afternoon, I went to a bridal shower for a girlfriend and as she opened gifts, I kept thinking, “oh good luck figuring out what store they bought that from to try and return it.” Makes it sound like we returned tons of gifts, but really only a few. Those few just happened to be from unknown stores or, perhaps, something they’d kept in storage for perhaps a decade just waiting for a wedding to take it to. Maybe 🙂
  • Made a list of things to do on the little whiteboard on the fridge, but didn’t get around to it. Things to do in the evenings this week instead now.
  • Fell asleep watching the documentary, Kicking It. Did YOU know that there is a homeless world cup? I just kept thinking, how stinky would those players be after their games? Oh dear.
  • Met up with Maren, Dustin, Mom and Dad for a “high class” date that started with food court dinner, then watching the movie, Rango (my review: random, really random), followed by sharing McDonald’s fries back in the food court before going home to bed.
  • Sunday, sat in really uncomfortable chairs for Stake Conference, but Elder Keetch told some really interesting stories for his message. I stayed awake the entire time. It’s tough to do when the chairs get uncomfortable sometimes.
  • Made some Belgian waffles for lunch and did not like the batter recipe. Maybe it was foggy out and that messed up whatever I did to mix it all together. We ate them anyway and Nathan was an extra kind husband and cleaned up the dishes.
  • Sunday afternoon nap. Ah.
  • Birthday dinner for Emma! Mick and Tracy provided delicious barbacoa pork salads for dinner and we finished that off with homemade tollhouse pie, also delicious, and Maren’s creation.

Wow, we still did so much despite Nathan feeling so sick. See how nice he is? Still doing all of these things we have on our schedule because he wants to make his wife happy? I’m a lucky duck.