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Thursday, June 30, 2011

two-thirty in the German morning

after many, many hours of The West Wing, North and South, talking, staring at the ceiling, and ipad games, we both resorted to our respective ipods. The Czech listens to music and reads a book, I listen to Harry Potter and stare at the darkness.

Me: Are you awake?
Czech: Yes...
Me: Let's have four kids-
C: WHAT!??!
M: Wait a minute. Let's have four kids so we can differentiate them by the four houses at Hogwarts. Ya know, when they do something good we can say, "Ten points to Hufflepuff," and when they're bad, "Ten points from Ravenclaw."
C: Man, our Slitherin child is gonna be screwed!

five minutes later, poking the Czech, who has his headphones back on.

M: Hey! I'm talking to you!
C: (taking off headphones) What?
M: Do think Felix Felicis is the wizarding equivalent to Heroin?
C: Why the hell are you still awake?
C: Sadly, I think you're onto something there.
M: I know! It's like acid for a wizard!
C: Go to sleep.

jet lag is not our friend.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


At our wedding, my great aunt E gave us a pair of items which are singularly incredible. She gave us the invitation to and napkin from a long ago family wedding. Why did she give it to us? Because it was the Engquist wedding! So now another generation of Engquist has married and holds these mementos very dear.
Upon arriving in Florida, I took these items to be framed. Typically I do framing myself, but these required a much more delicate hand. Sista Bear was sweet enough to take a few images of the final product and I just had to share them. (Plus, I have to pack this away as we leave for Germany in a week and I wanted some visuals to remind me of what we'll someday have hanging on our walls.)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

mirror, mirror

At church today, a rather remarkable woman gave a lesson on talents to her female peers. She referred to a quote from Richard G. Scott which I had heard before but didn't understand fully. She prefaced by saying, "I love Shakespeare and all of his tales of love, but the most romantic thing I have ever heard is what Elder Scott said about his wife."

"I know what it is to love a daughter of God who with grace and devotion served with the full feminine splendor of her righteous womanhood. "

It always gives me chills to think of that quote. Today I really began to understand why. It began with a talk reminding me of the Young Women theme, which reads as follows:

We are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves us, and we love Him. We will stand as witnesses of God at all times, and in all things, and in all places as we strive to live the Young Women values, which are: faith, divine nature, individual worth, knowledge, choice and accountability, good works, integrity, and virtue.

We believe as we come to accept and act upon these precepts, we will be prepared to strengthen home and family, make and keep sacred covenants, receive the ordinances of the temple, and enjoy the blessings of exaltation.

Middle school was rough for me. Beyond rough. Wanted to curl up and pretend I didn't exist. Every morning as I walked down the street to my school, Mum would tell me, "Remember who you are!" And that is when this theme would go running through my head as a mantra. "I am a daughter of my Heavenly Father who loves me and I love Him! I am a daughter of my Heavenly Father who loves me and I love him!" That naive knowledge of my divine nature as a daughter of God was the only thing that kept me going.

I knew what is was to be a daughter, but I didn't understand what it was to be a woman.

Then I went to university, fulfilled an overseas internship. I graduated, found a job, and regularly attended the temple. I was growing up and meeting the obligations of day to day life while trying to find time for my Father and the responsibilities given to me by Him. He then asked me to move across the country on little more than a whim. I lost my job and my sofa. But my earthly father came and drove me home and waited for me at the doors of the temple when I received my endowment. He hugged me and I knew he was proud.

I made it to Columbus, friendless, jobless, and unsure about my academic pursuits. I went to church and made friends. I attended the temple and found strength. Through these things, I secured employment and was able to meagerly provide for myself. But along the way, my heart was broken and my academic endeavors nipped in the bud before even sprouting. I prayed and attended the temple even more. Feeling like the middle school version of myself, I again uttered the words, "I am a daughter of my Heavenly Father who loves me and I love Him! I am a daughter of my Heavenly Father who loves me and I love him!"

Almost a year to the date later, I walked down the hallway of the Manti Temple in my wedding garb towards my soon-to-be husband. He looked at me and I knew I was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. I felt it. But it was more than that. He didn't see my weaknesses, though they were many. He didn't see my emotional scars. He saw my strength. He made me feel wise. He trusted me, had confidence in me, and believed that together, we could conquer anything. He saw the "full feminine splendor of righteous womanhood" in me.

Today I saw it in myself. Through my wonderful husband's eyes, but through my own. Through my Father's. I saw my ability to move repeatedly to foreign locations. I saw my creative drive, my love of others, my wonderful friendships. I saw countless hours of temple service and infinite hugs. I saw the love I derived from my family and my spouse. I saw my talents and realized how wonderful I am.

I wish I were a carpenter so I could make the most beautiful mahogany frame. It would carved to the hilt with wildflowers and exotic leaves. Amongst the flora would be etched the words now engraved on my heart, "the full feminine splendor of righteous womanhood" so that every woman might look in the mirror and see how magnificent she really is. That she might be surrounded by beauty and the reassurance that she is exactly who her Father created her to be. A glorious servant of God with specific talents, gifts, and abilities who is doing the best she can. It would be like the evil queen's mirror in Snow White.

"Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is this staring back at me?"

"My daughter, my daughter, the woman you see is the woman I see daily! How much it saddens me that you do not recognize her. My daughter, my daughter, do you not see? You are my prized creation! A beauty beyond measure. You have a good soul, a loving heart, and a desire to good. How glorious you are. Do not hide from your potential, but embrace it! I have such plans for you. Do not worry, I have given you all the tools you will need. Have faith and take courage. You will succeed. Remember who you are, dear daughter, remember! Remember that I love you."

I am a capable woman. A wife. A daughter. A future mother. A granddaughter, a niece, cousin, friend, neighbor, and acquaintance. I am an artist, future librarian, and avid reader. I am strong. I am feminine. I am a Daughter of my Heavenly Father who loves me, and I love him.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011


I woke up this morning to the sounds of Uncle David moaning his way through his morning routine long before I have grown accustomed to waking up. Based on his groans, he wasn't too keen on being conscious either. As he left the house, it dawned on me that I haven't shared any Davidisms, and that is just a shame.

David is the Czech's only maternal uncle. Born with Down Syndrome, even in middle age, David has the attitude of a rambunctious teenager from the eighties. He loves music. No, that's not right. I'm pretty sure David lives for music. He is music. I've never seen so many stereo systems or been inundated by such knowledge of music before. David will eat just about anything, especially if it has some sort of noodle, but prefers a cheeseburger when the option arises. And he goes to a movie once a week. Religiously. At least until we all moved to Florida together.

And it also needs to be known, David is near incomprehensible in his speech pattern. A southern drawl mixed with Downs and a dash of the wildest imagination this side of the Mississippi. It's often like trying to understand an infant just learning to speak. But harder because he's a grown man who is convinced we all understand him. When we do, we get Davidisms.

Last night, Dad took his roaming reality TV show cast, also known as our household, to dinner in honor of the Great Bavarian Expedition of 2011. The Czech's love a theme, so they tracked down a German restaurant and we all sat down to a far nicer dinner than any of us had anticipated. A small menu selection boasting delectable German entrees which none of us could pronounce.

The waiter comes and systematically goes around the table taking our orders.
"Something spaetzle, please."
"Something schnitzle, please."
Our poor attendant looked horrified. There were most emphatically no cheeseburgers on the menu, which he tried to communicate with David.
"Uh, yes it is," David sasses back. "It's right there!" We all look to the place on the menu he is indicating and burst into laughter, sympathetic and full of mirth.

David was pointing at the item "Caviar Beluga."

He got pork chops and was happy as a clam. That is, until he heard about dessert options.

"Apple strudel with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream."

David's head popped up faster than a bullet out of a gun. "Ice cream??!" There was so much intrigue and sheer delight in his voice that once again we laughed. Then he went to ask the in-house pianist who had been playing traditional Bavarian folk tunes all night to play the Christopher Cross song Sailing. But it came out "Uh, play sum Chris Cross, okay?"

If moving to Germany means laughing like that as a family, I say we move more often.

Monday, June 06, 2011

the death of limbo

For one who has such a strange disdain for technology like I do, it sure has proven to be beneficial. It keeps me in touch with family. Allowed me to type up papers and research with ease during college. Gives me directions and alerts me to promising sales. To top it off, this is the second time in my life technology has alerted me to and given me the chance to live abroad.

We're moving to Germany.

The Czech has been offered an internship with an international company based in DΓΌsseldorf via a guy I knew while I lived in Belgium. We learned about this opportunity about a week and change ago, were offered the internship on Wednesday and decided last night. Praying, fasting, and temple attendance were huge contributors to the Czech and I being secure in this decision.

We leave in a little under three weeks during the middle of the Czech family reunion. I'm overwhelmed and astonished by how suddenly our lives will be changing. One day, we will be with twenty or more members of the Czech clan. The next? Struggling with umlauts on a different continent.

I was blessed this morning to receive messages from two dear friends of mine who are European natives, both of whom assured me of their willingness to help in this transition, and the promise of visits. The one friend will live not twenty minutes away from us in Germany. So we'll be leaving one family reunion just in time for another one to start.

In the meantime, let the list tackling commence!