Tuesday, June 25, 2024


It always starts the night before while the children are sleeping. Hanging banners, blowing up (a very select type and number of) balloons, wrapping presents... setting the tone and the atmosphere for the day ahead.

Because in the morning, we don't have time to decorate- we only have time to celebrate.

Timothy requested a breakfast of crepes - a Dad specialty - and thankfully he has a dad who is willing and eager to sacrifice anything (even sleep) to make crepes happen. Timothy opened a new outfit and a box of sugar cereal, completed his look with a birthday hat, and rode in the front seat like a king all the way to school.

For lunch, he requested Taco Bell - his favorite (and a Mom specialty) - and I was happy to drive through the drive through to pick up his 74 Doritos Locos Tacos, take them to school, and sit with him through his lunch hour.

After school, his brothers gave him the ultimate birthday present: they invited him outside to play basketball with them.

Timothy is currently one of my favorite people to be around. When he is with you, he is with you - looking at your face, asking questions, telling jokes, standing almost on your toes. He is eager to please, eager to learn, eager to help, eager to grow, and humble enough to listen.

He’s funny, too. I think he sees that as the biggest part of himself, the most lovable piece, but someday soon I think he’ll see that that’s just one lovable piece of his incredible soul.

He has a lot going for him, falling where he falls in the family. There is so much love showered down on him from people who have just been in his shoes. (I would say literally, but there’s no way any pair of shoes will make it through Miles to Timothy, so we’ll have to keep it figurative.)

He has great examples to look up to in his older brothers, and in his older sister.

McKenzie called from Chile to wish him the happiest of birthdays. She laughed patiently while he explored allllllllllll the different filters Messenger has to offer. 

He is funny. 

He fills our home with music, laughter, hugs, peace, and love.

Happy birthday, TK!

Thursday, June 20, 2024

Scattered January

1. I Call it my Beach Calling

Sometimes the Lord calls you to a position where you need to stretch and grow, and other times he gives you a calling where you can kick up your feet, relax, and have fun. 

Primary chorister is the latter for me.

I have a burning passion inside for Jesus, and that passion extends to teaching others. Give me a room full of kids and I will do everything in my power to ignite a love for Jesus in their little hearts. I also have a burning passion inside for music, so give me room to do both? It's a dream.

January marked the end of studying the New Testament, so before we jumped into the Book of Mormon, we sang each song one more time, and each time we learned a truth about Jesus from the lyrics we sang, I had a child write it on the board. Phrase after phrase was written or drawn in chalk, and by the end of the hour, we had filled the entire board with truths about Jesus in children's handwriting. It was so beautiful I couldn't sing by the end because the lump in my throat was so big. Here's a small portion: 

So grateful Jesus healed the 'lepord.' #leopard #leper 
Music is so powerful.

2. Thinking Ahead is not Generally my Thing.

But since I have a missionary in Chile, I felt I need to change my thing. Her birthday is in February and, wouldn't you know, I buckled down and got a package out to her in early January so it would reach her in time! Go me.

3. One Day

My parents had a rough entry into 2024. A months-long leg infection, layers of viral infections, and a fall on the ice while shoveling snow that blew out a knee.

They were a sorry couple. 

My dad is serving in the Stake Presidency of a student ward, which is a great calling for him, but it does distance him from the watchful care of a home ward, so knowing that my parents would likely die before becoming squeaky wheels, I found his home bishop's email address and sent him a message to alert him to the situation. The bishop replied almost immediately, and within the day (either because of the email or because someone else had noticed) the ward had rallied and gave them the love and support only a ward family can provide. Love was expressed, the driveway was shoveled, meals were given... it's the gospel of Jesus Christ in action.

And then, looking at our calendar Brian and I noticed that we miraculously had an entire Saturday blank on our calendar! So we got the crazy idea to drive up unannounced for the day to deep clean their house. The kids were happy and eager to help with the surprise by grabbing construction paper, scissors, and markers to write get well messages on as many hearts as we could cut out, and by holding down the homestead while we were gone. 

I made several freezer meals to leave with them, and then we hopped in the car after the kids' basketball games late Friday night with the meals, cleaning supplies, smiles, a care package, and construction paper hearts. We stopped in Cedar City to sleep, and were up early Saturday morning to finish the drive. We decided not to say anything to them until we were 20 minutes from their doorstep so they wouldn't be able to turn us away, and then spent the entire day working like a reverse hurricane- tidying and scrubbing and dusting and vacuuming and tucking fresh sheets around mattress corners...

They are both people who are used to serving others, so it made them nervous to sit while we buzzed around them. I knew it would, but I hoped that a clean house at the end of the day would be worth a few hours of nervousness. We ordered them to sit and relax more times than I could count, and they tried! but my dad mostly followed us around, holding conversation and hobbling like an old man with his blown-out knee and a cane, and my mom tried to follow where the conversation went, but was honestly too sick to do much other than go from bed to couch to chair.

At the end of the day, we had finished cleaning, and as a final touch, left the meals in the freezer and the hearts taped to their bedroom door. Then we drove back to Cedar City that night and were home before church on Sunday.

We went up there to help them, but as we left, our hearts were full. King Benjamin encourages his people to "consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God." And since the first two commandments are to love god and love your neighbor, I guess we did a pretty good job in that moment. And we certainly felt blessed and happy. I love believing in a God who blesses his children for loving.

4. When Life Hands you Cacao Nibs, Make Hot Chocolate

Isn't that the saying? Timothy had a dream of running a hot chocolate stand, and he executed it perfectly. He drew up plans, budgeted his money, made the food, and sat out in the perfect weather to sell. Friends from all over the neighborhoods came to support him, and he came away with a little extra cash in his pockets.

Bless all the good people.

Eliza was a good little helper, too.

5. Sugar Fast

We all decided to do a sugar fast for the month of January. With one treat a week. 

I'll tell you, brownies and ice cream never taste so good as when you haven't had sugar for seven days preceding it! 

Unless you're Timothy and happen to have a stomach bug on Treat Day. There were a few tears shed over it, but we promised him that the ice cream and brownies would be ready for him as soon as his stomach was feeling better.

6. The Cutest Dates

I love these kids.

7. S.P.O.R.T.S.

With all the kids' sports, we always have something entertaining to go to in the evenings.

8. Along With Sports, We Also Like to Relax. 

I hope the kids always remember this. Curling up around the couch doing nothing but being together.

9. Cheer Camp

The high school cheerleaders ran a little cheer camp for any elementary students who wanted to join. Eliza was all in! Until she realized that cheer leading happens in the gym... during a basketball game... with the buzzer. 

Eliza hates the buzzer.

It hurts her ears, and ever since she was tiny, she has classified 'headphones' under the 'very important needs' in her life. 

But here for the first time, I sensed a little conflict for her as she scanned the other little cheerleaders in the group and noticed that no one else had headphones. Still, she kept them on while she sat in the bleachers with her team (can you find here in the group up there?!), but I did notice she put them around her neck when she went out onto the court during halftime to do her little cheer dance. 

The instant the dance was finished she put them back on and came to find us, happy and smiling. And I didn't even mention it. I figure she'll release them on her own terms, and in the meantime I'll make sure to treat her the same either way to help her see that she is lovable and amazing when she wears them, and when she doesn't.

Friday, June 7, 2024

Cancer of the Uncomfortable Kind

It's not deadly. It doesn't spread. But it is irritating and it's quite uncomfortable to get rid of. 

At first they called it squamous cell carcinoma, but as they got into it they said it was registering as basal cell carcinoma. Either way, I wasn't happy about it joining the other cells on my face. 

It's not my first rodeo with skin cancer and maybe it was because I knew what to expect that I felt a little more nervous this time. The first time I thought it was going to be a simple scoop and dump, but I ended up walking out of the surgery center with stitches in a hideous zig-zag form all the way down the entire right side of a gnarled-up nose and a promise that two black eyes would follow. 

This time I knew that I didn't know what to expect - it all had to do with the placement of the cancer - and so feared the worst. However, I was pleasantly surprised because it was basically the straightforward scoop and dump that I had anticipated for the first one. Hooray.

After I came out of the surgery center, I paused for a little selfie-shoot to show my friends my beautiful nose job.

Turns out I was still very, very numb while taking these photos, and I unknowingly stretched my skin in terrible ways to make these facial expressions. Twenty minutes later and halfway through my drive, things started waking up, and those things were frightfully angry.

It started as a little headache behind my right eye and within minutes felt like a bomb had exploded inside my face. Every time I moved my eyelids- every time I shifted my eyeballs- every time I licked my lips or raised my eyebrows the pain would shoot from the scar to behind my eye and throb there in a most unnatural way. 

An uncomfortable observation:
One doesn't realize how much the skin in that area moves until one is punished for each movement.

I tried valiantly to keep my facial movements to a minimum, but driving a car without moving your eyes is tricky. I still had twenty minutes left in my drive home, and the pain was so intense I considered pulling into the nearest pharmacy to get myself some ibuprofen and sleep until the edge wore off. 

A risky move, because if I didn't get home soon the pain could get worse. 

So I stayed in the right-hand lane and followed the car in front of me until I got home, where I crawled up the stairs and climbed into my bed to sleep.

The next few days were unexpectedly rough. The surgery had been easier, but the healing was more intense this second time around, and I'm sure it had to do with how much that blasted skin moves. I guess I'm a pretty expressive talker (is everyone?) and even with heavy concentration, I couldn't hold a conversation without moving my face. The slightest eyebrow twitch, smile, eyeball movement, it all tugged at that skin and made the tension headache throb. I found more success when I held conversations with my eyes closed- I guess because I wasn't compelled to mirror expressions.

I couldn't read, I couldn't edit pictures, I couldn't watch tv... the safest thing was to sleep. As things got a little better, I could put my phone at the edge of my bed so the screen was tiny enough for me to see the whole thing without any eyeball shifting, so Netflix helped me pass the time.

Eventually the skin began to stretch and heal together, the tension headaches decreased, and after seven days, we removed the stitches.

I stopped taking pictures of the scar after this point, but here is a good idea of how things are healing. 
This is at one, two, and three months. 

I'm grateful for a skilled surgeon.
Even if he jokingly told me to get rid of our boat.
I told him it won't happen.
The sun may be terrible for my skin, but it's so good for every other part of me. 
I'll just keep using sunscreen like it's oxygen, and if I die of skin cancer, at least I'll know I lived happy.

Monday, June 3, 2024

Pete the Marshmallow

 I'm really not sure how it became tradition, but it did. 

At least a portion of every New Years Eve night is dedicated to playing Don't Eat Pete. It's confusing, because Eliza is the one who remains adamant that we play, yet she hates the game the most. She's not big on surprise outbursts. Especially if said outbursts include every other person at the table screaming in her face as she tries to eat something sweet.

But even though none of us actually love the game, somehow it's the game that gets us all laughing. Perhaps Eliza knows what she's doing after all.

The rest of the night included all sorts of other games, too,

ping pong,

and my personal favorite, this moment where Timothy was curled up on the couch reading this book.

Brian compiled all of my writings of our courtship, and added some of his own, into this book. It's delightful to read and remember, and it's heart-warming to see our kids enjoying it, too. It's a story of our beginning, and theirs.

I couldn't see what today would look like when I married Brian. 
That beginning seems long ago. 
In my heart I held dreams. 
The magic of possibility.
Like a tight bud waiting to bloom, my life started to unfold, and I couldn't have known then just how incredibly beautiful the flower of our life together would become.

The beginning of each year feels a little like that. 
A tight bud of whispered promises. 
My dreams take flight. 
My aspirations ignite. 
The magic of possibility begins to dance once again. 
And I watch through the months as my Year Flower blooms.

I wonder what this year's flower will look like.

Whether it's beautiful or interesting or delicate or sturdy, one thing will be certain. Pete the marshmallow will be there at the end of its bloom to celebrate.