Friday, October 30, 2015


Three weeks ago, I called our doctor's office to set up an appointment for our annual flu vaccinations. My husband already got his because he's heading to Haiti next month and it was included in his myriad of travel vaccines. Side note: I've asked him to bring me home at least one child from a Haitian orphanage. I even asked him if he could maybe take Matthew's passport and find a kid who resembled him.

That's what this has come to. International crime. (I might need help.)

I specifically wanted the mist because it supposedly works a whole lot better. I'm working A LOT (for a stay-at-home mom anyway) during the next four months and we need to keep the flu out of our house. I was assured that the mist would be available and so, yesterday, we trekked to the office.

And wouldn't you know it, there's a nationwide shortage of the mist and our office will probably not be seeing anymore of it this season and only the injection was available. That's fine. We're not needle babies or anything. It's just that I'd all but sworn that we were getting the mist and I don't like to bait and switch my kids like that.

"So, that's frustrating," I informed the receptionist as my nine-year-old made the mental switch from liquid up the nose to needle in the arm. He wasn't speaking to me. The six-year-old looked me straight in the eye and exclaimed, "Oh good! The mist tickles my nose anyway."

Our nurse friend from church came in to say hi and asked if we wanted her to stick us or the other nurse. As it turned out, our friend did mine and Garrett's and the other nurse did Matthew's. The youngest went first and didn't flinch or whine or complain. I went second. Garrett went third. He flared his nostrils slightly and then resumed talking to me.

This morning, Garrett and I woke up with sore arms and Matthew woke up in the best mood of his life. He is NOT a morning person. He never, ever has been. Since the time he was a toddler, I have lamented his teenage years because he ALREADY ACTS LIKE ONE. How much worse will it get? This morning, though, he was so friendly, sweet, and happy. I asked Troy if there was maybe something else in his flu vaccine. A mood altering substance, perhaps?

"What if that really happened?" I asked Troy.

He paused before answering. "Well, I can think of some other people I'd send in for a flu shot."


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

My Future Daughter in Law and the Bush House of Love

Garrett has never liked girls. Or he's always liked them. Something like that. He's always had girl friends but he's never had a girlfriend. This year he is finally admitting that he thinks certain girls are cute but he makes sure to insist that they are JUST FRIENDS.

Not Matthew. Matthew is a like a little, innocent Casanova. He's had a few crushes. He is always asking me how old he has to be to get married. He mercilessly teases his brother about liking girls.

They are the exact opposite.

Recently, Matthew and a girl from our church who we'll call Manhattan (because I feel like she needs a pseudonym, I really like New York City, and she may or may not share her actual name with one of the other NYC boroughs) decided that they are going to get married. This is not just your thirty second hilarious love story between young elementary school kids.

This is serious.

At least, if you ask them it is.

A month and a half ago, Manhattan told Matthew that she was going to marry a different boy because he had asked first. This led to Matthew literally sobbing his ever-loving head off in Troy's arms. Hysterical, hiccuping sobs. Troy's shirt was soaked as he tried to keep a straight face and mend his six-year-old's broken heart. "She ex-ed me out!" Matthew wailed. Troy explained they could still be friends and Matthew bawled about how he didn't want to be friends, he wanted her to be his wife. It was equal parts hilarious and gut-wrenching.

Her mom later told me that Manhattan had lamented her dilemma. There were two boys who loved her. Oh what a problem to have. She was with Matthew first. But then the other boy had proposed marriage and Matthew hadn't. In the words of Beyonce, If you like it then you should have put a ring on it. She had accepted the first proposal so she needed to stick with it.

But then something happened. I don't know what. I can't keep young love straight. Suddenly, Manhattan and Matthew were back together again. And they were taking it VERY seriously.

"Mom! I have to dress fancy for church because Manhattan is going to wear her fancy dress for me," he instructed one Sunday morning. Thankfully, his idea of dressing fancy is pants (of any kind) and a shirt with buttons.

We went to California for almost two weeks. We started our week off camping at Santee Lakes. Matthew discovered a kind of tree fort hollow and declared it his Bush House. He began regaling us with tales of moving Manhattan in to his Bush House. We threw concerns at him. "Do you think she'd like sleeping on the dirt?"

"I'll bring in some carpet."

"How about the fact that the rain will come right through and soak everything?"

"I'll get a tarp."

There was a solution for every problem. His face was determined, sure that he would one day move his girl into his Bush House. We asked him when he planned to move. "When she is 17 and I am 16."

"You can't get married that young," I reminded him.

"I know. We are going to get engaged when I am 20 and married when I am 21." So, apparently, they're just planning to play house in the bush for five years first. He told us about their children. One boy and one girl. My future grandson is Eric (one of Matthew's middle names) Rokie (I have no idea but the poor kid lives in Utah, the capitol of the baby naming apocalypse. He doesn't know any better). My future granddaughter is Delta.

"Can her middle name be Dawn? Because then I can sing to her. Delta Dawn, what's that flower you have on? Could it be a faded rose from days gone by?" My mom joined me. His eyes widened.

"Did you just make that up?" He then readily agreed to name her Delta Dawn.

I relayed all of this to Manhattan's mom on Sunday. She told me that that morning, she'd overheard Manhattan asking her sister if she thought Matthew would like her dress. I'm not making any of this up.

Sunday night the phone rang. When I answered it, Manhattan's tiny voice asked for Matthew. I handed him the phone. "Hello?" he said. "I don't even hear anyone!" he shouted at me. "HELLO?" Suddenly his eyes widened, "IT'S MANHATTAN...Hmmm...MOM?!! DID YOU TELL MANHATTAN ABOUT THE BUSH HOUSE? Well, Manhattan, I don't think you'll like it because there are ants."

I interjected, "You can call an exterminator."

"Oh. My mom says we can get a bug guy to get rid of the ants."

And then they proceeded to talk on the phone for ten minutes. He told her that they could live there but they'd probably have to come home to Utah to visit their families. He explained that he'd fish for their food in the lake. And Troy and I stood in the kitchen and cracked up.

Matthew brought me the phone. "She says she's done talking now. Goodbye, Manhattan!" He held the phone out to me. I spoke to my hypothetical future daughter in law and asked for the hypothetical other grandma of my future grandchildren. She got on the phone and we dissolved into hysterical laughter.

They are definitely taking this young love thing seriously. It is precious.

And so so funny.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Learning to Live Without

In a lot of ways, I feel like hope was a Band-Aid. Not eternal hope which is constant and sustaining, but the hope that allowed me to grieve my lost daughter and wait for another at the same time. It might not have been my smoothest move, to wrap this pain up in a bandage. I'm only just now realizing this.

Hoping for another child meant that I could have sad days and mourn the loss of Kate, but always through the filter of the fact that I wouldn't have some future child if we hadn't experienced the having and the losing of our first daughter. I figured that when we held our still-to-come baby girl, the pain of losing Kate would all be worth it.

I'd already lived this pattern twice. When Garrett was placed in my arms, it made infertility worth it. When Matthew was placed in my arms, it again made infertility worth it. After all, neither of them would be here if I could have snapped my fingers and had a positive pregnancy test the first time. (Or the thirtieth.)

When that future daughter was placed in my arms, it would make everything we went through with Kate totally worth it. This is what I told myself when I cried silently in a bathroom stall, overcome, suddenly, by grief. This is what I tell myself when one by one, my friends' babies are born happy and healthy and alive. Of course I want them to be born alive and well, but the stark contrast between seeing a warm baby wrapped in her mama's arms and remembering the cold bag I held with my own daughter inside is emotionally jarring. This is what I tell myself when I think about the fact that all I will ever have of Kate is a grave stone and the thought of what might have been. The struggle will make it worth it.

But I am learning that hope isn't a Band-Aid. It can't be. And the struggle isn't really worth anything.

Kate is gone. And I miss her. One year ago, we were praying and hoping that this little girl might be ours. Now, she is gone to Heaven but there is a stroller in the garage that I bought after Thanksgiving. There is a Christmas stocking in a box--but it won't be filled with tiny baby things this year. There are onesies hanging in the closet. There are diapers and formula and a crib mattress under my bed.

I thought it would be God's plan to bring us another daughter right away. And I would love her and we would visit Kate's grave but the ache would be healed by the presence of the baby who needed my devotion and attention. As it turns out, that wasn't His plan. We wonder, now, if it isn't His plan at all. Initially, we agreed to wait for one year. As that year draws to a close, and as we pray for clear direction, I am confronted with the fact that this might be it. And if this is it...

If this is it, then there is just grief. If this is it, we were hand picked out of obscurity to love Kate for three blissful months and then lose her because that was the plan all along. Either way, I am no longer at liberty to compartmentalize my pain.

Future baby or not, it has taken me ten months to realize that this grief is big and deep and wide and really, really ugly. It has taken me ten months to see that I have to trudge straight through it. I can't walk around it and I can't put a Band-Aid on it. I'm sorry for that. I know it makes no sense to those who ask, "How can you have been so attached to someone you never knew?" I know it boggles the minds of those whose silence during these past many moons has screamed volumes. But I cannot pretend that it isn't there.

I still believe, with all my mind, that God's plan is better than anything I could create on my own. Like Job said in chapter 42, verse 1, "I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. You asked, 'Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?' Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know."

I do trust the plan and most days, I really am alright. My laughter is real. My smile is genuine. But I just need you to know that some days, I'm pretending.

You learn to speak so calmly when/Your heart would like to scream and shout/You learn to stop and breathe and smile/You learn to live without/You learn to count the quiet winds/An hour with no unprompted tears/And not to count the deadly days/As they fade into years/You learn to hold your life inside you/And never let it out/You learn to live and die and then to live/You learn to live without
-Brian Yorkey

Friday, October 23, 2015

A Real Sob

I was relaying a story to my mom. I was quoting someone else and I said, "She said he's a self-centered jerk and a real S.O.B." I don't usually say things like that, it was just a direct quote.

My nine-year-old, who was in the room, pipes up with a know-it-all attitude, "Mom, did you forget that I know how to spell? He's a sob."

"You're so smart. He's a sob," I replied. Garrett left the room and then I laughed for about five minutes. I hope I'm raising that little speller not to grow up to be a sob.

Monday, October 19, 2015

California Travels

I'm in California.

It was blazing hot.

Now I'm wearing a hoodie.

We were camping for seven days. Three days at a lake and four days at the beach.

This is why I haven't been blogging.


surfing and boogie boarding and fishing and celebrating my dad's birthday.

Now there are going to be things like...

Universal Studios and ghost towns!

So to recap, there is one good thing about year round school and its TRAVEL.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Fishing in Manhattan

When Garrett was a teeny, tiny little embryo, I went to New York City for the first time. As a little guy, he enjoyed telling people he'd been to NYC. Two years ago, when we took him to Israel, we had a layover at JFK. We went outside for a few minutes. So now he tells people he's really been to NYC. In May, my mom and I took a trip to the city for a week. Garrett desperately wanted to go. He didn't get to.

I decided that, budget allowing, I'd plan to take him for a couple of days in a few years. When he just thinks I'm mostly dumb. Before he's a teenager who "knows" I'm a moron. I hadn't said anything about this to him though.

Today I had a conversation with him all about how I knew that he was getting to an age where being a kid is hard. I told him that he'd struggle with wanting to make the rules. I promised him that Troy and I do our very best. I said we sometimes fail but that we always have the very best of intentions. I said that if he could be a relatively good boy and listen to us and respect us, I would reward him with a trip in a few years--as long as his dad said it was alright and as long as we could afford it. I told him that I'd take him to NYC to see some of the sights and maybe catch a Broadway show. I really built it up as an incredible mother/son trip full of historical places and musical extravaganzas. Given his stated love for the city and previous desire to go there, I was a little surprised when he interrupted.

"Hey, Mom?"


"Are there any fishing hot spots in New York City?"

Sigh. "Well, buddy, I guess I can just take you fishing in the mountains if you'd rather."

So who wants to go to New York with me in a few years? Because I'm going to need a Magnolia cupcake after that big fishing excursion.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Off Track

In approximately 25 minutes, my kids are out of school for a month. A MONTH. I'm so sick and tired of this year round shenaniganery. We're just getting started. "Hey, here's an idea! Let's be done for A MONTH!" One of my two is struggling to nail down a couple of concepts. So, "HEY, HERE'S AN IDEA! LET'S BE DONE FOR A MONTH!" I totally get it that the teachers like this. I get that it refreshes them and they're ready to go tackle the next 12 weeks or whatever it is until their next break. But this is NOT GOOD FOR MY KIDS.

Maybe some kids thrive on this schedule. Maybe some parents love it and want it forever and ever. I have only seen it as a detriment to my own kids' learning. So if you happen to live in ALL THE OTHER PLACES IN THE COUNTRY WHERE THIS IS A COMPLETELY FOREIGN IDEA, consider yourself so lucky. Count your blessings and your stars or your sheep or whatever. I'll just be sitting here in Utah thinking all about how my kids will have a severely stunted summer because of this ridiculousness.

Okay. End rant.

The good thing about year round school is this...we can go on vacation when the world is not on vacation. This is a blessing. The one that I count over and over and over. So the boys and I will take off for California on Sunday. So there's that.

Which is cool.

Silver linings and all that.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Lock Down

I was sitting at the desk, counting down the minutes until recess. First graders were cutting out nouns and adjectives and gluing them in the correct columns. "BEEP BEEP!" the intercom alert sounded. I thought it was just for my class. They'd tell me that someone was checking out and to send him to the office. I was just about to respond to the beep with a, "Yes?" But immediately following, a woman's voice, stern and strong, came over the speaker. "Teachers! We are on lock down. Lock down now!"

In the next two seconds my mind processed a handful of thoughts. The first was that the teacher had failed to inform me that we were having a lock down drill. The second was that the office staff had failed to inform me that we were having a lock down drill. The third was that the woman's voice had been so stern that I wasn't entirely sure we were having a lock down drill. I walked very quickly to the door, pulled the magnet and tugged the door closed quickly. In the couple moments it took to accomplish that particular task, I saw two teachers doing the same thing. They did not look like they knew anything about it. They looked...concerned.

I flicked the lights off.

A sea of six-year-olds stared at me. I glanced quickly around the room and then whispered, "Get against the wall." I ushered them over to the wall where their backpacks hung. It couldn't be seen from the window by the door.




I put my finger to my lips. "You have to be quiet. I mean it. You can't talk." I whispered almost inaudibly.

"Is it real?" one child whispered back.

"I...I don't know," I replied.

I had no idea if it was real or not. And so I had no choice but to treat it like it was absolutely real. And I had no choice but to treat it as though it was the worst case scenario. "Our door doesn't lock," one boy said.

"What do you mean it doesn't lock?" I asked.

"It's broken. Even when we pull it closed, it doesn't lock," he said with panic painted into his eyes. So there was that piece of information gnawing at me as we sat still for ten minutes. The kids got bored and started giggling. I put my finger to my lips again and told them they had to stay quiet.

Suddenly, a shaky voice came over the speaker. "Teachers, you need to email me or text me.immediately. I repeat, email me or text me immediately." The voice sounded afraid, upset, only barely in control. And that's when I really began to believe that there was someone in the building. This person had reason to believe that there were teachers who were not okay, teachers who could not respond because they were hurt--or worse. They were taking inventory. Which teachers were able to respond?

I was not.

We were fine. But I didn't know who "me" even was. I don't have a district issued computer so I couldn't email. I could use my phone to text or email but it was across the room, past the window, and getting it was a risk I wasn't willing to take. If there was a psychopath standing at the window, waiting for sound or movement, I wasn't about to let him (or her) know that we were in there. Whoever "me" was, she was going to have to wait on the first graders in room 103.

The school was laid out exactly like the one my sons attend. Only the kindergartners stood between us and the front office. If someone went in through the front doors, it wouldn't be long before they reached us. I hadn't heard any confrontations or gun fire, but the upper grade levels are around the back and my first graders weren't being particularly quiet when the first announcement had come. If they'd opened fire on the opposite side of the school, I assumed it was possible that I hadn't heard it.

A few moments later, the handle on the door jiggled up and down several times. Several of the students gasped and I threw my finger over my lips again. Tears welled in kids' eyes. I was characterized by a calmness I'm still surprised by. I realized in that second that our door was, in fact, locked. I also firmly believed that someone was inside the school and they were trying doors.

As I tried to keep scared six-year-olds quiet, I had only a few thoughts.

If someone comes through that door or that window, I have to die trying to protect these kids.

PRAY! Ask for deliverance but also make sure you're ready to see Jesus today.


My family will never see me again. 

Aside from these thoughts, I was numb. I prayed that God would spare me but I also asked that He would welcome me into His presence. I thought of how I would lunge from my place on the floor and slam myself into the gunman. I thought about how much the bullets would hurt. I thought about my husband and my children. Eventually, I thought that the longer we sat there, the better chance we had. Certainly the cops were taking care of it by that point--and I still hadn't heard gunfire.

Suddenly, another jiggle on the door handle. I swallowed hard. Then, the jingle of keys and a woman poked her head inside. She looked around the corner, made eye contact with me and said that I could resume teaching. However, we were still supposed to keep our door locked and no one was allowed to leave the classroom for any reason. Then she turned and walked out.

In that moment, assuming that any imminent danger had passed, I exhaled. Adrenaline flooded from my body at a rapid rate leaving me shaking violently. I'd remained calm. Apparently I'm alright in a crisis situation. It's just after the crisis is over that I fall apart.

The lock down was never really, officially, lifted. Teachers kept their doors closed and their lights out. When the bell rang about a half hour later, I waited until other children filled the halls before letting mine go.

Then I marched down to the office and asked what the heck had happened. "Oh, well, there was a suspicious individual in the neighborhood so we chose to lock down." I explained that I was unable to respond to the announcement about emailing because I had no idea who was speaking and no access to a computer. As I spoke about that being a problem, I got the sense that the office staff thought I was overreacting. Had I known that the threat was outside, I wouldn't have had to jump to "worst case scenario" in my mind and in how I handled the situation. But I had no idea and the best way to take care of a classroom of first graders is to treat the situation as though it could have the worst possible outcome.

I assumed that it was a "no big deal" situation since the office staff seemed none too worried. But this morning my friend sent me a message and an article. As it turns out, the individual was located less than a block away from the school and was being pursued on foot. He was one minute BY FOOT away from the school. He is one of Utah's most wanted. Apparently he was extremely armed and dangerous. You can click here for the story.

Having now been in a situation where nothing really happened and I still feel like years were taken off my life, I cannot imagine what it would be like to sit in a room, listening to gunfire. I cannot imagine witnessing mass murder. I cannot imagine being asked to state my faith and then killed.

When it was over, I looked down at my arm. As an after thought, I'd grabbed my favorite bracelet before I'd walked out the door. It has select phrases from Jeremiah 29:11. He always knows the end from the beginning. And I'm so thankful that yesterday He kept all of us safe.

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord. 'Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Christmas in September

I'm having an issue. I took this picture on September 29.

I'm sorry but...what? ALMOST THREE MONTHS BEFORE THE ACTUAL HOLIDAY? We still have to make it through Halloween AND Thanksgiving before this holiday has its moment. We used to talk about Christmas in July. I'm fairly certain that in a handful of years we'll actually be able to buy all of our Christmas stuff in mid-summer, making Christmas in July an actual possibility.

So, yes. I stood there and I stared. And I blinked a lot. And then I took out my phone to take a picture because I thought maybe I was dreaming the whole thing.

Turns out, I wasn't. People are insane. Walmart is insane. Other stores that already have their Christmas decorations out are insane. That's all.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Raise the Light

If I'm being totally honest with myself, I'm three talents short of being a triple threat.

I can only barely act. I can carry a tune in a bucket but not much beyond that.

My dancing skills are 100% appalling. It's as if I'm made of wood and my joints are fused together. I wish I was exaggerating.

So, compared to your average Broadway star, I'm a zero threat. Compared to your computer programmer or school librarian, I'm lucky to be considered half a talent short of a double threat.

It's a shame.

Because I take care of business which is a talent that is lacking in a lot of artists. And I love the creative process. I love rehearsing. Over and over and over again until I get it as close to right as my limited talent will take me.

I used to think I would shrivel up and die if I couldn't perform--or, at the very least, be a part of the creative team. Life has proven that to be an incorrect hypothesis. God has given me other passions.

Still, I love the opportunity to watch live theatre, attend a concert, read a brilliant piece of poetry, or watch a dancer's body float fluidly across a stage. To me, in the loosest of definitions, art is the communication of the human experience through various mediums. I love to watch as someone else does something really bold or reinterprets a piece in a way I never would have imagined. I love, even more, watching an audience respond and, feeling in my own self, the awakening or recognition or cathartic revelation of something new or, at least, something shared.

I'd already seen Idina Menzel sing Radiohead's Creep so I knew what to expect. What I wasn't expecting was the audience's reaction. As she sang about wanting to be someone she's not, wanting what she doesn't have, being weird, lights began to flicker on.

There are so many reasons people fire up their lighters or, this day and age, their cell phone flashlights. Some say it's to pay tribute to a favorite song. Others say it acknowledges that the performer has been through something difficult. Still others say it's to recognize that the song is touching their soul.

I think it's all of the above. And I think it's a way to say, "See this light? I'm holding it and it's the only way I can think to connect with you and say, 'I get where you're coming from. This song is speaking to me, too.'"

She posted a picture last night on Instagram with the caption, "Sea of lights during #creep made me so emotional. Felt like a rock star thank you Utah. Thank you #radiohead.

This is just one angle. The lights wrapped around the venue. "I want a perfect body." "I want a perfect soul." "I wish I was special." "I don't belong here."

It was an incredible moment. Knowing that regardless of location, status, or fame, we all feel like a mess some days. From last October to this one, my life has been filled with incredible highs and the lowest of lows. I just keep putting one foot in front of the other. I just keep breathing in and out. But there are days when, even though I know I am loved and redeemed by an Almighty King, I wish things were different. There are days when my heart is broken and I feel like a girl, sitting raw and exposed on a stage, being watched and evaluated and judged. Sometimes, the only thing getting me through it all is the fact that so many lights are raised in support. Each of those lights represents the joys, pains, and journeys of a bunch of weirdos who all wish we were special. 

When I remember all that, I find joy even in the midst of the trial.

We turn on our lights. We turn them on and we say, "I see your cancer. I see your divorce. I see your loss, your fear, your unrealized dreams. I see that you don't always--or ever--feel special. And while I may not walk your particular path, I understand the journey."

This is why I chose to study theatre. I'm not the most talented, that's for certain, but I longed to get just a little tighter grasp on the human experience. And, in some limited way, I think I got it. May I always remember to raise my light so that I can really see you.