Sunday, June 25, 2017

Summer Vacation

My parents took my boys (the older two) on an epic cruise two weeks ago. They flew them to Houston and left out of Galveston. The boys went to Honduras and Mexico, enjoying all the amenities of a cruise and participating in some incredible excursions. Soon, I'll have a bunch of pictures and will be able to tell you all about it.

They had a blast and even ate escargot. 

At the end of their adventure, my parents flew them to San Diego where I was waiting for them with Will. We stayed with my parents for the week. There are always so many people I want to see and so little time. I wish that I could see all my friends and family every time we're there but there are not enough hours in a day. This time, I focused on seeing family. I hadn't seen some of my extended family members since we were there last summer.

I have three living grandparents so we made sure to stop in and see them. That same day, we had dinner with my aunt and uncle. It was a great day hanging out with my family.

On that same day, the younger two boys and I went to visit Kate. Garrett and Matthew still talk about Kate with great frequency but they process her death very differently. Garrett is quiet about it and does not like visiting the cemetery. Matthew is much more open and always wants to go with me if he can. Garrett stayed with my grandpa and looked through his Navy books while the rest of us took our girl flowers.

Later in the week, we had a BBQ at my other aunt and uncle's house and swam in their pool. We'd spent the first half of the day with my father-in-law, sister-in-law, nieces and nephew. The boys had tons of fun playing with their cousins and swimming in my aunt's pool.

We met my friend, my other sister-in-law, and my niece at the zoo one day. I learned that my children are represented in three gorilla brothers that live at the San Diego Zoo. There is Maka, "The Ace." He's intelligent, sensitive, and brave. Mandazzi, "The Comedian," has boundless energy, is a show-off and a real cut up. And Ekuba, "The Peacemaker," is curious, playful, and loyal.

So, I mean, I don't think you even have to know us in real life to know that these adjectives basically describe my kids perfectly. 

On our last full day, we headed to the bay. It was gray and chilly for most of the afternoon but we had tons of fun anyway. We BBQ'd hot dogs and played at the park.

I have a lot of pictures to sort through but we're home now and already thinking about our next trip. Tahoe is just a few weeks away.

Friday, June 16, 2017

You Can Call Me Dawn Lazarus: Part II

No. I didn't have another "episode" thank goodness. Let's just get that outta the way right off the bat. I did go to the neurologist though so that I could find out what had me all Dawn Lazarus-y.

He looked at my brain scans and asked me to recount the situation to him. I talked about how long it had lasted and what had happened and he told me I was very brave for not going straight to the emergency room because it sounded exactly like stroke symptoms.

Except that if I had THOUGHT at the time FOR ONE SECOND that I was having a stroke then OBVIOUSLY I would have gone to the emergency room. I had no idea what, on earth, was happening to me. Also, I mean, is it really bravery to sit around waiting to die when someone could help you. No. No it is not. Other than his (obviously sarcastic) quip about my heroics, I liked him just fine.

I'm not sure I mentioned anywhere in my original Dawn Lazarus post that I started getting a migraine in the middle of the whole situation. I did tell the ER doctor about it and, turns out, that was a pretty important mention. It wouldn't have been weird at all for me to leave out that detail because I typically don't talk about my headaches.

I know a few people who have chronic headaches that never go away. So I don't talk about mine--which do go away. But I get headaches several times a month. (I know, I know. The chronic headache people would give a limb to only have a headache a few times a month.) Inexplicably, this began happening immediately after moving to Utah. I would blame it on altitude or lengthening my proximity to the equator or something but, now that I get them, I am not immune to them in California or any other place we go. They also seem to be hormone related. So I have no idea why they started when we got here and whether or not Utah was some sort of trigger. It was CERTAINLY A TRIGGER FOR MY TERRIBLE EYE ALLERGIES SO I WOULDN'T PUT IT PAST HER. Oh Utah, you dry, fickle minx.

At my last annual exam, I mentioned to my doctor that they had gotten worse and more frequent. She did give me a prescription for a headache medication but I never filled it. Excedrin still works--I just have to take more of it now. This working Excedrin phenomenon is, I believe, directly related to the fact that I almost never, ever have caffeine (because it makes me urinate like a racehorse, if you must know and I hate that) so when I shoot caffeine straight to my brain, it kills the headache. Anyway. None of that is important. I could have simply said, "My headaches have gotten worse." But, then you wouldn't have had that beautiful horse imagery. And, now that I think about it, why do we say that? Do racehorses go more than other animals?

I googled it. "Racehorses are commonly given Lasix which is a powerful diuretic. They pee a lot right before they race, we're talking gallons and gallons. The medication is thought to help prevent nasal bleeding, which sometimes happens when racehorses supremely over-exert themselves." So there you have it. I feel sorry for racehorses.

My headaches have gotten worse.

And this was also very pertinent information for the doctor who diagnosed me with a complex migraine or, as it is referred to now, migraine with aura. The aura--which can be anything from seeing strange light to lost vision to the inability to speak--typically lasts less than an hour. The ensuing headache can last up to three days.

On the one hand, I'm pretty glad I'm not dying. Other than a big giant and potentially embarrassing pain in the neck (or, in this case, head), the only lasting effect is that it does slightly elevate one's risk for stroke. On the other hand, this could happen at any time and in any place. It can also begin happening with regularity. GOOD TIMES.

If I get one and my symptoms are the same, I do not need to do anything about it. If something similar happens but my symptoms are not the same, I have to make quick to the emergency room. I'm starting to wonder if I shouldn't print up a card that says, "Hello. I am having a neurological episode and cannot speak or read. It's likely a complex migraine. I'll be fine. In the meantime, I need you to call my husband."

Triggers include (but are not limited to): Stress, pressure or altitude change, and hormone levels. Good thing those are easy to avoid, right?

Anyway. I truly am glad that it's nothing more serious. I'm pretty happy that I didn't have a stroke at 35. And I'm blessed to only have several headaches a month. But just a warning: if I seem super disoriented and unable to speak. I probably am. You can just call me Dawn Lazarus.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Bon Voyage

Years ago, my parents asked us if we'd be open to having them take our boys on a trip--when they were a little older. Of course, we enthusiastically agreed. They talked about all the different options. We were really up for anything. I mean, we're the parents who took our kids to Israel when they were four and seven so, short of them planning a trip to Afghanistan or Syria or maybe the Gaza Strip, we were fine with it. 

The time has come. At eight and almost eleven, the boys are ready for an adventure with their grandparents. It's a combined birthday present (and, really, it could count as their birthday gift from now until forever) and they've known about it for several months. They've been receiving twice weekly clues to try to figure out where they're going. 

Clues like:
You'll need a passport
There may be an animal in your room from time to time
Many cultures come together
You will have the opportunity to go back in time

And so many more.

Garrett was dead set, most of the time, on it being a cruise. Matthew wasn't quite as invested in the clue situation as Garrett was but was very excited when he found out that there would be a lot of opportunities for eating.

I had told only a limited number of people because I was so worried that the surprise would be ruined. When I told people, most of them made requests for my parents to adopt them as grandchildren. Most of these people are close to my age and I'm not sure my parents are looking for adult grandchildren but I GET IT because this trip is AMAZING.

My parents flew in on Thursday and told the boys on Thursday night where they were going. They're cruising to Honduras and Mexico! (And, yes, their parents are JEALOUS!) Here they all are just before we took them to the airport...

Last night, they stayed in Houston and this morning they went on to Galveston. They've boarded the ship and are waiting to set sail.

They've already found lots of yummy food and have enjoyed one of their favorites...crawfish.

My parents booked the MOST FUN excursions for them. We cannot wait for pictures so we can live vicariously through them. We hope they know how very blessed they are and we hope they're minding every last manner. Bon Voyage, Boys!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Happy Birthday, dear Will

Dear Will,

There's no way I could have known, one year ago, the way you would change me, the happiness you would bring me, the incredible blessing that you would be to me. Twelve months ago, when you came into the world, I didn't even know it. I was watching a softball game and laughing with friends and then, two states away, you were living and breathing and existing.

I didn't know. For two entire days.

But then, when you were two days old, this picture of you came across my phone.

I don't think I used to believe in love at first sight. I loved your brothers the moment I saw them but when I saw them they were tangible and squishy and in my arms. It may well have been love at first snuggle. But you, Will, I loved the second I saw your picture. I loved a photo so intensely that I couldn't stand the thought of being away from you for one more second. I became a powerful believer in love at very first sight.

You were wonderful, precious, delicious--even. I almost couldn't believe that you were mine. I took twenty gazillion pictures of you, knowing that, though the nights were long, you would stay like that for no more than a quick minute.

Summer faded into fall and we tried to figure out how to get you to sleep without being swaddled. It was rough. I thought we might have to send you off to college with a large blanket, some strong Velcro, and solid instructions for your roommate on how to wrap you tightly. We pushed through and, it turns out, you won't even go to preschool still needing to be swaddled. Your pacifier is another story. That thing may be hanging out of your mouth in the third grade.

Seasons are prone to moving quickly. One jumps on top of the other and soon, an entire year has gone. How much quicker they go when raising children. Fall turned to winter and on that first day of the season marked by snow and frigid temperatures, we officially adopted you. It was a beautiful day and my mama heart--the one that always hopes and always believes but is always just a little afraid that something might happen--exhaled a sigh of love and dreams and endless possibilities. 

You. Were. Mine.

The winter turned into "Little Bit Warmer Winter" which, in most places, is called spring. You didn't seem particularly bothered by the cold weather of winter or "Little Bit Warmer Winter" which is weird because you spent your womb-months in Riverside. It is H.O.T. in Riverside. But, you are definitely my kid and a So Cal boy because you will remove your socks and shoes at every opportunity. You want to be barefoot all the time, with your feet in the sand and a non-alcoholic umbrella drink in your hand. (I'm guessing on those last two but, I mean, who doesn't?)

"Little Bit Warmer Winter" has turned into "Hot Summer" even though summer won't officially be here for another two and a half weeks. You've taken to playing in the backyard, swinging in your new swing from Grandpa Jon and Grandma Ginny, splashing in your new water table from Grandpa Gary and Grandma DeDe, climbing on your brother's old helicopter toy, and working on your tan. I assume your olive complexion will turn sun-kissed brown in a matter of days.

You are determined, noisy, strong-willed, feisty, joyful, and smiley. There is so much personality in your teeny tiny body and you are so full of life that I sometimes wonder if you'll just spontaneously burst and send glitter and confetti flying everywhere. Your smile lights up the entire room. Your giggle ripples through us all until there is a symphony of laughter that shakes our world in all the best ways.

You crawl at lightning speed, toddle everywhere, and aim to destroy absolutely everything absolutely all the time. One of us has to redirect you every 2.7 seconds because you will almost positively kill yourself if we give you a five second head start. Outlets, cords, and heavy objects would be your toys of choice if we turned our backs for only a moment. You will, occasionally, play with your actual toys but are much more fascinated by ALL THE THINGS IN THE WHOLE WORLD that are not toys. On her resent visit, your Grandma DeDe commented that everyone should just get you random household items for your birthday. You were thrilled to play with her dental floss for a good ten minutes. I'm thinking of taking your presents back and getting you your own checkbook, a set of Tupperware, several rocks, a ballpoint pen, and disposable baking tins. Because those are, quite literally, your favorite toys.

You eat ALL THE FOOD. Certainly, you have your favorites and bread is not among them. I worry for you in this family. If it's true that you are what you eat, your oldest brother is a walking carbohydrate. While you enjoy taking a few bites of pancakes and toast before throwing chunks on the floor, your favorite foods include blueberries, bananas, vanilla Greek yogurt, carrots, and beans.

You carry around burp cloths like blankies, enjoy throwing--but not reading--books (I will persevere. I will win. You will, ONE DAY, sit in my lap for more than three pages. Annnd, dude. It's not like I'm asking you to sit through three pages of Dostoevsky. We're talking about cardboard books about farm animals and dinosaurs for crying out loud!), find Peek-a-boo to be utterly hilarious, enjoy bath time, love your brothers and your dog and cat and the hamster (who does not love you but, can you really blame her? Her experience with you is limited to a couple of very rough encounters.), and you thoroughly enjoy babbling incomprehensible chatter.

You say, "All done," although it sounds more like, "ahduh!" You say, "Dada," although less so lately. You, apparently, say, "MOM!" but only when I'm not around to hear it. And that is about it. It's fine. If I had a child who attempted to speak before he was twenty months old, I wouldn't know what to do with myself. Eh. Einstein didn't talk until he was four and it turned out alright for him.

They say that in parenting, the days are long but the years are short. I don't even know if the days seem so long to me anymore. I've got your big brothers as proof that the world just keeps spinning faster and faster with each phase of the moon. But it does seem impossible that almost a year has gone by since I first saw your face on my phone, since I first stepped up to your bassinet in the hospital and laid eyes on you, since I first lifted your tiny body up into my arms and snuggled you in to the place right next to my heart, where my love for you had grown for all those many months.

Happy Birthday, Will. It's been an amazing year.


The way that God designed things, a rainbow often appears after a storm, giving hope of better things to come. That is why a baby born after the loss of a child is called a Rainbow Baby. The literal definition of a rainbow is an arc of prismatic colors appearing in the heavens opposite the sun and caused by the refraction and reflection of the sun's rays in drops of rain.

Will, you are prismatic colors--vibrant reds, oranges, yellows, blues, and violets. You are the reflection of sunshine. You are all I waited for and so much more. Everything about you is warmth and wonder, crisp and clean. You are the way the world looks after it has poured down rain, after a storm has wreaked havoc, after the sun has come back out again and made everything new.

"There may be storms that rip up your world, but heaven can come down and brush a rainbow across all that pain like a sacrifice--and make you believe the promise of justice and wholeness to come." -Ann Voskamp

You are the rainbow that Heaven brushed across my life. Happy Birthday, dear Will. Happy Birthday to you.


Sunday, May 28, 2017

Punctuation Name Game

In the continuing saga of NAMES YOU ONLY HEAR IN UTAH, allow me to tell you a story. There's a teacher who works at the boys' school who had a student named La-a. Now, I'm unclear as to whether this teacher had this student here in Utah, the great naming apocalypse state, or if the student hailed from another state but regardless of where she came from, her name was straight up La-a. When the teacher called roll for the first time, she said, "Uh...Lah ah?" And, I mean, what the heck else would you say?

The girl, clearly annoyed said, "It's Ladasha!"

No. No it isn't. At the ABSOLUTE BEST, it is Lahyphena.

Hyphens and dashes are two different things. A hyphen joins words together. A dash separates words into parenthetical statements. Sorry, Lahyphena, your name doesn't make grammatical sense. But who am I to point fingers? My last name is sporting an extra, and very confusing, S. The only thing that extra S is good for is weeding out the telemarketers. Everyone on the planet thinks my last name is pronounced as though you're combining two different food items--fish and pork--when, in actuality, it sounds like something an angry linebacker would yell just before the sack.

I see a lot of weird names that I have no idea how to pronounce in the subbing business. (Subbing profession? Subbing industry? I'm cracking myself up over here trying to make it sound like I do something more glamorous than glorified babysitting.) But if I ever see anyone with a "-" in the middle of their name I am going to straight up pronounce it hyphen. Just to be a jerk.

I pass these terrible names on to my sister-in-law who, even when she isn't currently gestating a human being, likes to hear them. I use the word "likes" rather loosely here. It's possible she's merely humoring me. She is, however, growing an entire little life inside of her at this very present moment and so I've been sending a whole heap of RIDICULOUS names to her. Sometimes, I make them up. She's never certain if they're real, in the sense that someone actually bears the moniker, or made up by me. As opposed to the parents who must, literally, pull Scrabble tiles from a box and then make it work.

I actually just tried this intriguing notion and randomly pulled the following:


I'm annoyed that I pulled a Q with no U but that is of no real concern. We could just leave them like that. In fact, I'm now wishing for a fourth son so that I could have Garrett, Matthew, Will, and Jsaiqok which is, OF COURSE, pronounced J say qwok. But I could rescramble them and have little Joqiska. Oh please let me do one more because I'm on a roll. Kajqosi.

Anyway. This La-a has us RUNNING WILD with the possibilities. What fun you can have throwing a dash into any name you can think of. But why stop there? There are so many other punctuation marks that haven't even been invited to the party. My husband came up with Ca... which, of course, would be pronounced Cuh lip sis.

How about the ,? Tre, (pronounced Trey comma). It could absolutely be a name here in the great state of Utah.

And why isn't anyone using the :?

Whatever happened to Melissa and Diane and Michael and James? Those names we could pronounce. Those names passed the substitute litmus test. And really, when naming a child, ask yourself WWASS? What would a substitute say?

I guarantee that this sub would have said, "La ah." If met with the giggles that always accompany a good name butchering, she'd maybe have said, "Lahyphena?"

But then, she'd have to introduce herself by writing her name on the board. "No," she'd say. "Not Bassham like fish and pork. Bashum, like a pumped up linebacker." Or, maybe, a serial killer.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Imp Baby

Will was the chillest newborn. I'd heard that youngest children, especially ones that were just sort of thrown into the car and carted all around after big siblings, were often calm and passive. It was certainly true of Will. He was just content to smile his way through life, hanging off my hip. Or anyone's hip, really. I've had a great deal of baby experience and he was one of the easiest little people. Ever. 

You guys. Something happened to the angel baby. I can't really explain when it happened. I think it was one of those things that occurred slowly, over the course of time. He learned how to crawl at eight months AND HAS NOT STOPPED MOVING SINCE. Couple his insane energy with the fact that there is more personality in his little finger than some kids get in a lifetime and it is a recipe for a 21st century REIGN OF TERROR.

This is pretty much his face all the time...

It's two parts sheer delight and one part lunatic. Every single thing in my life takes seventeen times longer than it should because this maniac needs to be redirected every two seconds. (I wish that were an exaggeration.) The other night, I turned my back on him in the bathtub for ten seconds. Matthew was in the tub WITH HIM and by the time I turned my attention back to them, Will had pulled the toilet plunger into the tub and was floating it like a barge. He unrolls toilet paper faster than the speed of light. Seriously. It is actually his super power. It's completely useless but it's a super power nonetheless. If we leave the pantry door open, you can bet that he will absolutely scurry in and begin destructive behavior immediately. Grab him, redirect him, turn back to begin returning the pantry to a state of order, and he will frantically yank everything off the refrigerator. Or pull over the trash can. Or climb the stairs and atomic bomb his own closet.

He is rarely self entertained. If there ever was a kid's picture in the dictionary next to the word extrovert, it just might be this one. He does not like to be alone. He recharges his batteries solely off the power of being the center of someone's attention. Thankfully, we all wanted him really a lot and there's always a willing participant to serve as an audience member for the one man Will show. We've been working on trying to get him to play on his own for a few minutes at a time because THAT IS A VIRTUE, Y'ALL. So imagine my surprise a few weeks ago when I heard him happily squealing in the next room for a good FIVE MINUTES. Troy was at work. The boys were at school. There was no explanation.

I should have realized the falsehood of that last sentence. After a few minutes, this crawled in...

As it turns out, he was in the big boys' room and he found a large chunk of clay. I honestly have no idea where the clay even came from (but I'm looking at you, Sunday School!) but, as it turns out, when mixed with the spit of a not quite one year old, it makes for a fascinating finger paint. He was white from head to toe. Needless to say, because of this and the fact that he has an intense passion for throwing the boys' ball caps ALL OVER THE PLACE ALL THE TIME and flinging their swim trunks over his head, I usually keep their door closed when they're not home and we are.

The other night, the boys and I started a movie while Will was still awake. This involved pausing it every few minutes to:

A. Tell Will to stop playing with the DVR player.
B. Put the batteries back in the remote after they fell out when Will threw it.
C. Play with Will for a few minutes because he started shrieking upon realizing that no one was paying attention to him.
D. All of the above.

We finished the movie after we put him to bed. Garrett, snuggling into the couch, let out a long sigh. "Finally. We can watch our movie in peace." After a brief pause, he gasped, "Is this how you and dad feel every night after we go to bed?" I nearly died laughing.

The imp streak is strong in this one. 

But he is DARN DARLING and he knows it. Ask him for a kiss and, even though he knows how to give one (in all its open mouthed glory), he will, nine times out of ten, lean his forehead gently onto your lips with a sly smile. Ask him to say, "mama" and he will look right at you and say, "dada." And then giggle like he is the funniest human on the planet. Chase him, grab him, tickle him, and he will squeal like such shenanigans have never, ever been done before. 

There is A LOT of redirection happening with this one. There is A LOT of the word NO happening as we strive to correct an eleven month old. There is A LOT of sighing with tranquility when he is down for the night. But there is A LOT of love.

The Reign of Terror Imp Baby has every single one of us around his little finger. He loves life and exploration and smiling. He is always so happy to see us in the morning, as though he can't believe he had to go a whole night without us. Joy seeps out of his very existence and I am so thankful for him...

even if his belief that he is royalty is wholly misguided.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

You Can Call Me Dawn Lazarus

I have a new appreciation for learning disabilities. It started out like any normal baseball game. The weather was warm, the kids were in good moods, and Troy and I were chatting as we watched Garrett's team swinging their bats. I started to misspeak.

You know what I'm talking about, when a word just comes out wrong for whatever reason. My mom tells a funny story about her and a friend. One of them simply could not say "white bread" and repeatedly said, "bread white." Even after pausing and collecting herself, she focused all her attention on the phrase at hand and blurted out, "BREAD WHITE!" It happens. But I said a lot of wrong words in a short amount of time. I finally widened my eyes and said, "What is happening? It's like I'm having a hembolism." I am not even 100% sure that embolisms occur in the head but that's neither here not there. What is here and there is that there is no such thing as a hembolism.

Troy thought it might be the heat or a lack of water. I was skeptical because it was not that hot and I'd been drinking water all day. I stopped talking and suddenly became verbally disoriented. I was not confused about where I was or what was happening. I knew we were watching our kid play baseball. I could think conceptually. I just could not, for the life of me, string my words together to properly form a sentence. My friend asked me a question and I had to concentrate so hard on how to say a three word answer that my head actually started hurting. I also felt very foggy, as though I was having an out of body experience. Within minutes, my head was pounding.

Garrett took his turn at the plate. As he stood there holding his bat, I realized that I knew his name. I knew he was my child. But I could not say his name (first, middle, last) in the right order. That's when I really began to get worried. When the game ended, Troy told me to go to the car and sit for awhile before Matthew's game started. I walked just fine to the car and climbed in. Terrified of what was happening to me, I finally decided to sing a song that I should definitely know. I chose the ABC's. I think I sang it correctly. I took myself through several more brain exercises and felt like I was starting to return to normal. That's when I took out my phone to scroll through Facebook.

And every single one of my friends had posted status updates that were something like this:

Greatest the husband birthday to the world in happy.


Make dinner should I what tonight for?

I blinked. I knew that all my friends had not simultaneously gone crazy. The same thing that was happening to my speech and my memory was also happening to my ability to read. I could see the words, they just weren't in the correct order. Also, my right eye seemed blurry.

I had become foggy, verbally dyslexic and somehow lost the ability to remember things like the correct order of my child's name. I started sobbing. I was terrified that I would never have a coherent thought again. Except that I was somehow having a coherent thought about not being able to have coherent thoughts. It was all very...incoherent.

Just then, Garrett came to the car to tell me that Matthew was about to bat. He saw me crying and asked what was wrong. I told him I didn't feel very well. My words came out okay. Together, we walked back to the fields. He took Will for us while Troy and I talked and tried to figure out what was wrong with me.

I asked him to throw a baseball back and forth with me. I wasn't sure that I didn't also have physical limitations. We tossed a ball no problem. I even alternated closing one eye and still managed to catch it most of the time. We sat down and I asked him to quiz me on various things.

"When was Garrett born?" he asked.

"July 20, 2006," I answered. But it took me a second to pull the year from the vault of my strangely clouded mind.

"What are our kids' full names?" he asked.

I rattled off Garrett's and Matthew's. For some reason, it took me a second to remember Will's middle name.

He continued asking questions and I answered, becoming more confident with each question until he said, "What is Moses's mother's name?" My mind was blank.

He kept asking me Bible questions. If it was a well known person or story I could easily recall it. If it was more obscure, it was as if I'd never known the answer before in my life. He then asked me about characters on shows we watch together. I could picture them, but I could not tell him the character name or the actor who played them.

At one point, frustrated, I stared long at a water bottle sitting on the bench in front of me. I could read it. And, as Matthew's game went on, I found that I also began to remember names of people on TV shows and Bible trivia.

From saying words like hembolism to my memory fully returning to me it was about an hour and a half. The part where I could not speak correctly or read lasted between 30-45 minutes.

I saw this clip from SNL this weekend and told Troy that this is what it sounded like in my head. I was so embarrassed to even try to talk because I was terrified that it would come out sounding like this...

On Friday, I called my doctor to see if I could get in to see them just to make sure everything was fine. When I explained what had happened, they put me on hold. Within a minute, the doctor got on the phone. And, I mean, that's really never good. When I WANT to talk to my doctor, it's impossible. She told me that she wanted me to go directly to the ER. Y'all, I did not want to go to the ER. We pay roughly $1,000 in monthly premiums and on top of that an ER visit costs me $400 just to walk in. Then I have to pay for whatever they do to me until I hit my deductible. None of this was my idea of a good time.

I asked if I could wait until I got off of work.

"In my medical opinion," she said, "you need to go now."

I checked in within the hour. Ten minutes after I got there, they put me in a room. Seven very boring hours later I was finally free to go home. You know what is not fun? Sitting in the Emergency Room when you feel JUST FINE waiting for them to tell you if you are JUST FINE or SERIOUSLY NOT FINE. My EKG was fantastic. My blood pressure was terrific. I'm notorious for giving too much information, for telling in twenty minutes what could have been told in two. But I didn't know what was important to the story and what wasn't. So I told it all. The doctor called me a good historian. I felt like I'd been too verbose.

But when he consulted with the neurologist who ordered an MRI, he came back and told me that giving him all the information had helped them decide to run the MRI. Apparently, the same part of the brain controls speaking, reading, and right eye visibility. At that point, they were thinking that perhaps part of a blood vessel in my head had detached. He said it sounded worse than it actually was. That was reassuring because it sounded AWFUL.

My MRI was totally clear. No one knows what the heck happened to make me LOSE MY MIND FOR AN HOUR. It could have been a migraine. It could have been a partial seizure. It could have been a transient blocked vessel. It could have been a dozen other things.

But it wasn't a mini stroke which is what I was afraid of.

"I believe you," the doctor told me. "I don't think you're making it up. I just don't have an answer for you."

"I don't care if you believe me," I told him, laughing. "If it didn't happen, I just need the name of a really good psychiatrist."

"No, no," he said, "It happened."

I'm following up with a neurologist next month.

Until then, I live my life with the peaceful knowledge that the images of my brain were clear and with the unsettling horror that it might happen again at any time. Although, if it does happen again, I am supposed to go directly to the Emergency Room. Given that I will not be able to speak and, presumably, will be unable to write, I will just pull up this video of Vanessa Bayer and gesture wildly until they figure out that I've lost my mind. Again.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

To The Mothers In My Life

On this Mother's Day and always, I am thankful for my grandmothers and for their mothers and their mothers before them. For women who looked down the line of generations and couldn't even imagine where their legacy would one day lead. I'm thankful that they raised sons and daughters who would, one day, become my own mother and father.

I'm thankful for my mom who is truly more of a best friend to me. She put in the hard work of discipline, love and support so that we could, one day, be more than parent and child. I am thankful that she introduced me to faith and that she loves me--always.

I'm thankful for my mother-in-law who raised a man of faith and integrity. She taught him to love Jesus and to love his wife and I am eternally grateful.

I'm thankful for the mothers of my sons--the women who chose me to be the one to snuggle little bodies and hear them call me mama. I'm thankful for the opportunity to be just one of the women who loves them fierce.

I'm thankful for the four little people who make me a mommy. For Garrett, Matthew, Kate, and Will. This day is about honoring me, I guess. But I am the one who has been infinitely blessed by the experience of being your mother.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Open Adoption

Troy called me downstairs yesterday. "I just got six texts," he said and he turned his phone so I could see. For the briefest of seconds, I was confused. The newborn baby in the pictures was Matthew. The sender was his father. Why was Matt's father sending us newborn baby pictures of our 8 year old? A moment later, my synapses all started firing correctly and I realized what was going on.

Matthew has a baby brother. His baby brother--who shares half of his DNA--looks so much like he did as a newborn. He was born yesterday. Matthew's father texted us within an hour after his birth to let Matt know he's a big brother again. We didn't know his brother was coming. We don't know the circumstances. But we know that his father, who has waited 8 years to parent a child, has a second son.

We showed the pictures to Matthew. He was so excited to have another sibling. This makes 7 for him. Three biological sisters, a biological brother, two brothers by adoption, and a Kate in heaven. Our boy is struggling, in some ways, with some of the concepts of adoption. He longs to have all of his family under one roof and, truly, who can blame him? He often says, "I want to live with __________ but, then I wouldn't be able to live with you." He doesn't want to leave us. He just wants all the people who are important to him nearby. It is because of this struggle, because of this sometimes blurred identity, that I rejoice in the siblings he has.

We are connected enough to his birth parents that I have no doubt he will one day foster relationships with his biological siblings. And I am so glad that he has them. He was excited to tell some of the people at church today that he has a new brother. To see him beam with pride, to hear the joy in his voice, I see, in him, a sense of connection and love--even if his brother is separated by miles and years.

There is the tendency, with adoptive parents, to push back against biology. The idea, perhaps, that we will be enough. We are only enough if we are all they need. If there is something else that they are longing for, we must always put the child before our own needs and our own feelings. Open adoption redefines itself many times in the course of a life. We must always protect the child entrusted to us (and that can certainly mean different things depending on the adoptive situation).

I believe that in open adoption we must be, well, open.

We must always love.

Love our children enough that, while they are young, and unless there was abuse against the child, they hear only positive things about their families. They are too small to process the negative and too impressionable to bear its weight.

Love our children enough to celebrate victories. Celebrate marriages and siblings and positive phone calls and, perhaps, even positive visits if circumstances allow. Matthew and I immediately picked out a gift for his new brother and we'll ship it out tomorrow. Because we share in Matthew's joy. Because we are celebrating with him.

Love our children enough that they sense, in us, openness. If my sons grow up and say, "We were always allowed to tell our parents what we were thinking and feeling, even if it could have hurt them," I will be satisfied.

Love our children for who they are and know that a large part of that comes from who their parents are. Matthew hasn't seen his father since he was two years old and he makes a couple of faces that look just like him. Some of his personality traits are directly passed down from them, riding on his DNA and outshining nurture in every way. We make a point of saying, "You looked just like your dad right then." Or, "Your mom really loves spicy food, too." Because we want to validate his place in our family and his place in theirs.

Love our children in the moment. Always. No matter what. Without regard for the way our relationship might change and without worrying about the evolution of open adoption in our lives. Love them with wild abandon. Love them, in adoption, the way we are called to love always.

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. -1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Our relationship with Matthew's dad has not been an easy one. But time has a way of growing us. He sent us a picture this morning of him holding his newborn son. It touched me and nearly brought me to tears. I want good things for him. The truth of the matter is, he blessed me with an incredible gift in the son that we share. I will continue to love that boy with everything that is in me. And, born, perhaps, from the fierce love that I have for him, is a deep care for his family.

This is open adoption.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Hot Pink Puker

My middle child is very introverted. Not once he's very comfortable, mind you, but if you're a stranger or an acquaintance or even a casual friend, you can forget about cracking Matt's shell. He's a tough nut. He hates to have attention on him unless he's specifically gone looking for it. As his former kindergarten teacher recently said to me, Matthew needs to feel safe or he shuts down.

I tell you all of this as a preface--a little background--into why I have leaped so far ahead of all the rest of you in our race for Worst Mother of the Year. I'm so far ahead, in fact, that the committee is just going to give me my award now. In April. I don't have to wait until the end of the year.

Last Thursday, Matthew woke up and told me he had a stomach ache. He has also been loudly and frequently telling me how much he hates school. (This baffles me because he's brilliant, he likes his teacher, and he promises me that he's not having trouble with any kids.) So...I assumed his stomach ailment had a direct correlation to his detestation of education. I told him to get ready for school.

He didn't want to eat.

In addition to being a brilliant introvert, Matthew's eating skills are legit. No joke, the kid eats like he's the next champion of that Coney Island hot dog challenge. So the life choice to not eat breakfast on Thursday morning gave me pause.

I offered him Pepto Bismal the way you offer a toddler a band-aid. "This will help!"

And off he went to school because if there isn't a fever and/or some kind of bodily fluid coming out of my kid (i.e. vomit, explosive poo, eye goop) they're going.

Twenty minutes later, unbeknownst to me, my poor kid (read: my poor Do-Not-Look-At-Me-Unless-I-Invite-You-To-Do-So-Because-I-Am-Shy-And-Embarrass-Easily kid) threw up a hot pink mess all over his desk, all over his clothes, and all over a packet he'd been working on all year. My cell phone rang, "Hi, Lori. It's Jennifer." It doesn't bode well when the office is calling you twenty minutes after school starts. It either means there's an unfilled sub job in a class with a bunch of trouble makers or a sick kid. "I have Matthew. He threw up ALL OVER THE PLACE."

Oh goody.

Matthew is super smart. He is super funny. He is super athletic. You know what he isn't? A super barfer. He just, rarely throws up. On the other hand, I am a champion vomiter. A class act puker, if you will. Garrett is proudly being raised up in his mother's tradition. When we throw up, it is every 15-30 minutes for no less than 4 hours. We throw up what we've eaten and then, hours later, we receive visual confirmation that there are greens, yellows, and phelgmy reds existing in the deep pits of our stomach. Acid. Bile. Lining, perhaps? We barf big, y'all. Garrett, by age three, was throwing up without assistance. Now, to be fair, his first chuck would usually begin while he slept and, thus, cover himself and all of his bedding. However, all subsequent trips would involve him trekking to the toilet himself, throwing up, and then crawling back into his sleeping bag on my floor. AT THREE.

And lest you think that I should have won Worst Mother of the Year for THAT, I was always awake, always asked him if he needed me, and always received the answer that, no, in fact, he did not.

Matthew, at 8 years old, repeatedly hurled onto his desk, never thinking that getting over to a trash can would be ideal. He, apparently, has the barfing aptitude of a three-year-old. Poor kid. So he threw up Pepto Bismal all over his desk and then went to the office where I picked up his sad, vomit covered self. I apologized profusely to the office staff and his teacher. "He told me he didn't feel well," I said. "But, there was no outward evidence of his stomach ache."

Not to worry, they all said. Except that we do. We second guess all of our parenting choices. If only I'd found it even more weird that my champion eater didn't want to have breakfast, he'd have thrown up in the safety of his own home, all over the carpet. I'd have cleaned it up instead of poor Josh, the custodian. When we got home, I sent him upstairs to change his clothes. He stopped on the stairs and, with his eyes welling up with tears, said quietly, "I told you my tummy hurt."

Knife. Heart. Twist.

Yep. He'd told me alright. But he never throws up! I can count on two hands the number of times he's thrown up in his whole entire life. If it was me, I'd need my hands, feet, and a whole bunch of neighbors to lend me their fingers. How was I to know that this particular stomach ache was going to be the one that ended in a fountain of regurgitated Pepto Bismal?

Still, I subjected my shy, introverted 8 year old to public vomiting. I'm terrified that, in high school, he'll be known as the Hot Pink Puker. It is for this reason that the committee has awarded me the Worst Mom Trophy. I've knocked you all out of the running.

You're welcome.

Thursday, April 13, 2017


I had grand plans to visit multiple national parks this year. My kid is in the 4th grade and, as part of an effort to get Every Kid in a Park, 4th graders get their vehicle in for free. It is, as my son says, "Boss."

This was also the year that my kids (ever so thankfully and PRAISE the LORD!) switched from a year round schedule to a traditional one. People told me I would desperately miss the track system. People told me to be careful what I wished for. People were wrong. I've loved every second of the traditional year and am SO excited that my kids are getting out in early June and aren't going back until mid August. More than 7 weeks of summer? Yes, please!

But, with the absence of those pesky and disruptive year round breaks (okay, okay, the January one sure was nice because I got to go to San Diego to thaw out), came the absence of the ability to visit all the parks I'd planned to see. Sure, we still have summer, but our summer plans are already shaped.

With spring break looming, we decided to jaunt down to Arizona and see the sights and the grandest of canyons.

We spent the first full day of our visit just hanging around in Arizona. Driving in new places, soaking in new sights, experiencing new destinations.

Then we drove through places like this, which seemed like we had put ourselves directly into the Cars movie.

Perhaps Radiator Springs was just around the bend in the road. If our boys saw something they deemed an adventure, we let them get out and explore it. They scampered up this big boulder in no time flat. Their father went after them. I stayed in the car with the crying baby who does not understand his own inability to climb.

It was a relaxing time of, "You want a mocha from McDonald's?" "Yeah, I could go for one of those right now." And, "Hey, can we pull over and look at that?" "Sure!" 

On Sunday we took the boys to see Bearizona Wildlife Park in Williams, AZ. Everyone absolutely loved it.

The first part of our trip was driving through the wildlife without fences or barriers. The animals just walked beside you or lounged just off the road. It was incredible. We saw bears, wolves, burros, bighorn sheep, and so much more.

This burro stuck his head right up to the car window. Garrett pleaded for his dad to pet the guy but we weren't sure that was something we were allowed to do. So Troy tried to make it move along while I rattled a plastic bag to continue attracting it. We work well that way, me undoing all his hard work. It's payback for when I clean the house and he builds a pile on the counter only moments later.

After the amazing drive through portion, they have a small zoo. We watched a fun bird show and then visited the various animals. One of our favorite parts was watching this little guy show off for us. He kept swimming up to the glass where Will was standing, pushing off, doing a flip, and then coming back to do it again.

They also had a petting zoo, foxes, javelinas, a jaguar, and so much more. It was really a fun place to see and I highly recommend it if you're ever in the Williams area.

The rest of our trip was spent visiting the Grand Canyon. We got our 4th grader his free pass and off we went.

I'd been to the canyon once, as a nine-year-old, but I was the only one in my family who had seen it. The pictures simply do not do it justice. I would snap a shot, glance at my phone, glance back at the canyon, and shake my head. You simply cannot capture the grandeur. 

The older boys and I did a little rock climbing out to the edge. Of course, it looks like the edge until you look down and see another ledge and then another. Garrett begged me to let him "stage" this picture. It's a fine line, I always say, between keeping them alive and letting them live.

We want to shelter them, to get them to adulthood in one piece and as unscathed as humanly possible, but what is life if not to be lived and lived fully? What is exploration without adventure?

So many men I have been blessed with. They will grow up and leave me (well, except for the tallest one, I hope) and forge lives of their own. But I want them to say of their mother that she instilled a great faith in them, that she taught them to experience life and not to sit on the sidelines, afraid to live, and that she gave them an opportunity to blaze their own trails.

I am learning, slowly and by the grace of God, that it takes a dedicated person to mother only the wild man. This trip gave me a glimpse into what is required of me. It is allowing them to satisfy their craving for scrambling up the face of a rock just because it is there. It is accepting their passionate plea to climb to the very edge of a canyon just to say they looked down. It is taking their outstretched hand because there is just a small amount of fear and mama would never let them fall. It is knowing that the world needs a few good men, a few brave men, a few wild men and that those good, brave and wild must first be boys of endless curiosity. 

I have learned to let them sit on the edge.

It was a good trip.

"The Grand Canyon is carven deep by the master hand; it is the gulf of silence, widened in the desert; it is all time inscribing the naked rock; it is the book of earth." -Donald C. Peattie

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Unimaginable

Sometimes I write with the intention to never share. Often I think about Kate and don't form a circle of my closest friends to cry. Life moves on. I don't want the world to look at me and say, "Wow. Girlfriend really can't process her grief, can she?" Lesser still, do I want the world to question how I could still be so deeply sad.

And I don't know, is the thing.

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus's blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest thing, but wholly trust in Jesus name.

Why then, the grief?

Why do I wonder if I might wake to find that it was all but a dream? Perhaps, one day, I will see that losing her was just a passing nightmare. And I'll have both Kate and her brother.

My eight year old wept the other night. Through angry tears he exploded, "She should be asleep in her bedroom right now." And she should. How can you argue with that? Grief, as my mom said to me today, is a weird thing.

I wrote this last month and posted it to a writer's page that I'm a part of on Facebook. I never intended to post it here. But I'm not sure why. Because transparency is painful? Because I don't want the rest of the world to have access to my grief? Because she'll never be here the way I want her to be?

But he is. And he deserves every piece of my broken heart.


There are moments that the words don’t reach
There is suffering too terrible to name
You hold your child as tight as you can
And push away the unimaginable
-Lin Manuel Miranda
I held him, curly hair sticking out from his head in loose spiraling staircases. He looks like a man cub. His legs squeezed my hip, foot resting on the womb that held neither of them. A chubby hand clutched my shirt just above the heart that holds them both. “This is your sister,” I said.
His eyes locked on the giraffe caged in the shadow box. The soft, stuffed toy sits, staring, for always. Plump arms never snuggled the animal, sticky fingers never dragged it by the neck, soft baby breath never exhaled over it. The antithesis of a Velveteen Rabbit, the giraffe will never be real. She was never here to love it enough. I stare at the tiny footprints pressed into plaster. My eyes shift to his tiny toes. They wiggle slightly. I look back at her frozen ones and try to imagine them pushing against the walls of their mother. One minute they pressed and stretched. The next moment they fell limp—forever. My gaze lands on her picture. Black and white lines that form the image of my daughter, his sister.
“She was inside your other mommy before you were.” I was stoic. “She went straight to Jesus when she was born. And then we got you.”
I can’t tell him that his stillborn sister wrecked me. I can’t explain that while I walk without a limp, my heart beats erratic and broken. Our great God used the man cub to heal so much of that bloody wound left by her absence, but he can’t fix it all. An 8 month old cannot bear that burden.
He will not know the way I startle whenever I hear her name belonging to someone else or the way I choke back dreams when I see a little girl holding tight to her mama. He can’t know that when I stand in front of that shadow box, I imagine what she would have been. So much more than the cold corpse I held tightly in my arms before we buried her.
He is amazing life, incredible and indescribable joy. I will tell him about the sister who came before. I will share all the miracles. He will know her.
But I will not tie my albatross of grief around his neck. He will walk freely and hear only the ways my life is made infinitely better by his presence. I will shield him from the moments when, weeping, I succumb to the excruciating thump of my still cracked heart.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Ax Murderers and Exploding Eyes

Somewhere around 1:00 am, my middle man came wandering into our room. I didn't know he was there. My children have become stealth sneaker uppers and it is VERY disturbing to me. I used to wake at the slightest sound. Now, my eyes will fly open to discover one of them standing over me and it's enough to cause momentary cardiac arrest. I'm completely terrified that one of these days it won't be one of my kids standing over me but an ax murderer instead. My eyes will open and the last thing I'll see is the image of some horrendous evildoer just before he slaughters me.

I'm dramatic.

But, honestly, who goes to bed at night and thinks, "I'll probably be murdered by a serial killer tonight?" No one. That's who.

So I didn't know my 8 year old was in my room until my husband suddenly startled in the spot next to me and, groggily, started muttering something about Matthew being in our room. I bolted upright (because I do weird things when I'm awoken from sleep to find that, once again, the children have crept in like silent little ax murderers) and stared at my kid.

"I had a bad dream," he whispered. I told him he could sleep on my floor and that is when the real fun began. See, we've been sharing the Great Plague Cold of 2017 and at least one person in our family has been sick for five weeks. Will's had it twice. Troy's had it twice. Apparently, as was evidenced by last night's shenanigans, Matthew is now on his second round because the kid proceeded to sniff and snort ALL NIGHT LONG. Then, downstairs, the cat flipped his lid in the wee hours of the morning and meowed at the top of his feline lungs.

In my exhausted state, I was powerless to do anything about any of this. Remember being a kid and wanting to pull your covers up but being way too tired to do anything about it? That was me last night. I wanted to tell Matthew to blow his nose. I wanted to call in an ax murderer for the cat. But all I managed to do was wake up every two seconds and resent ALL THE NOISE.

So this morning, when the world (a.k.a. Will) woke up at 6:45, I was not prepared for life. I fed him and then proceeded to fall back to sleep. Troy got up with the boys to make sure they didn't engage in an epic wrestling match or punch each other's lights out when they were really supposed to be getting ready for school. He took care of Will but, at some point, he went downstairs and closed the gate behind him. Will lost his mind with all the abandonment and bawled like a six month old instead of the sophisticated nine month old that he is. 

I called him over to me and lifted him onto the bed. Lying flat on my back, I raised him up into the air over my face. It was immediate. And so strange. I managed to feel it before my brain registered that it had seen it coming. And, in a way, it happened so fast that I can't remember truly seeing anything, really. One second, Will was thinking about smiling at me and the next second, I felt warm liquid spreading throughout my eye. For the shortest of milliseconds, I thought that, perhaps, my eye had spontaneously exploded. Quickly though, I dismissed that idea because there was a real lack of pain. I was pretty sure that spontaneous eye explosion would cause significant and debilitating pain. 

I sat up.

"HELP!" I yelled. I had my eyes tightly shut but I knew there was spit up in my hair and on my neck and I wasn't sure how truly bad it was and I needed something to wipe my face with and the troops needed to rally around me RIGHT then.

It took them longer than I would have expected given my distress cry. But they are men and they generally think that, because I am the lone woman around here, I have the entire world under control. They also live with me and know that my distress cries tend to be more, "There is a really big spider watching me from the corner," and less, "There's an ax murderer actively murdering me right at this very murderous moment."

This, as you will see, fell somewhere between help, spider and help me I'm being killed.

They arrived on the scene and Troy immediately began a waffling dance of laughter and oh no's. The boys were vacillating between hysterics and groans. Troy then started saying, "Wait! Just wait!" as he grabbed my phone to take a picture. Will, meanwhile, sat in my lap. I had no idea if it was on him although, in retrospect, the gravity would have taken all the puke down. We do not live in a world in which vomit defies the natural order of things. As I waited for the picture to be taken, the warm, regurgitated formula began to drip down my face. Troy snapped the picture, handed me a wash cloth, took Will, and said, "You just, uh, need to get right into the shower. Just go straight to the shower." This picture doesn't do justice to the amount that was in my hair, clumped behind my ear, but my response was basically, "Oh. You think?"

I remain infinitely glad that I didn't lose my eye in what would have been the first ever documented case of Exploded Eyeball.

Okay. I just googled Exploding Eye to make sure there wasn't actually such a thing and OH MY BLESSED STARS THERE IS!!! No, but seriously. Now, not only do I have to worry about ax murderers sneaking into my house at night, I have to worry about my eyeballs spontaneously exploding. Knowledge is not always power, y'all.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Great Hair Debacle of 2017

There are just certain people I grow attached to in my life. My gynecologist, for one. Who wants to go shopping for a new one of those every year? The dentist. As long as you'll keep telling me I don't have any cavities, you can have my business forever. My hair stylist. When we moved to Utah, I didn't get a new stylist for several years. I just kept getting my hair cut in California when I'd go home to visit. Who says long distance relationships can't work? Eventually, I grew weary of the airfare involved in getting my hair cut, my kid got too old to fly for free, I had to stop going to CA quite as frequently, and the time came to find a new stylist.

It was a fiasco.

I had my hair done by someone nearby. I liked it fine. The shop closed. I went somewhere else and liked it fine. I scheduled another appointment and, when I showed up for it, the shop was closed. I texted her and she didn't seem to know anything about me or why I would have had an appointment scheduled with her. I swear she was on drugs. It was the most bizarre conversation. I ended up getting my hair cut at Great Clips. Not long after that, I found my stylist, followed her through moves to two different shops, had my hair done by her as she grieved the loss of her granddaughter, had my hair done by her as I grieved the loss of my daughter, had my hair done by her as we welcomed Will, and, in December, found out that she was going to quit cutting hair. 

She cut my hair before Christmas and that was the end of that.

I silently mourned. I'm not ready to repeat the stress of finding a new person.

I have kept telling myself for the past two months that I really need to figure out a new solution. I need to get back out there and find a new stylist. But I kept putting it off until, on Tuesday, I snapped. I'm very level headed. I'm loyal and I'm trustworthy but sometimes, sometimes, I'm compulsive. I have an activator personality. It's an asset. Although, my husband does not always think so. And he has good reason.

On Tuesday I just had to have my hair cut. As the day wore on, the itch became so severe I could no longer satisfy it. I very nearly went back over to Great Clips but the baby fell asleep and it was going to be too late. I was working on Wednesday and if my hair wasn't cut before that I WOULD SIMPLY DIE A SLOW AND AGONIZING DEATH OF UNFULFILLED DREAMS.

I decided to watch a YouTube video and take matters into my own hands.

I have NEVER taken HAIR MATTERS into my own hands. My hands lack any and all artistic ability. But multiple videos seemed to support the idea that a simple trim was VERY EASY. So I followed the video. I took off just about an inch and let my hair down. It looked good. It looked healthier. It looked JUST fine. So I decided to take a little more off. My niece is constantly cutting her own hair and the girl looks good.

My niece, however, can play instruments and paint and CUT HER OWN HAIR. She has talented hands. I have uncoordinated stubs that are good for typing and scrambling eggs and that's about it.

I followed the same procedure that WORKED FINE THE FIRST TIME. I let my hair back down. There was no difference in length in the back. Instead, there were now long bangs and hideous layers. My hair was now two lengths. Long and statically luxurious in the back (darn these dry Utah winters) and dog chewed layers in the front.

I laughed.

"Oh, what have you done? What? I...oh no. This is irreparable. I...What? Um...oh no." All I could think was that I had to work the next day and there was no time to fix this and even if there was, what was I going to say?

Please fix this. The last girl who touched my head really butchered it?

I decided to cut more off just the back to try to blend it with what was happening in the front. Did I mention I was using household scissors? I don't think I did. I was using household scissors. The kind my children use to cut construction paper and, occasionally, twigs.

Just then my husband came home. "OH! YOU HAVE TO HELP ME!"

"What have you done?" he asked. "Why did you do this?" I think he was imagining the time I cut down a dead tree in our yard and then stuck the entire tree in the trash can, assuming the trash men would take it like that. He had to come home and cut the tree apart. I'd wanted the dead tree out of the yard. Once that goal was accomplished, my work was done. It's really a very charming trait of mine, no?

"I think I just need help with the front. The back is ok, right?"

"Uhhhhh...if that's what you're going for." He took a picture for me. Not having eyes in the back of my head, I couldn't really see the damage. I mean, I'd tried to look at it with a mirror but obviously the mirror faked me out because I thought it looked okay and, in actuality, it looked like this...

Suffice it to say, that is not what I was going for. Painstakingly, over the next hour, Troy, who is largely (i.e. completely) untrained in the area of hair cutting, turned the above disaster into this. I'm not going to say it's perfect but, considering what he was working with, and his lack of training, and his terrible scissors, I think he did a pretty good job.

I was pretty certain the front was NEVER GOING TO LOOK GOOD AGAIN. Or, at least, not for three months until it grew out and a professional fixed it for me. But Troy did his very best. He molded and shaped and snipped and chopped. Then I blew it dry and styled it and yesterday, before work, it looked like this...

Generally, I do not think of myself as a pinhead. However, this angle of selfie certainly makes it looks like my tiny head should not be sitting atop my very large body.

I digress. The point of this picture is not my pinhead. It is that I HAVE HAD WORSE HAIRCUTS DONE BY PROFESSIONALS!!! (Not my most recent professional, she did not ever give me a terrible haircut but there was one particularly traumatic cut in 2011 that left me partially scarred for life.)

Guys, I don't even hate it. And, yesterday, at work, I received MANY compliments about how cute my hair is.

So I've added "hair cutting" to Troy's list of things he can do. He's pretty much amazing. And he didn't even get irritated with me the way he did with the dead tree situation. He just patiently set to fixing it. AND IT DIDN'T COST ME A PENNY!

This however, is not a long term solution. I'm going to need the name of a good stylist before I get the next hankering to chop my hair.