Sunday, November 21, 2010

Words to live by

"I don't want to drive up to the pearly gates in a shiny sports car, wearing beautifully, tailored clothes, my hair expertly coiffed, and with long, perfectly manicured fingernails. I want to drive up in a station wagon that has mud on the wheels from taking kids to scout camp. I want to be there with a smudge of peanut butter on my shirt from making sandwiches for a sick neighbors children. I want to be there with a little dirt under my fingernails from helping to weed someone's garden. I want to be there with children's sticky kisses on my cheeks and the tears of a friend on my shoulder. I want the Lord to know I was really here and that I really lived."

— Marjorie Pay Hinckley

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


When you've been given a miracle as big as your LIFE, it's hard to ask for more. I've seen my share of miracles. I've been part of miracles.

During our first year of medical school we quickly ran out of money. I was working part time at a florist while Jaymee watched Sienna while studying at home. Other days, I babysat for a very generous family in our ward. But it wasn't enough. We were broke and still had a lot of bills coming up before our next loan in January. We tallied them up and figured if we only ate ramen noodles until January, we could get by on $478. We didn't tell our family. But we did tell Heavenly Father. We told Him that we had paid our tithing our whole lives and we needed the windows of heaven to open up and dump out $478. The next day I took Sienna out to get the mail and there was a card from Jaymee's grandma Blanche. Odd, she had never written us before. I opened the card and a check for $500 fell out. The note said,"I felt like you needed this." She is not well off and had never given us money before. She's a good lady whom Heavenly Father felt he could inspire and she would respond with generosity. I cried and cried. I still do. But here's the kicker - the next day I went out to the mailbox and there was a card from my grandma Tot. With a check. For $500. And a note about how she felt we needed it. So not only were we blessed with what we needed, the Lord blessed us double. Miracle.

Which brings me to today. When I had cancer, I asked the Lord to spare my life. My prayers were answered and I have felt so humbled and grateful for the gift that I haven't felt like I could ask for more. But there was something I wanted. I felt strongly that my family was incomplete. I didn't feel like I deserved it and had already been given too much. Mami told me it was ok to ask because it was a righteous desire. So we started asking. And fasting. No one more than Sienna. She asked in every prayer. Every blessing on the food.

When I went to see my oncologist in April, I told her we had been trying but with no luck. She told me that was crazy. I already have four beautiful kids and I'M ALIVE. Wasn't that enough? And she thought the world was overpopulated anyway. I left feeling sad and wishing I could be satisfied. I really wanted to be satisfied. I felt ungrateful! But I wasn't satisfied.

Next I started seeing my OB. I told him what I wanted and he was not hopeful. I got a lot of tests and bloodwork done and he was even less hopeful. He called me with the results and offered his condolences. According to my FSH levels, I was probably out of viable eggs and would enter menopause soon because of all the intense chemo. Chemo scrambled my eggs. I was devastated. Why would I feel so strongly about something that wasn't possible. Something whispered to me that it wasn't in the doctors' hands. It might of been the Spirit, but I think it was Jaymee. He felt everything would be ok one way or another. I wanted to mourn. Sienna wanted to pray harder and fast more.

In September, I missed a period. Hooray! I took a pregnancy test and it was negative. Dang. My doctor said I was probably starting THE CHANGE. (Is that what people call it? Weird. Like we're gremlins that ate after midnight or something). Then I missed a period in October. I was crying about being fully in menopause to Mami one day. After she left I walked inside, smelled something funny and promptly puked. Wha?? I had another pregnancy test laying around and even though I wasn't hopeful, I decided to use it. Instantly positive! PREGNANT!! Miracle.

I went to my oncologist and was scared to tell her. She said it was time to schedule a scan and I said that we couldn't because... I'm pregnant. She jumped out of her chair and grabbed me and hugged and hugged. She said,"Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! I can't believe it! I didn't think it was possible and didn't want you to get your hopes up!" She hadn't had any patients go through as much and as intense of chemo as I did get pregnant. Miracle.

My OB was astonished, too. When I walked in he said,"Well look who it is! Miss I Get Everything I Want." I reminded him that I've had things I didn't want, too.

So $500 AND $500. I got to live AND I get to have a baby. I believe in miracles. I feel so loved and blessed.

I'm 3 months along and had another ultrasound today. Baby was sucking its fingers.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sunday, November 7, 2010

My Mom

Last Monday, My mom entered the Missionary Training Center in Provo, UT. She's serving a one-year mission for my church in Rochester, NY. I'm so proud of her that I could burst. Here is a lady that lost her husband 15 years ago when her youngest was only nine years old. She has worked so hard to provide for us and get us all safely out the door. She retired from teaching last year and her last little chicken moved out this year and so what did she do? Revel in her new-found freedom? Sleep in each day and eat bonbons? Nope. She has done service by indexing her brains out - to the tune of about 140,000 names (that's about 2300 hours of work!) . Then she submitted her mission papers and was on her way. Wow.

She has always been such a good example to me. I can't count how many times I walked into her room to find her praying or reading her scriptures. She always has. She has always served with all her might in her callings and found a way to enjoy each one - and made it so others enjoyed it, too. When she was Stake Camp Director, my house was filled with camp for almost a year. Camp crafts and shirts and bandanas and anything else she could think of. She worked on it every day. One year she and I searched for hundreds of "apache tears" for hours and days so that she could make necklaces for every girl to go along with a spiritual lesson she had come up with. The years she was at camp were the most fun ever. When she taught Gospel Doctrine, she packed the house. When she teaches, she gets so into it that she claps her hands and jumps up and down. You can't help but become passionate about the things she's passionate about.

When she used to teach school, she would do trivia with her students if they had spare time. When they got a question right, she'd put a gold star on their forehead. It was a huge trophy to walk around the high school with a sticker on your face. All her students love her. Most of the entries in my yearbooks say,"Have a great summer. Your mom is the funniest, best most awesome teacher EVER!!!!!" It didn't bother me because I felt the same way.

She has a knack for seeking out and loving the unloved. The kids who had gotten themselves into trouble with drugs or other lifestyles seemed to gravitate to her and to our house. She loved them all unconditionally and I'm sure has helped and impacted hundreds of lives for good. Some of them even lived with us from time to time until they stole all our credit cards and held up the police in our house with a BB gun. But that's not her fault. It's a small price to pay for the good she did for the others.

Last month she went with me and my family on a cruise. Some people wouldn't be able to take their mom or mother-in-law on an intimate trip like that but she was AWESOME. She was so much fun and wasn't afraid to do or try anything. My kids would run into the room and instantly look for her to tell her of their adventures. She is the most fun to tell things to. She is a gusher. Preslie is in love with her and still talks about her constantly. Having her with us made the trip 100 times better than it would have been without her.

She has only been gone a week and I have actually spoken to her and texted her a bunch, but even so, there's a void. I miss her. She is having a blast and has fallen in love with the "Preach my Gospel" manual. I don't have to miss her for long because we're going to go see her and stay with her in Brigham Young's New York home for Thanksgiving. Lucky us. I can't wait.

If you want to keep up with her on her mission, Mel has set up a blog for her:

PS She doesn't read this blog, so if you think I'm writing this stuff to kiss up to her, you'd be wrong. I have held the "favorite" position since birth and don't need to flatter my way into her good graces. So there.

Monday, September 13, 2010

How I know...

This is how I know the angels in heaven want me to index.

I got the message, angel-friends and I will keep on keepin' on.

I promised myself many, many years ago that if I were ever to be blessed/cursed with twins that I would name them Lady Elaine and King Friday. From Mr. Rogers.

There are no coincidences.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Happy Shark Week, everyone!

And to those of you who don't celebrate for religious or other reasons - merry large fish holiday. We DO celebrate in our family. We celebrate the 3rd eyelid of a tiger shark and the fact that they are the trash compactor (merry recycler to you greens) of the seas. We root for the rubbery mass of sawing teeth that jump 10 feet out of the water instead of the big brown-eyed furry cuteness it's trying to eat. We draw sharks, we hope of sharks, and we eat fish all week.

To celebrate this year, beyond the usual watching of all things cartilaged-fish, we did more. On Wednesday, the Young Women from my church came over for a Shark Week pool party. We wore fins on our heads (or tried to) and hunted down 100 gold fish that mysteriously were in there. It was a way we could swim a mile in a shark's shoes. Empathy. It was really frustrating to be chasing a fish only to have it dart out of reach at the last second! (87 of the fish reside happily in the pond now - a much better life than that of normal feeder fish)

Friday was Ultimate Sharkalicious Meganight. It was so Mega that my aunt Rosemary and cousin Adrienne drove two days to be here for it. Nicki made Ultimate Extreme Super Shark cupcakes with the kids - they only took about 5 hours. We ate fish tacos and made our own Shark Week t-shirts. Jaymeson rigged up a projector and screen outside and we were able to watch AIR JAWS from the pool with all the lights out. And Mythbusters Shark Edition:
  • Tickling a shark's snout WILL hypnotize him.
  • Magnets DO freak them out.
  • Playing dead doesn't work and you probably won't have enough sense to poke a shark's eyes out while being eaten.
It gives you such a warm feeling to know the true meaning of Shark Week and even more - to apply it in your own lives.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The faith of little ones...

In the car today, Mason (6!) and Preslie (3) were discussing which of their suckers was better.

Mason's was blue.

Preslie's was mango.

Finally, Mason yells,"I DON'T LIKE MANGOS!!!"

To which Preslie says,

"OH YEAH??!! Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the day. Please bless Mason will LOVE mangos..."

Monday, March 8, 2010

Time Travel

I'm going to go into the future to when time machines are invented and then go back to last friday to warn myself about dropping my iPhone into the toilet. This plan is brilliant brilliant brilliant!

Monday, February 8, 2010


I wish I could post a bunch of pics, but alas, I forgot my camera.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A New Job?

I applied for a new job today.


It's not in design. It's not in art. Here are some sample questions from the test I will have to take next month:

1. Multiply the numbers below:

1.5 x 6.3

A .945

B 9.45

C 94.5

D 945

2. In the set of numbers below, choose the number that

does not follow the pattern.

... 40, 140, 239, 340 ...

A 40

B 140

C 239

D 340

I hope I can find my thinking cap that day. I actually called to see if I could volunteer and they said,"we don't take volunteers - but we'll pay you." So I guess I'll do it that way. I want to be a Census Taker. Seriously. It's on my life passport just waiting for a stamp.

It's because of Indexing. Indexing is a volunteer effort going on all over the world through the LDS Church to digitize all of the old handwritten records - censuses, death records, marriage licenses, etc. so that people everywhere can search them (for free) and find their ancestors. I started doing it at the end of last summer and quickly became addicted. It's fascinating. Here are some of my favorite things I have come across:

A 40 year old woman with a 16 year old husband... with a 3 month old baby and somehow a 6 year old daughter... I'm pretty sure that was scandalous even in 1920.

Stars name their kids the craziest names. Meet Rob Lowe. He named his daughter Lowe Lowe.

This guy was born "At Sea"

And this is my favorite name: True Love Hall. Her Grandson was named Brownie.

C'mon. That is a good time, right? My addiction led me to a new calling in the ward: Indexing Czar. So now I have to motivate the people at church to love it as much as I do. Some people love it even more. We have indexed almost 65,000 names.

I write stories in my head about the names I index. Like the "boarders" who have secret affairs with the "servants" without the Head of the household even noticing. But what did he think would happen when they are all the same age living in such close quarters? Sometimes the stories are already there. I feel sad for the 30 year old black widow in Louisiana in 1920 with seven kids. None of them could read or write. When I get my flux capacitor fixed - I'm going back in time to help her. Poor thing.

It has gotten me thinking about this year's census and about the stories and crazy things that are happening RIGHT IN MY TOWN! I really want to know. So I know I'm crazy, but this summer I hope to be going door to door and writing everyone's information with really illegible, horrible handwriting so that future indexers will spend extra time scratching their heads and wondering about my little town.

(NO, Melanie, I won't get killed and plastered into a basement wall. What is wrong with your brain?)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Hills

Hey. So...I don't know, right? Maybe you don't. I'll fill you in.

We went to visit Marilyn on Friday and had another great chat with her family. They are great people. ("I have only just met you but I love you."a la UP) After we left they called us to tell us that she had passed away. Then my heart was broken. Not because I was close with Marilyn, but because I didn't want them to have to go through that. Too sad. Also, I couldn't help but "liken" the situation to myself. They had a beautiful collage of Marilyn and it was amazing how much she looked like my mom. Same hairstyles, same clothes - they grew up in the same time bubble. I couldn't help but think about what they must feel like. Then I was not ok. I couldn't live a minute without my Mom and right then I made her promise me that she would live forever. Her answer came via text and it was while she was driving, so I don't know how sincere she is. Shame on her. But I forgive her because I love her with all of me and then some.

I remembered the feelings I had when my own dad passed away from cancer when I was 17. Lexi came down into my room early one morning and simply said,"He's gone." It was as if the emotions Relief, Grief, Peace, Longing, Happiness, and Wonder were blended up for me and I drank them down. The result was ok-ness. Peace prevailed. People came over and awed that we were not crying. But the prayers of our friends and the love of a sorrowful Heavenly Father, whom I believe only took my Dad because He needed him more, buoyed us up and carried us around through that time. Hearing all the stories and seeing all the people whose lives Dad touched was uplifting and happy. Now I'm on the outside looking in - feeling the same way the people who watched us felt. I'm wondering how Marilyn's family will get by. They just will. What choice do they have? I hope they will have the same feelings and help we had.

I also remember when the prayers and thoughts and donuts and visitors slowed down and eventually stopped. It was a physical feeling. Like we were set back down on the ground. It taught me to try to keep those going through troubles in my thoughts long after the commotion dies down.

To clear my head and simultaneously torture myself, I went for a long run. I thought and thought and thought, not noticing what was going on around me. Suddenly, everything felt easier. I felt almost... good? I pulled out of my thoughts and looked around. I had just finished climbing a long, ugly hill and was on flat ground. I wanted to kiss it. "Thank you for being flat", I thought. I realized that I wouldn't care at all if the ground was flat if I hadn't just climbed that hill. I hate hills. They're the worst. But they sure make you grateful for the flat ground. I'm sorry that we have hills in our life. I've had a few big ones and some other more rolly ones. They weren't any fun but they made me stronger and more able to handle the ones that are inevitably coming up. They also made me grateful for the times when there aren't any and put into perspective the size of the ones I do face.

Mary Beth and Joe and their families have to face a giant hill. I wish I could give them a ride. I wish they didn't have to do it at all. I guess all I can do is keep praying that they'll have the strength and endurance they are going to need.

And maybe bring them some socks.

Monday, January 4, 2010


This is the part of the blog where I share too much. I give too much away. But this is who am and this is what I do. Buckle up.

I love animals. All animals. Not in a PETA-no-meat-save-the-leafy-seadragon way but still. There is much love. My last hermit crab that the kids HAD to have but forgot about died last night and I can neither confirm nor deny shedding a tear. Hey - I cared for those little guys for almost three years. The one named Don'tDie ... ahem... did last week. And then the one with his shell painted like a creepy eyeball had his heart fail him. Maybe due to loneliness. Maybe because he had no water. I guess we'll never know. But I digress. Back to my love of animals. I had 174 dogs and 1,215 cats growing up. A few ferrets. Dozens of birds. Turtles. Fish. Lexi had a hamster - cat #807 ate him in the dryer. I loved them all. Even when we sent the kittens down the stairs on cookie sheets covered in bowls - it was out of love.

Anyway, one of my favorite things about my house is that it's surrounded by six acres of woods. I have deer, possums, raccoons, foxes, cardinals, bluejays and more. I give all my leftovers to them. I know I shouldn't - don't lecture me. It's freezing out there! I hate to think of them cold AND hungry. I have a white owl that hoots (hoos, really) outside my window at night. I love her/him. I love them all. And I have forced my kids to love them all as well. Our favorite is Charlie the rockchuck/marmot. He is huge and fat and adorable. I bet he weighs 35 lb. Not squirrel-sized - more like huge beaver-sized. Since the day we moved in, he has been hanging out in the front yard every day. We keep binoculars by the front windows so we can watch him use those little black hands hold things and see his huge belly spill over his feet not unlike a daddy penguin. (Penguins are soo soft. I have pet one. I love them, too.)

Every day, when we'd come home we'd pause to let him undulate back to his hideout before driving up to the garage. "Hi, Charlie!" Preslie and Mason would yell. (I know, I changed tenses - forgive). Then one fateful day (I hate fateful days), I was driving to the Y and I'm not sure how I knew because there wasn't a thump or sound, but I stopped and looked in the rearview and there was Charlie. Laying on the driveway. THe kids started screaming, "CHARLIE! CHARLIE!" as I ran out to him. He wasn't squished but he had a bloody nose. Did he run into the back wheel of the car? I have no idea. He was still breathing and I was a mess. I called jaymee crying my head off. I can't even think about it now. So sad. So, I pet him until he stopped breathing (he was SO SOFT!) and then went to the Y and sobbed to Krista that I couldn't stay because I hit Charlie. I went back home and called Mami because I was broken. Her kids loved him, too.

In the garage I found a shovel and as I walked out, there was Krista with her kids (that she pulled back out of kidcare RIGHT after signing them in), a shovel of her own and a bouquet of flowers. A minute later, Mami and her girls were here, too. I told Sienna to write something and that we'd have a funeral. I'm pretty sure Mami and Krista aren't big animal people but they pretended to be for my sake and I'll love them forever for it. I really was a mess. So we picked him up (so soft!) and carried him to our grave under the treehouse. Sienna read her poem:

Charlie the Magnificent Rockchuck

Charlie the Magnificent Rockchuck
When people see him they fall into a daze
And now his life is done,
But when I look back I am I amazed,
At the times he came into our yard.
And, I swear, I saw him smile.
I can't believe he's gone for good,
But I'll have to get through this trial.
He'd run back into his little hole,
Although we'd want him to stay.
But we all knew that
we would see him the next day.
We will remember him forever.
From our hearts he will not go.
And when I look into our yard
He's still there, I know.

When she finished, HUNDREDS of birds flew in and landed in the trees right above us. Mami suggested that each kid say something they liked about Charlie. Even with my deep love for him, I thought that was silly since we only ever watched him. The kids surprised me with their thoughtful answers. They said things like, "He was always there when we got home from school - kind of like he was waiting to see if we were ok." or "I like how he'd sit up and use his little hands to eat." and "He was so happy." He was happy. I don't know how we knew that, but he was. Mason said we could ask Heavenly Father to ask Grandpa Ron if he could take care of him. Camryn said a prayer. In it she said,"please bless that we won't always be as sad as we are right now" and "please take care of him in heaven until we can see him again". So sweet. When we all said amen, the birds got up all at once, flew around the tree in a circle and flew away. Seriously. It was an amazing sight. Like a military "fly-by".

I'm really sad still, but it gave me a lot of thoughts for my mind to nosh. First and foremost being the quality of my friends. They didn't mock me. They just dropped everything to "mourn with those who mourn". It touched me deeply. I also have pondered why Charlie made such an impact on us when we really didn't interact with him all that much. I've decided that my life is filled with Charlies. A Charlie is someone who makes a difference just by existing and being happy. I'm lucky to live in a semi-small town. I see many of the same people every day. Some are Charlies. There is a crossing guard down on State and Smiley who waves and smiles at EVERY car that drives by. Every time. My kids make me roll down the windows so he can see them wave back. Have I ever spoken to him? Nope. Would it impact me greatly if he passed away? Absolutely. Another one I thought of is Claude at the Y. (My kids call him Clog). He's a cute man that volunteers in the kidcare every Wednesday holding babies. It melts my heart. I don't have any babies for him to hold or know the babies he is holding, but I love him for it and I hope he lives forever.

I want to be a Charlie. It is one of my goals to really be part of my community even if it just means smiling at everyone I see. I can wave at the cars that don't hit me when I go running. I can take treats to the girls at sonic at Christmas. I want to help and be happy for the rest of my days so that just maybe I'll get my own "Charlie" bird fly-by.