Monday, May 23, 2011


it looks like the laws of the universe decided that we were getting bored, 
moving into our new home, 
graduating kindergarten this week, 
getting ready for the new baby,
still trying to find a lawyer who can help us fight the DB's that rented us the last home
and trying to plan out some fun for the summer.

poor caleb fell off of his new birthday bike, 
after only having it in his possession for a mere 24 hours
and broke his arm.

he was surprisingly brave throughout the night.
i say "surprisingly" because when caleb stubs his toe,
the entire neighborhood hears about it.

he'll get his official cast when the swelling goes down,
and will figure out how to navigate around with one arm.

until then,
i guess i will cancel swimming lessons.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


she asked us, "have you ever been lost before?"

and i was reminded of a memory

of when i was once lost.

i was about 15, and my family had taken a summer trip out to the oregon coast, one of my most favorite places i have ever been.  even more favorite than hawaii, so that is saying something.  the ocean in oregon, specifically a place called haystack rock on cannon beach, is my idea of heaven.

**picture found through google images.

beautiful, oui?

as soon as we arrived, we checked into our hotel and then had driven the short distance to spend time on the beach. 

we spent the afternoon throwing frisbees and exploring.  after a while, my sister, mom and grandma had wanted to relax so my dad, brother and i left them sitting on the sand and took off to go further down the shore, past haystack rock.  as we were walking, we would occasionally turn around to see who could find the rest of our family first.  their forms became tiny spots on the beach as we kept going, but each time we turned around we could eventually see them in the distance.

the sun started to go down and even though we were in the summer months, it began to get cold.  we decided we should start heading back toward them, and toward the car.

but our hotel was so close to the beach, and at this point we were closer to our hotel than we were to the rest of my family.  my dad and brother decided they wanted to just walk back to the hotel, so i volunteered to go back to let my mom know.  i loved that beach and wanted to prolong my time there, even if it was only for an extra 20 minutes or so.

we turned around again, raising our hands to shield our eyes from the remaining daylight, searching for the 3 small figures.  it took a moment, but eventually we found them again.  my dad asked me several times if i was okay with the situation and could make it back on my own, and i reassured him confidently.

we said good-bye and i began to take off back down our initial pathway, keeping my eyes on the area i was heading toward.

it was a long walk, and there were people scattered around me, but i smiled to myself as i took off my sandals and felt the cold water on my feet.  i watched children building sand castles and couples holding hands and families playing, and i was completely content.

as i got closer i to where my mom, sister and grandma should have been, i realized that i had made a mistake.  the 3 figures we had pointed out so far back actually wasn't my family at all.  they were strangers.  i wasn't too worried though, and thought that we had just probably gone too far to see them, so i needed to keep going and i would run into them eventually.

i walked for another 10 minutes, until i got to a point that i knew was no longer familiar.  i hadn't been here before, which meant that i had walked too far.  which meant i should have passed them, but i hadn't.

i turned around, searching the beach again.  by this time, it was dusk and many people were leaving as the air temperature continued to drop.  i figured they couldn't have left, because they would have thought we were coming back and would be waiting for us.  but i couldn't see them.

as i looked around, i tried to remember my surroundings when we had first arrived.  what did the street look like that we had parked on? was it close to a restaurant?  a bike rental shop? that blue house?  but i couldn't remember.  to me, all of the streets looked basically the same.

i started walking again, this time back again the other way, hoping to have just missed them the first time.  i laughed to myself at how awful i am with noticing my surroundings, and being aware.  i still struggle with that now, and have often found myself in crowded parking lots, searching each row for my car if i don't take a mental note of where i have parked.  so this time as i turned back once more, i tried to find points or markers along the way so i could keep track.  i walked further away from the water and closer to the edges of the streets to try to see if i could spot our van.

it was dark now, and those remaining on the beach were lighting bonfires, huddling around to keep warm.  i had a light jacket on and shorts, and my arms and legs were covered in goosebumps.  my bare feet were covered in sand and water and were freezing.  i folded my arms across my chest to try to keep myself warm, and kept walking.

i knew by now that my mom, sister and grandma had left.  there was no way that i could have missed them, and that they could have missed me walking by so many times.  when that realization sunk in, i started to become nervous.  i wasn't sure what to do at this point.  i didn't know the name of our hotel, let alone the room number or even the remote address.  as a small child i was taught that if i ever was lost, to return to the initial starting point and wait there.  but it all looked the same now. i didn't have the vaguest idea where the starting point was.

the only solution i could come up with was to walk back in the general direction of the hotel, and ask the next group of people i ran into or passed for help.

the beach was basically deserted now, so it took a while to pass anyone.  i could hear them before i could see them, off in the distance, their voices carrying in the dark.  i squared my shoulders back and put my chin up, hoping to come off more confident than i felt as they neared me.  as they came closer, i could make out forms in the darkness.  there were 6 of them, all men.  i heard their glass bottles clinking and their words and laughter were more audible.

"hello," i said, when they were about 10 feet from me.  "i need some help, please."

the group went quiet, and stopped walking.  my heart started beating quickly. 

i tried to control my shaky voice as i said, "i'm lost and can't remember the name of my family's hotel.  they're looking for me. and i need some help.  please."

i couldn't see their faces in detail, but i could tell that they were looking at each other as i spoke.  a couple of them took some steps closer to me.

"well, suuure.  we'd be happy to help you.  we're just here having some fun on the beach right now, why don't you join us first and then we'll walk you back to your hotel?"  one said to me.  he was taller and held out the glass bottle to me that he'd been drinking from.  the other guys stepped forward and formed a loose semi-circle around me.  a couple of them laughed quietly. 

i was scared and felt sick to my stomach.  i backed up, mumbling a weaksauce "um, no, thank you" and turned around to start jogging away from them.  i was afraid they would follow me, but luckily they just started laughing loudly, and went stumbling off in the opposite direction.

well after that experience i was terrified, and lost any nerve i had previously had to approach a stranger for help.  i stopped jogging, sat down in the sand and started to cry.  my calf muscles ached, i was freezing, hungry, tired and overwhelmed.  i imagined that my family was probably pretty frantic looking for me.  i decided to pray for help, to be found, or to somehow miraculously find the hotel.  

after a couple of minutes of crying and praying, i calmed down, wiped off my face and stood up.  i started walking again, even though i had no idea where i was going.  i just kept walking, farther and farther down the beach.  i don't know how long i walked or how much time had passed, only that my feet were carrying me and i trusted them.

i came to a place on the beach where i was completely alone, and couldn't see another human or bonfire anywhere.  to my right was the water, the tide had come in and it was high as the waves washed closely to me.  to my left were very dimly lit streetlamps, with houses that had an occasional window glowing a small amount of light for me to see by.

i turned onto one street, not knowing why and eventually came to the end of it. i stopped walking forward, and turned to my left. my footsteps sounded loud on the pavement of the silent street.  when i got to the end of that street, i turned right.  still unsure why i did this, i decided not to question myself and just keep going.  

i crossed one street, turned left, then crossed another.  my body moved automatically, without me guiding it.  

suddenly, i saw something familiar.  it looked like the hotel we had checked into!  only i was approaching from the back of it instead of the front, so i wasn't absolutely sure.

"oh please, oh please,"  i said hopefully to myself as my steps grew quicker. 

i came around the side of of one of the buildings, and realized that i was standing directly outside of my family's hotel room.  i was shocked, and couldn't remember how i had even gotten there, especially because just an hour or so before this, i had no idea what our room number even was, let alone how to find it.  i just knew this was it.  i heard voices inside, and knocked on the door.

it opened, and inside was my family.  my dad wasn't there, he had gone out looking for me on the beach.  my mom was upset, my grandma was crying.  we hugged, and then i lay down on one of the beds under a blanket to get warm.  my heartbeat slowed, my breathing became deeper, and i said a prayer of gratitude because i knew it was by the grace of God that i had been led back to my family.

i had been lost, but had returned.

i was reminded of this memory on sunday, when in church we talked about the parable of the prodigal son.  i loved the honesty of the comments of others while the parable was being taught.  

one lady shared something that really made me think.  she was a really pretty lady in her mid to late 30's.  she said that while she was growing up she had a cousin who struggled constantly, making choices that affected his life negatively.  it sounded like he was a hot mess, dealing with substance abuse and other things and he ended up in prison for a time.  meanwhile, she shared that she was always the "good girl," choosing a life of ambition by putting herself through school, and then into a career, and had always tried to do what was "right," morally. but also found herself single through this life, without a husband or children.  she said that when her cousin was released from prison, he started living with a girl and they had a baby.  after a couple of years, they decided that they wanted to start going back to church and changing their ways.  they ended up being sealed as a family in the temple and are now in a completely different place in life.

as she spoke she said that she had felt at one time that it was unfair that her cousin, who had been so selfish for the majority of his life while she had tried so hard to be good, here he was being able to just turn things around whenever he felt like it and live the life that she was longing for.

when she said this, i realized i have felt these same things at different times in my own life.  looking at others and feeling like they should have to "pay" more than it looks like they are.  focusing on their mistakes instead of my own.  sometimes looking for justice to be done when someone has wronged me or someone i love, or just to see that life is a little harder on them because of their wrongs so they deserve it. 

it was humbling, to sit in my chair on sunday and realize that at times i have been the brother of the prodigal son.  the whining, complaining, poor-me, why-does-so-and-so-get-that-when-i-don't, entitled and prideful side of thoughts that i have given into before suddenly became glaringly ugly.  

in the lesson we also talked about the parable of the lost sheep.  the shepherd who leaves the 99 sheep in order to find the lost 1.  what about the 99 that were left there?  did that mean that the shepherd didn't love them as much, or wouldn't have done the same thing for them, if one of them had wandered off?  

of course he would have.

and even more importantly, hasn't each one of us been that one lost sheep at some point in our lives?  it doesn't matter which mistakes we made, we all make mistakes.  we have all struggled at some point in our lives.  and to think that someone else's mistake is bigger, or worse, than what we have made is just a whispered lie in our hearts to separate us and shift our focus from the truth:

that we are all the prodigal son.  

and we are all a part of that flock, and that when one is lost, we all want it to return, no matter the mistakes that it has made, and no matter the length and time spent that the shepherd has had to go to in order to find it.

when that thought hit me, and then the teacher asked the question, "have you ever been lost before?"

this was when i remembered that night on the beach in oregon, wandering for several hours alone in darkness and cold.  i also remembered different times in my life when i have not physically been lost on a beach, but spiritually and emotionally i have been.  those times brought me to my knees just as forcefully and desperately as that night of walking brought me to the sand.

and when i have gone to the right place to ask for help, i have always been picked back up, and returned home.  sometimes returning a little shell-shocked, or weary, or embarrassed, or i can imagine that one little sheep had felt.

but always returning. 

i'm not really sure why i wrote this, but i do know that it was a moment of clarity that i had on sunday that i didn't want to go away.  so that if i find myself wanting to write off someone because they've been cruel, or looking for "justice to be done" and that the person in the wrong suffers for the mistakes that they've made and hopefully has to live a life full of misery and endless amounts of financial hardship and mountains of stinky diapers {because right now, that's pretty much the worst it can get, in my opinion}, that i remember that they are a part of the same flock.  and right now they are lost and need to return.

and that i have been lost before too.

I ask you to read that story {the prodigal son}. It is large enough to encompass every household, and enough larger than that to encompass all mankind, for are we not all prodigal sons and daughters who need to repent and partake of the forgiving mercy of our Heavenly Father and then follow His example? 

--President Gordon B. Hinckley 

full talk here.

Monday, May 16, 2011

today, at 11:18 a.m.

he will turn 6.

every year on this day, i remember the moment i first became a mother. 

i wish it had been more enjoyable, but it was a terrifying moment.
unable to hold him or even see him, 
in seconds my room filled up with strangers in scrubs 
and the air was frantic. 

i heard the words,
4 pounds, 7 ounces.
is he full-term?
yes, 39 1/2 weeks.
low initial apgar scores, hmmm.
he fell out on the bed?  no one was here?

then confusion.

confusion from the experts helping you
is not a good sign.

then i heard them say, 

wait, wait a second.
no, there are 2...not 3.
a 2 vessel umbilical cord?
it's not on her chart.
did her doctor not know?

i tried to understand what they were saying,
and looked in their faces for reassurance.
but they wouldn't look at me.

there was no crying, signifying a healthy set of lungs, just a grunting sound.

i looked for ben, who was watching the nurses clean him.
his arms were crossed over his chest and he was quiet.

then, i saw the tiniest little foot i have ever seen, shoot up in the air.
and i heard the most spirited little cry i had ever heard.

it was the cry of a fighter,
of a little boy determined to make it to this moment
and to make sure he was here for so many more. 

and then my tears came.
minutes went by, 
tests were done,
and then i finally got to hold him.

i heard that same cry for months afterward.
the sound used to wear me down,
because all i wanted was to be able to calm him
and had felt so helpless.

what i didn't know then about his cry,
but understand now
was that caleb needed that strength
and ability to voice his pain
so that he could work through it
and overcome it.

this boy who beat the odds of so much
and struggled those first two years
still has that fighting spirit, combined with a sweet heart.

it is the perfect mixture.

i consider myself one of the luckiest human beings on earth 
to have been able to be around him for this long.

Before you go to sleep,
Say a little prayer,
Every day in every way,
It's getting better and better,

Beautiful, beautiful,
Beautiful Boy,

Out on the ocean sailing away,
I can hardly wait,
To see you to come of age,
But I guess we'll both,
Just have to be patient,
Yes it's a long way to go,
But in the meantime,

Before you cross the street,
Take my hand,
Life is just what happens to you,
While you're busy making other plans, 

"beautiful boy"
--john lennon

happy birthday my caleb!!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

moving. is. chaos.

i love this picture.

we are done.  

well, out of the moldy house, anyway.
now we are getting the new place together.
it has been a long and stressful week and a half, 
and there are so many people that stepped in to help us.

it makes me want to cry just thinking about it,
how grateful i feel.

because i know how sore and tired i am, 
with all that went on.  i pushed myself.
i did try to take it easy, 
and took multiple breaks
and moments to sit down
or just literally crash on a bed.
but i also know how many boxes i didn't lift and carry,
or even pack and unpack.
and how many meals i didn't have to cook,
and how many loads of mold-infested laundry that i didn't wash,
and how many cupboards i didn't fill,
and how many beds/shelves/dressers i didn't put back together.

and i know those who did do those things so that i didn't have to.

so an enormous thank you
to all those involved in our emergency move.

from the bottom of my heart, and the top of my big belly.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

the house that mold built.

 i don't know if this is what i look like now, 
but this is what i looked like around the same time 
when i was pregnant with leah.  
a little over 7 months.

since i last left you, much has changed.

here is the run-down, complete with bullet points.

  • the owner of the home & rental property management company refused to send out a professional to check and see if there was current mold in the home.  instead, they said that we could be released from our contract early, with no penalties, and with our full initial deposit.
  • we replied, with an email stating not only did we have rights as tenants to live in a safe & habitable home, but that we had some pretty severe health concerns that we were worried about.  and tried to appeal to them one more time, asking them to do the right thing and send someone out to just eliminate the thought of mold.
  • they replied with a letter from a lawyer, saying they didn't think it was mold, and that our only options were to either take their offer to vacate early, or any medical problems from that day on would be on our hands & they wouldn't be liable.
  • can i just say, at this point.....everything they're doing is totally shady??  i'm just going to put that out there.
  • we say that we will move, and cash our deposit check the same day that we enter a lawyer's office.  unfortunately we can't afford anything but the city's pro-bono lawyers, who take 2 weeks to contact us back.  the end of that 2 week window is next friday.
  • i set up an appointment to see an allergist, to hopefully get a mold allergy test done, just to make sure.
  • we frantically look for houses, and become somewhat depressed at our choices due to our financial situation.
  • we find a house!  really close to where we already live, same ward, same schools, and thank the will be ready by this week, and comes with what seems like a really decent owner.  someone who actually cares about his tenants and wants them to be happy and take care of his house.  a commodity these days, it seems.  we are both going down in size and going up in rent, but other than that we are happy with the change. 
  • i get sick again on thursday, a weird sickness.  started with a nosebleed, my first real one in years.  then the rest came on fast, dizziness, a strong headache, and sick to my stomach.  exhausted but unable to sleep.  
  • friday i go into the allergist, to be told that they are unable to do the actual mold testing on me because i'm pregnant & allergy tests can sometimes put people into anaphylactic shock.  fair enough.  but instead, they test my lung capacity.  and i test at 80%, which they told me was the minimum they accept.  they have me do a breathing treatment for 10 minutes, and then test me again.  to find that i am now at a 99%.  so i am diagnosed with full-blown ashtma, which i have never had before.  well no wonder i get dizzy and winded now when i climb the stairs.  i told myself i'd be a little more gentle with my self-esteem when i'm huffing and puffing on the treadmill in the future too. she prescribed two inhalers, a nasal spray and allergy meds & told me that if i don't improve within two weeks, i have to start a steroid.  which i guess they wanted to initially avoid because of the fetus.  immediately set up an appointment for the kids to get tested, since our insurance won't cover ben, but they will cover children.
  • checked into a hotel that night with the kids.  ben had to stay home to work on his paper, which we knew he wouldn't get done if he were in a hotel room with us.  at the risk of his own health, i guess.
  • my dad & stepmom were nice enough to help us cover the cost of a mold specialist, who came today and took samples from our air and our ceiling.  he immediately found moisture in our ceiling, from the leaks that happened in december & january, which were the cause for our concern that there was mold.  we'll have to wait one week for the results.
  • i brought the kids back to the house today for naptime/quiet time, so that i could try to pack.  my friend andrea came over, and we tore apart the garage, which had almost all of the belongings from the closet that actually had visible mold in it, found in november.  we worked for a couple of hours, which in that short time i had a major allergy attack.
  • andrea texted me tonight, telling me that she has broken out in about 20 or 30 spots on her body.  this has happened to her before.  guess when?  oh that's right, in november, when she was sitting on our couch & using a blanket from the moldy closet.  both she and ben got the same spots, within a day of each other.  we didn't know what had caused it, and at that time didn't even know there was mold. 
  • i am now back in the hotel room with the kids, and couldn't be more grateful for it.  they {meaning leah} are not the easiest to get to sleep in hotel rooms, but i will take it over their instant runny noses and coughing when we came home today.  and my allergies have cleared up.  so you do the math.
  • this week is going to be nuts.  trying to move out of a house when i can't live in it to pack it, while ben is trying to finish up his huge yearly paper, trying to frantically fight these completely dishonest people before it's too late, trying to take others up on their offers to help even if it means at the risk of their own health, and trying to stay sane through it all.

on another, bullet-free note, tomorrow is mother's day.  

being a mom is job full of a lot of responsibility.  
sometimes i get overwhelmed with worry that i'm severely messing it up.

but i watched my two kids tonight, as we were getting ready for bed, and reading and laughing and singing and saying prayers. 

i love moments where i can sit back and take a purposeful breather from my role as their mom and just watch them. 

and realize what beautiful, and good little people they are. 

they bring such pure joy to my life, 
and i am grateful that i am blessed to be a part of theirs.

i don't care what else happens tomorrow, 
as long as i get to spend it with these two.