September 27, 2019

being there for someone and a boob voyage

I met Danielle from a friend who I was introduced to by another friend. She needed someone to go to chemo with her. But you know when you are asked to help someone and they end up helping you more than you help them? That was this.

It's healing to turn around and be able to be there for someone in ways that other people were there for you or that you wish had been there for you. Because you get it now. And it is so nice to be with someone who gets it. Some people have to experience it to get it while some people just have that ability to relate and care (I had to learn compassion through experience).

Danielle is also an amazingly sweet and kind person. You feel her strength and goodness just by being in her presence.

E and I got to attend her "Boob Voyage" party a few days before her surgery. We ate and talked and showered her with gifts to help make surgery just a little bit easier.

I really haven't done a whole lot for Danielle. So don't think that. But my thoughts have been drawn lately to how to help people. Because life is rough sometimes and we all need each other. But sometimes we don't know know exactly what we can do. But I know that every small kindness offered to me meant the world. Really I think people going through cancer, or anything hard, just need people to be there and check in on them. But here are some concrete ideas in no particular order:

1. Texting is great. But also don't be offended if the person takes a long time (or doesn't ever) reply.
2. Cards in the mail.
3. Organize meals, bring meals, and gift cards
4. Small treats or gifts (window rainbow maker, water bottle, healthy or yummy snack, journal, pens, flowers, a drink, nailpolish, etc....)
5. visits (it can feel so lonely and isolating when you are recovering, what I wanted most was people to just hang out)
6. showing up to help clean
7. calling on the way to the store asking if you can pick something up for them or run an errand
8. celebrate with them, throw a party
9. go with them to appointments
10. check in on their spouse
11. send funny messages/jokes/videos--laughter is the best
12. don't ignore the situation, tell them how strong they are, tell them about a product that will heal them, or about your great aunt so and so who died

I saw this on someone's instagram and I thought "Yes!"

Just someone to say "yes this sucks and I'll be here with you. for as long as you need." And it might take awhile. That's the best.

This was also posted on instagram and I totally agree.

We all go through times of suffering and pain. Sometimes really, really intense pain or suffering. We lift each other by being there through the thick and thin of it. That mostly means patience with each other.

September 26, 2019

breakfast of champions

Let’s celebrate this morning because Brinna ate a bite of oatmeal without spitting it out.

Then the rest of her breakfast was bbq potato chips.

September 25, 2019

poof went the hair

One Saturday night, we gathered in my bathroom for a little hair styling.

Layla was a big fan of the hairdryer (sarcasm).

Crazy eyed Kyler couldn't get Layla to relax about it.

So Layla became my stylist instead while Brinna got her turn with the hair dryer.

Poof went my hair. Thank you, Layla!

This is what happens when you brush out chemo curls.

So then it was my turn to work on Kyler's hair. A little hair spray and some heat from a straightener and he got a little poof, too.

He loved my work so much that he went to the stake dance like that. I'm not kidding either.

I didn't get to go out to show off my poof, but I found this dress in the closet with sleeves to match the poof.

Layla used like ten rubber bands to do one final style on me for the night.

Having hair is just so much fun.

September 20, 2019

these days

I"ve been waking up before my alarm clock even goes off at 5:45am. (It's amazing how our bodies adjust and recognize those patterns.) I've never been a morning person, but lately I've enjoyed that little bit of quiet time to prepare for the day ahead. (And then I look forward to my 10 minute nap after lunch that I take most days.) E and I take turns taking the boys to school at 6:10am. On thrift store spirit day, I took a quick picture to remember this wild shirt that Kacin found at the thrift store.

Kyler's choice of shirt that day, "got meat?," wasn't much different than what he usually wears on his wack shirt wednesdays. Every Wednesday is thrift store day for Kyler. haha

Perry asked me to take this picture to send to Eric. Somehow the wooden swords that I thought I had put way up high were taken down and he and Kyler started a sword fight in the kitchen after dinner. Which led to a splinter in his hand. And a lot of tweezer work by me and Kyler to get that sucker out. He was in pain, but he was oh so brave about it. I think it helped that Kyler was right there with him patiently encouraging him and helping him and confidently digging into his hand to get the splinter out. Big brothers are amazing like that.

My fears of the instant pot have been validated.

Whenever Layla finds a balloon she goes to our sand box to make a "squishy." She fills the balloon with sand. Kacin tried to use her last one as a stress ball during his math homework, but because she had experimented with putting air with the sand into the balloon, and because of Kacin's unnatural strength (or anger towards his math homework), it exploded on him.

We spotted a beautiful rainbow one afternoon. To see it in person was incredible. Layla took my phone to the corner of our street to take some pictures. Because what a lovely world we live in!

September 19, 2019

Brinn's grin

That grin! She is usually in full on 'cheese" mode.

When we were newly weds I thought for sure I needed all my kids spaced two years apart. But I'm so grateful that the way my kids have come into my family has given us these big gaps. Brinna is so loved by her older siblings and they have such a special relationship. And having older kids is teaching me and allowing me to truly appreciate these days with my little one at home.

Brinna LOVES family night. She gets so excited when we tell her it is time to gather on the couch. I didn't know that Kyler took this when I was helping Brinna do her part during our family home evening. On our family rotation it was her turn to share her "testimony." I helped her tell everyone that she was a child of God and Heavenly Father loves her. That smile when she said those words!

September 16, 2019


Eric picked up my phone to play a song in the car and remarked on the fact that I have almost one thousand songs on my phone right now.

Well, a lot of dancing, singing, feeling, crying, running, laughing, and working has happened through that music. 

My favorite songs change every few days. Kyler and I swap a lot of music. He is currently on a 90s country music kick. Brinna requests Baby Shark over and over again (why in the world did she have to get introduced to that song?!). She also loves the “oh boy” song from Joy School. Layla has discovered Kids Bop—particularly the song “old town road.” Perry is still stuck on the Iron Man song by Black Sabbath. Kacin doesn’t usually care what music is on. And Eric is happy with the same music he listened to in high school.

I was thinking the other day about the music that kept me fighting during cancer. And then the music that helped me heal. There are so many more songs than this, but I narrowed it down to 20 songs that have made my favorites list when in need of inspiration and fighting during hard things.

I still love my Burn Cancer Burn playlist.

I had plans to put Layla in piano lessons this year. But I have felt such a strong pull to cut back on our classes and lessons. So instead of formal lessons I sit down with her a couple times each week for basic lessons. As she gets more advanced, and when we are ready to get more serious about it, I will start looking for another teacher. 

Brinna loves pounding away at the piano, too.

Layla has joined MCO this year. She came home the first day saying she is never going back and how dare I sign her up for that. After the second class, I caught her humming the music as she sat the dinner table. That gave me hope that it will be a really good experience with music for her this year.

September 14, 2019

time with cousins

It's been pretty exciting having our cousins back here from Japan. We love spending time with them. We were lucky enough to have them spend the night with us last weekend. I took Layla out of school for the afternoon and we visited the arizona science center.

"Look, mom! Flowers. Take picture."
Oh man, it made me question what I have turned my 2 year old into when she directed me to pull out my phone to take her picture here.

The rest of the time with cousins was filled with swimming and games and dancing and playing. We introduced these cousins to the joy of shaving cream baths. Cheap shaving cream, writing on the walls, covering yourself head to toe in that smooth white cream--they had some fun.

September 13, 2019

cross country

"Strength does not come from physical capacity. 
It comes from an indomitable will." 
--Mahatma Gandhi

Kyler is one of my heroes.

Dedication. Strength. Resolve. Power.

He has been getting up in the wee hours of the morning, braving the arizona heat, for the past few months to push his body to its limits and run with his cross country team.

He has been responsible enough to go to bed early, even to turn down chances to hang out with friends, so he could get enough rest in order to do well on his runs. He impresses me.

Cross country is tough stuff. You are pushing yourself to your limits physically and mentally.

He had his first official race. There were so many kids running from over 12 schools. He finished his three miles strong and set a good baseline for himself. We are so excited to see him continue to grow this season.

Classic Kyler pose for the camera face:

So proud of you, Kyler! 

September 9, 2019

Natural Bridge

It was time for another family adventure.

Kyler drove us to Payson. Which could've been adventure enough... ;)
Nah, he's actually a pretty good driver. He had some learning moments, but he handled driving the mountainous roads that long distance quite well. We are trying to give him all the experience we can before he gets his license in a few months.

We joined the masses and paid a visit to Natural Bridge.

A huge shout out to Kacin who was the best help on this hike! Seriously. He took Layla as his buddy and took good care of her. And with Brinna Lou on my back when I needed an extra hand climbing up or down a rock he was super courteous and conscientious of that.

Isn't it funny how the same great kid could then read the no climbing sign at the cave and then proceed to climb the cave... haha. Love him all the same.

Getting to the caves was pretty motivating for Perry. He was excited to explore.

Natural Bridge is a wonder! Such a beautiful place.

Brinn's new "cheese" face.

The place was crawling with people. But we braved the steepest narrowest passage (which was a questionable decision a few times, what with a little one on my back and a Perry who relies on other people for a lot of his climbing) and the slipperiest rocks to get as far into the bridge as we could go.

I'm so glad we did it! It feels good to push ourselves and experience as much as we can. Some of us had to push ourselves by being brave and stretching the limits of our arms, legs, and balance to climb while some of us had to push ourselves by slowing down and reigning it in and showing patience and caring for those of us who needed a little bit more time and help. Families stretch us each in different ways.

I love all of the varying personalities in this family of mine!

Oh, this girl! She did great hiking on my back, but loved the chance she got to get out on the rocks.

By the time we headed back up, the crowds were gone and a storm was rolling in. The wind was blowing and we saw brilliant lightening in the distance.
It was a perfect ending to our adventure.