I’m okay: the lie that nearly destroyed me.

I’ve decided to share a story with all of you. But before I start I feel like I need to issue an apology to some of you. To those of you who know me personally, or follow me on social media, I have lied to you. And I am sorry. But if it is any consolation, I’ve lied to myself as well. This whole year I have told you all that I’m okay. And the truth is I have not been. But I thought if I kept telling myself that I was okay eventually I would be. And I was wrong. This is the story of my decent to rock bottom and what I learned from the fall.

I started the year extremely optimistic. We had recently moved an hour away from our previous home. We switched schools, church, and everything else so my husband could take a new and exciting job in Salt Lake City. And even though our contracted buyers on our former house were being slow and difficult, things were looking up! We had a fresh start, a new beginning, and we were excited. We quickly and relatively painlessly adjusted back to living as a family of 5 again, as my husband had started his job the previous summer while the boys and I stayed behind to sell the house. Selling the house and raising kids by myself was extremely stressful, so I was so grateful to be done with that. The boys adjusted great to their new school and our 2 youngest sons celebrated birthdays within the first month of our arrival. We loved the neighborhood and the new church. We finally sold our house in February, and then I left to attend a family party in Portland. I arrived home a few days later, blissfully unaware of both the looming global catastrophe and our own personal tragedy that was about to arupt.

My husband and I had been my Grandparent’s primary caregivers for the past 12 years. My grandpa died 9 years earlier, but we kept taking care of my Grandma as best we could. Taking care of an aging relative is stressful, especially when other people get involved. But the advantages outweighed the disadvantages by so much, and I truly loved the time we spent with her. Even though she was mostly in an assisted living home, we did everything for her. And the decision to move and leave her there was a difficult one. But we weren’t too far, and we had already waited so long for this oppurtunity, so we had to do it. But just a few months later, right after I got home from my trip, hospice called me to say she was going fast. And a few hours later I held my Grandma’s hand as she quietly slipped away. And even though she was 102, I was completely devestated. I planned the funeral, which was simple but turned out beautiful. I dressed her in her traditional religious clothing, whispered how much I loved her in her ear (and asked her to hug my dad for me) and said goodbye.

But there was no time to grieve, because on the way home from the funeral we found out we were being quarantined. No more school, no more church, no going out. My husband was sent to work from home and overnight I became a teacher to my kids and a coworker for him. His job became more demanding from home and that added pressure on me to keep the kids under control. And shout out to all the teachers out there, because I couldn’t even handle my own kids, let alone a classroom full of them! I really tried my best to make sure everyone had everything they needed all the time and were happy. But was always discouraged because it felt like nobody was ever happy. And I was sure my kids were going to fall so behind in school. I was so worried about their futures. They were frustrated and scared and refused to do much of anything educationally, leaving me even more concerned. Getting them to accomplish anything was such a fight, sometimes it didn’t seem worth it. I was being pulled in so many different directions. I felt like I was a juggler with 1000 balls and absolutely had to keep all of them in the air. I feared dropping a ball and disappointing someone so much that whenever I did drop a ball it was always my own. But still I felt like I was failing. I tried to ease my own fears and anxiety of what was going on by learning new skills. I learned how to do family history and discovered one of my favorite actresses is my 7th cousin! And I taught myself how to sew and started making masks for anyone that needed one. I made 100s of them for friends, family, and local hospitals and nursing homes. In June I bought season tickets to anything close to us that was open, and took the kids anywhere and everywhere I could to keep them entertained. Except with 3 of them came 3 ideas of what they wanted to do. And whether I took one and not the others somewhere, or forced them all to go to the same place, I was always in the wrong. Someone was always mad at me and not afraid to tell me. In August we did escape on a beautiful vacation with my sister and her family all the way up to the Canadian border. We hiked, swam in the ocean, camped in a rainforest. It was magical! And it was there that I decided it was time that I started living my truth. I needed to be brave about the things I felt and thought, and stop worrying what other people thought. And the extent of those truths are definitely for another blog post, but they were big and it was life changing for me. Except with that came more anxiety. I wasn’t overly concerned about what my friends and family thought, because the ones I had told were accepting and still loved me. But the idea came into my head that I might be disappointing the people who were looking down on me from heaven. And with that idea brought more guilt. By my birthday, which was the end of August, I had been hit with another inner conflict. I turned 39, which was the first birthday I got to experience that my dad never did. He died when he was 38. I had officially lived longer. And that brought on more grief and guilt. And on top of that we were quickly approaching the 6 month mark of my grandma’s passing, which I had been warned was the hardest time. The warnings were correct. I was falling apart and my grandma wasn’t there anymore. I ached to talk to her and see her again. I missed her more that I could ever describe. I started having panic attacks where I would end up in tears. I felt like I was always walking around with millions of pounds of sadness, grief, shame, and anxiety weiging on top of me. And it was getting harder and harder to breathe. And when I wasn’t able to control the anxiety anymore with exercise and medications, I fell back on an old bad habit that I thought I had conquered earlier in my life….cutting. I started cutting to control the pain, except it was a temporary control. It always came back. And I told no one because I was embarrassed and ashamed that I couldn’t handle my life, when it seemed like everyone else could. Except there was one person I told…..

Very unexpectedly and right in the middle of everything I made a friend! Making friends has never been hard for me. I get along with 95% of all the people I’ve ever met. But quarantine had made meeting and connecting with new people a lot harder. I spent every moment of my life for months with my little disobedient boys in a town where I knew no one. So she popped into my life when I needed someone the most. She was a performer at the amusement park where we had season tickets. The day I first saw her I was cranky because I was tired and ready to go home. But the kids insisted on just one more ride. So I sat to wait for them and saw her performing from outside the theater. Her energy and passion struck me immediately. Not long after, we finally met and I adored her right away. She was warm and sweet and not afraid to hug me, despite stupid COVID! Nobody had hugged me since my Grandma’s funeral and I am a hugger, so that alone was healing. I had prayed for a friend and I was sure she was an answer to that prayer. I thought we bonded pretty quickly, we had so much in common. She would invite me to come see her sometimes when she was performing. And as dumb as it sounds, when I watched her perform or talked to her all of the anxiety and grief and guilt I was always carrying around with me would go away for a little while. I described her once as the eye in my storm. The calm little break in the middle of a catastrophe. She made me feel safe. I was so grateful to have met her. She had her own struggles with anxiety, so I felt like she understood me. She told me once I could talk to her if I ever needed to, and I believed her. I had incredible friends up at home. They were there for me through so much and always had my back. I could tell them anything. I guess I’d been spoiled by them because I expected her to be like them. Which was completely stupid of me. She couldn’t be that type of friend, nor did she want to be. Not really at least. And I should have never expected that out of her. The more I counted on her the more she pulled away. She began to lie to me, I know now to push me away. I literally have no idea if anything she told me was true. Which made me telling her everything about me even worse. But I would ignore the lies, make excuses for her, or just blame myself. I figured I drove her lie to me. But I needed a friend and liked her so much that I brushed everything off and kept trying. And that ended up being a terrible mistake.

My friends and family warned me to be careful. My husband begged me to not to get involved with her. He knew I was going to get hurt the first time he met her. He’s very intuitive! But I didn’t want to not have her in my life. I was so sure we were meant to be friends. I thought if I could be better or more interesting she would like me like they did. Until the day I realized how very wrong I had been. On a Friday night I excitedly got on to social media to give her what I thought was good news. But I couldn’t find her anymore. I was sick when I realized she had blocked me from everything. No final words or explanation. Nothing. I was blindsighted. I couldn’t figure out what I did and it was driving me crazy. So I contacted a mutual friend, who I had seen just one day earlier and a wonderful brief conversation with. I told her what happened and she immediatly blocked me too. I had no idea what to do. I didn’t sleep at all and cried all night. By the next morning I was deperate to know what happened, or at least be able to apoligize for whatever I did. If they had just told me anything about what I had done, but they hadn’t and not knowing was killing me. It made my head spin feeling like I had invested so much into a friendship and seeing it end so abruptly with no explanation. Eventually I looked for other ways to contact either one of these girls. Which made me say and do so many more stupid things. Really stupid things. I was not in my right mind. But the grief and the confusion took over and I had no control. My husband and I had planned on taking our kids to the amusement park so they could see the Halloween decorations. I kept that promise despite everything I was feeling. But during that visit our mutual friend facetimed me through instagram. I knew I shouldn’t answer, but I needed to know. It was hard for me to get a word in because she had so much to say. She used every insecutiry I had against me. I was a bad mother, a bad wife, a bad friend and flat out crazy. My friend’s mother attended the same gym as me, although we had had only one brief conversation that I’m sure she doesn’t even remember. So I was obviously a stalker as well. She just went on and on about everything that she and my friend didn’t like about me. At one point I did say I just wanted to know what I did because my anxiety was so bad I was cutting over it. She told me flat out “We don’t care. Cut deeper”. I was destroyed. Not only did the friend who I had been so grateful to have now hated me, but she also hoped I died. Or at least didn’t care if I did. She was the only one who knew how much I was hurting. But instead of talking to me directly she let her friend rip me apart. By the time I hung up the phone, my heart was completely broken and I collapsed. Quite literally actually. I passed out right behind the little theatre I had met this girl at only a few months earlier. When I came to a very sweet young worker helped me up, which I was very grateful to know not all the employees there didn’t care if I lived or died. But remembering my promise to my kids I dusted myself off and acted as nothing had happened. A bit later we saw my friend working there, and my kids got excited and started to wave. When she saw us she ducked away and hid. And I made an excuse for her then too so my kids wouldn’t get hurt. We played there the rest of the night. Then we came home, I read to them, put them to bed, and finally after so many months of keeping everything inside allowed myself to fall apart.

The days after the phone call were very dark. Losing my only new friend in such a harsh and heartbreaking way was the final block the knocked the whole tower over. Everything over the past several months that I had kept inside had boiled over and I couldn’t function anymore. All of the grief and anxiety and fear came at me like a tsunami and I felt like I was drowning. I was so broken, so ashamed, and felt so small. I had dealt with depression and anxiety so many times before, but this was different. It was intense and terrifying. I was cutting and having panic attacks. I was throwing up and had constant migraines. I was afraid to go in public, especially to the gym, because I was worried I would see one of them. As a once social person, I couldn’t even bring myself to go to a grocery store. People were suddenly all bad and I thought any one of them could hurt me. I would hide in my bathroom and cry for hours. Finally I went home to my mom and let her hold me as I sobbed. I told her all I wanted to do was go home to my dad and Grandma. And I meant it. I saw nothing in front of me, I just wanted to die. Everything I had been carrying around had worn me down to nothing. I wasn’t good enough for anyone, I wasn’t worth anyone’s time. I couldn’t make anyone happy. I just wasn’t enough. We went to the cemetery together to visit my dad’s grave. My name is printed on the back of his headstone. I always thought it was kind of creepy, but that day I found it comforting. I imagined as I traced the letters of my name with my fingers seeing my name on the front of a headstone. My very own headstone. I found out my mom still owned the plot right next to my dads and I begged her to let me have it, so I could be buried next to him. My mom wanted to take me to the hospital, but I didn’t go because I didn’t want to fight for my life. I didn’t care enough to get help. On the ride home that night I told my husband in detail exactly how I wanted my funeral to be. Then when we got home I packed up most of my belongings, so my family wouldn’t have to do it. A few days later, though still thinking I would soon die, my husband convinced me to call a crisis center. I was assigned a crisis advocate, who almost called an ambulance. But I assured her I was going to be okay, which I obviously didn’t believe. I cut myself every single day. I kept hearing those words in my head. “We don’t care, cut deeper.” My husband went through my room and bathroom every day looking for razors, but I always had more. There was blood on my bathroom floor, my carpet, and in my shower. It was on my bedding and clothes, and I started wearing long sleeve shirts in 85 degree weather to hide the marks. I tried to continue to coach and attend my kids’ soccer games and keep up with everything they needed to keep things normal for them. But then the night came that I was ready to die, I was ready to cut deeper. I was officially done. I couldn’t pretend or handle everything anymore. I sat on the bathroom floor, with pills in one hand and a razor in the other, prepared to end it all. But I couldn’t do it because of my kids. Not because I didn’t think they were better off without me, because I knew they would be. But I knew they would probably find me, and having gone through the trauma of watching my own father die when I was just 7, I feared it would damage them as much as it damaged me. I watched him take his last breath. I watched my mom start CPR. I watched the EMT’s work on him until a neighbor pulled me away. But I went back in after the ambulance took him and saw the gloves and tourniquets left on the floor. And his shoes and glasses set neatly in a corner, waiting for him to come back. That expeirience 30 years earlier is the only reason I didn’t die that night. I just couldn’t do that to my kids. That very night I dreamed about my Grandma. She came up behind me wearing all white. I grabbed onto her arm and begged her to never leave me. She had tremors from as far back as I can remember. And in my dream she said nothing, but patted my head with her shaky hand. It was so real I could feel it. I realized soon after that that she had appeared to me in that dream to tell me that she was always with me, and that she was still proud of me. But it wasn’t my time to come home, and I needed to stay. So I finally let my friends, family, and advocate rally around me. They called, texted, and visited every day. My sister and her family even came all the way from Washington to be with me. Even perfect strangers who heard one way or another what was happening offered me help and support. And with all these people backing me up, I slowly started to fight. I started going places with other people, so they could support me if something happened. Although I don’t know when I’ll be strong enough to go back to the gym. I handed over all of my razor blades, which was not easy. I offically retired from sewing masks because it was now a painful reminder everytime I tried. Plus I didn’t have any more sharp objects to cut fabric with. I began to rely on a faith I had almost completely given up on. And I started working with a therapist who is helping me learn to control my thoughts and anxiety, along with dealing with everything that happened this year in a more healthy way. He often tells me I’m the most level headed person he’s ever worked with, which helps me feel more confident in myself again and forget some of the harsh things that were said to me. And my family is working with a family member who is a therapist too to know how to help me. I’ve even been making new friends. Women who are my age, over lying and playing games, and in the same life situations. I have armies of people standing behind me, ready to defend me or help me fight. I am so blessed with so many good people who actually care in my life.

My journey through this is not over. Its only just began. I still get sad and worry about things I can’t control. I still get mad. I still cry and listen to those voices in my head that tell me I’m not enough. I still fight the urges to cut. I still have panic attacks to the point where I can barely breathe. This will take me a long time to overcome. But I’m still fighting. And I’m still reaching out and accepting help. And when I do fully heal I believe I’ll be so much stronger. I’ve been asked if I regret trying to be friends with someone who ended up hurting me so much. The answer is no. I regret some of the things that happened of course, especially how it ended. But she made me smile when the world felt so heavy. She gave me much needed breaks from everything swirling around in my head. Knowing her helped me hang on just a little longer. And I am still grateful for that. I wish she knew how much that meant to me and how much that saved me. But she’s made up her mind who she thinks I am, and all I can do is move on. I have learned some very valuable lessons from all this. Things that are important enough to make me share this journey.

1: Words Matter! Words hurt just as bad as physical pain sometimes. And a word spoken in anger or frustration can make a permanent mark on someone who is struggling. You don’t know what someone might be going through, and your words may be literally the difference between life and death. What you say may seem small to you, but can change a person’s whole world. So choose your words carefully. 2: I have an incredible support system. I am so extremely lucky to have so many amazing people in my life. People who love me and want to protect me, they’re truly my world. Which is why it seems so crazy now to think about how hard I fought to keep one person in my life. And I don’t know if she ever really liked me. It’s been suggested that she didn’t want a friend, she wanted a fan. And I know as heartbreaking as that is, it’s probably true. But I have learned to hold on to the ones who love you. And don’t waste your time on the ones who don’t. 3: (And most important): If you are struggling, say something. Reach out for help. Don’t tell everyone you’re okay even though you’re not. You just never know when a hateful conversation will happen or someone you care about will dump you without a word. And if you are holding things inside that are already slowly destroying you, something like that can make you tailspin. And If you are considering suicide….just stay. I met a man recently who told me to stay for the surprises. You never know what’s lying around the corner. What if I hadn’t stayed? What would I have missed? What’s waiting for me still out there? The same man told me a story about how on the 2 year anniversary of his suicide attempt he proposed to his girlfriend and became engaged. He’s so happy now! What if he never got to experience that? He has been such an inspiration to me. Life can suck sometimes. And I mean suck! But stay for your family, stay for your friends, stay for the surprises. Nobody and nothing is worth prematurely leaving this earth for. Talk to someone, reach out, and fight! Don’t hold it all inside and pretend everything is okay. Just stay!!

My name on my dad’s headstone
The plot next to my dads, where I thought I would be.
My favorite blade. I finally gave it up.
My sister and her family came from Washington to help me. We made the mistake of taking the kids to a corn maze!

Empowered but Free

Before I start, there is something I want everyone to know. I have 7 drafts of this post. I’ve gone over and over every word trying to find the best way to deliver my story and message without stipulating that its the best idea for anyone in my situation. In fact, I think this is a pretty rare outcome to an all too common experience. But it happened to me, and I think its important to share.

Unless you and I have never met, you probably know that I love Ellen DeGeneres! I love strong women, and Ellen is the strongest of all. When I was a preteen and teenager she taught me that you have to be true to yourself, no matter what anyone else thinks. As a young newlywed in a new town, her talk show sometimes was my only friend. And it got me through some hard days. And then of course there the saving my life part. Not figuratively, but very literally. She interviewed Maura Tierney (another one of my favorites) about her battle with breast cancer. 2 years later, right before my 31st birthday, I remembered that interview when I found my own lump. It was the reason I had it checked at all. And after being told by a medical professional that it was probably nothing and I shouldn’t worry about it, it was the reason I insisted on a mammogram. It was the reason I was diagnosed early enough with a rare rapid forming tumor to have a fighting chance. And its the reason I’m still here today. So obviously she means a lot to me!

But if helping me still grace this earth with my quirky, loud, opinionated, lets save all the cats attitude isn’t enough, she recently did one more thing for me. I think she saved my soul. Okay, I know that was corny! I was gagging a bit myself while typing it! But I don’t know if I have the words to describe it any other way. So if you’re not too grossed out, or just really curious how a television talk show host that I’ve never been able to even meet in real life can do all that, lets continue on!

For the past few years I have been very open about being sexually assulted as a child. I was 7 years old, still struggling from seeing my father die right in front of me a few months earlier, and deperate for the love and approval of a man. I was vunerable and clingy and too trusting. He was 21 years old, and had come to visit my family after spending 2 years out of the country. He assulted me in my home, and then left like nothing happened. But it did, and the affects of that day has followed me around for 30 years. I told, he was arrested, and I testified against him in court. I really didn’t know what happened after that, execpt he paid for a few years of therapy as I picked up the pieces and tried to be normal. What he did was a secret, I was too ashamed to say anything. I thought it was my fault, and I thought that everyone else would think that too. Then when I was 13, our lawyers decided that he had spent enough time with a felony charge and asked for me to decide whether or not to remove it from his records. I remember that day, sitting across the table from him and his new wife, listening to his explanation on why he did it. And then they asked me right in front of him of my decision. I didn’t know what I wanted, but I new what they wanted. So I agreed to remove it from his record, and I never saw him again.

The problem is that day has haunted me even more than the actual event. I have always wondered if my decision led to another girl getting hurt. That if I have been braver and not been such a people pleaser I could have protected somebody else. But I felt so pressured, and I felt like his happiness and comfort was more important than mine. Everyone wanted to fix his life, but mine didn’t matter. And I started to wonder if all those lawyers and therapists and every other adult with a clipboard I’d talked to over the years even believed it happen. Because I was sure they didn’t care that it did. That day made me feel very unimportant and I regretted ever doing it. Through my teenage years that regret turned into low self esteem and depression. By the time I was out of high school it was replaced by crippling anxiety and self doubt. In fact, I still struggle a lot with a little voice in my head telling me I’m not good enough, important enough, or special enough. And by the time I had become a mother for the first time it had turned into rage. A lot of people never saw it, but I always felt it. It was almost like an itch in the only spot on your back you could never reach. So eventually you just learn to live with it.

Then the Me Too movement started. Women were starting to stand up for themselves, and more importantly for each other. While watching these brave women come forward, I found my own courage and I started telling my story. It was both terrifying exhilarating telling a story that I had always kept a secret. I received several messages from friends telling me it had happened to them and they never told. And that they admired my bravery. But among it all I was discouraged on how angry I still was. And since I had no contact with my abuser, it made me even more angry thinking he was enjoying his life while I still had so many issues. Then last spring I came across the interview Ellen DeGeneres did with Savannah Guthrie. Now I’d seen this before when it originally aired, but this time felt different. And for all my fellow right brained friends who need a visual aid, I did include a link to the interview below. I got your back! Anyway, I know Ellen wasn’t talking to me in that interview, but it felt like she was. It felt like she was only talking to me, and that immediatly empowered me! First of all, she’s angry too. The nicest most generous human being in the entire universe is angry too. That was definetly a confidence builder for me! But then she said she hoped that she was empowering women, because we just can’t be quiet anymore. That really dug down deep in my little soul. I’m not a quiet person, and I’ve told my story. And I’m pretty sure I have that anger thing down! So what now?! Then it hit me…..I need to tell HIM everything I was both saying and holding inside. The person who hurt me so much needed to know what I had and was still going through. The concept was terrifying. But my girl Ellen DeGeneres had my back, so I knew I could do it.

Now this is where the story starts getting interesting.

First I had to find him. But thanks to the modern miracle we call social media, that was the easy part! He still lived close by where that fateful metting happened all those years earlier, so I found an address and knew it was him. Then I wrote a letter to him. A long letter full of 30 years worth of emotional turmoil. I mean I laid it all out there. How it affected the way I grew up, my relationships, my confidence, and the way I parented. I was surprised how the words just flowed out of my hand. And then I told him that there were still things I needed to know. And he was the only one who could answer those questions. And that he owed me at least that much. I dropped it in the mail the first day of summer vacation, and then I waited.

It was a very long summer! We found out we were moving a few weeks in, and spent the entire summer prepping our house to sell so we could move 2 hours away. As of now our house is almost ready to go on the market, and we’re praying we are able to sell and find something we can afford in our new town. But in late July, just as I had convinced myself that he wasn’t interested in talking to me, I received a text. It was him, and he was agreeing to answer any questions I had via email. It took me 7 weeks so compose an email full of every question I had to ever wanted to ask him. My anxiety skyrocketed as I studied every little word I typed. Even though the hard part was over I was a little scared over the answers I expected from him. Would they bring closure or more pain? Could I handle the truth after all these years? But I stayed brave and sent the email, and he got back to me right away. I want to share some of his answers along with my insights I got from these emails.

In my mind for all these years I envisioned him a bad man. He wasn’t bad when my family first met him of course. But obviously since the incident I only could envision him one way. An uncaring man who got away with it without any regrets. A man who never thought twice about me, even though I thought often about him. What I got was the exact opposite. He told me details about that day that I never knew. About the perfect storm of events that took place that day that ended with both of our lives changing forever. He told me about the feelings he had tried to fight off and the concerns that he shouldn’t have ignored. Now obviously I’m not going to say it wasn’t his fault. At the end of the day no matter the circumstances he made that terrible decision, and he took full responsibility for that. When I voiced concerns over how I felt that the way I dressed that day or the way I clung to him was why I felt the fault was mine, he was quick to tell me he never considered that for a second. He talked about his frame of mind during that time and expressed how much regret he had for his actions and decisions that day. He told me about his family and about the parent that it made him become. I asked him very specifically if he ever hurt another girl. And he confidently reported he never did. BUT….that we had both been lied to. The meeting was to remove it from his records, except they never did. It was reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor, which did help. But he’s carried this around everywhere he’s gone, or will go, for the rest of his life. He’s had to share this story more times than I have. And as for all those people and organizations who I thought protected his well being over mine, well I’m sure you can see where that went too! Nobody protected him. Justice was served.

As I read these emails, I felt a literal weight began to lift from my shoulders. It was the strangest feeling. It was like I could finally breath again. Like my mind was clearer. Or going back to that itchy back comparison, like someone just handed me an amazing back scratcher! One of those really good ones that your children won’t break when they sword fight with them! I realized that he will pay for this for the rest of his life, but I didn’t have to anymore. I can finally let this go and stop holding on to a past that I cannot change. When all my questions were answered, I had a new found peace I don’t think I’ve ever really felt. My back didn’t itch anymore! (Last time, I promise!) So I made one more decision. I told him that I forgive him. And I meant it. I’m letting this go. I’m moving on. It’s over.

Now referring back to what I said in the beginning of this, I know this is a rare ending to a sexual abuse story. And I am in NO WAY saying every victim, or even any victim, needs to do something like this. Seeking out the person who violated you to bombard them with questions can be dangerous and more harming in so many way. And nobody should have to forgive or move on if they don’t want to. A lot of offenders do not deserve to be forgiven, and never will. This is just my story. Its as unique as I am. All of our stories are unique, and all of our outcomes will be that way too.

But guess what…..I’m STILL angry! Like Ellen said, I’m angry that some people don’t believe victims. Or that they downplay the situation or the emotions that follow. I’m angry that in 2019, women are still afraid to speak up. They’re afraid to report their assults, and they’re ashamed that something so out of their control happened to them. I personally know people who still need to say something! I’m angry that we’re told to teach our daughters to dress modestly, so that the boys won’t be tempted. When instead we should be teaching our sons how to treat girls with all the love and dignity they deserve. And I expect I will still hear that bully of a voice in my head reminded me how not good enough I am. But I will keep fighting….fighting those inner demons and for victims of sexual assault. And I will not take the task I have of teaching my 3 little boys how to respect women lightly. This cause is near and dear to my heart and nothing will change that. Every woman deserves a voice and someone standing beside her. I hope I can do that for victims everywhere.

I’m so gratful for Ellen DeGeneres. I’ve dreamed of being able to thank her in person for so long. I’ve come close a few times too. A lot of people have told me to give up. She just too famous and too popular to care what she did for one single person. But I don’t believe that. And I can’t give up yet! In fact, when she announced her show was going on for 3 more year, I sat on my floor and cried! I had been worrying a lot about her show ending without me being able to really thank her, and her announcement gave me so much hope! So I will continue to try until the day finally comes. When someone has saved both your life and your soul, she’s worth waiting for!

 

 

Life lessons 1: to lead or to follow

I’ve been reflecting back on experiences that patterned the way I have decided to live my life. And I’ve decided to share some of those life lessons. When I was 18, in between graduating from high school and meeting my future husband, I took a trip to Hong Kong with my uncle and aunt. My uncle was working in import/export and took me along on one of his business trips. Growing up in a small town I didn’t have a lot of experience with big cities, especially ones as populated as Hong Kong! But on my first afternoon, we were busily weaving through a sea of people in the streets when I stopped to catch my breath and nearly started to cry. I was just so overwhelmed. My aunt, who I must add has made the decision (along with most her children) to no longer speak to me, said one of the most profound things I’ve ever had said to me. When I replied I can’t do it, she looked me in the eye and said “This is life. And you have to decide if you’re going to be a leader or a follower.” I made it through the streets of Hong Kong and ended up having the most amazing vacation of my life. I returned home, met Todd, and started a new life. And as I’ve learned to navigate though moving to other big cities, infertility, and other obstacles, her words have chimed in my mind many times in the last 20 years. I’ve always tried to be a leader because of those words, and I think being a leader has given me amazing opportunities. So even though we no longer have a relationship, I’d like to thank my Aunt Dee for this life lesson! So next time you find yourself in a situation that overwhelms you, ask yourself one question: Are you a leader or a follower?

Challenge accepted!

11 years ago Todd and  I made the decision to move from Las Vegas back to Logan. It was a hard decision to make. We had amazing friends, a good church to go to, and a lot of fun! But our 7 year battle with infertility along with the astronomical prices of housing had put my anxiety at an unsafe level and my health was being severely threatened. So we came home to Logan, where it had all begun for us years earlier, to lay down some roots. We bought our first home together, which seemed huge at the time, and found the best infertility specialist. Within a few months we found out Ben was on his way! That same summer my Grandparents followed us to Logan and we took on the responsibility of taking care of them as they grew older. In 11 years we’ve laughed, cried, fought, said goodbye to loved ones (human and animal form), and welcomed 3 little miracles into our home. We found strength from new wonderful friends, church members, teachers, and family being close by. It’s been quite a ride and we have created a lifetime of memories.

But the time has come for us to move on and create memories in a new home. Todd has accepted a new position in Salt Lake City, Utah. It’s not a big move distant wise, but it’s huge for us! Our children have only known one home, one church, one school. We have raised our children, worked hard, and taken care of my beautiful 101 year old Grandma while patiently waiting for an opportunity like this to come along, and now is finally our time! Our plan is to sell our sweet little home and relocate by September. Its a whole new territory for us moving with kids, let alone selling our home and buying a new one. We are anxious but ready to start this new chapter in our life!

My Grandma is still doing amazing. She is a serious Rockstar! 101 years old (101 1/2 if you ask the boys) and I swear she gets more beautiful with age. It’s been a lifechanging adventure taking care of her. It hasn’t been easy, but the good outweighs the bad so many times over. The boys have had a rare opportunity to have a lasting relationship with her, and for that we will always be grateful. And we are not leaving her alone. Several years ago we found a good place for her to live and have 24 hour care. She is safe and happy there and we trust both the staff and hospice care who helps her everyday. We will still work closely with them and will still come up weekly to make sure she has everything she needs.

We are so exited for our new adventure! And we are so grateful for all of the people who helped us make our memories here. Watch out Salt Lake City…here we come!

Live like Lizzy

A few weeks ago my little community went through an unspeakable tragedy. One that no community is ever prepared for. A beautiful vibrant 5 year old girl named Lizzy Shelley was taken from her bedroom by her uncle, her own flesh and blood, and went missing. The uncle was arrested within hours, but refused to reveal the location where Lizzy was. For days police officers from all over Utah and Idaho searched for her. And those people who weren’t able to search prayed….hard. Then finally 5 days later the uncle finally drew a map to her location and her little body was found. Our police chief openly cried during the announcement that she was found. And everyone who watched cried with him. Panic started to spread through the town. This doesn’t happen here. We’re safe here. But it did happen here, and nobody knew how to handle it. Quickly after that rainbow ribbons started popping up all over town. Lizzy’s favorite color was rainbow, because she couldn’t choose just one color. There were candlelight vigils and fundraisers for the community to show their support at. The funeral was private, as it should have been. But images of the tiny white coffin with rainbow butterflies spread fast. In an effort to try and pay our respects I took my kids to a spot on the cemetery route, and along with so many other families we watched the procession go by. There were hundreds of motorcycles, decorated with rainbows, that lead the procession. Then that very night, while attending an outdoor event with my family, we had a sudden 5 minute rainstorm. When it ended there were rainbows in every direction. You could feel her all around the valley. It was quite a sight and something I’ll never forget.

Lizzy’s death wasn’t random at all. The uncle didn’t have to break in or threaten to get her. He was invited into their home. And being completely honest, as a mother it is incredibly difficult to not judge Lizzy’s mother. She invited evil into her home. She knew he was unstable, she knew of his past history. He had been estranged from the family, even homeless at times. And he had struggled with substance abuse problems along with a long criminal history. But she invited him over to “drink beer and play video games” according to the local paper. And she went to sleep knowing he was still there. She neglected to protect her daughter from this evil person and his intentions.  I understand trying to mend torn relationships, putting the past behind you. But as a mother I’ve had to make hard decisions for my children to protect them. I’ve had to take people out of their lives to protect them from potential physical or emotional harm. Some of those people have been close friends or family members. I’ve missed out on parties or get togethers to keep them safe, even if the danger isn’t always prevalent. It isn’t always fun and it doesn’t always feel good. Sometimes I desperately want to let my guard down and participate in fun events. But its my job to keep them safe. We vaccinate our kids, lock up medications and cleaning products, and make them buckle up in the car. We make them brush their teeth so they don’t get cavities and bathe so they don’t stink and get bullied. And if you’re like me, harass my kids’ poor new teachers every year to make sure their safety procedures are up to date. So why wouldn’t any one of us protect them from people who could hurt them?

That being said, as difficult as it is not to judge her, it’s impossible to not hurt for her. There are no perfect parents in this world. I am most definitely not a perfect parent. I yell, swear too much, and sometimes ignore them to look at my phone. I get irritated when they ask for food every few hours and by 9 p.m. I don’t have 1 ounce of patience left in my body. Sometimes I go to bed and I cry because I’m sure I’m screwing them up for life. Parenting is really hard. Lizzy’s mother made a mistake. A really terrible one. We all do. Except most of the time our mistakes don’t take our children forever. She’ll have to live with that mistake forever. And that breaks my heart from her. Lizzy didn’t deserve any of this. She deserved to live a full life. But her mother didn’t deserve it either. Because no parent, no matter where on the “perfect level” you fall deserves this. I hope someday she can find peace.

If there is a silver lining to such a tragedy, it would have to be all the love that came from the people in this community. When we experience tragedies our town we experience them together. There is so much good in this town. Local restaurants and grocery stores donated food and drink to the searchers. Different events were held in Lizzy’s honor and pre-scheduled events donated their proceeds to her family. People decorated their homes with rainbows to remember her by, my house included. Even random people who just felt lost and confused would just post on our local Facebook page and people would chime in with support and resource options. The panic that was originally felt in this town was met with love and compassion. I was touched by the outreach, and I know Lizzy’s family was too. Our entire town was changed because of this event. I think we may be a little slower to anger, a little more patient. We might jump to support each other and help when we can. Or maybe we’ll just love and hold onto our families a little more. However we do it, may we always Live like Lizzy.

 

 

 

 

Fly for your life!!

I have 5 cats. I love these cats! And we have a great system. Every morning they head outside to be cats, and every evening they come inside so they don’t face the same fate as poor Luca, God rest her soul. Okay, actually what happens is I call for them and pace the house until each and every one of them is accounted for and safe. Luca being hit by a car clearly has had unfortunate lasting affects on me. But during the day they are allowed to be cats. Feeding 5 cats can get rather expensive. Feeding them, a poodle, 3 growing boys, and a husband is overwhelmingly expensive. So when we hit a financial snag, which happens at an unfortunately staggering amount of times still, the kids will always eat first. It’s not to say that the cats starve, but they survive on table scraps and their pure cat instincts over their regular food. Its how we found out they don’t mind tomatoes, but HATE broccoli. I can’t say I blame them. But sometimes they are sent outside with not quite as full bellies and they would hope, and they are left to be cats. They mouse for the entire neighborhood. And I think its great….as long as they don’t present the leftovers as an offering to their human leaders. Then it just gets gross and there is a lot of screaming and gagging, as well as the kids’ reactions! But sometimes, the prey needs a win. And this is one of those stories.

It was a typical afternoon. I had just picked up the big kids from school and they were doing their regular routine: fight and argue while attempting to complete their homework. I’ve learned if we don’t get it done as soon as they get home it won’t get done! So they’re screaming at each other and I’m doing what I spend 1/2 my life doing….laundry! When all of the sudden Micah says “Mama, Aslan has a bird!” I looked up and saw my gorilla of a cat running through the backyard with a beautiful large bird, flapping for its little life. I don’t know what got into me that day, maybe it was the fact that I knew the cats had regular food, but that poor bird was not going to die on my watch. I bolted out the door barefoot screaming at my unsuspecting cat to drop the bird! Our poodle, Piper chased after me. Now normally she’s a pretty stupid dog. Like barks at the wind, runs into walls, gets smacked around by 5 lb kittens kind of stupid. It’s okay, we didn’t adopt her for her brains! But today Piper was on a mission too! She flew out that door and started chasing Aslan, barking the whole way. When she caught up to him she nipped him right on the butt, which caused him to drop the bird! The bird started flapping and staggering around and I started screaming “Fly for you life little bird! Fly for your life!” And the bird did just that! It collected itself and got the hell out of there! All the kids by that point had gathered on that back porch at that point to see the show, and we started cheering as the bird landed in a high branch in a nearby tree!  Aslan gave us his best glare and wandered away. I have never been so proud of my dog! Which helped her out 5 seconds later when I stepped in her poop still barefoot. I’m pretty sure all my neighbors, people walking through a nearby parking lot, and the people in the daycare on the other side of the fence thought I was nuts! But I didn’t care! I mean, let’s be honest, I usually don’t care! But that day I really didn’t, because together Piper and I saved that bird!

Mama Ellen’s Halloween

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Yesterday was Halloween. As I sit here, eating my kids’ candy while they’re at school, I’m reflecting on the day!

I think Halloween is a trying day for any parent. And I’m definitely no exception! The day actually started at 3:30 am for me. That’s when my adorable little 3 year old climbed in my bed, snuggled in close, and peed the bed! So picture me tearing sheets off the bed, running laundry, cleaning me and a toddler, and all the time cursing out my still soundly sleeping Husband for insisting our freshly potty trained son didn’t still need diapers at night!

I managed to get back to sleep about 10 minutes before my 7 am alarm went off signaling the start of our day. I got the 2 big boys in costume off to school and started on the now completely dry toddler, who was not interested in getting out of bed! But thinking he needed to be to school early I persisted and drug a little Woody the Cowboy out the door 15 minutes ahead of time. See, the school was having a Halloween costume parade, which I thought was before school. So naturally I was a bit confused when nothing was happening when we got there. It ends up the Halloween costume parade was AFTER school. And luckily a mom friend reminded me right before it started, causing this mama to run into the school with only 1/2 her make up on and wearing slippers! But it was adorable still the same.

I got the toddler home in just enough time for me to transform from frazzled Mama to Mama Ellen before we headed to the big boys’ school for the fall festival. Sometime in that 10 minute block the toddler’s cowboy hat got lost, which caused a tantrum! Luckily if you remember the Toy Story series, Woody often loses his hat! So I convinced the toddler that he was just Woody when he lost the hat, and all was calm! Until we got to the school…..

I arrived and checked in, making the adults laugh and the kids give me confused looks, and we got started. Now just imagine hundreds of costumed sugar crazed children running lose through the hallways reaking havoc everywhere they went! The hour was a blur, and then they started their costume parade. Costume parades are so funny!  I don’t ever remember having them growing up, but I also rarely remember having a costume that I didn’t make up the day before! So the kids all line up to do their costume parade, and I find it the perfect moment to unleash Mama Ellen on my 9 year old! He was not impressed at all! After school he asked me to never help out at the school again!

I took the kids to the local grocery store to do their Halloween trick or treating. I usually hate taking the kids to group trick or treating events, but I had an another motive this year. Passing out my business cards, stapled to candy, to all the other moms stuck in the line. It was going great, until again the 9 year old begged me to stop! I’ve got to say, there is something strangely satisfying about hitting that moment in motherhood where you can embarrass your kids!

Later that night my husband said he would take the kids out trick or treating while I stayed home to pass out candy, since it was my business cards still stapled to every single peice of candy! So I got the kids ready, and it’s clear they were already exhausted and cranky! My 9 year old, who changed from a pizza to an inflatable gorilla, got irritated while I was trying to inflate him and kicked me. So I kicked him back! It did not go well!  But we got all 3 cranky kids out the door to beg for candy from the neighbors, and I settled down for a peaceful night! Oh wait…I have a dog! A dog that barks like a maniac every time she hears anyone near the door, let alone when someone rings the doorbell!

After a night of listening to my overprotective poodle bark, the boys finally came home with so much crap they’re bags has broken! But still with all that candy they managed to fight over one coveted piece. And by the time the night was over 3 grumpy kids were in bed and I had eaten the peice of contention candy! It was great fun for all!

But among all this I rocked Mama Ellen. Even if I’m the only one who thought so! When I announced I was going to be Ellen for Halloween, my boys all proclaimed it wasn’t possible for several reasons:

Son 1: You can’t be Ellen! You’re too fat and she’s skinny!

Son 2: You can’t be Ellen! She’s rich and you’re poor!

Son 3: You can’t be Ellen! She likes girls, and you said you can’t stand other girls!

Funny enough not one of them was concerned about the fact that I’m not blonde! But similarities or not, I had fun! And they were mortified! So I thought, why not magnitude this and make a video! So I present to you our blog’s first ever YouTube video, with many more in the future!

Our Ellen adventure

On our super awesome mom/daughter 30th birthday extravaganza, we got the amazing, once in a lifetime, finally achieved a 10 year dream, opportunity to attend a taping of The Ellen DeGeneres Show. But before I go on, there is some back history you need to know to fully grasp and appreciate the magnitude of how special this day was.

I’ve been an Ellen fan….forever! I used to watch the sitcom as a young teen religiously. To this day I remember loving the fact that they often referenced The Commish in their jokes, which was another of my favorite TV shows. I remember being so disappointed when it was abruptly cancelled. It was the first time in my young sheltered Utah life that I wondered why anyone would care that much about someone’s else sexual orientation was. Ellen’s coming out patterned the way I would view and support the LGBT community throughout my young years and still today. The Ellen DeGeneres Show started during a trying time in my life. I was a young newlywed, trying to figure out who I was and what I wanted in life while trying to support my husband and the married lifestyle. We were both in college and I just couldn’t find my place in school….or in the world. I had trouble relating to other young married students and my old single friends. And my beloved Rosie O’Donnell Show had just been cancelled. So Ellen came just when I needed her the most!

10 years ago I decided I needed to go to a taping of her show in LA. I thought it would be simple enough to get tickets, so when I only got stand by tickets the first time I flew to LA anyway. I was 6 months pregnant with my oldest son. I did not get in. But that began years of submitting for tickets, sometimes flying out for standbys and never even getting in the riff raff room. And as many of you know, 6 years ago getting tickets to a taping took on a whole new meaning when she actually saved my life. And I’m not speaking figuratively here! Back in 2010 Ellen did an interview with Maura Tierney about her battle with Breast Cancer. She was younger than the typical age and didn’t have a family history and I was taken back by that. 2 years later, in 2012, I remembered that interview when I found a lump in my left breast. I had initially been told not to worry about it, but I couldn’t shake the memory of that interview and insisted on a mammogram. I was soon diagnosed with a rare, very rapidly growing tumor. I had just turned 31 years old. It was a battle that took 3 surgeries, including a mastectomy and complete reconstruction, but I’m healthy today still. And even more importantly little Micah Andrew, who was born after this whole ordeal, is a healthy vibrant 3 1/2 year old. So not only do I have Ellen and Maura Tierney to thank for my life, but for Micah’s too.

So obviously getting to an Ellen taping was very important to me after that. It was discouraging to never get there, especially when I would fly all the way to LA just for a chance. And it wasn’t cheap either. I have sold my blood plasma and saved the earnings all year every time just for the chance. But I was bound and determined that someday it would happen. And with this year being that my mom and sisters were coming along, I wanted it more than ever. I prayed every night for months just begging for the opportunity. But with our trip rapidly approaching, I knew I didn’t get them again. And I was crushed.

But that’s when a small miracle happened. Just days before we were scheduled to leave, I got those tickets. How was a combination of inspiration, great timing, and pure dumb luck. I found someone to help me, and I will not disclose their name or how they did it. I promised to protect their identity and I intend to always do that. But not only did they secure us tickets, but they were VIP!!

We showed up at the studio a little earlier than the time we were given because the day before we had gotten a little bit of a late start to Universal Studios and we didn’t want to risk that happening again. And I’m so glad we did, because they were actually ahead of schedule. The studio was across the street from where we lined up, so we all crossed together with security guards. I felt very important, even though they were doing it for everyone! We waited in a long hall with pictures of Ellen and all her guests hanging on the walls. I was able to point out every picture and not only say what season it was but add an extra little tidbit of what happened during the interview. Then they led us into the riff raff room and Ellen Shop. Which is where I got my official Ellen pop figure! Side note: my sons fell in love with the pop figures when we went to comic con last month. They asked if we could collect them, which I agreed on IF the first one I ever bought was the Ellen one. So now they are very excited to start our collection! Anyway, we waited downstairs from the actual studio for what felt like forever. But in true Amy fashion I chatted with anyone who would listen to me and that passed the time!

Then it was the time! We headed into the studio and we were very excited to be placed right in the front row center! It was SO cool!! Once everyone was seated the warm up guy came out and got everyone dancing. I joked to Kirsten that I was glad there was a bar in front of us so I could show off my twerking moves! That was hilarious until Ellen came out and I was so excited I almost fell over the bar onto all the unsuspecting producers! When she came out we could tell there was something wrong right away. She then proceeded to talk about how she had hurt her back again and we could tell she was in a lot of pain. I felt so bad for her. especially when the musical group Old Dominion came out to perform. They had a stool for Ellen to sit on by the producers, and she tried to sit comfortably on it during the entire performance. She finally gave up. But she shrugged it off as best as she could, even when she nearly got run down by a game contestant. I admired her endurance so much. The guests that day were Keira Knightly and Katherine Hahn. I LOVE Katherine Hahn so I was excited! Especially after it was revealed she was promoting a movie she did about infertility. Having gone through 8 years of infertility before having Ben, I felt instantly even more in love with her! The prize for the day was a $350 voucher to a country music festival in LA next spring and a copy of the CD. But the staff asked us not to accept the voucher if we didn’t think we’d come back for it so they could give it to somebody who could use it. So we just took the CD. But the person who helped us get the tickets gave us free mugs, so I was happy! And afterward I told my whole story to the warm up guy, who patiently listened and then gave me a free tshirt!

It was such a great day and such a dream come true to finally be there seeing the person who saved my life….. in person! I will eternally be grateful to the person who made this happen for us. They have no idea what a gift and a blessing they gave us that day, they helped my dream come true. And thanks to Ellen and her wonderful staff for making it a day to remember!

I Heart LA!

This past week my sisters, my mom, and I embarked on a once in a lifetime 4 day journey to Los Angeles. My sister Kirsten is turning 30, so we decided to go to LA to make a dream of hers come true. She is a HUGE Tim Allen fan, so we went to LA to see a taping of Last Man Standing. We were so disappointed when Last Man Standing got abruptly cancelled last year, but thanks to fan persistence and another network willing to take a chance on it, the show was revamped. And we knew that this was THE time to go! Kirsten lives in Vancouver, WA, so we decided the rest of us would make the 14 hour each way journey to LA and meet Kirsten there. I had this bright idea that if I drank as much water as I could on the journey down I wouldn’t gain weight from having to eat out. It didn’t work! But what does work is a bladder that’s got a gallon of water in it. And unfortunately it decided to work in the heart of the desert where apparently the state of California has decided to close down every single rest stop for cleaning at the exact same time. Finally, in the middle of nowhere, we found a gas station. And I’m not proud to say I nearly plowed over two old women in short shorts and sunhats to get to that bathroom first!

We made it into LA just as Kirsten’s plane landed in Burbank. We booked an Airbnb in North Hollywood that advertised easy access, plenty of street parking, and free WiFi. When we arrived we discovered that plenty of street parking only applied to early mornings, and we had to park and hike with all our bags to the actual apartment. There was NO Wifi, which wouldn’t have been so bad if the building wasn’t in a complete dead spot. And the whole building smelled like weed. BUT…it was cheap and we didn’t expect to spend a lot of time there. My favorite part of the place was the neighbor and her Corgi named Carl. I will never forget her telling Carl to “make good choices” on the elevator!

Our first full day was spent at Universal Studios. As a parent I have to say, theme parks are SO much more fun without kids! We got there early without any whining and spent the whole day running from ride to ride and store to store without having to worry about where our kids were! It was awesome! I went on the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride until I was sick! And I drank $36 worth of butterbeer! They had a Hello Kitty store to die for and Krusty World made me feel like I was actually in The Simpsons! It was so much fun!

Our 2nd full day was spent mailing at a taping of The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Yes people, we made it to Ellen!! BUT….you’ll have to wait for a few more days for that report. Sorry! That’s a full blog post of its own! But after Ellen we met one of my dearest friends Ashley for dinner (check out her husband Stephen on The Conners on ABC!!) and then went to see The Brady Bunch house!

Our 3rd day was dedicated to the reason we all joined up, the reason for the epic mother/ daughter weekend. It was Last Man Standing day!! We were so excited we showed up to the studio 3 hours early! And of course they turned us away. We bought lunch and ate it at a park watching the nannies play with their kids. Then we staked out a certain “The Office” character’s house and circled back to try and get into the studio again, and were turned away for the 2nd time. So we went to buy bottled water and discovered water in a carton instead. Which we thought was cool because it was LA, but most people just asked why wee were carrying our own milk! Then we showed up at the studio again, were turned away by a now annoyed security guard, and waited again. Unfortunately we waited about 30 seconds too long and then got caught in a long line of cars! Kirsten was so worried we wouldn’t get into the taping that I jumped out of our moving car while she was trying to park to get through security faster. I think our excitement for the even overwhelmed everyone in line, but we didn’t care! We were just so thrilled to be there! The set was so beautiful! It was so cool to see all the little details I love from the show in person. Like the chair by the window in the front room or the clock on the kitchen wall. Oh and the camping picture in Mike’s office I always thought looked a little familiar! Kirsten was practically crying by the time we got into the studio, so when the cast came out she was beside herself. The poor old man in front of us kept looking back at us, it was hilarious! Now as much as we were all excited to see Tim Allen, I was especially excited to see Nancy Travis. Nancy Travis plays Vanessa on the show, but I’ve loved her since I first saw So I Married An Axe Murderer as a kid. And Vanessa is my spirit animal, the mother and woman I want to be. She’s intelligent, determined, and laughs at her own jokes. One time I was attending a religious ceremony, and during the quietest and most somber time Vanessa’s “That’s what She Shed” joke from the show popped in my head! I started laughing so hard I was crying! So seeing her in person was a dream come true! And she is even more beautiful and lovely in person! Her personality and beautiful smile radiated through the whole studio and immediately made my whole trip! And it was fun to see Amanda Fuller too. I’ve always liked her as Kristin on the show, but after seeing her role as Badison on OITNB, my respect for her has grown emensly. The taping itself was so funny! Not only was the episode funny but the actors goofing off in between takes was even better. The cast meshes so well together, even the newer members. At one point Tim Allen did that signature laugh at one of his own jokes, I was dying! Kirsten says it was definitely the highlight of the trip!

Since we were there celebrating Kirsten’s birthday, I convinced the warm up guy that he needed to give her something. And boy did he deliver! He gave her an autographed picture of Tim Allen! We protected that picture with our lives the rest of the night! The warm up guy and his antics in between takes was just as funny as the taping. He pretty much made fun of anything on anybody he could fine! At one point he asked this cute older lady to put on a Yoda mask to do a star wars scene with. But clearly she isn’t a fan of the movie because she put the mask on upside down and then couldn’t see out of it! He passed out playing cards during the show to do a drawing for prizes at the end. He forgot his extra deck of cards to draw from so he asked this poor clueless girl to call out random cards. Her first answer was 17! Then he tried to explain what she was supposed to do again and she called out 11! But she finally figured out what she was doing and she called out my card! So I got a free t-shirt and sticker! It was such a fun night that we’ll never forget!

The next day we packed up our little pot filled apartment and got ready to leave LA. But since we had a little time before Kirsten had to be to the airport, so we played tourists! We went down to the Chinese Theater and looked at the stars on the walk of fame. I screamed when I saw Ryan Seacrest’s and Melissa McCarthy’s! Then I stomped on Donald Trump’s for a minute! Then we drove up to the Conservatory and took pictures of the Hollywood sign. Then we dropped Kirsten off and headed on our long journey home!

It was such a fun trip full of the greatest memories! I’m so glad I got to experience it with my favorite family members!

How to break a girl’s heart in 10 seconds

It’s October again! For me October means wearing baggy sweatshirts so I don’t have to wear a bra, sweeping falling leaves remnants off my wooden floors, taking the kids to pick out the perfect costume while complaining about the price of an outfit they wear one day, guilting my husband into actually taking the kids trick or treating while I stay home to pass out candy, and then raiding their stashes after they go to sleep. Its all around fun for everyone! October is also the month I take my annual trip to LA. Almost every year (there were a few broke years) for 10 years I’ve made my way to LA for a little designated mom time to enjoy trading in the hustle and bustle of my everyday life for being a tourist for 3 days. It all started when I was pregnant with Ben, and I waddled my big belly out there to get away. And its been a tradition ever since. I visit friends, catch a real LA spin or yoga class, check out a few trendy eateries, and see a taping of a show or two. And every single time I have tried to get tickets to The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Every. Single. Time. I submit months in advance and pray every night that it’s finally the year I get chosen. And every single year I’ve been rejected and not given the tickets.

Getting to go to a taping of Ellen took on more meaning 6 years ago. That’s when an old but not forgotten episode popped back up when I needed it the most. Anyone who knows me knows the story. In 2010 I watched an episode where Ellen interviewed actress Maura Tierney about her battle with Breast Cancer. In 2012, when I found a lump in my own breast, I remembered that interview. And because of that interview I insisted on a mammogram, which led to an early diagnosis of a rare type of tumor that was growing rapidly. I underwent 3 surgeries and countless other hours of medications, appointments, and long nights, but its because of that interview that I’m healthy today. And because of that interview my 3 year old son, who was born after this whole ordeal, is here today too. So getting to attend a taping and see Ellen in person has become incredibly important to me.

So jump back to this year when I again submitted for tickets months ago. Her website says that tickets are given out in the order they are submitted for, so I watched the website every day all summer hoping to be one of the first to submit. Once I submitted the waiting game begun. This year is especially exciting, as my little sister is turning 30 and we’re all taking a mother/daughter trip to LA together. I can’t imagine other people who I would rather be with when I finally accomplished this goal, so I knew it was my year. I kept telling myself that “10 years is the charm”! The website says that if you haven’t received word that you got the tickets by 2 weeks before the selected date, you can try and submit for another date. Today was the exact 2 week mark. I checked my email every 1/2 hour, hoping and praying that the email would come. Then at the very end of the day, feeling defeated once again, I checked my email one more time. And immediately my eyes were drawn to the words Ellen DeGeneres in my inbox!

When I saw her name I immediately started crying. I was SO happy! And perhaps a little delirious…..because I didn’t notice the word Walmart with her name. But through my happy tears I finally noticed, and the unfortunate truth finally came out. I wasn’t reading an email from The Ellen DeGeneres Show, I was reading an ad from Walmart on Ellen’s new clothing line. Talk about a punch in the gut! Now don’t get me wrong, I love the Ellen line from Walmart! Cute tops and jeans that actually fit…they’re every middle aged mother’s dream. But at that moment it felt more like a nightmare. And then the realization set in….I didn’t get the tickets.

In the moments that followed a song I grew up with slowly filled my mind. It was a song from the popular 70s group Bread called Diary. In it he finds a girl he loves diary under a tree and thinks he’s reading about her undying love for him. He’s so happy…until he realizes the person she’s writing about is someone else, not him. And now he must move on. The song has always been sad, but it took on a much deeper meaning at that moment. I’d like to think that God, who I had been begging for months to make this happen, had to get a little laugh out of that one. I mean, it couldn’t have been more perfect. But my heart was broken, so I couldn’t share the laugh.

I don’t know what will happen in the future. Maybe 11 years is the charm. Or maybe this was the sign I needed to tell me this will never happen. And its time to give up and move on. I think only time will tell on that one. But for now I may need to find a new grocery store….and favorite pair of jeans!