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!

I will always believe

I haven’t posted in a long time. But the truth is, I have 16 drafts of blog posts waiting to be finished. I try to work on them a little bit at a time, time permitting. But my drafts of blog posts are very much like my mind, and jump around from subject to subject in record time. But today I had an experience that pushed all those drafts aside for yet another day. It happened in church today, but contrary to the title, this is not a spiritual or religious post. This is an ethical power war I had with a 7 year old child.

In church I play the piano in primary, or children’s classes. I love it! Its the perfect combination of working with children, but not really having to work with them! It saves me from having to attend as many adult classes, but also provides me with a sense of accomplishment. Its perfect for me! No matter what level my belief in the church is at the time, I love showing up to play for these kids each week. But today was 5th Sunday, which is exactly how it sounds. On the rare occasion that we have 5 Sundays in a month, roles get a little scattered around. And instead of playing the piano, I found myself sitting in on a class taught to 6 and 7 year olds. All was fine and well, the lesson was being beautifully taught, until one innocent little boy mentioned the existence of Santa Clause. And another seemingly know it all child proudly announced that Santa Clause was a myth and didn’t really exist. The disappointment or may I even say crushed looks of despair quickly settled on the faces of the other children, and I immediately jumped into Mama Bear mode.

Now I want to get a few things out in the open. I don’t by any means have a problem with the parents who choose to have an honest and open dialect about the jolly man’s exhistance. So far our country is still free and has yet to be turned into a true Gilead (in reference to Handmaid’s Tale), so parent’s have the right to parent the way they want. I totally understand the fear of lying to our children and the possibility of distrust that can come from that. I understand the lack of common sense that surrounds a man that not only visit every mall in the world during the holiday season, but can visit every single home in the entire world in one night. That kind of activity couldn’t be done by a physically fit man, let alone an overweight one with a cookie obsession. And more than anything I understand trying to protect a child’s visions of getting anything his heart desires when they live in a home where that isn’t possible. I grew up in a home where getting just our basic needs met was a blessing, so I get not living under the novelty that we somehow should get more. And I’ve answered the questions my kids have asked when we participate in Sub for Santa events in the simplest way I can to protect them and make them understand that not everyone is as fortunate as they might be. BUT…. It’s when the kid feels its his right, or responsibility, to share his knowledge with children who’s parents still feel like letting them enjoy their childhood that I start to have a problem. The Christmas of 1988 was truly the most magical Christmas I will ever remember. My brother and I got pound puppies and bubble gum machines. I remember my father questioning how the pound puppies got out from their bedroom closest and me exclaiming “It was Santa!” And I remember him smiling and agreeing that had to be how. We didn’t have a lot, but that day I felt like the luckiest girl in the world. I still have that pound puppy. Every time I see it I still remember how magical that day was. The next year I learned the true identity of Santa Clause. It was the same year I said goodbye to my father (who died that year), and my innocence (I was sexually abused by a trusted friend that year), and I truly mourned the loss of the one person who I thought made everything better. He made everything fair, he made everyone smile, he made everything ok if just for one day. And I still needed him in my life. But my cousins knew the truth and felt free to share, officially shattering every last shred of childhood I had left. It was 8 years old then, and I vowed right then and there that I would let my children enjoy every last precious second of childhood they could hold on to. And almost 30 years later I truly still want just that for them. A carefree childhood full of happiness and belief.

Now I know in this day and age hoping for a carefree wonderful childhood is stretching the laws of nature. I’m raising 3 independent, smart, charismatic boys in a very uncertain world. They are completely bombarded from all sides with images of sex, violence, drugs, more sex. My 9 year old is asking questions that I was barely asking at age 11.  In fact, he’s asked so many questions that I’ve questioned whether or not its time to give him “The Talk”. But much like the Santa conversation, I don’t want him going to school and being “that kid”. The kid who ruins the innocence of all his classmates and forces their parents to talk to them about things they aren’t ready to share. They repeat phrases they hear from other children that would have made me lost the ability to sit for a week, and even worse they have no idea what they are even saying. It an uncertain world we live in now. Being a parent is a constant tug of war between protecting them and preparing them. I pray every morning and every night I can find the fine line between those two things and provide them with the safest environment I can give them. So if that environment involves a tiny sense of wonder disguised as a fat jolly white bearded man dressed in a red suit, I feel its my right to be able to do that.

So lets get back to this afternoon. I don’t know if I was more annoyed over the fact that this child didn’t mind ruining the rest of Christmas’ for all the other class members, or that his parents didn’t think about mentioning to him when they broke his heart that it might not be appropriate to do the same thing to other children. Although I guess I can’t say for certain that this child’s parents didn’t warn him that we shouldn’t destroy a childhood fantasy for all other kids, but I have to guess on this situation that they didn’t. But I immediately stopped the class to outwardly express my irritation with this child’s comment. And what kills me the most is actually smirked at me when I stopped him. Afterward I mentioned to him that it wasn’t appropriate to say things like that to other children. He said to me “What? You don’t actually believe in Santa do you?” To which I told him I absolutely did. He gave me a confused look and I told him that I believe in everything magical. Unicorns, treasure hunts, all your wildest dreams coming true, and most importantly Santa Clause. Because when you don’t believe in him he can’t believe in you. I also proceeded to tell him that Santa still brings me a present every single year. I did leave out who actually writes “From Santa” on the gift. And yes, I do that! Because I want my kids to believe, and how can they if I don’t?

Again, I’m not telling any parent how to do your job. Because in this dog eat dog world of motherhood we live in we spend way too much time feeling bad about ourselves because someone has mentioned how we can do our jobs better. And no matter what we allow our children to believe, I do believe that we are all doing the very best we can. But with another holiday season quickly bearing down on us again, PLEASE talk to you children about not spoiling the wonder and amazement of Christmas for the believing children. We don’t always have to be right, we don’t always have to know everything. But we should always try to be kind. And as the great Mormonad states: It’s nice to be Important, but its Important to be Nice. After all, isn’t that the real meaning of Christmas?

Our forever cat

We recently went through a tragedy. Now it wasn’t life altering, at least not permanently. But it shook my world a little bit. And boy did I not handle it well.

Our cat Luca was beautiful. She was born to our cat Abby, who ran away soon after the litter was weaned. I loved Abby, and Luca was our last little piece of her. I named her Luca after the beautiful male doctor from ER. He was Croation and exotic and beyond gorgeous and one of my favorite characters. Plus since Abby was named after the Abby from ER, it seemed fitting. (BTW, ER had just been released in a huge box set! I was on a little kick to say the least!) But unfortunately Luca wasn’t the nicest cat in the world. She pretty much hated everyone…..except me! But she was my cat and we had a bond! In late August I noticed Luca was getting a little fat. But since I was spending a small fortune on cat food, I figured she was just eating way too much! That is until September 4, ironically Labor Day, that I woke up to her giving birth…….in my bed! She delivered 4 beautiful little ones, and we settled into life with 8 cats! Until 9 days later, when tragedy struck. Due to a long list of reasons, we are trying to fix up our house to sell. So we put Luca and the kittens in the garage. It was still warm at they were safe from the outside elements….so we thought. The kittens eyes had just barely started to open but they were completely dependent still. Luca slipped out in the night and was hit by a car. (Now I can’t say for sure, but judging by where I live and the traffic problems we have, I feel I can confidently say she was hit by a speeding college student. Which is a matter of fact one of the reasons we are moving. Too much traffic for a residential area.) Luckily we have wonderful friends who saw her on the side of the road and called us to tell us they had seen her. Todd was leaving on a business trip that day, and literally on his way out of town he told me my cat had been hit. And then he left! I found myself at Walmart at 7 in the morning, in sweat pants with a tear streaked face and matted hair, looking for kitten milk supplement and not knowing what I was going to do. The day was an emotional whirlwind and I tried to care for my kids and the kittens, knowing I would be on my own for the next 4 days. But as the day went by, my extreme remorse started to turn into angry wife rage! I was royally pissed at Todd for leaving me with all this, not even offering to bury Luca first. It would have taken 10 minutes, but as he stated later he didn’t want to make his co-workers wait.

By 6 that evening I was an emotional raging ball of emotion. Luca was still in the garage, the ground was dry because of the heat, and I was hanging on by a thread. (Luckily my sister ordered and sent a pizza to us or I would have forgotten to feed my kids!) So I made a decision. A decision that has become a source of conflict in our home ever since. I called a friend to stay with the kids, another friend to accompany me, and I set off to the vet to have Luca cremated. I showed up to the vet hysterical with a dead cat in a baby wipes box, it was quite a site! I wrote a check for a whopping $115, which apparently was not a lot in the cremation business, and set off for home.

Later that night Todd called to check in. I proudly announced that not only had I had Luca cremated, but I planned on buying an urn with her picture on it, and placing it on our piano. That way Luca could be with us forever! Starring at us all day, everyday, for the rest of our lives. She would be our forever cat. Todd was obviously less than pleased! But I didn’t care!

We found a mommy cat for the kittens for a few weeks, but she couldn’t handle the extra mouths. So I bottled fed these four little ones for the last six weeks. I can confidently say I have no interest in having another baby! And by the Grace of God all 4 of them found their forever homes in one weekend. I had mixed feelings about letting them go, but Todd was more that happy to say goodbye! He will not ever be saying goodbye to Luca though. Our forever cat!

You got a friend in me!

I was recently asked to write an essay about something I believe in for my English class. I thought and thought about what I truly believe in, and I decided to write in on friendship. I have been blessed with the greatest friends any one could ever ask for. Everywhere I’ve ever lived has introduced me to more wonderful people who have enriched my life. This is especially true for the lovely ladies who make my life brighter right now. Everyone knows I struggle with anxiety and depression. The months of April and May are especially difficult. And where I’ve had my ups and down this year, I’ve felt so supported. So I decided to post my essay. If you and I are friends, this is for you!


This I Believe: Friendship

 I believe in friendship. True friendship with people who genuinely care about your thoughts, feelings, and concerns. People who will drop everything they are doing to listen to you vent about the bully in PTA. People who don’t judge you when you order the second slice of cheesecake or when you laugh at the most inappropriate time. People who will talk to you until the early morning hours, even though you both have to get up with kids, because they know how much you just need to talk. People who support you no matter what is going on in your life, no matter the trial. People who can talk you out of making a bad decision because they know what kind of person you strive to be, even when you’re weak. People who love you for you.

I didn’t always believe in friendship. There were times in my life I didn’t have friends like that. I’ve always had friends, just not true friends. I’ve had friends where I felt I needed to change in order for them to continue to like me. I’ve had friends that stop being my friend when another better person comes along. The friends who liked me only when it was convenient to them. But worst of all I’ve had friends who put me down in order to feel better about themselves. Those friends who break you down a little bit every time they see you, and finally after a while you just don’t feel at all anymore.

But then slowly those true friends started entering my life. And they taught me that I was worth real friendship. They listen when I chatter on about my new celebrity crush or the next concert I plan to go to. They make me feel important enough to listen to. :I realized I didn’t need to change who I was, just who I was surrounding myself with. When I came to that realization my whole life changed. I still have trials, I still feel pain. I still question myself and have moments of weakness. But because of them I know I have people to pick me up when I fall. I know I’m not alone. I know they will keep loving me no matter what. It’s because of these people I can believe in friendship.



Snowmaggeden 2017

Last January we had a series of winter storms here in Utah. Obviously winter storms aren’t anything abnormal in Utah, but these were not the normal storms. These were the types of storms that cancelled schools for the whole valley. 3 freaking times! I grew up here and I remember school being cancelled a total of twice. The last time was in 2002. Todd and I had gotten married the summer before and were attending Utah State. We were living on the top of a hill right above the football stadium. I remember all this because we totaled our car on that hill during that snowstorm. Todd lost control when he hit a patch of ice and hit a truck. The bed of the truck went through our windshield. Imagine a tail light 2 inches from your face! That was awesome!

But back to this year! By the time the 3rd snow day in a month we were getting pretty used to the 6 am phone call that doomed my daily weekday routine to which I’ve grown to love so much. Then I had to figure out how to entertain 3 kids cooped up in a house where the doors to the outside world were literally frozen shut. Well, expect when my husband conviently needed to go to work. Thank you Lord for cable, which entertained them for 1/2 hour incraments in between fist fights, burp contests, and seeing what object can fly down the stairs the fastest.

We had a series of “incidents” as we call them now during these storms. The first one all started with me thinking I could pull the “fun mom” card one nasty stormy night and suggested we have a movie and hot chocolate night. I put the water in my hello kitty teapot, turned on the stove, and started boiling the water. At least I thought I was boiling water. Word of advice: make sure you’ve turned on the right burner before getting distracted and walking away! Unfortunately instead of boiling water I started a small kitchen fire because I turned on the burner that had my favorite pair of kitchen sheers and a few kitchen towels sitting directly on it. I really liked those sheers too. Anyway, we did get the fire out quickly and eventually the kids stopped screaming in terror. But instead of movie and hot chocolate night we had a freezing our butts off because we had to open all the windows to get the smoke out of the house night!

Our 2nd incident happened in between snowstorms. The sun came out for a few hours and the 6 foot snow mounds started to melt. It was when they started to melt that we discovered that our neighbor’s yard is slightly higher than ours, creating a cute little hill. It’s funny after 9 years in our house I never noticed that. But we definitely discovered that hill when all the neighbor’s ground water ended up in our basement. I went into Ben’s room to get his laundry and stepped in a puddle. At first I thought the dog peed on the floor and immediately started yelling at her. Then I realized it was really cold…..and everywhere! It ended up flooding 3 rooms in our basement. Everybody and everything moved upstairs for 2 weeks while we dried out, and once we got the $1900 bill from the restoration company our summer vacation was officially cancelled!

But the biggest incident of all started he night before the first big snow storm. And is still going on now in mid April.  I was preparing our sweet little cat Luca to go to the vet the next morning to get fixed. Her Mama, Abby, had given birth to Luca and her 3 siblings the year before and we obviously wanted to avoid making that happen again. But our vet is a 20 minute drive away on not the safest road in the valley. So when we got dumped on that morning and I ended up being stranded with the miniature 3 stooges I cancelled her appointment. That night she went into heat. Of course! The next night, after snow day 2, surprisingly enough even after strict instructions to not let her outside somebody did! So picture this if you will: me running in pjs and boots through 2 1/2 feet of snow chasing a crazy horny cat! And all the while screaming at her to remember who she is and don’t be a whore. It was a classy moment for me! Unfortunately we didn’t see sweet Luca again until the next morning….when I caught her under the patio with neighbor cat. And I knew it was too late. Luca was pregnant! I know I could have had the pregnancy aborted. After years of infertility and 4 miscarriages in my own life, I didn’t have the heart to do it. As the weeks went by and the snow slowly melted (flooding many of our neighbors home by the way), Luca’s little belly kept growing. In fact, she was getting so big I was started to get concerned. On Friday March 10th Todd and I hired my sister to babysit so we could go out. When we got home the boys announced Luca was “leaking”! A 1/2 hour later Olaf, Rocky, and Moose entered the world! I remember thinking it was odd that she only had 3. Then around 1:30 am I took one last peak at the babies before going to bed and there was little Pearl! I was shocked! And I was even more shocked when the next morning I woke up to little Sevie! Luca had 5 beautiful little kittens! A few days later I wandered down to the house of  “baby daddy” and announced to the owners that we were in laws! They were shocked too needless to say! Luca has done wonderful as a mother, which is amazing because her first birthday was a few days after the kittens were born! And much to our amazement our special needs kitty Henry really stepped up and has been a big help to Luca as well.

Now Olaf, Rocky, Pearl, Moose, and Sevie are 5 weeks old and doing great! They are by far our cutest incident of Snowmaggeden 2017! And most are still available for adoption in just a few weeks. They are adorable! They’re playful and inquizative and so used to children! We are going to be sad to see them leave but are excited for them to be someone else’s forever friend. And the day after they get adopted Luca is getting fixed! Because even though its April its still Utah and it could snow all over again anytime!

What you may not know…..

As most of you know I’m a pretty open book. Ask me a question and I’ll give you an honest answer, whether you want it or not! I’m more than happy to share that I have implants due to a partial mastectomy 4 years ago. They’re pretty fantastic! I show them to more people than I should admit to! If you’re good to me I’ll be your loyal friend for life. I love my friends like family. But if you’re bad to me, watch out! Oh and want to hear a humiliating story about a child walking in on you during sex? Keep scrolling down!

But here are a few things you might not know about me. I have severe anxiety. How severe? Insomnia induced constant worrying going to be on medication for the rest of my life anxiety. I also love my cats more than most people. I think they are the perfect combination of cute, sweet, and complete jerks. Which makes me feel less guilty when I just want to snuggle them against their will! And then there is my extensive list of quirks and fears, both rational and irrational. To name a few: death, illness, poverty, unhappiness, rejection, possibly bugging people into not liking me anymore, certain colored cups, invisible toilet fumes landing on my toothbrush, people putting their hands in the cereal box, bugs, snakes, spiders, enclosed spaces, and of course Bert and Ernie. Yes, Bert and Ernie! As a child I would have frequent nightmares that they were floating in my closet, staring at me with those creepy oversized eyeballs on those odd shaped heads! And also….I’m a sexual abuse survivor.

I was sexually abused by a family friend when I was 7, just a few months after my father died. He had been on his LDS mission and came for a visit when he returned home. During his visit he abused me multiple times. I never said anything during his visit, and out of fear did little to stop him from what he was doing, but as soon as he left I told my mother. She immediately reported it and he was soon arrested. I had to testify against him in court, but because everyone was worried about the toll it would take on me we recorded all of my testimony outside of the courtroom. Because it was his first offence his only punishment was he was instructed to pay for my counseling and was put on the sex offender list. But when I was 13 the decision was made to take him off that list and his record was cleared. When asked later he said he did it because he felt far away from God since completing his mission.

I don’t know if what he did affects him at all anymore, but it affected every aspect of my life. When this happened I was still reeling from watching my father, my best friend, suddenly die. I craved the attention of adult men and he took advantage of that. I spent the rest of my childhood and teenage years questioning the intentions of well meaning family and friends. I spent years in and out of therapy learning to not blame myself for the incident. It’s appalling to me now that as a 7 year old I believed I had somehow encouraged him to do it and the fault rested completely on me. I struggled with my faith for years wondering how God would let this happen, especially since he blamed leaving his own LDS mission for it happening. It is just in the last few years that I have been able to truly reconnect with my faith, finally being able to believe what my uncle has always told me: “They don’t call it the church of the people for a reason!” People make their own choices, I know this now.

Now as a parent I am constantly asking my children if people are respecting them and if they are respecting other people. They’ve been listening to mom speeches their whole lives about how our bodies are private and if anyone tries to disrespect them they should scream, run, tell, etc. I have lectured them on the fact that as boys they must always respect girls and their bodies. It may be one of the reasons I never had a girl. My anxiety for her safety would have driven me mad! I have sat in numerous times to the “Good touch, Bad touch” presentations at school as a parent rep so that I can be able to see what is being taught in the schools. My greatest hope for these boys is that they grow up to be good people and can respect everyone.

So why tell my story now? After years and years of not talking about it? Because I recently discovered that by opening up this part of my life to everyone I can possibly help and inspire other people who have been abused. I can help them not feel so alone. According to the American SPCC , 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are abused before they turn 18. But when it happens to you sometimes its hard to remember that other people have been there. I’ve met several people who can truly understand where I am coming from. But one person in particular has inspired me to tell this story because they have shared theirs very publicly. Kim Fisher is a friend of mine who was sexually abused too. She is using her experience in her career as a journalist to make a difference in other victims lives. She is courageously standing as a voice for all of us. I have spoken with her about what happened to me and was surprised how immediately comfortable it was for me to talk to her because she understands where I’m coming from. I want to be like her an inspire others like she has inspired me.  It is because of her that I am finally sharing this story. So thanks Kim!



Pummeled for a cause

Todd and I recently got to attend a charity boxing match supporting a cause that is now near and dear to our hearts. The reason we decided to attend the event is because of my friend, Don Hudson. I met Don last March through a chance meeting at SLC Comic Con. At that time I was really struggling. Without going into a lot of detail I had lost my direction in life. I wanted to find my way back but didn’t know how. And believing it wasn’t going to be possible I let pride and fear overtake me and became someone I didn’t like. I was ashamed and depressed and had become involved in things I knew was wrong. Don and I became friends on Facebook and slowly his attitude, inspirational quotes, and commitment to health and fitness started encouraging me. I started making changes in my life. To date I’ve lost 25 lbs and I feel amazing! I never thought I’d fit into jeans that I wore before I had Micah again! But one of the biggest changes is I decided to commit myself to my religion again and joined the BYU Pathways program. Barely being active again and still having a lot of questions and concerns I was scared to death when I joined. So I asked Don to mentor me through the program. He graciously accepted the challenge (and trust me, it is a challenge) and has been amazing. I have learned so much from him and am more inspired every time we talk. He’s opened my eyes to things I never thought about before. And I was born into the church. My testimony has been strengthened immensely and I feel like a new person. His support continues to blow me away. I thought for sure by this point I would have driven him crazy and he would have told me where to go! But he’s stuck with me and has become a true friend and father figure in my life. It’s meant more than I think he’ll ever know.

So needless to say when I received an opportunity to support something that Don loves so much, I was more than happy to participate. This charity event was to support The Kostopulos Dream Foundation or Camp K. When I first started learning about Camp K I thought it was primarily an equestrian program that did riding and therapy programs for disabled children. Now here’s the thing with horses: I don’t mind them…..but they hate me! Seriously, Todd says I must give them a bad vibe! The last time I rode a horse I fell off of it. I’m pretty sure it knocked me off! Since then I have been bitten, spit on, sneezed on, and kicked by all the horses I’ve been around. Even the ponies the kids ride at the fair! So I was a tiny bit hesitant to have anything to do with a horse supporting foundation! Even though I do believe horse therapy is a great program for people who horses don’t get bad vibes from! But camp K is SO much more! They provide year round opportunities for disabled children and adults at any level. They do summer camps, education programs, vocational rehab, etc. They provide support, love, and friendship to these special people and their families. I spoke with one family who truly inspired me. Their son has spina bifida and is in a wheelchair. The mother told me that at Camp K their son has no limitations. He can be a kid there. She also told me that if it wasn’t for the donations her son would not be able to attend. I met this boy and he is awesome! He has so many challenges but has such a good attitude. He doesn’t let his disability stop him from living life. Both Todd and I just fell in love with him!

So like I mentioned this was a charity boxing match and 2 time (and he made sure we knew it was 2 time)  world heavyweight champion Riddick “Big Daddy” Bowe was the celebrity boxer. He’s a BIG guy! But luckily a real teddy bear! The dinner was lovely. The people at our table were great company and we had the perfect view of the boxing ring. Which was good because Don was one of the people going in the ring as one of Riddick’s challengers. Okay, I’ll admit getting to see Don get in that ring was a really great incentive to coming to this event! And it was worth it! All 3 of the challengers (Camp K’s CEO Mircea Divricean and Camp K’s COO Mike Divricean also braved the ring) did a great job! I had my doubts but I was pretty impressed with all of them. And even though I told Don that I would win if it was him against me in the ring, I might be recanting that statement now! Maybe! Riddick got in some polite non-deadly shots. Although he got one right in Don’s nose that looked like it had to hurt! It kind of reminded me of the time my little brother hit me in the face with a shoe, but with less blood! But all 3 contenders were able to get a few good shots in as well and it was a fun thing to witness. And the referee (Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder) was hilarious! It was also a black tie event. I was super excited to lose the mommy yoga pants and stained sweatshirts for a night and get all dressed up. Todd was a little hesitant at first, especially since there was a Jazz game going on right down the street! But he settled right in getting to talk all the representatives from the church and city who were also in attendance. And as a vocational rehabilitation counselor himself, he was in good company. I was also really excited to meet Don’s wife, Wendy. I’ve talked to Wendy several times over Facebook so I felt like I already knew her. She’s a wonderful artist and surprised me on Thanksgiving with a beautiful picture for my niece, Rosie. Rosie has alopecia and I wanted to do something for her for her upcoming birthday so she always knew how beautiful I think she is. She is the most beautiful, thoughtful, sweet little girl. Wendy made that possible and I was beyond touched! It made my whole holiday! Don and Wendy successfully raised 3 sons and she introduced me to them and their significant others. I cannot tell you how much hope it gave me, meeting these 3 polite good looking adults, for my little boys in the future! If they turn out 1/2 as nice as the Hudson boys I will be happy!

My heart has been so full since that night. Full of gratitude and humility. I have so much and have been so blessed in my life. I can see and walk and speak (often too much!) and hear. Usually every morning the first thing I see is the foot of healthy almost 2 year old…right in my face! The first thing I hear is my healthy 5 year old telling me to get up and make him breakfast. Everyday at 2:30 I go pick up my healthy 7 year old from his day in the 2nd grade. We have a home, warm clothes, the opportunity to educate our kids. They have toys and books and even cable! I took my 2 youngest kids to the grocery store the other day. We saw a giving tree with kids’ names and needs on it. Their needs were so simple. My 5 year old grabbed a name off the tree of someone his age who just wanted a winter coat. I started to cry right there in the store trying to explain to him that something he always had was something this little boy desperately needed. And even more than the things in our lives we have so blessed with friends and family and mentors who constantly uplift and encourage us. They love us unconditionally and will always accept us. They help us through our challenges and support us.  Everyone deserves the chance to be accepted and loved and treated well. The people who attend Camp K are no exception. They deserve all the same chances and opportunities that my kids already have. These people are amazing! I don’t know if I would have ever thought twice about them before, but they haven’t left my mind since then. Our world is such a scary place right now, but since attending this event I’ve been able to remember there is so much good in it still. And this good can keep going and going with our support. It’s Christmastime and the season for giving. I strongly encourage you to look into Camp K and open you hearts to this charity.







I live in 2 worlds. Well, actually that’s not true. I live in a million different worlds. There’s the school world. I’m currently with the Pathways program through BYU-Idaho and I LOVE it! And there is the animal and my ridiculous love of cats world.  And the best group of girlfriends anyone could ask for world. There is the weight loss journey and healthy lifestyle world. And the “Who is under the sheet?” on How to get away with Murder world! There is the “is this a freckle or an age spot?!” world. And of course the “I think I’m going through a mid-life crisis” world. But let’s just focus on the 2 for now!  There is world we live in world. And there is the world in between the walls of my messy little house world.

The world we all live in is a pretty confusing place right now. People, we just elected a buffoon as President!! Now I’m not saying he’s a bad buffoon, I’m not saying he’s a good buffoon either. I’m just saying he is indeed a large orange buffoon who we just elected to run our country!  This post’s purpose isn’t to talk about who I voted for or who I agree or disagree with. When I voted I didn’t believe my vote would change the world. I voted with the intention of being able to still look at myself in the mirror everyday (age spots or not) and be okay with the decision I made. Not all people out there believe that right now. There are riots and protests all over the country. I am not scared for mine or my little family’s physical safety here. But I am concerned for my friends and family who live in other parts of the country. And I am concerned for my loved ones who are hurting right now because of all of this. I hurt for those people who may have their rights as human beings be taken away. I hurt for the police and their families, for the children who don’t understand what is going on. I even feel a little bad for the buffoon….just a little bit!

So what can I do? That leads me to my 2nd world. That world that revolves around laundry and carpools and tripping over matchbox cars. It revolves around dinnertime, and homework, and what is that smell?! Most importantly it revolves around 3 little boys. My boys are not innocent very often! They are loud and kind of mean and think they are hilarious when they are not. Just tonight my 5-year-old presented me with a taped up box he called “an early birthday present just for his Mama”. It was poop! He presented me with his own poop! They’re gross and love to make me blow a gasket! BUT….when it comes to world number 1, they are absolutely innocent. And its my job as their Mom to protect them and give them the best life I can. At least as long as they are children. The things that go on in world number 1 are nothing compared to the things going on in world number 2. When Todd and I were first married he had just recently gotten home from serving and LDS mission in Taiwan. He had a sticker that in Chinese said “No success can compensate failure in the home”. We proudly displayed in on our front door of our first apartment…..until we realized our home was being mistaken for Chinese exchange students and people begun knocking on our door at all hours! But I never forgot that saying and the message it made. From the very beginning of our marriage we knew creating success in our home would be our greatest accomplishment. So fast forward 15 years. Here we are, like it or not. We have to live in both worlds. So we created a list of the things we expect out of world number 2, the world we can control right now. Our number 1 goal and expectation is that all of us, adult or child, learn to respect EVERYONE. No matter the race, gender, orientation, etc. We are anxious to see if our newly elected President will do a good job. Who knows, right? Maybe he knows more than he lets on! But what I do already know is he hasn’t been the greatest example of respect. Women, other races, the disabled, etc.  They’ve all been victims. One of the greatest discoveries I’ve made since starting Pathways is how much God loves me. God loves all of us, no matter who we are or what we are. To Him we are all His children. I want my children to look at people the way God looks at us. I want them to respect them as the people they are and they people they will grow up to be. In our home my husband and I are the examples. Have I been perfect of that? NOT AT ALL!! I’ve judged, I’ve called names, I’ve thrown up middle fingers. Especially while driving to those who have Idaho licence plates! But as I’ve watched this election unfold I have realized how much better of an example I need to be. I must be better for them. These little boys will grow up to be men. What kind of men do I want them to be? No success can compensate failure in the home. And it starts with me.