Sunday, March 27, 2011

I Need To Move To Australia

I was in literary heaven. I admit I have a writer's crush on Markus Zusak. You may be saying, "Wait, is this like the really strange crush thing you have for Kevin Spacey?" which is a WHOLE other story. Anyway, ever since I read The Book Thief it has become apparent that Zusak is my favorite author of all time. And then when I read I Am the Messenger there could be no doubt at all. Lo and behold, my dreams came true when I found this icon was coming to the Provo library. Yes, you heard me right. Provo, got him and I had to go. My friends Cami and Annalisa, who was due to give birth the very next day jumped into a car and hightailed it to an extremely cool location. Who knew Provo had such a happening library and the architecture couldn't be beat. Wait, forget the architecture, the next thing I know an ADORABLE guy walks through the door and 500 of us are in a frenzy of hero worship.

The only things I knew about this man were his words between book covers and his picture on the back flap. Let me tell you, he is even more charming, humble, and amazing then I could have imagined. He signed copies of his books for 500 people and we were 75th on the list and we waited in line for an hour and a half. He spoke with EVERY person for a few minutes and by the time we saw him he was exhausted and chugging down A&W root beer. He drew pictures in everybody's books and I was able to tell him what his words mean to me, how they are living things, and he told me how much that means to hear that.

He gave the most awesome talk before he read an expert from The Book Thief. He says he writes a story so that people will believe him. He said he is the owner of the story because of the small details only he can tell. He says the reader will have a reaction when something unusual happens. He said has edited his pieces upwards of 150-200 times. He said that in his writing he doesn't posses a lot of imagination, just a lot of problems and it is through trying to solve those problems that his stories take flight. He said in his writing of The Book Thief that he wanted to write a book that meant something to him, but by the end he had written a book that meant everything to him. He also talked about how accessing creativity is like waiting for a wild animal to come out of its hole. If you try and put your hand in you will get bitten.

I know this is going to sound make me sound like the nerd that I am, but it was one of the greatest days of my life. I love that I got to meet and talk to one of the people who has not only greatly impacted my life as a reader, but as a writer and after meeting him, as a human being as well. Markus Zusak = class act.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


I watch my daughter breathe in the tornado. Fascinated, terrified, stupefied. What is this grasping for air? Where does it come from? The day before toilet paper and Kleenex littered the hallway, entire rolls hinted an early Charmin frost. She only had a cold.

Now she is choking on her own bile, unable to draw breath and part of me is embarrassed we are over an hour early to her pediatrician's office. The stupid part. It's just a bad cough, right?

They are rushing her back to an empty room. They hook her up to oxygen, her levels so low, our amazing doc rushes in.

"We need an ambulance now. She needs to go to the hospital or she is not going to make it through the night."

I make a few calls, probably not making sense, my voice cracking through the receiver, my core quaking with a tremor I am still carrying piggy back on my shoulders.

The EMT's put her in the ambulance. I am immediately car sick, heart sick, love sick as I jostle in my seat belt beside her. I stare in blue eyes. They stare at a stuffed pig dangling from the ambulance ceiling. Jason, our EMT, hands it to two chubby hands, but I am the only one who grabs it. He talks to her as he administers oxygen. We both strain to hear her answers.

How old are you sweetheart? "Three."
How old is your dolly? (she has brought it with us) "Sixteen."
Sixteen, really? Can she drive? "Yes."

We are going about 90 miles an hour. Blessedly, the sirens remain off. She would have been beside herself. She is already afraid and exhausted. Four docs are waiting. They love her on sight. She does not disappoint them. After a monster breathing treatment where she looks like she belongs in a B1 bomber, she begins to relax. She waves, blows kisses, makes faces, asks for things she has no intention of eating or drinking. I count. They have brought her 6 cups of ice water.

"More ice cubes."

Her dad asks for a Coke. So does she. I jump forward three feet. NO.
She collects 4 granola bars, 2 string cheeses, and an orange and apple juice. She touches nothing.

They give her a steroid and another breathing treatment. She makes piggy noises underneath the mask which has the attending doc in stitches. Is she breathing in the smoke or blowing it in his direction? Her heart rate's up afterward. She's jittery and keeps says she needs to go now. The RU doc comes in.

Who else lives with you princess? (He has asked if she prefers her name or her daddy's nickname for her and she assures him he is to call her princess.)
"My brother. But I want a sister and another brother and a kitty."
Do you have a kitty at home?
"No, but we are all kitties," indicating her dad and I.

Is she meowing? And then she's singing "Busy Bee," and aria she's created in the ER though we all shush her as we are crying with the joy of her sharing the music she can't help but share anytime, anywhere.

She falls asleep after a few more breathing treatments. Her oxygen plummets, the alarm goes off again and again. More breathing, chap-stick on parched lips. They try to attach the oxygen around her nose. She screams. She fights. She rips it out and the screams reverberate against frazzled nerves. She's not fully awake, I explain. She is done. Music is not calming her down and she it hitting the nurse away. Exhaustion is overpowering her , but still she fights. I hold her in my arms. I almost drop her, but no one is connected to her as I am. I know her anger, her fear, I know about being loud, about self preservation. I am not afraid of her screams. They are as familiar to me as mine are to her and I stroke the hair plastered on her head. I tell her the story of the Wizard of Oz.

My back is bone and fire. She is dead weight with an attitude. The ruby slippers calm her, Dorothy calms. her. Dorothy overpowering the wicked witch, losing her voice in the tornado.

"Where did her voice go, Mama?" The storm was so strong and so powerful when she called her Aunty Em's name, her voice got lost in the wind.

"Will it come back?" Yes, the storm will pass by and it will be awful, but then it goes away and it's quiet again.

She settles against the pillow and the Albuterol resumes it's healing breath. I watch her fog up the mask. How did an unconscious movement of the diaphragm drawing in life giving gas get to be such hard work?

Breathing has reduced my pain. By learning to breathe the right way, my thoracic pain is diminished, cervical pain reduced. Breathing done correctly brings blood flow to injured areas, strengthens my core, and is taking inches off my belly. It has taken me about two months in PT to get it right and I'm still working on it. Breath is bringing me strength. Blow out the candles, sweetheart. Good job, sweetie, you gave such a big breath!
"The tomato won't take it away."
The nurse stops and looks at my daughter. What?
"I don't like the tomato. It took Dorothy's breath away."
I supply that I think she means tornado.

Do tornadoes have warnings?
Somehow my husband was home that day. Somehow my dear friend texted me to have my son come to her house after school before required homework and chores, which I am an absolute stickler for. He is not there to be terrified as they take his beloved Sis away. My hubby is there to carry, to shoulder, to process what I cannot and to run around as I snuggle with her, as I breathe with her. In and out, the new way I've been taught. I need help to do it right.

So does my daughter.

She still has her breath and her voice.

Praise God, the tornado didn't take it away.

*Thank you to every angel who loves our baby girl. She will be just fine. She had an asthma attack brought on by a common cold. We have the best family and friends in the world. Thank you.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

How Do You Compete With A Chick In Four Wheel Drive?

Good news:

My daughter can sing.

Bad news:

Only dogs can hear it.

Good news:

No matter how high her range, she stays on key. She’s fabulous.

Incidentally, excuse the sideways video. This is one of my favorites EVER. I love how she prepares for a minute at the beginning and I'm pretty sure a little burp escapes during a high note...this makes me ridiculously happy.

Good news:

Friday is my son’s last day of third grade and he still has three pairs of uniform pants.

Bad news:

Wasn’t able to remove the pink bubblegum from out of his pockets. Retired the fourth pair.

Good news:

The other three are covered with red Popsicle, a ball point pen explosion, and one is just "holey". Though there was nothing holy about my reaction to any pair of these now tie dyed khaki catastrophes.

If they just can stay in one multicolored piece through Friday, we’re golden.

Good news:

My husband got a bonus for passing his big ole’ monster test.

Bad news:

Layla, the second wife with a muffler, got sick. The repair bill is more than the spouse with a stick shift is worth and will cost more than the bonus.

Good news:

Hubby got a deal and now like Seinfeld the whole exchange of money will make us even steven. Easy come…easy go.

Good news:

Scored U2 tickets.

Bad news:

The U2 concert is delayed.

Good news:

Now there’s a chance to sell them and earn $ for the wife with wheels.

I’m not jealous of her at all in case that wasn’t crystal clear.

Good news:

I found a clinic HERE in the valley to work with my TOS. Just got the OK from the folks in Denver. They know their stuff. This is HUGE. I would have loved to work with them for the last 5 years.

Bad news:

They aren’t preferred providers under any insurance plan, let alone mine. They are around $85 a pop and I should be going to them several times a week.

Good news:

Occasionally I do filing in my hubby’s office. Yes, I am a part-part-part time file clerk. Not sure my pay will cover this one, but I may be able to afford a quarterly tune up.

Great now I sound like the jeep…

Maybe Layla and I really are sister wives.

Sorry honey, both your girls need an overhaul.

And possibly a paint job.

At least one of us is a cuddler...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Post That Has No Name

I am in a hurry. I am stressed and trying to get everything situated so I can leave in a few minutes for the evening. My patience is paper thin.

In the background I hear my son say to his sister, “Sshhh…Let’s be really quiet and then maybe Mommy won’t get mad anymore.”

Time stops and I am in a modest living room adorned with house plants. House plants I dote on; arrayed in terra cotta with nutritive spikes imbedded in warm soil. I am kneeling in front of a forest green micro fiber couch, sunlight spilling onto my back like warm abashment. I am young, I am thin, my hair is undone and I have much to learn.

I speak out loud caught up in the words. “Please Father. If you give me a son, like Hannah of old, I will raise him up unto Thee.” I knew what the words meant, but I didn’t understand what the words meant.

For almost four years I had pled for a child. I was close, so close. We knew within weeks I was pregnant and I would like to think it was that prayer, but my thrice weekly visits with a reflexologist for the past eight months could have made an impact as well. I think both events conjoined into the space and time in which I was ready to receive him.

I thought mothering would come easily to me. I was the oldest child, had been babysitting since I was 11, and had been a preschool teacher for years. I was told I had a way with children and could often be found surrounded by them since I was like a big child myself. To my dismay it did not. When my son was laid into my arms, I had the connection; the heaven meets earth connection where you’re allowed a glimpse into that heavenly sphere in order to take your child as he is placed into your arms by God himself. It was that moment that I fell in love with the future, with my own potential, with a creature who stared into my eyes like the ancient sage that he is. I knew I was in possession of a spirit who dwarfed mine, an intelligence who the Lord saw fit in his mercy to send me.

My spirit reached out and shook his hand. “Nice to meet you, sir,” my spirit seemed to say, but all my frail tabernacle could blurt out was, “Hi Bubby.”

I handed him off to my husband for a bath. I was a little afraid to take control of his little life. I hesitated in nursing him, in changing him, in bathing him. I had the baby blues, but would not recognize it for months. Our days were little and orderly. If I stuck to a schedule, I was okay. I read The Baby Whisperer and stuck to her schedule by the letter. It was the EASY plan: Eat, Activity, Sleep, You time. Both of us thrived. We knew exactly what to expect from each other at any given time. I took a lot of pictures and wrote in his baby book. I stayed pretty much to myself. It was RSV season and I didn’t take him to church. I didn’t like anyone to hold him…I didn’t like going to the mailbox. I got frustrated with my husband more and easily. My son’s head had been squished when the OB used the forceps and I was afraid to touch it, afraid I would break him. I kept a hat on his head. I was terrified he would get hurt, or sick.

He grew and he was as delightful a child as I have ever known. He was calm, temperate, and engaged. His eyes were wise and he was patient with my awkward attempts to do the smallest tasks for his comfort. My husband and I struggled to find our place during this time and to make matters worse, he would lose his job. The added stress of having him at home trying to find work was taking a toll.

The bishop approached us one afternoon in our home and prayed with us. He told us that he felt inspired that we should put our home on the market immediately and move into my parent’s basement apartment. We were stunned and we didn’t want to do that, but we did not question him. We both looked at each other and nodded our heads. It never occurred to us to say anything, but yes. We were stressed. We were arguing. There was so much to be done. This was our first home and it was small and we needed to repaint the kitchen.

We had had an argument and my husband was outside washing the windows and I was inside cleaning the walls. My hair was in my face and I ran up to get a clip. I put my little boy in his bouncy seat onto the counter for a second while I was gone and as I descended the stairs I watched in slow motion as my heart, my breath bounced himself off that countertop and onto the tile floor still in his seat and with it landing on top of him. Part of me left in that moment. Perhaps this sounds dramatic, but I can honestly say I have not gotten that piece back. I have looked for it since, but it left that day. I don’t remember a lot after that. Yelling maybe, agony, me lying under his crib, crucifying myself for my negligence, his vomiting, lethargy, sitting in an ambulance, the young EMT holding my hand as my husband filled out paperwork. The young man who looked into my eyes and must have seen that I was not okay, who gave me his card in case I needed to talk. The helicopter descending because the ambulance would have been too slow, the stuffed alligator I placed onto the gurney, the deflation of emotion as I was told I could not fly with him, kneeling in the grass because I was unable to stand, watching him fly away not knowing if I would see him ever again, knowing I had broken my child. Then there was the man who appeared off the sidewalk and sat by me, the same man who asked me if that baby was my son, the same man who told me as I willed my head up and down, that my baby would be okay and then was not beside me anymore.

We broke every speed law and reached Primary Children’s in eight minutes from West Jordan. We were met by a grief counselor. Somehow my parents were already there. The bishop was there, some friends were there. How did they all know? How did they all get there so fast? I don’t remember seeing them really. Deep inside I knew he was going to be okay. I clung to that, but the grief counselor made it seem like they just didn’t know and it was as if I walked two roads. I was there in the hospital, but I was being led along in another place as well. I asked to see him. He was alone in a large room. The nurse said he had cried himself to sleep. The IV was sticking out of his head because they couldn’t find a vein, the stuffed alligator laid beside him. I cried then, cried for the minutes I had lost with him. I held his hand and stroked it. My husband, bishop, father and our friend encircled him and the bishop spoke. He blessed my son that he would be fully healed. That he had a great work to perform on this earth. They left. All of them left. I sat beside my son and that room was filled to capacity. All of the souls who loved my son, all of the souls who loved me engulfed that white sterile space as sure as if I was in the temple of my God, as sure as we were in Heaven itself. I can not explain it well enough to do it justice. But I knew. I knew we were surrounded-it was crowded in there. The phone rang and it jarred me. A friend called. She was hysterical. I was not. I knew the veil was thin and that a miracle had occurred.

Over time, there has been more than a few nights I have wept wondering if someone else should have mothered these children, someone less quick to anger, someone more patient and whose constant mistakes aren’t on full display day after day. My son and I have had the opportunity to discuss forgiveness, repentance, and the Atonement. He is well aware of my shortcomings and we have had some very frank and deep doctrinal conversations.

Back to where I began. That night as my son whispered to his sister, that they needed to be quiet, I stopped and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I would not go to where I had planned to go. How could I leave my children with a stressed out cranky mommy and go somewhere with others who would get my best. The ones I love the most dearly need my best. They need my best all the time. Sometimes I am going to stumble and because of that I can’t afford to be distracted. It’s just too easy to get distracted.

There are times I lose focus. How can I ever forget that my greatest joys are in the walls of my own home? That NOTHING else matters as much, that NOTHING I will EVER do is as important as what I am doing every day, albeit imperfectly.

The Lord blessed my son and through the Atonement I was finally able to forgive myself for being gone even for a minute when he fell, and through the Atonement I can keep trying to stay focused on what’s most important in the here and now and forgive myself for not being the perfect strong mommy that I want to be. It is only by clinging to my Savior that I can be the mommy that HE would have me be. And in nothing is my weakness made more manifest than as I strive in my roles as wife and mother. And that’s proof enough for me that nothing’s of greater value.

We liked conference. Here’s proof. And here’s to taking this mommy thing one day at a time…

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

There Are Nuclear Bombs In My Blood

Some of my jokes work.

Most don't.

I get it.

Growing up I watched my dad test his puns like nuclear weapons over Nevada. I would roll my eyes and think...really?
I have become my father. I try to not be punny. I try to not find the humor in a ball of lint, but the humor is everywhere and it taunts me. I hear it scratching at my brain and suddenly I'm saying something that if it works will get a laugh. And if it doesn't?? Just roll your eyes folks cause I'll probably try again sooner rather than later.
I worry sometimes I have hurt people's feelings, especially people who are just getting to know me or that I'm so comfortable with that my self deprecation and tendency to be sarcastic gets too close for comfort.
I remember my mom telling me some people would get annoyed with my father for comments he made. I get it now. He was trying to be funny. His identity was in being funny.
I hide behind humor. It's my trusty shield and has served me well in a life that's had some tough spots. If I leave someone laughing, maybe they will like me or think I'm fun or forget that sometimes life hurts and there can be joy. I'm still working out the kinks. And those of you who know me well, know that for every one laugh, there's ten that fall flat.

A little humor goes a long way, but I can't help it, I LOVE's in my blood.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Do I Have To Spell It Out For You?

Usually my husband's spelling, doesn't affect our lives too terribly much, however this note I received from him this morning gave me pause.

As a background,I am not a morning person. I have been known to say two words, but really before 10 AM you'd be better conversing with a DMV employee. Anyhow, in order to combat this personlity trait/opportunity for his sainthood and also because the hubby is the chipperest chiperoo you've ever encountered in the mornings, he does have a lot to say and will often leave me notes on the whiteboard. That, and the fact that I was snoozing away as he and my son left for their day.

So I ask you what does it look like he's saying to YOU???
Considering the rest of his message has to do with why he couldn't wear a suit to work and switching nights with me in attending the temple what I THOUGHT he said would still apply, don't ya think?

PS- if this is how you personally enjoy spelling warehouse, then please accept my deepest condolences because I will laugh at you too.

LOVE YA, honey!!! Come straight home after work, 'K?????

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Pretty Pain-Final and Rethought

The end of my story was ready to go weeks ago. I thought I knew how it would end. I was wrong and it left me reeling.

I was wrong:

Something Tony likes it when I say and I probably don’t say enough. The final third of my story involved two surgeries, overdoses from several narcotics and the inability to see for a week and a half. It involved a blessing, the failure to follow promptings in regards to said blessing and thus the consequence of lost eyesight until the drug I was not supposed to take was out of my system. It involved me going to Denver to live for almost three months with my son and mother and going through extensive physical therapies and rehabilitation. It involved being able to have a second child against all odds and being able to hold her. It involved me being able to tell you that I know what the people of King Benjamin knew and that my prayer was indeed answered. All of that is true.

Mid-October Tony was approached by a headhunter and a trip to Miami and three interviews later we awaited an offer. The process was arduous and nerve wracking. I did not want to leave my family, friends, and ward. I didn’t want to leave my son’s school, his friends, or the new temple. The whole step of the way I felt like I was going to be saying goodbye. I had an epiphany when I realized that the new temple that was announced over conference was in the district we would be moving to. I looked up my condition and the largest facility that works with TOS patients in the rehabilitation that I need was only mere minutes from the company Tony was awaiting an offer from. It seemed like more than mere coincidence. I emailed my people I worked with in Denver and they had received their training from the man who started the facility in Miami. They told me that if I got this opportunity to go there, that it would be wonderful for my recovery.

Meanwhile at home, things were breaking down…literally. The garage door, the swamp cooler, the refrigerator, the dishwasher, a leak in the basement, my car, Tony’s jeep, a leak in the ceiling and we joked that it seemed like all things were pointing to this move since it seemed like a lot was happening to us right now. We joked about it a lot. The day came that we were waiting for them to fax the offer over and instead the call came from the headhunter. The woman who was runner up had a friend who knew the president of the company personally and he talked the president into changing his mind. It was she who received the offer.

We were stunned. That’s business and that’s life. But it was our life.
I didn’t understand why the facility that seemed tailor made for me had been RIGHT there.
I felt selfish.
I felt confused. It seemed right and we hadn’t gone looking for it, it had found us.
I realized that I have a lot to learn.
I realized that He knows the desires of my heart.
He knows what I need. He knows where I need to be. He knows what I am capable of even when I don’t believe it myself.

A couple of days after this happened I was kneeling in front of my dryer folding clothes. As I knelt I began to pray. First thoughts out of my mouth: “I’m sorry for being bad.” (Can you believe I said this?) I am ashamed to admit it now.
Overwhelming feeling: That I am NOT bad. That I am HIS daughter and that HE loves me. I changed my thought process.
“Please increase my faith,” I said.

The thing about it is this: It’s His will, not mine and sometimes things just happen. Who knows why? Our family has been incredibly blessed. Service has been rendered to us that enlarges my soul.

I am happy. I am finding peace. I am learning that life is not just to be endured and especially at this Christmas season when miracles truly do occur. If I could only convey how much my loved ones mean to me. I am grateful that we are staying because the people who surround me are priceless to me. My son, upon finding out we were staying was jumping up and down with excitement. He would be loathe to leave the friends he holds dear.

The ending to my story is not what I thought. But it hasn’t ended yet. It never really will, that’s the great thing. I never want it to. I cannot imagine not learning anything more, not experiencing growth. Yah, growing hurts, sometimes like hell, but at the end of the day it makes me rely on Him and I rejoice in that. He is the author, but He lets me write it down. Sometimes I write word by word, not even realizing where the comma goes (pretty much true of all my writing) When I go back and read it somehow it all flows. I have to erase a lot, I find myself repeating the same antidotes, I occasionally take poetic license, but I can’t put my pencil down. He knows what my story will be and we write it together…every day.

We here at The Benjamin Bunch wish you a beautiful Christmas.