Friday, May 13, 2016

That time I said "thank you" to the homeless man

I was pulling out of the Walmart parking lot. Again. This had to be, like the 3rd time today. There was a different man on the corner. There's always one there. Scraggly beard, unkempt hair, raggedy clothing and shoes, and a defeated look on his face. It's not always the same MAN, but these characteristics are always the same. And I always have the same reaction, I smile, sometimes wave, and move on with my life. I'll admit, although it is probably awful, I have sometimes thought, "If you need money so bad, get a job." But this day, this day was different. I pulled up just as the light turned from yellow to red and stopped right next to the man. I knew I was in for a long wait, so I peeked at him. And I really SAW him. A man. Just like my husband, just like my two boys would someday be. Just a man, in need. And for the first time in my life, I KNEW I needed to help this man, a complete stranger. I thought, "I can't! I don't have any cash." You see, I never carry cash. (Who does anymore?) And then I suddenly remembered the fistful of cash I had shoved into my coat pocket last week, after pulling it from the bank for something that no longer had any relevance. The coat that I was now wearing. I reached down and unzipped my pocket, pulling out the cash. Before I could even examine any of this, I rolled down my window, watched him scurry over to my car, handed him the money and heard him say,  "God Bless." I numbly responded, "Thank you," because this was all very weird for me. And then the light changed and I drove away. It was all over in a matter of 60 seconds. But as I drove away, I kept thinking, "Why did I say thank you? Of all the things I could have said, THAT was what came out? In that moment of service, why did I thank him?" And the answer came to me very clearly. I needed that opportunity to serve. Maybe he didn't need that money all that bad, or maybe he did. But I needed that moment. Maybe you believe differently, and that's ok, but I believe in the Holy Ghost, or Holy Spirit, and I believe that if we are worthy of his direction and influence, he will guide and direct our lives for good. He will prompt us toward those experiences that will help us to progress and become the people we are meant to be. I believe that this was one of those moments for me. I felt his influence and his guidance so perfectly during those 60 seconds and I am so glad that I didn't second guess those promptings, I did what I felt like I needed to do. And then I thanked the man, who made that experience possible. Service is honestly one of the greatest natural highs we can feel in this life. There is no beating the joy that we feel when we can provide for someone else that which they cannot provide for themselves-- It brings us closer to the Savior, because we are doing exactly what he would have done in that situation.

Sunday, May 11, 2014


Mothers' Day. An amazing, terrible, wonderful, heart-wrenching day. Pre- 2008, my mothers' days were all about making breakfast for my own mama and writing beautiful (and often cheesy) cards to let her know how wonderful she was and is. But as of Mothers' Day 2008-- that all changed for me. As so many of you already know, our little Zoe Belle came on February 9, 2008 and only stayed for a little while. By Mothers' Day, I thought I was doing great. On the Saturday before, I talked Tyson into buying me this beautiful yellow and black dress, in order to commemorate the day. I don't think he understood, but he went along with it. And on Sunday, I showed up to church, proud, in my new dress, with empty arms. I listened to the talks and tried to focus on my own mother and how much I loved her. But the sadness crept in like a mid-winter storm. By the end of the first talk, I was teetering on the edge. And then, some friends of Tyson turned and offered to let us hold their brand new little boy. As Tyson held him and smiled at him, I tried to talk myself out of my tears--

This is a little boy, not a girl. He is nothing like our little girl.... That's right. He is NOTHING like our little girl. No one is just like our little girl. There is no one on earth that is just like her. Because she is no longer here. No longer here. Not in my arms, not in Tyson's arms, and NOT within arm's reach. She is gone.

And then, before he could push that little boy into my arms, I stood up and ran out of sacrament. I bawled all the way to the bathroom, and sank into one of the stalls. I stayed there until my tears dried up, and then when I finally came out, I listened to an older woman tell me all about her sister who had lost a baby and how she had seen a vision of what her little baby looked like now, with her beautiful hair flowing and a brilliant smile on her face and how she just KNEW that her little girl was trying to tell her that she was fine. I felt so empty. I had had no such vision. Empty and thoroughly melted, I walked out of that bathroom, and right out of the church. I stood outside the car until Tyson figured it out and came outside. We went home, and he spent the rest of the day trying to make me smile.

Flash forward to Mothers' Day 2014-- I awoke to the sound of the printer. But when I looked around the room was still dark and no one was there. I sleepily got up and went about my normal morning routine. When I opened the bedroom door 10 minutes later, two pairs of little feet ran to greet me. Quinn and Mac, both with large bags, "gifts," as Mac kept repeating, and huge smiles. They unloaded their bags on me and then followed me out to the living room. I unloaded untold treasures from those bags-- chocolate-covered pretzels, milky ways, beautiful crayon portraits of myself, and immeasurable "love notes" from Quinn- with only one discernible word, "mom." My tears were teetering on the edge as I unpacked those bags and took in those beautiful faces, going crazy with excitement. And then Tyson explained the printer-- it was his note to me and also my wake-up call. He went in and retrieved it, and as I read through his description of shopping for Mothers' Day with the children, my happiness was overflowing. These kids, these crazy, loud, annoying, BEAUTIFUL kids are mine. And though there are days that I cannot even fathom why, they love me SO SO SO much. Happiness. Immeasurable, all-consuming happiness.

You see, I have experienced both sides to this whole Mothers' Day fiasco-- the pain and the pleasure, the sadness and the happiness. And I get it. To all of you women out there, I get it. Mothers' Day is something of a symbol for motherhood. Sometimes it is terrible and frightening and just plain heart-breaking. And then there are moments or days where it is the epitome of wonderfulness-- death by happiness. It is everything all in one. And we wonder why it changes us so much...

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Finding the GOOD in the sucker bowl

Yesterday I took Quinn to the doctor to get her shots for kindergarten. But as far as she knew, she was going for "immunizations." And she was happy. She never once questioned me on it. Until we got in the car to head to the doctor's office....

"Mom, what are 'munizations? I think I forgot."

The buck had to stop somewhere and I figured it would be better to get the tantrum over with before we got to the office, so I charged ahead, "Actually honey, you didn't forget. I just never told you. Immunizations are shots. You have to get shots so that you can go to the big school in the fall." 

Crickets may have actually chirped at this point. 

I looked back at my Quinn, buckled snugly into her hot pink zebra booster, thinking this was just a big breath moment before the screams erupted. What I actually saw broke my heart. Her little face had crumpled and she had big fat tears just begging to be let loose down those rosy cheeks. So I tried to explain WHY we have to get shots, why even MOMMY and DADDY have to get shots sometimes. And why baby Ti was going to be getting shots today too. 
And that was when the screaming started, not your typical, "I hate shots!! I hate hate hate HATE shots!" No. She began to bargain with me. "We don't have to do this today mommy. Let's just go home. Maybe just Ti needs shots today. I want to get sick. Mommy, can you hear me?! I WANT to get sick! See I don't need shots!" On and on, all the way there. At one point she decided maybe if she didn't have shoes on, I wouldn't make her get out of the car. So she yanked off her pink sparkly boots, and threw them on the floor of the car. 

When we arrived, I was bracing myself for the inevitable battle to get her out of the car. But it was in vain. She was out of the car, and up onto the sidewalk (shoe-less, of course). She looked like she was primed and ready to bolt. So I calmly got Ti out of the car, grabbed the diaper bag and her boots and started heading into the office. She followed, crying and yelling, but she followed. At check-in, they of course handed me a huge paper to fill out on both Ti and Quinn, so I obediently began my paperwork, while alternately trying to keep Quinn from peeing her pants just so we would HAVE TO go home. We were finally called back into an examining room and the hysterics began anew. "Mommy, I don't want to go first. Make Ti go first. Mommy I have to PEE!!" Finally Ti got his shots, Quinn got her wish and didn't have to go first. He cried for all of 10 seconds and then just looked bored with the whole situation. One of the other nurses held him while I grabbed onto Quinn and tried to calm her down once AGAIN. Finally, the older nurse told me to just put her on my lap and lean back while holding her hands securely on her chest, and they would take care of the rest. I obeyed and 10 seconds later, Quinn was crying silently in my arms with band-aids on boths legs.

And then something really unexpected happened, she laughed. I stared at her like she was crazy and she just looked at me and said, "That wasn't so bad Mom!" Like this whole time, I had been the one screaming and crying. I did the only thing I could, I laughed too. And then the nurses brought over the sucker bowl and told her to take as many as she wanted. With tears still streaming down her face, she grabbed 1, 2, 3.... 4 suckers. And just as I was about to berate her for being greedy, she said, "I'm glad I got four, now I have enough for everybody!" And she immediately pulled out the blue one, because she knows blue is my favorite color, and put it in a pocket in the diaper bag because my hands were full. But guess what? As full as my hands were, my heart was even more full. This girl. This girl.

Just constantly amazes me.

Monday, January 20, 2014


Miracle-  "A surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency."

Have you ever wanted something so bad, but it seemed like such a long-shot, that you decided it would probably never happen.... so you don't let yourself think about it. But, in not thinking about it, you begin to obsess about it. But you don't talk about it, because that would be proof that you had broken your cardinal rule and actually thought about it. Maybe you've never been there, but this was me for the four months before Ti was born. Everybody talks about adoption and how amazing and miraculous it is. Nobody tells you about the harrowing, sleepless nights, and the good news and the bad news and the no news. But I digress-- that is a post for another time. This post is about a miracle. A real and true, amazing miracle, that I could not talk about for the last five months. 

How did this come about? I have been asked that about a million times by friends, acquaintances, and complete strangers. So I will tell you. Tyson grew up in Dayton, ID next to a really great (really big) family. One of the daughters in that family recently graduated high school and found herself in a difficult situation. She knew that she wanted to place her baby for adoption, but wasn't sure with whom. Now a small digression-- when I was pregnant with Mac, Tyson and I made the decision that he would be our last child that would be conceived naturally. This was because of my blood-clotting disorder, and the shots that I had to be on for the duration of any pregnancy (these shots also cause loss of bone-density). So when I had my C-section to bring Mac into this world, I also had a surgery done that would not allow me to have any future children on my own. It was a hard decision, but one that we made based on doctor recommendation and prayerful study. But at this time, we also had an overwhelming feeling that our family was not yet complete, but that other children would come to us in alternate ways. So we had been considering adoption, but were in no way ready, prepared, or ready for adoption. You catch my drift? Now back to the story. This young girl's mom talked to Tyson's mom about the situation, and Tyson's mom mentioned that Tyson and I had been thinking about adoption. Well, one thing led to another and about a week later, Tyson's mom called us and told us that she definitely wanted US to adopt her baby. We were shocked. To say the least. Also- completely dumb-founded. Also a whole lot of other things. We decided to meet with her and talk it out face-to-face. This was the best idea ever. After talking with her we were assured that she was serious about placing her baby with us. So we got started on the adoption process. We contacted a lawyer and after hearing a dooms-day address that he probably tells all potential adoptive parents, he laid out the steps to making this happen. I won't go through all of it, but there was a lot of both time and financially consuming steps. 

And then on December 27th at 1:30am we got the call that we had been waiting for. Baby Ti was about to make his entrance into the world! He came at 2am and we were able to be there for all of his firsts-- first bath, first feeding, first poo, all of it. And then on December 28th around 1pm we were able to take him home. 

The next few weeks were a blur of sleepless nights and a very angry two-year-old. And then on January 16th, 2014 Titan Benson officially became Titan Benson Allen. Oh blessed day! 

And then, just two short days later we were able to have him sealed to us in the Idaho Falls temple and blessed in our church building. Words cannot describe that day. It was just-- perfect. 

A perfect miracle.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

3 Things to do before ANY abdominal surgery, and 3 things for after...

As a courtesy to my fellow man, I have compiled a list of three things to do before you have any kind of abdominal surgery. Here ya go:

1. Sleep on your stomach every chance you get. Revel in it. And I mean really REVEL in it.

2. Enjoy getting on and off the toilet without praying for those handicap handrails. Maybe get up and down a few extra times, just out of the sheer joy and freedom of it all.

3. Encourage your children to punch you in the stomach a few times, jump on you, and throw things at you-- help them to get it all out of their system now, because afterwards it will make you swear like a sailor.

And 3 for after (ok, it's really just one big long one):

1. Sleep lots, without any guilt, and take those dang pain pills, without any guilt, and keep your kids away from your stomach, also without any guilt.

Also, maybe 2: don't try to write a blog post while on said pain pills..... :)

Friday, December 6, 2013

Mac likes princesses, and why I'm not worried

It is 5am. I woke up an hour ago, SURE that Mac was going to die. I was breathing heavy, pulse racing, and I knew that I had to save my son. There was no going back to sleep. So after I laid there and hashed out why Mac was NOT going to die, I started thinking. I thought yet again, about whether or not I should include in our Christmas letter that Mac likes princesses. I wrote it in, and have been agonizing about it ever since. I know that someone who reads it (probably a relative), is going to think, "the boy loves princesses? What... is he gay or something?" For the last hour, I have thought and thought and thought on this subject and I have learned something. Something that I probably already knew, but just didn't KNOW. ya know?

Mac likes princesses. He really really does. When I accidently gave him Quinn's princess plate at Grandma's, he moved all the food to the side, so he could see Cinderella and was so excited he just kept saying, "Momma! Princess! uh-super coo!" Whether this has stemmed from his big sister drilling it into his head that princesses are cool, or just because they're pretty, I don't know. But he does. And guess what? THAT is all it means. Sometimes, we draw these lines, especially for boys. It's a sort of do-not-cross line. And if you do cross it, you're gay or just plain weird. And all of a sudden, a boy's interest becomes taboo. It becomes something bigger than what it is. Maybe it's a love of music or dancing, or maybe it's a straight-up love for princesses and all things beautiful. And we, as society, take that interest and turn it into something else. We label. Why do we do that? Why in the HELL do we do that?!

It is because our own inconsistencies scare us.

Maybe you're not quite there with me yet. That's ok. It took me a while to get there-- An hour to be exact. After thinking about Mac and the pressure that society puts on our boys, I started to think about our girls. Even they do not escape the labeling. Let's say a girl prefers a nerf bow-and-arrow set, to dolls. What then? Well, she's a tom-boy. I guess, in all fairness, I'm a little bit of a tom-boy. Guess what? I know this is going to be a shocker-- I hate cooking. I really really do. It is agonizing, everyday around 4:30 when I have to decide on a dinner and then commence with making said dinner. I seriously hate it. (And 2 nights out of 10, I flat refuse to do it, and we order pizza) And guess what else? I like to shoot guns. Ok, ok-- mainly just a .22. This was something that I didn't learn until recently-- because my husband pushed and pushed me to "just try it," and guess what?? I love it. The rush that I feel when I nail a moving target (this skill was only recognized a few weeks ago!) is comparable to when I really nail an idea in my writing. I feel like I can take on the world. But guess what else? I am also the girl that went home for Thanksgiving, found my sister's old prom dress, and wore it around the house for two hours straight-- just because it was fun. So why does a preference for "boy" toys and a hatred for cooking mean that we are tom-boys? Why can't we just be US?

Within all of us, there are so many different parts to our character. Some we are proud of, some we're not so proud of, some we display openly, some that we hide, and some that are never even realized, because we never let ourselves go there. We are human. We are incredible entities that are always changing. There is no end to our possibilities. So why do we limit each other? It is because our own inconsistencies scare us. We are scared of how others will view us, if they know who we really are. We might be perceived as "weird" or "not normal." (heaven forbid!) So we label others. We continue this downward spiral, in order to protect ourselves. Only it's not protecting us, it is severely limiting us.

I am reminded of Dr. Seuss, "A person's a person, no matter how small." That's it. We're all just people. We don't have to let the labels interfere with us figuring out who we are. And that is why, in my house, it's ok for Quinn to love monster trucks as much as Mac, and likewise-- it's ok for mac to think that princesses are "uh-super coo!" and wear around Quinn's heels. Cause we're all just people-- and I refuse to hold my children to a ridiculously rigid view of their role. They are more than that. We are All-- more than that.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Things my daughter has learned from "Tangled"

1. I'm not really "mom." I've stolen her from her real parents and am actually a witch. (AND she is REALLY a princess.) She loves to make me sing "Mother knows best" while she runs screaming and hides from me.

2. Frying pans can solve any problem-- especially annoying little brothers....

3. All princesses live in towers (or... the top of the swing-set). And wear dresses. All. The. Time.

4. Kissing is equivalent to marrying. Period.

5. Kings and Queens sleep together.

6. Horses are cool. And also.... can be treated like dogs. (Drop it!)

7. ALL girls go through the long-hair, short-hair phases.