Thursday, September 25, 2014

Fino Designs--"Little People" Giveaway



Jackson Family Portrait 2014

How. CUUUTE and great are these "Little People" family portraits? I'm really in love. Really. For real. 

Vic's wonderful cousin, Shirley, has a small side business called Fino Designs where she takes your family photo with vintage "little people" toys in front of your home. She also has some wonderful Little People scene prints that are perfect for a play room or nursery. 

If you live in Salt Lake or Utah County and would like a family portrait taken, leave a comment WITH YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS and you'll be entered into the giveaway for a "Little People" family portrait or your choice of a print from her shop. If you don't live in Utah, you can still win a print! Go to her Etsy shop HERE and check and see the cuteness. 

Also, please go to her Facebook page HERE and "like" it. I just adore these little scenes. And the way she set up our Lucy angel in our family portrait makes my heart so happy. Such sweet simpleness. 

Winner will notified via email. Giveaway closes next Thursday, Oct. 2nd at midnight. 




Monday, September 22, 2014

A girl named Anna

I had an experience a few weeks ago that I've been meaning to share. Like always, I hesitate in sharing things like this because I never want it to be seen as me telling you how great I am. Always it is because I learn something and need to process it and record it.

A beautiful girl named Trisha is in the show with me right now. (When I say, "the show with me right now", I am referring to Catch Me if You Can at the Hale Centre Theatre). She and I were in The Wedding Singer together years ago. We are the same age (ok, I'm 3 years older), we both have 3 kids, and she lives close to me. We've become good friends and so have our kids. It's been wonderful!

She was expressing her frustrations to me on our drive to rehearsal about how difficult her kids had been that day, how little patience she had with them and was questioning if she was a good mother or not. I have spent a significant amount of time in her beautiful home in Daybreak and I can tell you that she is a great mother. I reminded her that her kids are well fed, clean, safe, and loved. Sometimes these are the most important things...not how clean our house is or if our daughters hair is done just right. Sometimes we yell and are so exhausted...but we are doing our best. 

That very night, after Trish dropped me off at our meeting point, I got in my car to finish the short drive home and saw a woman and young child walking with their arms full of stuff. I thought it was strange that they would be out so late (10:30 p.m.) on a walk to the store. (I assumed they had gone grocery shopping or something and didn't have a car). Another strange thing is that they were walking  near a big open field toward a highway and no apartment buildings or residential neighborhoods were very close to where they were. Huh. 

I kept driving. 

I was only about 1/4 mile from home when I had the feeling I should turn around and see if they needed a ride. It took some tricky driving, flipping a U on a busy street, but I made my way over to them, rolled down my window and asked them if they needed help. 

At first, the woman kept her distance and had a scared look on her face. I don't blame her. Once she looked a little closer and (I think) saw that I was just a little blonde lady with a smile on my face, she emphatically said, "Yes! We do need a ride"

The woman (she was only about 22) and her 4 yr. old daughter piled into my car and I asked where they were headed. That's when Anna told me that she and her boyfriend had gotten in a fight and they were running away from him. He yelled at her, spit on her, and called her explicit names in front of her daughter, so they got out of his car and decided to walk home--which was about 6 miles. They were carrying a few bags and her daughter's booster seat. 

Anna launched into an entire story of how they were fighting over a movie and how immature her boyfriend was acting, etc. She was using plenty of harsh swear words herself as she explained things to me. 

Part way through her story, her darling daughter piped up and said, "Mommy, I love you. Are we almost home? I'm tired." 

It broke my heart to see this little girl in a situation like this. I ended up driving Anna and her daughter all the way from South Jordan to her boyfriend's apartment in Murray(that is where her car was parked). But once we got there, her boyfriend was waiting outside for her so we drove past (of course he didn't know my car. I had never met these people!) and drove all the way to Kearns to take her to her x-husband's mother's house. That's when she told me that her x-husband is in prison but his mother watches her daughter everyday while she (Anna) goes to work. The reason she decided to have me take her to Kearns was because her boyfriend didn't know that particular house. She didn't want to go home to her parents home (where she is living in the basement) in South Jordan in case he might come looking for her. 

The point is, her little daughter kept asking questions, talking about how tired she was, and telling her mommy that she loved her. All the while, Anna was scared, upset, using foul language--but grateful for my help. I was proud of her for getting out of the situation and standing up for herself and her daughter. I turned to her and said, "I know we just met. You don't know me. But you cannot be with him. You just can't. Don't go back to him. You and your daughter deserve better than that." 

She offered to give me money for gas and she was so amazed when I told her I was coming home from a rehearsal because I am a performer. She acted like I was famous...which I got a kick out of. 

My stomach fell when I dropped her and her daughter off at her x-mother -in-law's home. It was in a dodgy neighborhood. Their plan was to sleep on the couch. I wanted to take her darling daughter home with me. 

I called Trish (it was 11:30 by this point) and said, "Remember earlier today when you were so worried and hard on yourself about being a good mom? Remember when I told you that you provide a safe and happy and stable environment for your children? Even though you lose your cool and get overwhelmed they are still clean and fed and cared for?"--Then I launched into the story I just told shared with all of you. I told her not to be so hard on herself. 

I don't know where Anna started. I don't know the kind of childhood she had. And I could tell she loved her daughter. She was a very pretty girl and it sounds like she has a stable job. But I could tell she was not given as many opportunities as I have been given. I don't know what kind of examples or support system she has in her life. I tried my best not to judge, but just to love and serve her and offer her my advice. 

She thanked me profusely as we said our goodbyes. I drove home, walked into the quiet, clean house of my parents, and thanked God for the opportunity I had to meet her and to remember how much I have to be grateful for...especially for the wonderful man that Vic is. I wish every little girl could have an example of manhood and love such as Vic. 

I know where Anna works and I have been tempted to stop in and check on her. She reminded me how much we all need each other and how much we can care for and learn from perfect strangers if we learn their stories. I hope things are going well for her. (And I hope her boyfriend gets kicked in the balls). I'm so glad I followed that impression to stop. I especially hope for a bright and stable future for her daughter. And I hope I can remember that while I may not be the perfect mom, I am still doing my best...just like a girl named Anna. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The History of a Friendship--Justin Kinnaird


It's been nearly 8 months since my close friend, Justin, passed away. I wrote this shortly after his passing but have been waiting for the right time to publish it. Tonight feels like the right time. Oh, how I miss him. His birthday is in a few short weeks. Perhaps that is why I keep coming back to this post in my heart and mind. 


Artist, Sean Diediker, holds a painting he did of Justin after news of his death. My parents gifted me a copy of this painting for my birthday last month. 

It dawned on me that many of you who don't know me in real life might be wondering who this Justin character is that I often blog about. The Justin who just passed away 2 months ago. I thought I'd fill you in on the history of our friendship and try to shed a little light on the absolutely incredible person he was.

Maybe it seems strange to you that my best friend was a man. He also happened to be one of Vic's closest friends (I came first...but he adopted Vic once we got married) as well as my parents'. That's just the kind of person he was. A friend to everyone. At his funeral there was a running joke where we argued over whose best friend he really was. Each speaker that got up introduced themselves as "Justin's best friend."

I met Justin in 1997 at Ricks College (now BYU-Idaho) the first day of school. We were both auditioning for my dad's performing group, Showtime Company. After the auditions, he approached me and asked me if I wanted to walk home with him.  I still remember what I was wearing. Black dance pants, black dance shoes and a burnt orange Banana Republic sweatshirt.

As we walked, he opened up to me about his brother who had recently had surgery, and some family friends of his who had just passed away in a car accident. He was so honest, so open, so sincere, so real. His kind and vulnerable ways really struck me. It was the first time I ever remember having a conversation with someone of the opposite sex where I didn't feel uncomfortable, self-conscious, or like I couldn't be myself. (A pretty big deal for a 19 year old...at least for me).

I left his apartment feeling like a different person. Honestly. In that one walk, that one conversation, I felt a whole new world open up to me. A world where people are real and honest and they communicate with heartfelt words. No flirting or awkwardness...just two human beings with beautiful souls who want to enjoy being in the presence of each other. I had experienced this with my girlfriends, but never with a guy.

We both ended up making the performing group and spent the entire year together...singing, dancing, rehearsing, walking to classes together, studying, driving around in his old little car, and laughing our heads off. We took trips to Salmon, Idaho and swam in the hot springs, went sledding, hung out with his marvelous parents, and stayed up late talking about life. With our friend, Paul, we headed to San Francisco to play at the beaches and parks and shop. At the end of that year, we toured together with the rest of our performing group for an entire month. It was heaven.

After college we kept in touch...always. We had the same sense of humor and would leave each other the funniest voice mails. We always talked about recording our voice mails into one big album and making an NPR story out of them. They were hilarious. So many different voices and characters were born in those voice mails.

Every guy I dated was compared to Justin. In fact, (and I truly don't remember this...what was I thinking????) when Vic and I were talking about getting married,  Vic tells me I walked over to the phone, called Justin and asked him if he thought the two of us would ever get married. When he told me, "no", I hung up and was able to tell Vic that we could go ahead and get married. ( I DO remember doing this with another guy I almost married two years earlier). Justin was my standard for all men.

He was there for me when I went through the temple for the first time, he was there when my brother was in drug rehab then ran away in NYC over Christmastime, (literally. He was came to NYC with my family for Christmas when I was living in Brooklyn),  he was there when I got married, he was there when Lucy was born, and he was there when Lucy died. He was the only non-family member in the room when we said our final goodbyes. Vic was on one side of the bed (I was laying in bed next to Lucy, stroking her hair) holding my hand, and Justin was holding my hand on the other side of the hospital bed. He brought food to the hospital and fed the countless friends and family who came to support us.

He was classy and interesting and enjoyed the finer things in life. He sent me beautiful silk scarves on my mission, he spoke French, he ran Salt Lake's number one restaurant (Cucina Toscana), he sang like George Michael, I loved his siblings and parents and sense of humor. And my family loved him. He was like a brother to all of us. He came to family dinners, on family vacations...it was not uncommon to be talking on the phone with him and have him tell me he needed to answer the other line because my mom or dad was calling.

Our good friend, Paul Canaan, (who is in Kinky Boots on Broadway right now...so fun), used to tease Justin relentlessly about how he couldn't take Justin anywhere because he would end up talking to the clerk, sales person, gas station attendant, librarian...whomever, and learning their life story. He was passionate about people. He taught me how to love strangers and connect with them.

His last text to me, which I got about three days before he died while I sat in rehearsal, was asking me how close to Kiev, Ukraine my parents were (they go there once a month from Moscow) because he had a friend filming a documentary there and he needed to get to a safe place. He had friends everywhere. I don't know a single person who met him who didn't love him.

He had his struggles. I think it is why he had such a tender heart.  He knew the reality of pain. I will never forget the day he asked me to go to his house near Liberty Park. Lucy was about 3 months old. I sat in his messy living room (his house was being remodeled...let's be honest, his house was always messy) as he stained the new cabinets in his kitchen. We chatted about some of his friends and their latest projects...photography, painting. And then he stopped what he was doing, knelt down at my feet, and told me he needed to tell me something. The tears flowed down his cheeks as he confided in me that he was gay. He was trembling. He explained how he had prayed and fasted until he was 130 pounds (he's 6 feet tall) but that nothing worked. He told me that if he could cut off one of his limbs and have the Lord take away this struggle, he would gladly do it.

I cried with him that day. I listened and hugged him and told him how much I loved him. Just like he had done for me so many times before, and continued to do until the day he died.

Sometimes Vic and I would sit in bed with the phone on speaker and talk to Justin about his heartaches. We'd also talk about business ideas (he had such a creative mind and was always starting new projects. He was the ultimate host.) We always talked about traveling to France together one day. We'd talk about food and our families, church, music... there weren't many topics I can think of that we DIDN'T talk about.

No matter what was said, we were just saying "I love you" with every conversation. There were times he'd retreat into a dark, black hole and not want to come out. But eventually, he always did. He lived with his sister (and sister's husband) and her 4 children in their beautiful home in Bountiful. He loved his nieces and nephews immensely. He couldn't hide for long before a loved one would coax him out of his depression.

Justin was a builder. He built up everyone around him. He made you feel like the most special person in the room. It was truly his gift. If you go to his memorial facebook page and read what people have written about him, you will see that I am not exaggerating here. He was an absolutely beautiful soul.

So when I say that I'm happy for him--happy that he is home--it is because I know about the wars that were raging in his heart. He often told me he just wanted to go home. He was so weary. He said he felt he lived a life of "almosts". I can almost be happy with a woman...but not quite. I can almost be happy with a man...but I struggle with the gay lifestyle and the guilt. I can almost be rich and famous (most of his friends were) but I just want to live with my family and serve people.

You know that 80's song, "You can look at the menu but you just can't eat...you can feel the cushions but you can't have a seat. You can dip your foot in the pool, but you can't have a swim. You can feel the punishment but you can't commit the sin." ? I think its a Howard Jones song. He used to say that was his theme song.

Yes, he came close to taking his life at one point. But he was in a wonderful and happy spot when he passed away. He did not take his own life. He had just finished 2 intense weeks of parties and dinners at Sundance (including a birthday party for the actress Geena Davis) and was supposed to take over ownership of Cucina Toscana the day after he died. I firmly choose to believe that he truly wore himself out in the service of others. It was not uncommon for him to wear himself ragged. He would not eat at his incredible dinners. He was too busy serving and hosting. He'd go through the Wendy's drive-thru at 2 a.m. then go home and crash. In the days before he died he was looking dehydrated.

All that matters now is that he is gone. But it also matters that he left an incredible legacy and impression on those of us left behind. I mostly mourn for his family who aches for him...his brothers and sister and parents.

I will miss his gigantic laugh, the safety of his hug, the freedom he granted me to be myself--to call and talk about everything and nothing. To sob uncontrollably because motherhood is too hard, and death is too hard. To talk about marriage and business ideas and church and money.

I have felt him near me and even communicating with me since his death. I've even laughed with him. I feel incredibly grateful knowing he is with Lucy. I feel incredibly grateful that I was a small part of his life and he mine. I love you, Justin. Thank you for loving me so perfectly.

I know it is so cliche, but I want to do better at expressing my love and gratitude to everyone in my life. We never know how much time we have on earth together. And we never, ever know the depths of heartache people are experiencing.

So that's my Justin. My incredible, unforgettable, wonderful Justin. One of the best men I have ever known.


Here he is being the Master of Ceremonies at my last benefit concert for A Good Grief. 
photo by Justin Hackworth


Monday, August 25, 2014

Our Desire to Solve





I was listening to a TED TALK (podcast) on my run the other day. If you haven't caught on by now, I LOVE my podcasts. Please, please, please enrich your life by getting a podcast app on your phone and subscribing to the following:

-The Moth
-Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me
-Ted Talks
-This I Believe
-Freakonomics

Anywho, the talk was called, "Two Nerdy Obsessions Meet--and It's Magic". The presenter, David Kwong, works for the New York Times putting together their crossword puzzles. He has a fascinating mind and gift.

He talked about how, as human beings, we are wired to create order out of chaos. He did some magic tricks, of sorts, and had some really cool visuals. But the thing that I couldn't get out of my head was what he said about how absolutely primal and instinctive it is for us to SOLVE. We want to solve problems. To make sense out of things...out of life. To have order.

Why did this stick out to me? Because after Lucy died, I was mentally tortured. I wanted to SOLVE and FIX the problem, but I COULD. NOT. And it literally changed my brain. Time and time again, when people ask me about losing my daughter, I tell them that while it effected me in many ways, the greatest toll and damage was MENTAL.

While listening to this Ted Talk, I couldn't stop thinking about all those torturous hours I sat in bed spinning over the events of May 18th. I have long subscribed to the philosophy that "when there is a will, there is a way." I feel like this has served me well in life and there is very little that I don't think I am capable of doing. But when Lucy died, there was no willing her back to life. And it physically HURT.

But then I had this thought: If we are biologically wired to SOLVE, and we are created in the image of God, then isn't He wired to solve, too? And if nothing we are doing, or can do, will solve our problems, then He must be able to. It's faith, really. It's so simple. But I had never thought of it in this way before.

We are solvers. But when we can't solve or fix, God can. How exactly that works, what exactly our part in that is...I don't know. Sometimes it just takes...time. And while He can't fix Lucy's death in the way that I would like, by bringing her back, he can fix "what is." He can fix my broken brain and my broken heart. This has happened mostly through the process of life. Just the way He created earth life to happen. By living one day at a time. There have been greater graces and miracles, mostly via friends and loved ones, but somehow this whole giant system--this crossword puzzle--will be complete. And I will be complete.

Once again, I don't really know where I'm going with this post. I just really enjoyed David Kwong's presentation and was grateful that my madness was validated.

As I go through day to day stresses and struggles, I hope I will remember that while I might be wired to solve and fix and create order, I'm not always the best at it, and I need help from a higher power.

So, carry on my fellow solvers.  I hope you have great success. I suck at crossword puzzles, but hopefully I'll figure out this real-life puzzle someday.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Outlast the Darkness




I don't know what this blog post is. But it is born from a feeling of... exhaustion. And sadness.

I'm tired. I've been in the habit of going to bed quite late then napping in the afternoons. I got to bed later than usual last night and couldn't turn off my brain. Combine that with an early rise to take a friend somewhere, Zoë skipping her nap today and Peter having some extreme moments of ultimate little shitness (love him to absolute pieces), and you've got yourself a recipe for a tired, overwhelmed, sad me.

The news, the world, the stress of raising children. It's a lot to process and deal with. There are times that the absolute madness of young children puts me in a state of emotional paralysis. I look around at the insane messes made within SECONDS, I hear the cacophony of noises coming from bodies and toys and electronics, the constant pulling on me and the whining. It's just...wow. Am I a human being? Because I feel like some sort of limp, smelly rag. Some people can handle and embrace the chaos...I am constantly analyzing it and questioning why it has to be this way. (By and large, our days are good. But it's still insanity.)

I miss Justin. Losing one of your very closest, dearest friends leaves a unique hole in your life. I don't even know what to say about it.

Vic gave me a book for Mother's Day last year, called Lincoln's Battle with God. (You bet I got snarky and said, "Lincoln's Battle with God? For Mother's Day? More like...Husband's Battle with Wife"). Well, I sit here eating my humble pie because I finally started reading it and its wonderful. The opening chapter is all about his mother and the great love he had for her. It is beautiful and moving. A very sweet and thoughtful gift after all. (Ahem... I'll send you a link, honey, for the piece of jewelry I want next year.)

You probably know that Abraham Lincoln struggled greatly with depression. And its no secret that I have as well. Since starting Zoloft after Zoë was born, my life has taken a dramatic sharp turn for the better. But the sadness still sits with me. Sadness took up residence in my heart long ago. But it makes me think more deeply (I hope), empathize, and forever try to make peace with this human experience.

The following quote from the book, by Stephen Mansfield, was profoundly beautiful to me:

"Nevertheless, Lincoln's story is, in part, that of a man who beat back the spirits that came for him in the night. He might well have been crushed by his woes, by the death of his first son and then the second, by the madness of his wife, or the hatred of his foes--even by the devils in his thoughts. He did not yield, though, not ultimately. As important, he mined the valleys of depression for what riches he could find. He emerged to see life differently from other men, to understand and feel as though he were looking in from outside of human existence. For that is what depression is--a way of seeing and feeling life as though from another, tormented world. This ability to outlast the darkness was one more gift from his mother, and it, too, would shape the brand of faith he eventually made his own. "

So many things to love about this. "...he mined the valleys of depression for what riches he could find." "..the brand of faith he made his own." "...a man who beat back the spirits that came for him in the night."

I guess these are things I'm sorting through as I write this. I'm chasing away the spirits of despair over the gruesome deaths of women and children in Gaza. I'm trying to find and identify my own brand of faith and acceptance of my life, my beliefs. I'm trying to dig deep in my emotional mine to find rich memories of my Justin and my Lucy. I'm searching for strength to face another day with my children--with the hope that I am leading them right.  Happy to see them growing and learning, but never wanting them to grow up. They are so precious.

I'm headed back to my book now (Vic is on a date at the movies with his sister). With a good night's sleep under my belt, I'm hoping tomorrow will be a bit brighter. I will not yield to the devil in my thoughts!




Tuesday, August 12, 2014

From the desk of Zoë June



Hi guys, 

My family and I have been so busy having fun this summer that my mommy hasn't blogged much lately. You see that photo of me laying on my mommy's lap? That was me after a long day of swimming and hiking. My mommy loves me so much and thinks I'm the most beautiful little girl. She's constantly trying to kiss me and sometimes squeezes me so tightly I think I'm going to burst!

I wanted to give her a break from blogging so I decided to write this one for her. She wanted to let you know that DAVID JOYNER is the winner of the Sutton Foster giveaway. I guess this means I will be with a babysitter that night. I'm sure we will have lots of fun. After all, I am the cutest. 


Here I am with my daddy. We are sharing a delicious pear. I'm so lucky to have yummy fruit to eat and a daddy who loves me and works hard for our family. We have so much fun together! He throws me way up high in the pool and tickles me and plays with me. I love running to him when he gets home from work and squealing, "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!" 

My mommy starts rehearsals today for her new show, "Catch Me If You Can." She walks around the house all day singing songs from the show at the top of her lungs. "And I'm ready...to take Doctors orders!" My brother has started singing along. He even changes some of the lyrics and it makes us all giggle. I think he gets that from my Mommy. 

Mommy is excited about the show because she will get to do so much dancing! It's so fun when my Mommy does a show because I get to meet so many new and fun people. I love going to the theatre to visit and I get lots of extra time in the evenings with my daddy. If you want to see my Mommy in the show, go to the Hale Centre Theatre on a Monday, Wednesday, or Friday night (or Saturday matinee at 12:30). 

There is so much more to tell you about our summer adventures and all that I'm learning. But I want to go watch my favorite morning cartoon "Strawberry Cake". Thank you for reading my Mommy's blog and being so kind to my family. We love you!

Kisses and Hugs, 

Zoë June

Monday, August 4, 2014

Sutton Foster--Giveaway!




Ok, I know not everyone who reads my blog is as big of a musical theatre nerd as myself...so I'm guessing not all of you know who Sutton Foster is. All I have to say about that is a big fat SHAME ON YOU.

I know what kind of musical theatre consumer you are. You love Wicked. You know who Idina Menzel is. You think Phantom of the Opera is one of the greatest musicals of all time. And of course you've seen Les Mis. So you think you're pretty cool stuff. Wrong, I say!

Have you seen Throughouly Modern Millie? Have you heard the soundtrack to "Little Women" (yes, the Broadway musical)? Do you know that Sutton Foster has won 2 Tony Awards? She's phenomenal.   She is absolutely adorable. AND SHE'S COMING TO BYU Sept. 5th and 6th. It is going to be an absolute DELIGHT.  (And I could tell you some things about her. A few of my friends have been in Broadway shows with her. She hates wearing makeup and dressing up. Or I could tell you about the time my (then-single) friend, Kyler Kronmiller, asked her out on a date after her show. The details are fuzzy, but I remember it involved some awkwardness).

Leave a comment telling me why you need a night out to hear this diva. She will melt your heart and make you laugh all in one breath. I prom dress! Don't believe me? Look her up on Youtube.

*Tickets are for Friday, Sept 5th and you'll be seated next to me and Victor Schmictor. Winner will be announced one week from today. 


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Today I'm Thinking of The Congo




I took my beautiful Sudanese friend, Adhieu Awan, to register for ESL (English as a second language) classes at Salt Lake Community College this morning. The beautiful and talented Katey Hebert Schmidt watched my kids so I could go. (That's beside the point...but I wanted to do a shout out). After we finished with registration, etc. I drove her the rest of the way to work. We talked about how far she has come...one little step at a time. She told me how much she loves her work and thanked me for getting her such a great job. (She sorts clothes at the LDS Humanitarian Center to be sent overseas to countries just like the one she came from). You should have seen the smile on her face a few weeks ago when she got her first ever paycheck.

On our route to work, she pointed out another woman she works with waiting at the bus stop. I wanted to pull over and offer her a ride, but hesitated because it was a tricky traffic situation to get to her. Adhieu suggested I turn right then flip a "U" --the timing was perfect with traffic and the lights and her coworker jumped in the car with a big smile on her face. She introduced herself as Florence. "Oh. I just love that name!"  As we drove we chatted about where she was from. "The Congo", she said. "In America 8 month."

"Wow. Are you a refugee?"

With a somewhat glazed look in her eyes she replied simply, "Yes".

"How do you like America? Utah?"

"Very nice. People don't kill each other. People don't tell you to kill. A lot of Christians."

I asked if she lived alone. "No", she said. "I live with my husband and 2 kid."

She and her husband both work. They take turns watching the kids. She has 2 boys, ages 5 and 3. I asked if she needed any clothes for her boys and she warmly and comfortably replied immediately, "Yes. If you have any."

Do I have any? I have boxes and drawers full of random who knows what. I have piles of laundry and so much food to eat it goes bad. I have never been shot at or raped or forced from my home or asked to kill someone else. Yes, I have some! And I have shoes and books and blankets and food and diapers and soap. And I have a listening ear that wants to hear everything you've been through. Please remind me that the fact that I ate way too many saltine cracker toffee pieces last night doesn't matter as much as I think it does. Please ask me again and again "if I have any"... because Utah is a tiny blip in a great big world full of color and struggle and love and diversity.

I'm so glad Adhieu made me stop when I almost drove by because the traffic was too inconvenient to get to her. It's a good thing to mix up our driving patterns once in a while. We miss out on so many experiences otherwise.

If you want to help Florence and her family, or darling Adheiu, please email me (my email can be found at the top of my blog on the 'contact' button). Perhaps I sound ignorant, bitter, or even jealous, but I sometimes hate that a fashion blogger has 22 thousand "followers" and a refugee woman from the Congo needs clothes and food for her kids. (I'm guilty as charged for wanting "all the things".)

This started out as my Facebook status post a few minutes ago and has turned into a quickly written blog/rant/pondering. Thanks for listening.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Joey and Zoë

Blogging? Who blogs? Why blog? Do people still read blogs? Huh.

We went to Bear Lake this past weekend with several families from Park City. These are families whom we love love love. These are people who have been with us for the long haul since Lucy died. They were part of our lives before she died too...and will always be a part of our lives.

Two of the couples on the trip picked out Lucy's (and mine and Vic's) burial spot. (We were unable to pick it out ourselves due to some timing issues. She died over Memorial Day weekend and we were on a tight schedule to make the cut off time in order for her to be buried the day after Memorial Day. We didn't want to leave her side for a moment and our dear friends set out to perform the difficult task of finding just the right spot for our princess).


missing from the photo: John and Debbie Flint and their son, A.J. Also, Peter. And Mike and Stacey Rasmuson and daughter, Hallie. Added to the photo but wasn't on the trip with us: Rachael Charles. Ha. (We met up at the park the day after we came home to visit and relive the trip). 


In other words, these people are like family to us. We packed up our camping gear Thursday morning and headed out. We didn't sleep much...if at all. It was horrible as far as sleep was concerned. I don't even want to relive the epic tantrum that Zoë had at 1:30 a.m. our first night there.





But I DO want to relive some of the great moments we had. The boating, the wake boarding, the food, the laughs, the kids playing with each other, the biking, the running, the swimming. It was marvelous.











But my very favorite thing was seeing my Zoë with a very special boy named Joey. If you've read the entire story of the day Lucy choked , then you know that Joey's lips are the last that Lucy ever kissed. Lucy loved Joey and his entire family.  Joey was an honorary Pall Bearer at Lucy's funeral. He was far too little to carry the casket.

Since Lucy's death, Joey and his family moved to Boise, Idaho--so we only see them on occasion. Joey and his sister, Kalena, met Zoë when she was just 4 weeks old. They were shocked at how big she and Peter both have gotten.

It takes a long time for Zoë to warm up to someone. No matter how friendly or bright or fun you are, she usually wants nothing to do with you unless you have had some significant bonding time. Usually involving popcorn or treats or puppies. So we were surprised at the way she immediately took to Joey. And not just a little bit.



He was so sweet with her, so protective and brotherly with her. I am entirely letting myself believe that their special and immediate bond was because of Lucy. 




Have you ever seen such a thing? The KOA campground in Bear Lake was quite the place! But I won't be camping again with these little ones for another couple of years. 

I really wish I knew how much goes on on the other side. My kids seem to know and understand and accept so much when it comes to Lucy. Just today, Peter was going on about an amazing idea he had that when Jesus comes back, and Lucy comes back, that we can all be together and that I will be forbidden to give her an apple again...and then we can all live together. "Ok, Mom?"

And yes, Kalena and I (Joey's 15 yr. old sister) stood there while they jumped on the pillow and planned their wedding. Joey and Zoë. Joey's parent's are 12 years apart, which is less than he and Zoë--it could work. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

High on A Mountain Top




Have you  noticed the moon this week? It's huge and bright and beautiful. An absolutely spectacular site.

We went on a wonderful family hike a few weeks ago in Park City. We did our old stand by trail that we call "the loop". It is at the top of our neighborhood (neighborhoods in PC have "tops" and "bottoms") and we have hiked it and run it a million times...with all 3 of our kids.

I was reminded of a very difficult and sacred experience I had once at the very spot pictured in the above photos. I had Vic snap these of me for the specific reason of writing this post. A few weeks after Lucy died, exactly this time of year--July--when the moon was just as ripe and big and full and bright as it is now, I went on a walk to this lookout point. I planned on going alone, but a friend joined me at the last minute.

Utterly exhausted and trembling with grief, I silently made my way to the trail head and began to climb. Once at the top, I sat down on the bench and looked out over my beloved city. My friend could sense I needed some time alone and wandered up the trail a bit while I sat thinking and praying, questioning, talking, trying to make sense of the unsensible.

That's when I began weeping. I don't remember where Vic was this particular night. He may have been at some sort of church meeting, or even just home in bed. It was at a time when we didn't know how to grieve with each other. We were not able to comfort each other. There was no give and take. No taking turns being the strong one. We were both incredibly broken.

As I sat there weeping, it turned to sobs. I tried to stifle my wailing noises, my mucus and tears and loud, fast breaths. I was gasping for more than just air. I needed peace and comfort as desperately as a drowning person needs to break through to the surface of the water. But I was sinking fast.

My friend approached the bench, sat down, and lifted me into their lap and held me. As my friend stroked my hair and wiped the tears from my face, we didn't say a word to each other. Just then, the heavenly summer moon rose over the crest of the mountain. The power of its beauty and majesty was palpable. Again, we said nothing. I continued to cry and mumble "why did I give her the apple?" "I can't believe this happened". "It's too painful. It's too painful"!

As the moon continued to rise, a calm came over us. I began breathing more slowly. I stared at the moon as if it were a peep hole into the heavens...where my daughter's new life was just beginning. The timing of the moon rise seemed musical. Like it was a prop, arriving on stage right on cue. It cast a gorgeous glow on everything in sight. I think that was the moment I decided I wasn't going to be mad at God for this. His works are too mysterious, beautiful, and unknown for me to comprehend.

Sitting on that mountain top, surrounded by the wildflowers, rocks, trees, and the city lights of my home, I felt the possibility of healing. It lasted for just a moment, but I recognized it amidst the extreme heartache.

Again, we walked back to my friend's home in silence. I was still reeling. Still wiping tears. Still torn and upset and confused and utterly, completely, entirely lost. But to this day, every time I see a full moon, especially in July, I think of that night. I will never forget the tenderness my friend showed me.  The calmness and sacredness in which my friend handled the situation was one of the purest acts of love and friendship I've experienced. I see the summer moon and it reminds me of that heartache. It always makes me feel melancholy and grateful at the same time.

I've come a long way--and the moon always reminds me of this. But it reminds me I haven't done it on my own. We all need each other. Sometimes we are the ones who offer our lap and unspoken support, and sometimes we are the one needing a hand to hold and someone to wipe our tears.

I don't have a clever or profound ending to this post. It's just something I have wanted to record for a long time. Last night's moon told me that now was the time.