Monday, January 28, 2019


Sometimes my mind becomes a sepia toned filter and I lament my vanishing days of wine and roses. The days of apple juice in baby bottles and matching Easter outfits in the spring. The handpainted roses on the nursery walls and the satisfaction of opening a new bag of diapers and filling the drawers with stacks that smelled of baby powder...if only for the time being.

On cold wintery nights, I slowly walk the streets while my dog tears up the landscape, sniffing the ground like it holds the secret to life rather than another dog's urine, and I'll think of what's lost and wish I could go back..."If only for a day, what day would it be? Would it be Christmas Eve? Or camping at Bear Lake? Or the day they were born or..."

But my reverie is interrupted when a booger covered mini-van flies down the road carrying a frantic mother with murder in her eyes on her way to Smith's hoping to hell she can find EVERY SINGLE ITEM NECESSARY for her 4th grader's Science Fair project—including the actual scientific theory—that is due tomorrow.

I know this because I experienced this. I also experienced sending a kid to school without his decorated shoebox county float because said kid never mentioned the assignment until the actual morning it was due. Oh, well. Sometimes you just have to keep in mind that their record isn't permanent until Freshman year. And college is overrated.

I also screamed my children out the door nearly every other morning, even though I had a Come to Jesus with myself EVERY DAY to remind me that I was the voice in their head and if all that voice did was scream, well then, it was almost certain that my name would be brought up in front of a judge or a therapist one day.

But that didn't stop me, because then there were the mornings that I heard a honk outside at, like, an ungodly hour. This would cause me to fly out of bed, throw open the shutters and tear the sash off the wall as I tried to figure out if the car was in front of our house while hoping and praying it was at the neighbor's. But it never was. It was always freaking at our house. Which meant, ONCE AGAIN, that one of my children had made arrangements for something that required them to act like responsible adults, and then didn't tell me. Well EVERY MOTHER KNOWS her kid isn't responsible. SHE is responsible. Her kid has a wonky, underdeveloped, crippled frontal lobe and that is why they aren't allowed to do practically anything without adult supervision at that age. So WHO ARE THESE FOOLS WHO LET THEM MAKE PLANS WITHOUT CLEARING IT WITH THEIR MOTHER?!

The honk was always followed by me turning on every light in the house, yelling up the stairs to the guilty party to, "WAKE THE HELL UP! YOUR RIDE IS HERE!" then running to the door with Bride of Frankenstein hair to make the universal, "Hey! Yeah, hi! Good to see you. Just one minute and they'll be out. Sorry, we're just running a little bit behind," sign—a deprecating smile and holding the pointer finger aloft.

There was also the day I came for a PTA meeting and saw my son in the principal's office. I thought, "He's probably being given an award. Wonder why they didn't call me?" Turns out he was pointing at his bum and telling all the little girls to, "Kiss this." Mm hmm. That's right. #metoo.

Add to these stories the broken teeth and broken arms, the slug fights at 1:00 a.m. because, "HE'S SNORING ON PURPOSE!" Julia intentionally stomping on the heads of her sleeping brothers in the truck because they were in her way, the baby hands grabbing the burning griddle, the croupy coughs, the lost elections, the poop in the tub and the vomit on the plane.

Now ask me if I'd go back for a day?

The answer is yes.

But it sure as H wouldn't be the day of the Science Fair.

Pretty sure Julia tried to kick Ashton's pumpkin right after this shot was taken.

Is there ever a time that a costume knife isn't a good idea? Prove it.

Sunday morning chic.

I made those vests. I rocked the homemaking scene.

Goggles. An accessory for every outfit...or lack thereof.

And they all turned out just fine, despite my worst efforts.

Friday, December 28, 2018


My childhood friend's dad died.

Today I sat in the chapel, looking at the back of his daughter's head with her beautiful gray hair, sitting next to her mother behind his flag draped casket as they listened to the last song they'll ever experience as a family in this realm. And I remembered when she used to wear her hair curly and pulled back with little butterfly barrettes. And laughed so hard and so easily that we did all we could to get her going. And accidentally dropped the baby hamster when it pooped in her hands and every kid in class yelled that she probably killed it and made her weep because we were young and dumb and couldn't see past our own 11 year old noses to care how we made other people feel.

You see, I was there for the beginning. But most of the time we're not. Most of the time we know the ending and can't imagine it's ever been any other way.

I didn't know how Angela's dad began. I just knew he wore a hat, was really smart and always smiled. Turns out he loved horses, talked so much that his date (who later became his wife) thought to herself she'd never marry him if he was the last man on earth, and when it came time to pop the question, parked his car and said, "Well?...Well, you know...What do you want to do?...I guess...I guess we might as well."

And they did.

They were married on a cold winter day, with snowflakes as big as quarters falling down as they drove through Sardine Canyon on their way to Logan. Only the two of them knew that at 5:30 that morning, she had locked her purse with their temple recommends inside the apartment and he had to hoist her up to climb inside the window. The perfect way to start their eternal journey—depending on each other.

They fought while she proofread his papers. They had a daughter and raised her as their only child. They worked on a lesson plan to teach people about Christ. They lived for nearly 50 years in a home on David Drive and together made memories to last a lifetime.

And that's just what they did. They lasted his life time. All the way... to the end.

I've known a lot of people lately who have found themselves in this space. Faithful friends walking behind coffins, thanking people for coming, telling stories of how it used to be and wondering how it all happened so fast and why the end came so soon.

And those of us left behind can't help but feel that way. Like it's the end. And we can't imagine it will ever be any other way.

But one day, we'll all be on the other side, waiting for our loved ones to come back to us and we'll know...

we'll know.

It was only the beginning.

And it will never be
Any. Other. Way.


Monday, February 19, 2018


"Once upon a time, there was a caterpillar. He had a million legs. Every day he would look at all of them, trying to decide which one he should move first. Finally, he died in the same position he began. The end."

A few months ago, I was feeling ambitious. So much so that I pulled up Amazon, found the unabridged version of Les Miserables and clicked order. When the over 1200 pages arrived, they looked more friendly than I expected and I immediately poured a bath so I could get to know them.

Several months later I climbed out of that bath a changed woman—shriveled and pruned and dehydrated from weeping so long and so hard—and changed. Of course, as we all know, "changed" rarely lasts. Just as Baby in Dirty Dancing, great intentions get shoved into the corner of our minds as we tend to forget why we were inspired, what we were always going to remember and what flash of brilliance was revealed to us in those fleeting moments.

It made me sad to think that those godly ideals would stay hidden in the shadows of my library and dimming mind. So I picked up my worn book, a yellow highlighter, and climbed back into that watery casket intending to mark the brilliant passages and use them as a catalyst for my blog. Weeks have passed and I am still stagnant, but this ends today.

Here I go, moving one of my caterpillar legs.

" are looking at a plain man and I am looking at a great man. Each of us may benefit." Monseignor Bienvenu—Bishop of Digne

I was a pretty big deal in elementary school. I could roundoff back handspring across the entire field, I was "going with" Troy who gave me his lunch orange every day and I had started wearing a purse and blue eyeshadow before most of the other girls. As I said, a pretty big deal. The world was my chocolate box and as I wiped the brown drool off my chin I had no reason to believe it would ever be any different.

The first day of junior high I kicked open those school doors and those school doors kicked me right back, figuratively knocking my teeth out and giving me a bloody nose. My face was wrong, my words were wrong and my jeans were wrong. Apparently Kings was not the place to buy them. Falling from grace was painful and humiliating and I spent the next few years trying to become what I used to be, only to Pinterest Fail over and over again.

During this time, my big sister was my opposite. She was Valentine royalty, Best All Around and Homecoming Queen. Every boy was secretly in love with her and like Ursula, I would watch her, trying to figure out her secret powers and how I could steal them from her. I used her perfume and chewed her gum. I tried to emulate her walk and her talk and even read her journal. (Sorry 'bout that, Nick.) I would hear, "Why don't you be more like Nicki?" as often as I'd hear, "Why do you always try to be like Nicki?" I just couldn't figure out the perfect recipe and she became a blessing and a curse to me until I eventually came back to myself.

Fortunately, confidence returned with highlighted hair and a savage tan, and popularity was no longer my master. But I had definitely benefited from being plain and looking at a great man. Turns out Nicki's secret was kindness. To everyone. They loved her because they knew she loved them. In appearing lowly, she was great.

Nicki continues to be great, but I'm sure she'd tell you she's been on both sides of the window in her lifetime. We all have. The lesson is in seeing something worth aspiring to no matter which set of eyes you're looking through. Great or plain. Low or high. It doesn't matter. Each of us may benefit.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018


My son screaming that life isn't fair

Lori, this one's for you—

A couple of things; first, went in to the dermatologist today on account of I'm nearing the half century mark and every day is a new and exciting pending disease. Second, you've never lived (and by lived I mean died a slow, humiliating death) unless you've tried to keep your 49 year old chest from spilling out of a too small surgical gown that you accidentally put on backwards while seeing your speckled and freckled skin under fluorescent lights while a younger, thinner, more intelligent you-in-a-parallel-universe-where-you-applied-yourself examines and judges your lack of self care. That poor dear. Full frontal is super offensive after four babies.

Anyway, turns out the moles I thought were worrisome were not and the ones I took no notice of were. A squirt of lidocaine and a melon baller later and I'm several hundred dollars closer to meeting my deductible. And maybe have cancer. But whatevs. I deserve it. Just today I said these words...out loud, mind you..."At this stage of life I no longer tremble at the thought of trials." See? Same as yelling, "COME AT ME, BRO!" to Heaven and Hades. Idiot.

On a lighter note, guess how many times I've seen The Greatest Showman? FOUR! But that pales in comparison to Karyn who is going on SEVEN. Cuz Hugh. (She's kind of a stalker, but I get it.) And if by chance you're lucky enough to sit by me next time, you're welcome in advance for how much better you're going to know the lyrics by the time the lights come up.

Also, full disclosure—I lied and told my daughter I'm off pop. But back to trials—I've had some dear friends and family gut punched lately with the wiles of this earth life. None of it fair, none of it easy and none of it with a clear map of how to navigate. Of course, we all know from experience and our mothers telling us every day for the first 20 years of our lives, "Fair? FAIR!? (maniacal laughter) Life has never been fair. I never promised you a rose garden. Also, hogwash and pig guts, Lisa!" Maybe that last refrain was unique to our household—hard to say—but unfair was a visitor in every home which is how we became adept at splitting a piece of Wrigley's spearmint without it being obvious we kept the biggest piece for ourselves.

But cancer is not a piece of gum. And divorce is about thorns, not roses. Hogwash and pig guts applies to pretty much everything that's ever been, but that goes without saying.

Years ago I heard a man express an interesting viewpoint. He said as he rode through a war torn country and saw little children suffering, he decided they must have been bad people in another life. That made him feel better. It was punishment. He couldn't imagine a god who would allow opposition and he just felt better knowing that bad things only happen to bad people.

I'm not sure how he convinced himself of this distortion, but hopefully most of us understand the real need for opposition. It is a masterful teacher. What better way to learn the blessing of sleep than to go a night without it? What finer way to enjoy a spring day than to endure what feels like a year of Januaries? And what greater way to appreciate life than to suddenly find yourself fighting for it?

No, life is not fair. And my goodness, shouldn't we be grateful? If it were, I hate to imagine what I'd deserve. All that I have is through no fault or goodness of my own. Why do I get to live in a country where I can get skin removed before I die of its mutation? How come I don't have to fight or kill to go to church on Sunday? Why do I deserve to live in a fantasyland filled with Chick-Fil-A, Dirty Dr. Pepper and Kate Spade purses?

The answer is—because life isn't fair.  If we ask why bad things happen to us, we also have to ask why good things happen to us. And to be honest, I am completely unwilling to even things out. Please let Heavenly Father never figure out how undeserving we are of His goodness.

I will even give you the biggest piece of gum if you promise to keep your mouth shut.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017


So this is it, you guys. This is how it ends.

One day you're young and perky and able to bend forward far enough to shave your own legs and you feel like it's always going to be this way. Like those stories you heard growing up about a grandma who went outside to get the mail but tripped on the hose broke her hip and died were just crazy talk. And you're going to be different. You're not like other grandmas. You're the special kind of grandma who will never need to trombone when you're reading a menu and who people think is the mother of the baby you're carrying and say when they're your age they hope they look half as good. The kind of special grandma who, when you feel like it, will have the option to get into shape and start running marathons and can hold your grand baby without your arms shaking and your body will always produce hair and hormones and red lipstick will be your forever friend. THAT is the kind of grandma you're going to be and you just really feel sorry for all of the normal grandmas out there who did something wrong along the way which is why they find themselves in such a sorry state—those poor dears.

But then one day you wake up in agony because you threw your back out turning over in bed and you realize that you are, in fact, not the special kind of grandma, but are, in fact, going to have to wake up your husband to help you get to the bathroom.

Here's some of what we've got going on here:

Daily medication for migraines.

Aging eyeballs, but not the way normal people's eyeballs age. Nope. See, mine still see close up but can't focus once I look farther away unless I give them a few minutes to pull their shit together.

High blood pressure, which I always insisted was anxiety induced because every time they checked it I was at the doctor where they nearly killed (weighed) me, then told me to "scoot your bum down to the end of the table aaand relaaaaxxx..." So is it any wonder? But then after years of daily indolence, Dr. Peppers and doughnuts, anxiety induced turned into me induced.

Hiatal Hernia which is a displaced stomach with some kind of hole or tear or fissure or I really don't know what but what I do know is it is responsible for SONIC BOOM burps, lots of stomach aches and the inability to take a swig of water in the middle of the night. Or in the morning. Or in the afternoon or really any time on a clock.

Herniated (bulging) disc with nerve impingement. Didn't even feel the needle they stabbed into my foot.
Sciatica. Could barely drive without screaming.
Achilles Tendonitis in FREAKING BOTH FEET. I don't want to talk about it.

But what I do want to talk about is these bumps all over my body but mostly on my legs that just kind of appear every few days with no explanation of where they came from or where they're going but with all their belongings strapped to the top of their car and a beach bag on their arm clearly intending to stay a while as it seems my middle aged body is ocean front property and my vanity is paying their taxes.

So THAT is where I find myself.  And as I hobble out to the mailbox eating a fistful of pills, pale pink lipstick feathering away from my thin lips and avoiding the tangled hose, I realize I am a normal grandma which means, according to my logic, I must have done something wrong. But I'm even more sure I did something right to be blessed with doctors and husbands and aging friends and beautiful grand babies and nude tone pantyhose and Kate Spade purses to journey with me to the bitter end.

Speaking of grand babies, I present to you all LYDIA EVE BINGHAM and her eyebrows. She's my favorite...for now.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


A couple of Sundays ago, while singing praises with the choir, I tried to make loving Easter eye contact with my children. However, against my warnings, they were in a relationship with their smart phones so they didn't even notice. But as it turned out, they had a very good reason for being on their phones as our east coast kids had texted that they were on their way to the hospital TO GIVE BIRTH TO OUR VERY OWN EASTER CHICK!

I busted out of the chapel doors, dialing their number and apologizing to Jesus for the interruption while I raced outside. Sure enough, there were contractions involved and everything and they said they'd let us know what they found out. Well, that was as good as a birth announcement, so I made it official! Even going so far as to announce loudly and confidently to every. single. person. I. came. in. contact. with. that "UNTO YOU IS BORN THIS DAY..." and yes it is three weeks early but she went in for her exam a couple of days ago and she was dilated to a three and 80% effaced and I'm sorry that your grand baby is due this week and there are no signs of labor you have my pity but we've clearly been kissed by angels and oh my heck I bet she looks like me and I'll probably call the airline as soon as church is over and you know I just had a feeling something special was going to happen today and I bet she's already been born and they're putting a bow on her full head of hair right now and that's why they haven't returned our calls or been responding to texts and this is so exciting so STOP YOUR LESSON SO I CAN STAND ON THIS CHAIR AND FIELD QUESTIONS BECAUSE THIS IS BIGGER THAN ANYTHING YOU'VE PREPARED!!!"

By the time church ended, they were back home.

Son of a.

So we went about our labors (no pun intended) and tried to carry on as we had before, except for now she might as well have been three weeks late than early, because the shot had been fired and our baby runner was still just standing there on her mark while aaallllll the others were dashing past to win smocked dresses and minky blankies.

Dang chill baby.

Every day we ask and every day same story—No Baby—reported with a subtle undercurrent of seething, hemorrhoidal rage that only a woman sent home undelivered from the hospital understands.

Then a few days later, Madelyn had a new story to tell.

She had made herself a tasty peanut butter and jelly sandwich for dinner, and it just wasn't sitting well. For hours into the night, she dealt with acid, walking around, rearranging and fluffing pillows, hoping for some relief. Finally she decided she should go throw up. Just a little bit, you know. Like maybe a "smidge" would do it, as vomit is measured. So she dropped her head over the sink—no sense wasting a full flush on a smidge—and proceeded to retch until her painted toes came popping out of her nose holes.

She completely filled the sink. And covered the mirror. And most of the countertop. Apparently her stomach had been saving up for something special, and this was it.

It was a puke to be reckoned with, no smidge about it, and her nine months pregnant body couldn't contain...well, most anything...thus, she had to strip from the waist down if you know what I mean. So she's standing there, half dressed, stomach and bladder emptied out, and completely overwhelmed with vomit, then realizes somebody has to clean this up. And as all mothers eventually learn, she's it.

She tries rinsing it down the sink. The sink clogs. Of course the sink clogs. So she grabs the only thing she can find—a Star Wars cup—and starts to scoop and transfer cupfuls of puke from sink to toilet.

She's trying not to breathe, her hands are covered in spew and she cannot believe that none of this has stirred the sleeping man in her bed.

When she's all done scooping, transferring, wiping and cleaning, she flushes victoriously.

Toilet starts to overflow and clogs. Of course it starts to overflow and clog.

And that was it.
Her breaking point.

She starts to bawl...and curse...and does the only thing she can do in between sobbing swearwords, which is grab the cup and start re-transferring puke from toilet to sink, hoping to attain the perfect ratio of vomit, toilet paper and water. During all of this, she hisses to the heavens, "ALL I CAN SAY IS, THIS HAD #$%^&#  BETTER GET THINGS GOING WITH THE BABY!"

But as it turns out, she was less pregnant than she had been a week ago. The doctor's actual words were, "No progress." But she swears she heard, "Looks like your cervix is closing back up again. Weird."

Anyway, if you got this far in the story, you deserve some chocolate, so go get it while I finish up. The moral to the story is this; It can always get worse. And often does. Also, toilets can't be trusted to do their job. And probably even more important; husbands can sleep through anything.

And I mean aaaaannnnnyyyyyyythiiiinnnng.

Madelyn is far more beautiful than any soon-to-be mother has a right to be.

Monday, December 12, 2016


Our family was the featured entertainment at church yesterday. I decided to blog it for posterity. You're welcome.

Our daughter was asked to play a musical number during Sacrament meeting. She chose a Christmas favorite—"Oh Come, Oh Come, Emanuel," and the practicing commenced. For two months it commenced and commenced and commenced. In fact, so much did it commence that I almost preferred Feliz Navidad. Of course, by almost I mean that will never, EVER happen, but I was grateful when she finally perfected it.

We dressed her in Christmas plaid, long blond hair flowing over her shoulders and lips painted in festive red. When the speaker sat down, Julia stood up and Sterling and I grabbed each other's hands, knowing we were about to be the shiniest ornament on the tree.

Her fingers were like Olympic figure skaters, trilling and twirling and dusting up shimmering notes that hung in the air like magic. Our nerves dissipated as we relaxed our grip and both started to grin like arrogant Cheshire cats.

Suddenly, a troll escaped from Hell and came running across the piano keys.

At least that's what I think happened, because with no warning, every single note was wrong.  And I don't just mean wrong, but I mean it didn't even resemble the song. And this didn't just last for a quick couple of seconds until she got her bearings. No, this went on for at least—at LEAST—20 seconds. An entire page of convulsions. It was like her fingers were chasing the demon as he went crunking across the keyboard.

Then just as quickly as it began, it ceased, and she climbed up from the frozen ice to try that triple jump again. Unfortunately, just as before, the exact same thing happened—all Hades broke loose mid-refrain. Sterling and I looked at each other and we knew; this was going to cost her the gold.

It was also unfortunate that, by this time, I had started to laugh. And I use the term lightly because really, I had a complete meltdown—I'm talking the kind of collapse that gets you kicked out of a rock concert, it's so disruptive.

Mid hysteria, I looked over Sterling's shoulder as he shot a spiritual text to our other children who weren't there: "Your sister just slaughtered the shit out of her piano piece..." More was said, but that was enough. My composure packed up and left to start a band. To make a much too long story shorter, I sob-laughed for the rest of Julia's recital and two more speakers. Had to redo my makeup.

When the meeting was over, every lovely person in the ward put an arm around Julia and commiserated about what had happened, even while pretending nobody had noticed. Most of them ended with, "But you sure looked pretty" (as you went down in flames). Jules handled it beautifully, and I stood by her side, wiping remnants of eye liner off my chin, knowing I was an enormous liability, but grateful that the glare of the spotlight was dimming.

Turns out I was wrong.

At the conclusion of Sunday School, a good man stood up to say the prayer—a thoughtful prayer. There were several extended pauses between phrases and he finished one particular sentence with the name of our Savior. Well, in our culture, those are trigger words, you guys. Prompts, if you will. They signal the end of the prayer, and that's when we all exclaim, "Amen." But that kind of thing is all about the timing.

THIS time, it was my dear mother who misread the cue and offered up a hearty, "Amen", only to realize that, apparently, there was more to be said. He ignored her suggestion and the interrupted prayer continued. My mom, mortified, whispered, "Don't you dare start laughing," but it was too late. And I haven't stopped since.

We all gathered together that afternoon for dinner. Every few seconds, we relived our humiliation, and lamented that our nearly flawless facades had crumbled to pieces. But my mom put the prettiest bow on it when she said, "You know, I've never liked someone more because they were perfect. I only like them more when they're not."

Pretty sure a lot of people like us more.

I asked Julia for a Reader's Digest reenactment. She obliged, bless her heart. Just times this by 10.