My Double Mastectomy Part II: An Infection


Just when I thought that my left breast was the trouble maker with cancer, my right breast decided to get in on the fun and tried to kill me with an infection! Ten weeks, five surgeries (4 with general anesthesia), 28 days with a wound vacuum, and 36 total days of antibiotics later, there’s a light at the end of this healing tunnel. I can FINALLY say I have two healthy “breasts” again. It’s such a relief. 

But let’s back this train up and talk about the original mastectomy and what recovery felt like before I forget the experience - aka block the painful parts from my memory.

The day after surgery I felt like my chest had been hit by a Mack truck. Deep in my chest I felt a constant dull burning ache. And yet, I felt numb too. I suddenly had no feeling in the skin across my breasts. I could feel pressure but no pain; only a deep burning sensation along my sternum and some very tender places around the outer edges of my new implants. Also, soreness. Oh, how soreness - particularly under my arms - has become a constant companion these last months. 

After my double mastectomy surgery, I was wrapped in gauze and thick tape underneath a pink adjustable Velcro bra. On my wrist I wore proof of a strong nerve block. Between this nerve block and a round the clock regimen of Tylenol and ibuprofen, I could walk and stand and help myself to food in the kitchen.  A few days later, I could even lean over the bathtub to wash my own hair. Recovery was less brutal than I expected! Pain that hovered between 4 and 5 on a scale of 1-10 was just the name of the game, right? I could totally do this.

My mom came to visit and helped that whole first week. She cooked meals and cleaned the house and read endless stories to Ezra. Bron was also my caregiver. He brought me water and medicine in bed those first couple nights. He helped me gingerly dress. But most importantly, he helped strip and measure my JP drains twice daily.

That first set of drains was the most painful. Not only did they begin to itch and pull at the insertion site, but one drain must have sat right on a nerve. Every once in a while I would move in the wrong direction, wince, and stomp my feet as razor sharp pain escalated and subsided. Ugh. I never want to feel that again!

Friday March 3:

On the Friday after surgery, March 3rd, Bron drove with me over to my surgeon’s office in Meridian to get the JP drains removed by a nurse as per standard procedure.  Nurse Corrie carefully removed my drains before opening my bra to check on the girls. I hadn’t checked on them since Wednesday. 

“Are you sure your pain is a four?” she questioned. Spreading outward from my right nipple was a bright red infection that was warm to the touch. 

“No fevers?”


No one was in the office that day; the surgeon was on a plane headed out of town.  So the nurse hurriedly took a picture and contacted the surgeon. Doctor P replied with instructions to start a heavy dose of Bactrim. Then Nurse Corrie outlined the red area with a sharpie. I was instructed to watch and make sure that the infection did not spread beyond the sharpie line and call immediately if I developed a fever. 

Nurse Corrie then handed me some protein shakes with instructions to eat plenty of protein and yogurt or items with probiotics. Then Bron and I headed to the over crowded main entrance of the hospital to pick up the antibiotics and we drove home. 

Monday March 6

Early Monday morning I received a follow up call from Doctor P’s nurse to see how I was doing. My pain was well controlled and the infection had not spread further. I insisted I felt good and intended to go on a walk outside that day. The nurse requested I send a picture of my infected breast to the office email. 

I sent a picture over and hopped in the shower. Nurse Danielle called back almost immediately. Of course, I missed her call. So the nurse called Bron’s phone and told him the news. As I dried off and readied for the day, I returned Danielle’s call.

The nurse explained that the nurse practitioner and on call surgeon had looked over my pictures. They wanted me to present at the hospital right away to begin IV antibiotics. 

“How long will I be there?” I asked. 

“One night. Maybe two.”


I was shocked. That was not the way I had envisioned my day going! Bron called me in a panic, already in his truck on his way home from Burley to take me to the St. Luke’s hospital in Meridian.

I quickly packed an overnight bag and explained the situation to Merri Sue, my mother in law. She had come over Sunday evening to help with my post surgery recovery though I had seriously considered telling her I was fine and didn’t need any more help. I am so glad she came to visit! It was such a comfort knowing I was leaving my boys in capable loving hands.

When Bron and I arrived at the hospital, I approached the front desk as directed.

“I’m here to be admitted,” I explained. 

The receptionist looked for my name but couldn’t find anything for that day. “It says you have a procedure tomorrow,” she sighed. 

“A procedure?” I questioned. “I’m not supposed to have surgery. I’m here for IV antibiotics.” 

With no further information, the receptionist sent us to the surgery floor - the same place I’d just had my double mastectomy 10 days or so prior. I began wringing my hands in nervousness. Bron quickly became agitated. He started yelling at the staff for answers. I was a bit embarrassed but recognized his anger simply as love for me.

A few minutes later, someone led us back onto the elevator and up to the fourth floor. There at the desk were my admittance papers. They had not expected us yet! We had beat the communication about my need for antibiotics to the hospital.

A kind nurse led me to a clean room where I kicked off my shoes and was given a hospital gown to wear. 

It wasn’t long before the room was full of staff: nurses, the surgeon’s nurse practitioner Nicole, and the on call plastic surgeon Dr. S. 

Bron was barely keeping his anger from boiling over as he grilled the team for answers. He was rightfully upset about the lack of communication, especially when it was explained that I would need to have surgery to remove my right implant.

“Calm down,” the surgeon told Bron. I almost scoffed. He just told Bron to calm down?  Does this guy have any kids?  He just blew his bedside manner bluff. Fortunately, Bron kept it together and didn’t come unglued. 

I took a deep breath to steady my emotions. The last thing I wanted was another surgery. Surgery is scary and painful!

The surgeon reassured us that the infection was simply statistical; it happens from time to time, though being young and healthy I was the last person they thought they’d see for it. Nicole calmly explained that removing the infected implant is standard procedure. Because there’s no blood flow to the implant, the infection will never resolve itself - with or without antibiotics - until the implant is removed.

I sighed and sadly accepted their plan. Then an IV was started in my right arm for an antibiotic regimen of cefapime and vancomycin.

^^The pictures and flowers Conrad made me that sat on my bedside table.^^

Tuesday March 7

It was hard to sleep that night at all. Between my nerves and the nursing staff checking in often, five o’clock came fast. My kind nurse helped me sponge bathe with some cloths before I was wheeled down to the surgical floor. I met the plastic surgeon on call again. We were really doing this!  Ugh. I wanted nothing more than to crawl into a hole, but I knew I had to be brave and do it if I wanted to be healthy again.

Surgery is the weirdest thing.  Each time I remember being wheeled to the operating room and climbing onto the surgical table. There’s a pink Velcro bra already in place for me and bright lights ready to be turned on. The staff asks if I’d like a pillow under my knees as they begin strapping my limbs to the table. Then an oxygen mask is put over my nose and mouth. I breathe just a handful of times - in and out slowly - before I close my eyes and succumb to blackness. No consciousness whatsoever. 

Then suddenly, I can hear! I struggle to open my eyes. My legs and arms feel very heavy. I can’t really move them. All at once I recall where I am and why I’m there. How long have I been under? What happened?  Someone please tell me some good news. 

On this day, I didn’t want to feel or look at my flat lopsided chest; it would just upset me. I didn’t want to know. Then the pain hit, but the nurse on duty was already on top of it.  My mind and body were in a fog. At least I wasn’t nauseous or dizzy, I silently rejoiced! Third surgery of my lifetime was a charm. The anesthesiologist got his medicinal concoction on point! I hope it’s written down for next time. 

I watched the clock as I opened and closed my eyes. I took a few sips of water. Ate a pudding cup. Moved my legs to a more comfortable position. An hour or more passed until I was fully awake. Someone came to wheel me and the entire bed up to my room on the fourth floor.

Bron was there in the room waiting for me. It was good to see him and I felt my anxious emotions subside. 

When I settled into my hospital bed and everyone had left us alone, Bron sat down next to me. I took a peek at my chest. My right breast resembled a shriveled raisin, the skin tucked into itself against my chest with a row of stitches down the front. 

I couldn’t help the hot tears that come then. My body is so ugly; it’s deformed and bruised and battered. What happens next? How long will I be this way? Bron held me for a few minutes as I cried. The situation just stunk. It was without a doubt the right thing to have a double mastectomy. I had cancer! But I wasn’t expecting complications.  Finally, I wiped my tears away and changed the subject. I’m going to be okay, I determined. This is just a hiccup.

Bron and I spent the rest of the day together at the hospital. I ordered hospital food, including smoothies and fruit plates to eat on repeat. We watched a movie on the laptop. I kicked off my socks and covers for a few hours; it felt so hot!  In reality, though I never ran a fever, I’m pretty sure that’s when my infection finally took a turn for the better. Bron and I strolled around the fourth floor together with my IV drip in tow to stretch our legs, though I felt a little light headed. I was happy to have the company. So many patients on the floor looked lonely. 

Wednesday March 8

By Wednesday morning, the IV drip had been moved from my right arm to my left. However, every time I bent my elbow it would kink the line to the antibiotics and set off an alarm. I had already unplugged the obnoxious O2 meter from my finger. I couldn’t possibly sleep with it. The machine beeped every time my heart rate dipped below 50 beats per minute… just as I would drift into a dream. I knew that low heart rate was normal for me; I was definitely NOT dying.  Discarding the machine was worth the risk of being chastised.

Bron arrived mid morning feeling refreshed. He had spent the night at a hotel and felt like a new person. We hopped right back into our routine of watching a movie, eating hospital food, and walking the halls. I took a nap and talked on the phone, waiting for my last few doses of antibiotics to be administered and for my surgeon Doctor P to pop in as he was back from vacation.

Doctor P waltzed through the door in the early afternoon with some humor and some good news. 

“It looks like a raisin,” I commented about my right breast. 

“More like a cinnamon roll,” he quickly responded, which made me laugh.

The good news was that I would not have to live lopsided for very long. Instead of waiting three months to replace the implant, Doctor P felt confident he could do it in three weeks as long as the infection looked like it had cleared up.

So after three days and two nights in the hospital, I finally busted out of there and went home with a hope and a plan for a full recovery. 

To be continued…

^^My bathroom countertop was cluttered with medicine and bandages and iodine.^^

Artifact Motherhood | My Double Mastectomy Part I


Six days after a double mastectomy surgery, my heart raced and my fingers began to tremble as I read through my test results. I backed up and read them again more slowly. Was I reading this right?

It was in bold capital letters:


That can't be right. I just had an MRI two weeks ago and the results were clear. Does this really say I had cancer in my left breast?

I took a screenshot and sent it to my sister, Lauren. She would be familiar with this terminology because she had survived stage III breast cancer less than six years ago.

She texted back.



Just then my phone rang. It was my doctor, the breast specialist. She sounded emotional.

"So I really did have cancer?" I asked in disbelief.

"Yes. But this is the absolute best kind of phone call I can make. We caught it early. The cancer had not metastasized. Your margins are clear. Normal protocol would be to start hormone blockers and radiation, but in your case we don't need to do anything. Your mastectomy is prevention and a cure. You don't need to worry about recurrence. But I do want to see you every six months for the next two years."

I was in tears. Tears of disbelief and utter relief. Tears of gratitude.

I had cancer! I beat it before I even knew I had it - knocked it to the curb in one day! How did I deserve to be so lucky? I had cancer but I get to skip it too? This prognosis meant I would not have to endure the treatments that would make my body tired and sick the way I saw my sister endure. My mind wouldn't have to run through all the emotional worry. Instead, I would get to go biking and camping with my family this summer - worry free with my health!

What. A. Miracle.

In that moment, I felt more loved and seen by my Heavenly Father than ever before! And in the same breath I also felt unworthy of such a miraculous blessing. Life isn't fair. So many women go through so much worse.    

Suddenly, all the puzzle pieces came together. Heavenly Father knew my timeline. God knows everything from beginning to end!

When my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 28 in 2017, doctors found the cause to be an inherited BRCA2 gene mutation. Instead of suppressing tumors, her body was more likely to make them. It was imperative that I test for the gene too. As it turns out, I am also a BRCA2 gene carrier.

So for the last few years I have faithfully gone in for screening tests every six months. I had a feeling of peace though. Upon opening those results, my gut *knew* I would not have cancer any time soon. I could have one more baby and nurse him. And so I did! Ezra was born and I nursed him for 18 wonderful months.

Fast forward six months later to this past summer, however, and I had a recurring thought. "You should get a doctor's appointment. Find out if it really is necessary to get a double mastectomy."  Of course I pushed it off.  

Then my husband Bron called on the phone. "Hey, I've been thinking about ya. Have you gotten a doctor's appointment yet?"

I knew it was more than just a thought then. It was a prompting and I needed to act on it.

So I got a routine check up with a nice nurse practitioner who referred me to a highly rated breast specialist in the Boise area. Six weeks later I drove over to the big city to meet with this doctor. I anticipated I'd feel more confused about which direction I should pursue but instead left the appointment clear headed and happy. How strange to feel good about scooping my breast tissue out like a jack-o-lantern!

I met with the plastic surgeon about my immediate reconstruction a couple of months later. This time I brought Bron along with me. He too felt good about the decision to go forward with a double mastectomy. 

My mastectomy always felt right, but it doesn't mean it was an easy decision. Once we set a surgery date for February 24th, the realities suddenly became very real. I silently freaked out. I woke up in the mornings having dreamt about it. I searched the internet. I could hardly eat the day before surgery! I was so scared. 

Fortunately, surgery went smoothly.  Currently, I am resting and healing.

I am so glad to have that source of anxiety behind me! A double mastectomy is an extreme prevention tool, but I feel so validated. I made the right decision, at exactly the right time. Coincidences like that just don't happen; it was orchestrated. God knows me and was watching out for me and our family! He has another purpose and work for me in mind. Wow. Nothing but gratitude over and over and over again. 

Today I am the luckiest cancer survivor statistic ever.

Saying goodbye to the OGs before surgery.  The IV Ninja nurse hooked me up!

The morning after surgery.  
Drains.  Tape.  Padding. Sharpie lines on my skin.  A giant nerve block.


This is Artifact Motherhood -- a project shared with other female artists around the world who are documenting our journeys as mothers and creating memories for our children through our photographs and words.

Please visit the next wonderful artist LEILA BALIN to read her post in our blog circle.

Happy New Year! 2022 Recap


All is not calm. All is bright.

That line above may be our family theme for 2022.  There were always places to be, things to plan and prepare for, lots of messes, and lots of screaming and fighting between the boys.  Yup.  I think "all is not calm" pretty much sums up our year! 

But on the flip side, everything was surely bright.  We dealt with simple every day problems.  I saw the Lord blessing our family in many ways throughout the year; from prayers answered one line at a time to feeling seen by a friend to knowing that the Lord has a plan laid out to provide for our family's needs.  It's a wonderful crazy life and I am so grateful I get to do it alongside Bron and our four boys whom I love deeply.

The highlights of 2022:

January:  The new year brought with it so much snow and ice that the boys got a few extra days off of school.  We spent those days sledding and snowshoeing.  We even stopped by Murtaugh Lake after church one day to "skate" on the ice!  I made a red neck hot tub outside which was a big hit for the little boys.  Jed did swim team and Levi and Conrad wrestled.  I ended the month celebrating my 37th birthday.

February:  Our dog Misty delivered nine of the sweetest and furriest puppies!  We took Conrad skiing for the very first time and he did remarkably well.

March:  Bron and I spent a few days at this fantastical resort in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico for a PDS meeting.  We ate, we relaxed, we swam with dolphins and went scuba diving and whale watching.  A week or so later we took the boys to St. George, Utah for a long Spring Break weekend where we played hard on our bikes and at the pickleball court.

April: We said goodbye to Misty's puppies and hello to Gus, our newest furry family member!  We celebrated Easter and Jed's 12th birthday with a handful of friends at an escape room.  We also traveled all over the state with Jed and Levi's lacrosse team.

May:  It was probably the coldest and rainiest spring we've ever experienced here in Idaho.  We celebrated our 15th anniversary and Ezra turned two years old!  We hosted Tyrel's family for a day of bowling and shooting.  I joined my cousins in Tetonia for a weekend of hiking and moose spotting.  The youth of our ward had a successful Work Hard/Play Hard Saturday.  Jed played his trumpet in a pops concert.  And importantly, I spent lots of sweet time at the park with the two little boys.

June:  We began the summer with outdoor movies and a hike down into Box Canyon.  I also survived a week at Girls' Camp!  We mountain biked at Galena, hiked up to a mountain lake and rafted the Salmon River - of which I captained a boat for the first time and learned how on the job!  It was a riot.  We also enjoyed some late evening firesides and a disco dance party.  

July:  The pinnacle of summer and chuck full to the brim with family and fun.  Bron floated the Middle Fork of the Salmon River for a week with some friends.  We attended both the Nelson and Kelley/Wade family reunions.  We floated the river, spent a day jet skiing at Lucky Peak, played at Roaring Springs waterpark, and kayaked to Pillar Falls.  Jed and Levi visited Commander and Liz in California for a long weekend of rollercoasters and building ping pong guns.  While they were gone, Bron and I took the little boys on an epic hike to Baker Lake.  We spent an afternoon swimming and playing volleyball at Bron's 20th high school reunion.  I shot two weddings with my camera.  The youth went boating at Murtaugh Lake and floated the drops in Shoshone.  Mountain biking practices began for Jed.  He has found his passion in that sport!

August:  We enjoyed more boating at the lake and Dave's fireworks show!  We celebrated Levi's 10th birthday with friends at Ritter Island.  Football practice started for him.  Ezra ate a couple of earrings which came out in his poop a day later.  We went on a family camping trip into the Sawtooth Mountains and stayed overnight in a cabin.  The mountain lakes we saw on that trip were so memorable!  I sent three of my boys off to school for the first time!  Jed started 7th grade, Levi is in 5th grade, and Conrad attends half day kindergarten.  Ezra and I began a tradition of sitting outside to wait for the bus every afternoon.

September:  We spent an exciting but exhausting week at the Twin Falls County Fair where Jed and Levi showed and sold their dairy heifers.  I made pickles, salsa, and tomato sauce from the vegetables of my very first successful garden.  I began volunteering as a coach for the Magic Valley Youth Symphony on Tuesday nights.  Football games and mountain bike races dominated our Saturdays.  The young women made a jean quilt for our youth fundraiser.  And the funniest part might have been the insane amount of candy that Conrad and I collected during the Homecoming parade!

October:  We basked in warm weather as my photography sessions went into hyper drive.  Jed officially became taller than me!  Conrad got his birthday present a month early - a new mountain bike with gears.  He's such a stud on that bike.  We hosted an adult Halloween party at our home where we played ridiculous and embarrassing games.  The boys did their first 5K run and were minions for Halloween.

November:  Swim team began again for Jed and Levi.  I made delicious apple pies with my friend Danielle.  Levi and Conrad sang in a sweet primary program.  We celebrated Conrad's 6th birthday with friends and games at home.  One of my photos won fourth place in the 2022 Voice Competition and three other images won honorable mentions.  The highlight was celebrating Thanksgiving in St George, Utah with my dad and sister and their families.  We ate, we swam, we played games, we hiked and biked, and the kids stayed up way too late giggling and making memories.

December:  Bron and I began the month in the most epic way - scuba diving in Cozumel, Mexico with friends!  We also spent a day exploring some Mayan ruins and swimming in a cenote.  Our last day there we rented motorcycles and puttered around the island.  It was beautiful, warm, and relaxing.  The month brought Christmas parties - such as Conrad's kindergarten party and our annual adult white elephant gift exchange.  The ski season began.  Jed had a band concert.  Bron and I went on a date to see some lights and drink hot cocoa with friends.  We celebrated Bron's 39th birthday and surprised the boys with a trip to Florida for Christmas!


Since blogging has been put on the back burner indefinitely, I'm going to write up a quick summary of every member of the family.  This is who everyone is and how he or she is doing these days.  It's a hoot having all these personalities under one roof.


The man of the house who puts family and work over himself.  He's our steady provider and fixer of many problems.  Bron takes a lot of pride in our home and yard.  He put up a fence this year for the 4H cows and planted countless trees!  He's pivoting a little bit and beginning a brand new job in January as the manager of a budding feed mill.  It's an opportunity that I think caters to his personal strengths with numbers and people.  I'm not expecting it to be an easy transition, but one that comes with many benefits instead.  I'm hoping one of those positive benefits is finding a little more time for taking care of himself!  Bron still loves to mountain bike ride and spend time outdoors whenever possible. He's also still crazy about his wife and enjoys spending time with me out on dates or at home late in the evenings. 


Desperately trying to balance the hats of wife, mother, homemaker, photographer, and young women's president.  My whole world revolves around my boys and their needs and schedules -- which are getting more full each year!  It's a life rich in love and occasional exhaustion. 

This year I teamed up with my photographer friend Carli to shoot any weddings she double books through her business.  She pays me well to shoot the wedding on the bride and groom's big day.  Then I turn around and give her the SD cards to edit and deliver.  I think I shot half a dozen weddings this year.  A one thousand dollar Saturday without any editing strings attached is a dream come true for me!  So far, it's been a great deal for both of us and I'd love to work with her again in 2023.

This was also my first year acting as young women's president of the Rock Creek ward.  It's a weight I feel every day and it takes up a lot of my time and head space.  It's a calling that has highlighted both my strengths and my weaknesses.  Honestly, some days I want to quit.  But I keep my chin up and keep trucking along anyway.  Fifteen months in and I still feel like I'm flying by the seat of my pants.  I just pray I'm filling the girls' needs because I feel like my efforts are often inadequate, but at least I've landed into a good routine and groove with my presidency.  They are an amazing set of women whom I've come to love and appreciate for their unique sets of talents.  I truly could not fulfill my calling without them!

Wow.  I didn't know I was capable of so much!  From family and home to a small photo business to leading an entire auxiliary group, I'm impressed I'm still standing with a smile most days.  And as I keep learning, I know I'm capable of more. Maybe not capable of actually doing more, no, but of slowly becoming the person the Lord wants to shape me into.  I've been humbled many times.  It's been a crazy rollercoaster of a ride in all the ways.


Jed had a great year. He's thriving in the 7th grade, learning to be organized and responsible and getting all A's and B's in school. He's a typical 12 year old boy who loves to pick on his brothers when he's bored, be suuuper obnoxious because he thinks it's funny, and sometimes loses his brain.  We're teaching him good hygiene like a squeaky wheel, "Did you scrub your face, brush your teeth, and put on deodorant?" we harp daily.  But there's a more mature part of Jed that comes through often and makes me so proud.  He can be witty (read: make me laugh) and helpful and even fun to hang out with!  Jed is a voracious reader; he reads multiple books at once.  Just this summer, he found a passion for mountain bike riding!  He also passed me in height this Fall and his voice has gotten deeper.  My little boy isn't little at all anymore!  But he still lets me kiss his cheek as he heads off to bed.


Levi is ten going on sixteen.  The curly haired kid enjoys working!  He loves to work alongside his dad whenever he gets a chance, from planting trees to building fence.  I can always depend on Levi to get his chores done, whether it's feeding and watering the cows in the frigid cold or taking out the trash.  He's also an intense child who occasionally takes too much responsibility upon himself.  He has a short temper and very high expectations of himself and his brothers.  It sometimes results in level 10 fights and loads of push ups as punishment.  Levi is as smart as they come; he's especially quick at math.  So many things come easy to that boy.  He has the best group of friends at school.  I hope they stay friends all the way through high school; that would be a sweet blessing.  Levi also has a passion for football and snow skiing!  He ate and breathed football this Fall and now begs to go skiing any and every possible chance.  I love hugging my curly haired boy every opportunity I get.


Conrad is the boy I prayed long and hard for and who continues to be a daily ray of sunshine in my life.  Conrad is enjoying half day kindergarten.  He hops off the bus in happy spirits ready to tell me all about his day.  His mind is sharp and fast.  And his vocabulary is impressive for a six year old.  He never stops jabbering says the funniest things!  While we were discussing Misty's next litter of puppies, he chimed in, "Let's name the fattest one Sugar Plum!"  Conrad is very creative.  He hardly ever plays with toys but I can always find him creating a blanket fort or using all the tape and paper in the house for a very important art project.  He's always gifting me little drawings or hanging them up around the house.  Conrad learned to swim this year and is also a little mountain biking stud.  How many kindergarteners do you know who can ride the steeper trails at Auger?  Conrad is an impressive kid all around!  I just wish he'd cool it a bit and quit trying to boss his big brothers; it never seems to go well for him.


Ezra is two and a half but will forever be my baby!  It's partly because he will not get another sibling to dethrone his youngest status but also because Ezra has not learned to talk yet.  Ezra is as ornery and stubborn as they come.  He does have trouble forming words but he also refuses to try.  He just screams and whines despite our encouragement.  Some days the thought crosses my mind to drop him off at the nearest firehouse!  But I would never do that.  Ezra is also a joy.  He loves to laugh!  He can be such a tease.  Ezra is enthralled with trucks and trailers and trains these days.  He spends hours with his toys, imitating engine noises.  He even brings Bron his phone to watch "Vroom, vroom" a YouTube show about mechanics and their shop and a particular yellow truck.  He and Bron have really bonded this year.  Ezra's hugs are precious.  I cannot get enough of his chubby little hands and feet and the way he excitedly waddles down the hallway.  My toddler days as a mother are numbered and I'm just soaking him in, smelling the top of his baby shampooed head and kissing his soft cheeks a hundred times every day.

Artifact Motherhood | Making Sense of Today's World


Dear Boys,

The world seems to have turned into an extra crazy place over the last two years: a pandemic, riots over racial inequality, a war in Europe, super inflation, transgender issues, abortion laws, and now yet another mass school shooting, just to name a few.

As your parents, your dad and I shield a lot of the news from you.  We tell you the basics of what's going on in the world but leave it at that.  Your shoulders are not mature enough to handle it all just yet.

However, let me tell you this: when your shoulders are big enough to take on the problems of the world... don't.  You see, humans were never meant to know all that we know instantaneously now.  People were never meant to form well informed opinions about every economic, political, or controversial subject under the sun.  Nor were we meant to see and hear perpetual chirping about it all either.  It's simply unhealthy.

The news is a tidal wave of all sorts of polarizing political opinions.  Headlines are created to make you feel angry or depressed.  The media uses fire to fight fire.  I'm thinking they'd love to watch the world burn.

Terry L. Givens said, "We humans have a lamentable tendency to spend more time theorizing the reasons behind human suffering, than working to alleviate human suffering."

So use careful discernment, my boys.  Get your facts from several different sources.  And then leave the subject alone. 

Go live your lives and make the world a better place from where you stand.  There's no need to virtue signal from Instagram.  Instead, write to your senators.  Volunteer on the school board.  Serve at church.  Help a neighbor.  Raise a family.

I don’t think God is going to care about how much time we spend debating issues and posting about them.  I think what He will care most about is the time we spend mourning with those that mourn, comforting those who stand in need of comfort and alleviating the suffering of those around us. 

I'm imperfectly trying to live my life by example, my boys.  So follow me.  Do as I do.  But do it better. Add to my example as you become men, husbands, and fathers. 

The world wants to make policies that accommodate sin.  It will tell you that the way to happiness is to look out for yourself.  The world has it backwards.  It asks, "What's best for me?"  However, Jesus taught that we must love our neighbors; we must do what's best for someone else.  Real solutions, my loves, often involve some level of sacrifice.  "Whosoever will lose his life for my sake, shall find it." (Matthew 16:25) 

I wonder what wisdom a person who lived a thousand years would say?  Would that person reassure us and say it's all cyclical?  Or perhaps these problems we face really are speeding up and getting worse today?  All I know is that wars end.  Recessions come and go.  People treat each other unfairly.  But God always wins.  Redemption to this crazy earthly mess can only be found through Jesus Christ.  So simple and yet so intangible that it seems unreal.

President Nelson said, "Don't demand things that are unreasonable, but demand of yourself improvement. As you let the Lord help you through that, He will make the difference.  I am so grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ that gives me strength in these tumultuous times."

These are my thoughts and testimony, boys. Jesus Christ lives.  Your Heavenly Father loves you.  Please remember what matters most; set your priorities.  Don't forget who you are and your purpose.  Work hard.  Love more.  You have nothing to fear.  You're going to be better than fine.   Now go make a difference.

Love Always,



This is Artifact Motherhood -- a project shared with other female artists around the world who are documenting our journeys as mothers and creating memories for our children through our photographs and words.

Please visit the next wonderful artist LEILA BALIN to read her post in our blog circle.

2 on May 22


We celebrated Ezra's 2nd birthday on Sunday!!!  I am so grateful to have this 4th little boy and I am so thankful that he still has wrist rolls and chubby little knuckle dimples.  He makes me feel like he's still holding onto his babyhood, at least a little bit.  He's just happy to be alive and along for the ride!  Little people are the best.  

His birthday was bittersweet for me.  Ezra is growing up, one day at a time.  I don't want any more babies, but I would sure give anything to snuggle each of my children when they were newborns just one more time -- feel their weight on my chest, smell the tops of their fresh heads, listen to them suck as they nurse, and watch their yawns and stretches.  Oh, that was heaven on earth!  But so is this current reality, just in a much more chaotic and messy way.  

Ezra is a boy of few words. His vocabulary mostly consists of "go" "shoes" "more" and "mom".  But what he lacks in words, he more than makes up for in personality.  Of all my children, Ezra is probably the most ornery and stubborn.  He makes messes faster than I can clean them.  But he's also such a tease!  Ezra loves to laugh and get a rise out of anyone.  His favorite game is to pinch my naked behind when I get out of the shower!  The boy loves his groceries, especially milk and strawberries. He will never turn down a meal, thus his deserved nickname: Chungus.  I enjoy watching his little diaper butt run -- I mean waddle -- in excitement towards the bathtub or his daddy.  The song Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes is Ezra's jam.  Every time it comes on his tonie box he goes bananas and starts dancing. 

Ezra is the reason I feel a bit more tired at the end of the day, but he's also a ray of sunshine who brings so many snippets of joy.  Happy 2nd Birthday, Ezra!!!  You are so loved.

A Mid May Update


^^For some reason, I was really feeling many of these photos in black and white.  A little nostalgia, maybe?^^

Talking about three recent happenings:

1. The warm weather has finally arrived between the rain storms, which means I am in my happy place as a mama.  I absolutely LOVE taking my boys to go adventure or play outside and during the first week of May we made it to the park four different times. That week, Ezra learned how to climb ladders and careen down the slides like a bullet, laughing the whole time. And Conrad learned how to cross the monkey bars. He is so proud of his new skill. We had to make time after our grocery trip to town just to do them again.  I'm soaking in this phase of motherhood.  They'll both be in school before I know it!  It makes these park trips all the sweeter.

Also of note, this has by far been the coldest, rainiest, and windiest spring we seem to have ever had while living here.  Winter just won't stop coming around!  Fortunately, I *think* yesterday might have been the last of it.    

2. Our new ward put together a Work Hard, Play Hard Day on May 7th for the youth.  The young men and women met for lunch and then split up to do various outdoor yard work as a service activity for several hours.  I enjoyed meandering around to different groups of kids to help them work and to chat.  Afterward the work was done, we gathered all the youth to go swimming at Nat Soo Pah.  It was so much fun!  Our friend Owyn won the belly flop contest off the high dive!  Kid committed.  He also said he had no idea how much it would hurt!  Lol.  The young men happened to help a woman who had locked her keys and son in the car.  Then we stuffed our faces with brats and cookies and chips and enjoyed a fireside led by President and Sister Funk.  I think it was a successful activity!   

So how is it going as the young women's president, you ask?  Well, I feel like I am finally finding my groove; I have finally won the girls' trust and am getting to know them and their individual needs.  It's been a trip learning how to juggle this calling.  I learned early on that I need to be assertive -- though sometimes I worry that I'm making the wrong decisions?  It's weird to be in charge.  There's a lot I do not want to do, like micromanage.  But it's also nice to be able to make changes or switch things up just because something isn't working or something better comes up!  I realize I will never be able to make everyone happy.  I occasionally get push back from parents who do not want to drive or other mildly lame reasons.  Sorry.  This is what it is.  We have a humungous ward, but it's a healthy ward.  And I will do what I think is best for these girls as I work closely with Bishop England, who has been good to get to know.  He's a go, go, get-it-done kind of a person.  So understanding his personality along with his leadership position has had me adjusting.  But I think I've got it now.

Anyway, I will sing praises about my presidency all day.  Chalet, Lisa, and Genesa have been the best group to work with.  They each communicate well and run with their responsibilities.  I never have to worry if they will come through!  They always do.  It's been so helpful.  I honestly think I did have divine inspiration when selecting them.  I mean, I had no idea who Lisa or Genesa were!  Never met them.  But Genesa is a whiz with all things secretarial.  Wow!

Young Women's president is a time consuming job.  I actually silenced all of my young women group texts because they were so distracting.  Now I get to it when I get to it -- which is a few times a day.

Nothing like a learning curve to give a girl some stress and keep her on her toes!  But I'm excited for what's next in the program this summer and to have some fun with the girls.      

3.  The boys have been making us parents absolutely miserable the last few weeks.  They've been lazy and fighting incessantly.  Nothing is ever quite good enough; they want more.  When Levi lamented that he wanted to do something fun, Bron and I just about kicked his tushy.  We explained that everything we have been doing has been for him and his brothers.  Those lacrosse tournaments in Idaho Falls and Jackson?  Those were for you!  The 4H cows (and subsequently the new fence we put in), the mountain biking program... it's all for you!  Bron and I never did celebrate our 15th anniversary properly.  There hasn't been time to do much else.  Then over the weekend, after watching a few hours of TV, Jed and Levi complained that they didn't have time to do anything fun for themselves.  "There's no time to shoot my compound bow!"  And that was the last straw.  

No TV for a week.

Monday evening, Jed and Levi were mad.  Levi just sat on the couch next to me, in tears.  He had no idea what to do with himself!  I made a few suggestions, but nothing sounded good to him.

Wednesday night, Jed needed to be at a mountain biking meeting and I needed to be at young women's.  That left Levi to babysit his two little brothers at home.  And do you know what happened without TV as an option?  The boys played outside.  They rode their bikes and drew with chalk.  Then Levi remembered he had chores to do.  So he and Conrad put their folded clothes away, did the dishes, wiped the counters down, and even swept and mopped the floor!  I came home to a clean home and was astounded.  Levi totally deserved to be paid for his efforts.

Thursday night something similar happened again with Jed.  Also, Levi decided to get a puzzle out and put it together.

No TV suddenly turned my boys into responsible agreeable human beings!  It's a parenting win!!!  

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