Tuesday, December 5, 2017

On The Unknown


During different times of my life, the “unknown” has been hard for me. I like to have a plan for the future and be in control of what will happen next. Unknowns cause me to loose incentive because sometimes I feel like if I can’t plan for something that’s sure, there’s no point in moving toward it. A cancer diagnosis is like a wrecking ball to “known” futures. It’s like someone (quite literally) hands you a sheet of paper with a list of all the reasons why everything in your life is now unknown. Logically, if you were like me, this would be an incentive destroyer- an excitement extinguisher.

Last night I was rocking Cash to sleep, and I had this memory of what it felt like doing the same thing with Jax, or Jonah. With my other boys I sat with my baby, holding him with my healthy body- a healthy body that I could easily foresee functioning in the exact way I needed it to for my future- and I had this sense of premature loss. I was already missing the baby I held in my arms. Instead of soaking in my newborn, or nine-month old, or two-year-old, I was already devastated that life wouldn’t be like this forever- that within fifteen years, I wouldn’t have a baby to rock. I desperately wanted to freeze time and yearned for that fully-satisfied feeling; the feeling that I was getting everything I could, right there from that moment. Enough that in fifteen years, I wouldn’t look back a see it as a time that passed. I would see it as a time fully-lived. But I couldn’t feel that way, because I already knew what would come next. And thinking of my next was robbing me of my now.

The adversary has this clever way of manipulating thoughts. Planting perspectives so deep into our minds that we feel like they are just natural and right (and I guess they are natural- the natural man). But when we take a step back and think about them, they are the kinds of things we may want to take a second look at. For me one of those things is fear of the unknown. It seems natural and logical. Even undebatable. But why would I fear losing control of something I can’t control in the first place. That is where logic fails.    

As I sat in the dark last night holding my baby, I had this sense of enjoyment that was full. It was content. It wasn’t yearning, it wasn’t planning, and it wasn’t desperate. It was just full. It was still. It was peace. It was a feeling that this time in my life, this season I’m in, is being soaked up. Like drinking a milkshake and getting every last drop. You can’t enjoy a milkshake completely if you’re thinking about the next flavor you’re going to try. I was holding my baby and wondering why I could feel that now. Rationally, it seemed like it would be easier and definitely more enjoyable to feel that when my future felt more foreseeable. But that’s when I realized I’ve had a perspective change. And that change changed everything. I can enjoy what I have now because I don’t know what’s next. I can’t see what’s next. I can only see now. And the One in charge of the “next” is someone with a better plan than me.

I’ve always hated clich├ęs. The one I hate the most is “everything happens for a reason.” Sometimes the way it's said just sounds like a nonchalant explanation for why a crappy thing is happening. In a worldly- “the universe is in control” sense, it’s very non-comforting. Its explanations are fluid and they conform and adapt to reiterate one phrase that just hangs in the air from nothing, in the first place. But on the contrary, in a spiritual sense- when we know that what happens in our lives is orchestrated by a loving Heavenly Father, it may be the only thing that brings peace. It is sure. It is unique. And it is designed.  Everything is part of His design for us to experience joy, peace, and progression on earth. Everything happens for that reason.

I love this quote by Ezra Taft Benson,

 “Men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He can deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, and pour out peace.”

Not knowing the future allows us to fully live in the present. And trusting in Heavenly Father allows us to feel peace and excitement about what is to come. His plan is better. I’ve experienced each of the blessings described by President Benson at different times, more continuously when I make a conscious effort to realize them. Deepening joys has been an unexpected and extremely welcomed one. It’s contrary to our natural human instinct to feel deeper joy when the plan we have for ourselves seems unstable. But I realized that joy for things that are eternal- happiness for blessings that are heavenly, feels the most full and the most complete when heaven is the only constant destination in our foresight- the only sure “next” in our view. When our trust in Heavenly Father is complete, so is our fulfillment in our heavenly errands on earth; like rocking a baby to sleep.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

It was worth going to Chuck E. Cheese


It felt so good to pick up my camera again. I am so out of practice. We were driving down to the beach and I was kind of nervous holding my giant camera, wondering if I would even remember what I was doing- but way more excited than nervous. The technical stuff came back to me so easily- the positioning myself and coming up with shot ideas...not so much. I was so frustrated because I had this idea in my head of what I wanted and I couldn't quite execute it... but i'll get there. I feel like i'm in this weird limbo between what the last seven months have been, and approaching normality. I don't really want to be normal. I SO want to be done with cancer treatments, but I feel like I have been in this little bubble for so much of this year and going back to normal life kind of feels like when you go back to class after being sick for a week- a little out-of-place, a little behind, a little out-of-practice. Kind of missing the comfort of your bed (that's a literal similarity between those two scenarios!) I don't know... kinda sounds weird. It's hard to explain. Anyways! I'm lucky these three guys make every shoot good. These pictures make me want to squeeze them. Cash was such a stinker. He HATED the trees. We had come in the morning and done pictures at like 11 in different clothes (Jax was wearing blue) and they just didn't look right. We needed red for Christmas. That morning shoot was a nightmare- freezing, kids crying, just horrible and I knew no one would want to go back out there. McKay told me we could go back sometime "in the next month" and that just didn't sit well with me because I wanted something to edit so bad. I miss editing. So we left after that first shoot and got lunch and I said (before asking McKay which was really mean!) that if the boys would do one more shoot, we would go to Chuck E. Cheese and of course they screamed "YES!!!" Worth it.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

My 18 Monther



Cash,

My sunshine baby! My documenting your life so far has been pretty awful, but I promise I will make it up to you. During the last six months when I would usually be writing down every little thing you did- what day you took your first steps and what food you hated that month and how many hours you slept, I was lying in bed watching you do all of it and not bothering to write it down because I was too tired to walk downstairs to get a pen. But I think that in all that sitting and watching you, I memorized everything and so we really didn't miss a thing. I think I will be able to tell you all of it, even when I'm 80 years-old. You're my sunshine boy and so many moments with you are just recorded in my mind like little videos. Our light during a time that could have been hard or scary but wasn't, and a huge part of that was because of you. I needed you. Dad needed you. And your brothers needed you too. We love you so much. I can't believe you are almost 18 months!

You:

-had the cutest little mullet (that started looking a little dirty) up until two days ago! Dad made me (well didn't really make me, you know dad!) but talked me into cutting it. I was worried you wouldn't look like a baby anymore, but you still do! I can just see your cute cheeks better now!


-eat ALL DAY. Like every second you are hungry and you like almost anything except for most meat, and cheerios. I think you're sick of cheerios.

-can say lots of words! You say "daaa" the most (dad). And you say "ba" (bottle), and you say "ball," "mom," "yes," and our favorite thing you say is "moo"- not like a cow mooing but like in the word "more." You make your lips into this little O and try to say "more." The first time you said it, I was feeding you (yogurt I think) and I made dad came over because it was the cutest thing I ever saw!

-love balls! You kick them around like a soccer ball!

-are really good at mimicking anything we do. You are so smart! You saw me brush your hair with a comb, so you wanted to do it to yourself. You watch us put on hats, so you try to put them on yourself. You watch me blow on food, so you do the same thing. You are learning so fast and I think you are the smartest baby!

-just started sleeping through the night most nights! Finally! :)

-love to be rocked to sleep. We rock you to sleep every single night. Dad holds you and rocks you and I rock you and sing to you or play with your hair or face. You have to be totally asleep before we put you in your crib or you start screaming.

-If you are mad at someone, you start pinching them. If you are really mad, you bite. I should probably discipline you a little so you don't do it as a three-year-old, but right now it's the cutest thing ever and we laugh every time you do it.

-loooove to give kisses! You just learned how to blow kisses too, but you give real kisses all the time. You love to make people happy, and I know you know that kisses make us really happy. You smile so big when you are kissing us and you will do it over and over and over again

-love to DANCE. We started having dance parties a couple weeks ago in the family room and now you bring me the remote all the time, wanting me to turn on music. You are the cutest dancer ever. Mostly you turn in circles, sometimes you bounce! I could watch you dance for like 50 hours and still not get bored.

-do this thing where you run to me with your mouth open, smiling. It's usually when you are excited to see me. It's one of my favorite things you do! We also have a special thing where we point to each other. :) Usually I do it first and then you point to me, but yesterday you pointed to me first for the first time!

-Most of the time when you see yourself in the big mirror downstairs, you stick your tongue out!

-have been teething pretty much since you were four months. It's so sad! You wither have to wear bibs or we have to change your shirt all the time because you drool so much!

-LOVE to be held! You always want to be picked up and carried around. As long as someone is holding you, you are easy and happy! :)


Thursday, September 28, 2017



These past few nights I haven't been able to fall asleep easy. I get that restless leg thing, but instead of just getting it on the couch like I usually do,  I get it in our bed too! It drives me nuts. I can't get comfortable and it's especially frustrating because I just want to SLEEP. The night before last it was absolutely insane and out of control, but last night, it wasn't as bad. McKay and I had stayed up late talking until almost 2am. We finally had a night where one of us hadn't fallen asleep three hours before the other one- and we could just hang out. We had been talking until almost midnight and then McKay had to run to the store to get stuff for the kids to buy with their "conference cash." LOL. This is General Conference weekend (!!!!!!!!!!) Thanks goodness QFC is open 24 hours. He got home I think after 1am and then we talked a little more and went to bed close to two. I got ready for bed and I just started craving Jonah. I just wanted to cuddle him. It's funny because I have had nights where I am craving Jax or Cash or all three of them- and on one occasion I have actually just picked each of them up and put them in our bed all around me (McKay loved it!..haha) But last night I wanted to snuggle my Jones. I have really specific things with each of the boys that make my relationship with them special and different than it is with their brothers. Jonah is just my comfort-zone kid. When I had him, I was completely confident as a mom. I knew what I was doing and he was an easy baby. I have never really had a "challenging period" with him. He's just inherently sweet and comforting and cuddly and easy. He's my comfort zone. Anyways, I just needed him. So I went and laid in his bed and he kind of rolled and opened his eyed for a second and said "hi mom." Then he put his arm around me and went back to sleep. You never have to have sleepless nights if you have a Jonah. I love him so much.





Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Our Way/God's Way


Yesterday was my last dose of AC "Red Devil." This morning I could hear McKay get up with the boys and get them ready to take them to my mom's and my heart broke a little that they are used to waking up and leaving without even seeing me some days. It's weird because if the year-ago me could look into the future and see myself in the situation I am now, I feel like I would be screaming "ALI! BE TOUGHER. GET OUT OF BED. KISS THOSE BOYS GOODBYE." But I seriously could not even open my eyes! I am laughing a little at that and it makes me sad to because I am realizing that we do that to others all the time. Be tougher. If I can do it, she can do it! And we really just have no idea what's going on. People are just doing there best and that is one of the things I hope I take away from this forever. I hope it's like burned in my brain. Because people really are just doing their best.

On Easter, my dad gave me a Priesthood Blessing right before my surgery and one thing that was promised to me was that I would be able to continue in my service as a wife and a mom. Being the #1 thing I was worried about in the journey ahead of me, it brought me so much comfort. But on mornings like today, when I hear my husband shuffling to change my baby, get my kids dressed, and then strap them in the car and drive them to my moms without even seeing their cute little faces, it sure seems like like I'm not being a mom. I've had the same thought watching my husband and countless other people make us dinner day after day. I'm not really being a wife or a mom. But then I've had a thought, gently reoccur in my mine time after time, What defines a wife and a mom? How is it defined for me, and conversely, how is it defined for God? And that has made me think. Not only about motherhood, but so many other aspects of life that I feel have been riddled with so many worldly expectations, opinions from others, things we watch and perceive in our minds that we "should be," when really, I have never seen it written in the scriptures or spoken of at General Conference that to qualify as a good mom or a wife, you have to do "these things." Rather, I've read over and over doctrine concerning the Atonement of Jesus Christ. That we can try again and again. Or that we should "simplify our lives" (Sister Hinckley), or that we should "Keep trying" (Elder Holland) and "Do our best" (so many have said this). Maybe I am continuing in my role as a wife and a mom. Maybe right now that means that my role is to cuddle my kids. Play more on the floor. Teach them that we can do hard things. Teach them more doctrine. Be more gentle. Be more patient. Maybe my role as a wife is to listen more. Be willing to devote more time. Hold hands. Be a better friend. Offer more comfort. Be more grateful (as I'm sitting on the couch and watching this guy who just worked nine hours hold a baby, make dinner, bathe kids, wrestle them, read them scriptures, pray with them, and then put them to bed). Maybe those roles are defined differently to God than they are to me. And I think that they probably definitely are. Trials have a way of making us see things through God's eyes. Of taking us out of the world and giving us a new perspective.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Fourth of July!



Okay I am laughing because apparently I posted all these pics right after my last chemo but I barely remember doing it hahaha. Anyways- the Fourth this year was different and I want to say it was fun but honesty I had chemo on the 3rd and on the 4th I just sat in my mom's bed and she brought me food while the boys played. I don't even remember getting dressed and putting on red lipstick...???? Kind of funny. The boys have been such little troopers! They have been saying the funniest things. I need to do a whole post about the wig thing but they have been totally fine. They just think my head looks weird which HELLO it looks SO weird! This last Sunday I got all ready for church and looked like my normal self (pretty much, just don't look too close at my head! LOL) and after church I was like Jax, do you like when mommy has the wig on or off or do you not really care? And he was like, "I like it on!" Me too bud. We have this little neighbor girl who is nine or ten who lives across our cul-de-sac. This is going to sound so bad and I'm slightly disappointed in myself because one of my personal goals right now is to have the "tongue of an angel" (Elder Holland talk- so good) and be perfect in the way I speak of other people but this little neighbor girl comes over to me all the time when I am sitting in my camp chair like a redneck in our driveway and all I want to do it just be lazy and not talk to anyone and she stands by me and talks to me or just looks at me. It's cute and annoying. But ANYWAYS I went to Costco today with all my stuff on my head and then once I got home I just put on a beanie. My head is super sensitive right now. As I was unloading groceries she came out on her driveway and just stood there and looked at me forever! I honestly would probably do the same thing as a 10-year-old. But it made me want to just whip it off and be like hi! i'm bald!  LOL. I am not sad at all about it. Like at all. It's just more of a drag. Wigs are not comfortable and when I think how long it's going to take my hair to grow into something that is comfortable for me it's kind of daunting but right now i'm kind of like...whatever. I can work with it. 

When I was in line at Costco I saw a lady with a buzz. It wasn't like the kind you have done. It was like a post-chemo buzz. And she had this lady with her that had really thick hair for her age that was really cute with thick brown bangs and I was like is that a wig? And I wanted to try it on so bad because it was super cute. And then I saw the breast cancer ribbon tattoo on the buzz lady and I knew I was right. I can spot a wig and a chemo buzz anywhere now!

I just keep thinking about how dark this seems and probably is for most people. Cancer, chemo, being bald- all of it. As I was driving into the Costco parking lot I was thinking about it and I just had this huge swell of gratitude for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Nothing has to be dark! Nothing! Even in my hardest moments, it hasn't been dark. Sometimes they are hard. Sometimes I am kneeling in prayer and I'm worried about something, or need help, but I never feel darkness. I feel like a daughter asking her Father for help. And I feel like there are angels all around me. I just keep thinking about all the people in the world who go through hard things and I wish they all knew who they really were. I wish they had a testimony. I wish they knew that this life is to learn and do hard things and get stronger. And I wish they knew that they were never alone. The gospel is a gospel of optomism. And it's not naive optimism. It's wise optimism. We are here to have joy. We are here to have trials. They have to co-exist. It's possible. Instead of feeling sorry for ourselves, we can feel proud of ourselves for doing something hard. Instead of wondering "why me?" we can ask How can I use this? What can I learn? How can this make me better? 

Okay I have to write down a couple things the boys have said that were so funny/cute- 

In church, Jonah saying super loud more than once "MOM TAKE OFF YOUR HAIR!"

Jonah always pulling my beanie down over my forehead and saying " I want your head to be warm!" 

Jonah has actually been SO sweet. My first Sunday at church after chemo I was so exhausted and just wanted to sleep during Sacrament meeting. Finally, I just laid on his lap and he put his little hand on my back and started patting it! He is so so sweet. Now all the time he tells me, "You can lay on me mom!"

Jax, when getting in trouble for not being reverent in Primary (doing secret handshakes with Luke) said I was just a "mean bald mom."

Today, the boys made a fort in the kitchen and I was sitting at the table feeding Cash listening to their convo inside the fort and Jax was telling Jonah... "If you went past space you could go to heaven...but heaven is in our hearts...that would be so cool to see Jesus but we can't cause he's a ghost. But if we die we could see Him...in our hearts. Isn't that cool that grandma Go Go is seeing Jesus right now?"

hahahaha looks like we have a lot to teach at our next family night! ;) Love those munchkins!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Kids


Okay I am laughing right now at these pictures because my kids are such rag muffins! I have absolutely no energy to get them ready or even bathe them. McKay does it and I usually muster up the energy to do it on Sunday before church but that's about it. Good thing they're cute no matter what. I did trim Cash's hair a tiny bit so now he just has a mullet and not long bangs AND a mullet. Whatever.

Father's Day was Sunday. McKay is the best dad. I wish I could just somehow arrange for him to have a full day of golfing, friends, his favorite food and total relaxation, but that wasn't possible this year and I tried my best to make it a normal Father's Day but I was so tired by the end I pretty much wanted to die hahahaha. Jax made the cake. He was so cute. He has learned all about patterns this year at school so I thought this would be an easy cake for him to put together and he did awesome. It's been so sunny and so the boys have played outside a lot. It's the perfect time of year for chemo to start because I can either just sit in the driveway and watch them play or on days that I am really tired (like today) they can go to grandma's pool and swim- which isn't much different than what they would regularly be doing. I just want to make everything as normal as possible.

At the beginning of all this I decided that I wasn't going to use the word "cancer" around the boys. I just felt like they were too young, and that Jax would hear stuff from other kids or adults that would scare him. Without really thinking about it, I made a pretty sudden, firm decision that we were not going to talk about it with the kids. Well, as time has gone on I started to feel like everything that's been going on needed a little more explanation than "the doctors had to take something out of mom's body." Jax is so smart and I really think he could sense that there was more going on than we were letting on. There is this girl I follow on Instagram who is in remission- but went through chemo and everything while her kids were little and cute like mine- so I sent her a quick message asking her how she explained everything. She said to use the word "cancer" and tell the kids they couldn't get it. After reading that advice I was still a little weary of it. I decided to just kind of go with the flow and try to pay attention to what I thought would be best for my kids. McKay and I talked about it and both felt open-minded about whatever we were prompted to do, but neither of us felt adamant about having "the conversation" at any given time.

Well, the other night McKay was putting Cash to bed and Jax and Jonah were downstairs with me on the couch. Jax started taking about the thing that the doctors had to "take out of my body" and I just nodded and said something like yep, they had to take it out. And he goes "what was it?" I didn't panic, but I said a silent prayer to Heavenly Father asking for help. I think I said something like What? to buy myself a couple more seconds, but Jax insistently responded, "what did the doctors have to take out?" I said, have you ever heard mommy say the word 'cancer?' And he nodded. It was kind of like a relief. I think that the word had been going in and out of his brain for a while and of course he had to have heard us use it taking to each other or other people. Anyways, I said something like, Jax, do you know how when you get the flu, sometimes you get a runny nose or a bad cough, or you can even throw up? And he said, "ya." And I said, well, did you know that if we didn't sometimes ask for the doctors help it would be really hard to get better and people have even died from the flu? But because we have doctors, they can help our bodies get better. He nodded and then I said, that is what cancer is like. Mommy had cancer in her body but it's not like the flu, it's not something you can get. But I needed the doctor to get it out so I could get better. Sometimes doctors can't get all the cancer out of people's bodies, but the doctor got all the cancer out of mommy's body with Heavenly Father's help. He was totally fine and seemed like he understood finally what had been going on. Then I said, And now the doctors are going to give me medicine to make sure the cancer doesn't come back but it's going to make me look funny. It's going to make something fall out! Do you know what it is? And he goes, "Your hair!"

I am so surprised at how much he has picked up on and so glad we talked about it. My biggest worry was that he would go to school or church and someone would say, "well my grandma died from cancer." So that's why I compared it to the flu as a way to explain that any type of sickness can be bad without a doctor's help. I hope I said the right things, but I felt like it was right. We ended the conversation laughing about how funny I would look without my hair and then I asked him if he had any more questions. He goes, "Ya...if I swallow a cherry seed...will a cherry tree grow inside me?"
Anyways- I think we're all good now! :)
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