Thursday, September 6, 2018


I read my last post and I almost deleted it- but in an effort to preserve transparency and realness, I think I need to keep it. That post was written during a long (LONG) weekend. This week, school started, the never-ending laundry pile on my bed got a little smaller, and I have gotten to be in my own little house with my own little family for three days straight so far. Kind of like a dream. Kind of like heaven. This summer has been full of family, fun, and never-ending things to do. Almost every aspect of my life that gives me some grounding and rejuvenation was a little strained. There was just a lot of stuff. A lot of places to be. A lot of people to be with. McKay is an extrovert and thrives like that. I am the opposite. It felt a little like things would never get back to normal but this week I found myself hustling around our downstairs doing normal boring stuff and feeling so stinking happy and I thought to myself, oh that's right...this is what this feels like. And it occurred to me in an instant that I was literally in the middle of normal life. A kid at school, two at home, a house to clean, a healthy body, no doctor appointments coming up, MY HAIR IN A PONYTAIL (with 14 bobby pink..but STILL). Sidenote: my hair has been such a struggle this summer. Last year at this time, I could not care less about my hair. I wanted my life. Now I want my hair a little bit too! So two weekends ago when I finally pulled it back into a ponytail I took a huge leap back to feeling like me again. I don't think I'll ever be the same- not totally. But there's just something about having a mullet that really makes me frustrated sometimes. It's like that last piece of the puzzle that I need to fit into place. The last thing that doesn't feel normal yet.

I was thinking today again about when Jonah was a baby. I go back to that time in my life so often. The year Jonah was born was my very favorite year of my whole entire life. I think I can have a new favorite year though. The night before school started, McKay gave all the boys father's blessings. He always gives me one too. He said in mine that this would be one of my favorite years with my little family. I didn't think about that much until now, but it gives me hope and makes me really excited for this year.

Jax was so excited for school the last month of the summer. Then the days before, he got a little nervous. He didn't have class with his best friend, but the day before school started, we went to his open house and he found a bunch of friends in his class. The morning of the first day, he knew exactly what he wanted to wear. He picked out his shirt, and we all walked to school together. We saw so many friend on the way. I love our little community. There are four first graders, just in our little cul de sac! I love it and I never want to leave. We got to school and found people he knew and was off! Even when he is timid, he will push himself to be in the middle of things. I know he is going to do great this year. He came home from school saying it was "so fun" and that this teacher is so much better than his kindergarten teacher! hahaha. Then all the cute kiddos played in the cul de sac until it was dark outside (they did the same thing tonight- broke our umbrella by playing "umbrella capture the flag"). Jonah starts school next week and can't wait to go!

Monday, September 3, 2018


It's the end of another summer and almost the beginning of my very favorite season of all...FALL!!
Maybe this year since I'm not pregnant OR being pumped full of poison, I can finally enjoy all the apple crisp and pumpkin treats! Jax is going into second grade and Jonah is going into Pre-K with Mrs. Nancy who he has wanted for for two years. Cash and I get to stay home and have a normal school year (knock on wood). I don't have to drive my car around with a wig on my seat or grab a grubby beanie from out of my closet to take the kids to school. I can pick them up every day by myself and help in their classes. Life has been so busy. So full of obligations. I often think about when I used to write on this blog and try to think of things that would make my life seem "real" when so truly often it just felt like heaven. The hardest parts of my life were sitting by my kid's beds as they slept and knowing that life wouldn't always be like that. I felt so close to heaven. I felt so completely fulfilled and full of joy almost always. Motherhood felt easy to me. I was completely confident in my abilities as a mom and was grateful that the one thing that was the most important to me, I had complete control over (or so I thought). I could get pregnant pretty much the month I wanted to and that was just about the only thing that mattered to me. I think back to the Ali of 2014 and kind of want to cry and hug her at the same time cause life wouldn't always be so simple. I'm sitting here in bed next to three kids, with medically shut-down ovaries, dead eggs inside me and six embryos in a freezer, wondering if those embryos are six boys (which I would be totally fine with, by the way).

I lie by my boys at night, wishing they would never grow up. Sometimes I wonder if it's possible for life to go back to when it felt like heaven all the time. I probably remember it easier than it was. When Jonah was a baby I felt a little like super-mom. That sounds braggy and silly to say- it was just a season in motherhood where I felt really confident. Cash stopped trusting me when he was about 12 months and I left for appointments every day. When treatment ended, he was so attached to McKay, he wouldn't even let me carry him into church. As the days and weeks went by, he started trusting me more and more, but still would never let me carry him into church. I used that every Sunday to gauge how he felt about me. At first he wouldn't even let me get him out of his carseat. Then he would, but he reached for McKay as we were walking it. Finally, this last month, he lets me carry him in.

I just feel like I am in this constant state of trying to get to this place of calm. I picture it in my mind like a plateau. Just not so constantly uphill, but as President Eyring said- "If you are on the right path, it will always be uphill."  I don't remember when life went from simple to so much more complicated. Each day I try to simplify more and more, hoping the busyness will slow down and the long list of things to do will be so sifted and prioritized correctly that there are just a few simple things. Or maybe life will just keep being busy, and somehow I can find the heaven in that. Summer for me always feels a little like obligation claustrophobia. There just aren't quite enough hours in each day. But I know that life is to be enjoyed, not just endured. Sometimes, I just feel like I'm playing catch up from last year. I can't wait for the Fall and quiet winter. Not so much to do, traditions and cookie making and just being together. I'm tired of people. the end.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Momma Donna


Last weekend we got back from Momma Donna's funeral in Utah. I hadn't been to many funerals before and had never been to a viewing. I think I had the option with Grandma Go-Go, but didn't want to see her like that. Momma Donna has been one of the greatest influences in my life and one of my family members who I didn't grow up seeing regularly. That right there, just shows how amazing she was. I remember as a kid spending holidays with my Pexton family- mostly Thanksgivings. Lots of people, lots of good good food! My memories are probably a little skewed and selective but I remember the adults going shopping and the kids being babysat by the older cousins. I remember leaving, wishing I had older sisters and clothes as cute as my cousins. I was so proud to be part of such a fun family but never felt quite as intwined as I imagined everyone else feeling with each other. But even though Momma Donna and Papa Dick lived far away, I never felt like that with them. They somehow remembered every birthday, every baptism, every anniversary. Grandma made us homemade valentines every Valentine's Day and I was always excited to see what pretty ribbon she had found that year. Momma Donna spoke at my baptism and brought a gold treasure box that I loved so much, she ended up making me one of my own. I remember her teaching me to make cinnamon rolls- not once, but TWICE. She gave the warmest hugs and spoke in the most gentle voice. I remember playing in the snow at her Colorado house and coming in to hot chocolate and blankets warmed in the dryer. No matter where we were or who we were with, I always had a place right next to her.

I don't remember what the Savior was like as I walked with Him before I came to earth, but I think walking next to Momma Donna was probably the closest I'll get to that while on this earth. I never heard her say a bad word about anyone. I remember watching her come in from outside with her scriptures in her hand. At her funeral, her children talked about how she did those small (big) acts of obedience "perfectly." She recorded each time she read the Book of Mormon in the back of her scriptures and had to glue extra pages in the back. As I sat there during her funeral service, I felt an urgency to do better. To read my scriptures more, to pray more sincerely. I felt an easy sifting of what's important and what's not. A quote was shared at her funeral that I never want to forget- "If you leave enough in your children, it doesn't matter what you leave to them." I loved that. I wanted to go home and get on the floor with my kids and play. Leave the dirty dishes in the sink. I want to serve better. I want to go to the temple more. I want to extend love better and feel offended less. I want to be happy for others. My uncle Scott said she "hated" contention. That she avoided it at all costs. He said it was her enemy. As I sat there, listening to my dad and his siblings describe my grandma and the way she lived her life, I had the strongest desire to be more like her. I wondered a little if I had the right to feel that way when I had spent so much less time with her than so many of my cousins. I wished a little that I felt more intertwined and then I had this overwhelming feeling of peace and love and a swelling in my heart. The words came to my mind, "you belong here." I don't know if it was, but it could have been Momma Donna giving me a little squeeze. Just seems like something she would do. ;)

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Bye, Insta


A while ago, President Nelson gave the youth a challenge to "take a break from the fake," and do a one-week fast from social media. I think my experience on social media is probably a little different from the youth of the church- maybe not- but similarly, I waste a ridiculous amount of time on it. Instagram has been so convenient to document our life, but I've felt things I don't want to feel at certain times- inadequacy, competition, greed- just to name a few. I was constantly battling in my mind the desire to document, but also the urge to go back to life before so much of it was public. In short, this challenge wasn't just needed for the youth of the church- I needed it too. I deleted Instagram from my phone and ended up being off it for I think about three weeks. I didn't miss it, and it was only then that I noticed and absence of negative feelings in my life and recognized what they were. I no longer had a running list in my head of things I wanted for my house. I went to bed without mindlessly scrolling on Instagram on some random person's account. I found myself taking less pictures and enjoying more moments. I thought about what I could have done with all that time I had wasted.

When I was going through cancer treatment, I documented a lot. Because of that, I met so many people who were going through hard trials and we were able to help each other. I felt encouraged and not so alone. I found other people who were like me. There were so many moments when I could share what I was feeling and felt like it helped others. Others helped me too. We had friends visiting one weekend who suggested that I try to get more followers to have a broader audience. I feel ridiculous and embarrassed even typing that. How can that be a goal of people my age? I'm probably only sharing this because I know no one reads this blog anymore but it made me kind of want to laugh and die at the same time. And my first thought was- how do I raise my kids to think the opposite way? 

I realize that I'm looking at this extremely black and white. But my kids watch videos of "ninja" kids on YouTube and at the end of the videos, the nine-year-olds are asking for "likes and follows." It's just so not how I want my kids to be. I want their worth to lie in something so much greater and stable and worthy of them and their talents, than that. I knelt in prayer by my bed as I ended my Instagram "fast" with intent to get back on it and keep documenting my kid's lives- and I just felt this prompting to not get back on it. To blog instead. So here I am. Blogging. Like it's 2013.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

In a Box


I was going through pictures the other day, attempting to organize all my random documentation for last year. I have notes in a journal, on my phone, in Word documents, on social media, scribbled in random spots in random places. I feel the urge to document, but also the urge to get organized. The more I look, the more impossible and daunting it seems, but in an attempts to consolidate slightly, I have been moving stuff from random places, to my blog, and trying to match pictures (also randomly-kept) to things I wrote.

I remember taking each of these. At the time, I felt skinny, bald, pale, alien-looking, and really happy. Some of these were sent to my brothers or McKay to try to creep them out.  Most of these I didn't want to post on social media because of how I looked. Still, looking back today, each of these pictures make me happy and grateful. Before I found out I had cancer, I came across this series of photographs a husband took of his wife as she was going through it. They were all black and whites. She was pictured mostly alone. If there was anyone else in the images, it was to add emphasis to the fact that this disease, dark and morbid itself, was causing a ripple-like effect of darkness. They showed tears, loneliness, and isolation. They began with an image of a couple, and ended with a picture of a grave. Cancer was the theme and the enemy. The pictures were beautiful, but in a dark, depressing way. They were the kind of pictures you don't want to look at, but have to. Then you close your computer and do what you can to push away that somber feeling they left you with.

At the beginning of my treatments, the unknowns were the hardest. I didn't really know what to expect. Once I was officially diagnosed and staged, I didn't have to wonder anymore. There was a plan in action and a finish line in view, however far it may have been. I remember working hard to get my mind to a place where I could truthfully say, "come what may." I was loading dishes into the dishwasher one afternoon, the sun was shining through the window (or maybe not, but it sure felt like it.) and I genuinely felt at peace with the thought that I could die. Stories had been told to me of people with better odds than I had, who had died (by the way, who says those kinds of things?!) and I knew it was a possibility. However small, it didn't matter. For those few minutes in the kitchen, I was okay with that. I knew His plan was better than mine. If that was the plan, come what may.

I really tried to avoid the internet. I had been advised to and also I didn't want to read anything. Cancer is so individual and I felt and still feel that when it comes to cancer, what has happened to someone else has nothing to do with what does or may happen to you. It's too complex. I did gain comfort in the fact that there were other girls my age going through similar things. That I wasn't the only 27-year-old mom who had to deal with an illness, when all I wanted to do was be the kind of mom and wife I was used to being. There was this girl I came across who had cancer and said "You can't put your cancer journey in a box." I hated that, and even told a few people that I didn't agree with it. If course you could put it in a (duct-taped) box! That was exactly what I was going to do when my journey was over. I fiercely tried to preserve normality. And then, I couldn't anymore. A friend came to pick up my kids (which I was mad at my mom for requesting) and I couldn't say that I wasn't exhausted anymore. I couldn't fake it. I just broke down on her shoulder and said, "I'm so tired." After that day, I decided I needed the courage to break up with my definition of motherhood. My definition of wife. My my definition of me. That I didn't need to lose those titles or those roles because of cancer. I didn't need to lose anything because of cancer. And strangely, cancer gave me more.

I knew that there was a lot I couldn't preserve- the ability to carry around my kids, the ability to take the to the park and run with them, the ability to cook dinner, how I looked, how much free time I had, the list goes on. It would have been possible to let go of those things and fill those holes with anger and resentment, but I knew that in order to preserve what mattered most to me, I couldn't do that- I had experienced peace and joy in my life and I knew that was something I could preserve.

As a quick caveat- I would never judge how another endures trials. I can imagine some trials that would stretch me much more than cancer. I know people who have endured much more than cancer. I also recognize that people's life experiences give them tools to endure hard things, and all our tools are different. Thankfully, my greatest tool was my knowledge that I am a daughter of  Heavenly Father who loves me, and that I have a Savior who could help me. So I started on my knees. I didn't quite know where to start, but I knew that in some way, this new way I would experience life could bring greater understanding, a better perspective than I had, and a deepening value on the things that really matter. I knew that because I believed there was a plan for my life. That things don't happen by change. Things happen to give us opportunities. In this case, I felt it was to grow. I opened my scriptures and during those moments felt hope for the future. I felt peace. I felt calm in the midst of something that shouldn't have been calm. I felt fear creep in at times and would stubbornly cling to that edge that held peace and hope. I refused to fall into fear.

Over time, it became easier to do that. I kept a journal where I would write down each night how God had assisted and helped me that day. After a while, those instances which could have been seen as coincidence or chance, became truer to me that statistics on a cancer pamphlet. I began to trust God over man. A woman once brought me dinner and asked about my treatment. I told her when I would be done and she replied with, "There's always reoccurrence!" Somehow, it didn't phase me. My reliance wasn't on her.

I remember rocking Cash one day in his room and feeling almost tangible peace, even excitement. The room felt heavy with it and bright. Simultaneously I felt ridiculous for feeling like that and knew that by no way was this natural for me or a trait of my personality (which was more often, needing to be in control and know the future). I realized at that point that it was the Savior. The grace being given to me was of Him. It wasn't mine, it was His. From that point after, I recognized it as that. And miraculously, it hasn't left- even to this point.

When I look back at these pictures, I feel happy. I see brightness and hope. I see a time in my life when my faith became stronger. When my vision became more clear. I miss last year often. I still have a small amount of treatment for five years (no big deal- just shots and pills) and every time I go back to SCCA where I received my treatment, I feel that it is in so many ways, a sacred place. In so many ways, a place where miracles happened. In many ways, like home to me.

I would never want to put my cancer journey in a box. I understand what she meant now. It's part of me. I draw from it every day and miss it often. My perspective during that time, was in so many ways, offered to me from the Savior. I was given grace and peace from Him. I hope all the time that at some point, maybe, that perspective and peace can be something I develop and don't have to be given. But maybe not. And I'm learning that's often the point of trials in life. I have heard the phrase that God will never give us a trial we can't handle. I don't believe it. Heavenly Father gives us trials we can't handle all the time, so we rely on the Savior. Cancer shifted my focus, fortified my faith, and gave me so much more than I had before. I miss last year a lot.

(...but my hair is three inches and I like that too!)

Saturday, May 19, 2018

S U N S H I N E


At two years old, you:

Love to sing "Itsy Bitsy Spider" and "I Am A Child of God." We always try to get you to sing the bird song cause you make a little nest with your hands, but you will only sing it when you are in the mood!

Can eat just as much (or more) as your brothers. You love breakfast food like pancakes and waffles. You love popsicles and all kinds of fruit. It's hard to get you to eat dinner sometimes, but you are a pretty good eater!

Have lots of opinions! We all know your favorite song, "My Lighthouse." You love cars and balls. You love to go to nursery because you like to "Kick the ball."

Say "Good morning!" every morning. Sometimes, dad and I can hear you say..."Jonah, wake up!" or "Jax, wake up!" It's pretty cute!

Are super stubborn. If you are upset about something, you rarely stop screaming until you get it. Dad and I try really hard not to give in, but you are so cute and it's hard not to. Also, you have the most piercing cry of any baby we have ever heard! :)

LOVE your daddy, but you are loving me more and more! Last Sunday, you let me carry you into church for the first time since before my surgery! 

Love to push your lawnmower! We have a little bike for you, but you don't like it. When your brothers are riding their bikes, you like to push your lawnmower!

Love to read. You love love love books. You remind me a lot of Jax in that way.

Say "Hold you!" when you want me to pick you up! It's my favorite thing you say. I always pick you up, of course!

Also say "like it!" Which can mean, you like something...but it usually means you don't like something. 

Either go to bed really easy, or take four hours to go to bed. It all depends on the night! You sleep through the night almost every night except when you wake up and call for me. Then I always get you and we snuggle and sleep together in my bed!

Love to put your hands behind your head! It's the cutest thing- you do it in the car, on the couch, and even when you're sleeping! We have so many pictures of you doing it!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Cashy Boy is Two



Oh Cashy! You are TWO. Is this real life? I think in your short two-year life span, our little family has felt more stretching, love, challenge, and gratitude than ever felt before. We are especially close and deeply committed to each other and the gospel. Heavenly Father sends each of us here at special and specific times, and I know He sent you two years ago with purpose. I'm sure I don't know the half of it, but I know at least a small part was because I needed you in our home. You will always be our sunshine boy. On days what could have been sad and hard, I rocked you in our white chair and felt light and peace fill the room. On days when your dad came home exhausted and tired from work (just to enter a house that would offer no relief), you would run to him with your huge smile and be attached for the rest of the night. One time, I was having a hard time that you were so attached to dad (and not to me) and your dad kind of broke a little (which he never does) and told me that he has needed you and how much you mean to him. You have been needed by your brothers too. You have a special confidence- a trust in yourself. You are rarely timid or scared. You're my boldest, most fearless baby. At the same time, intuitive and compassionate. You are trusting and loving. You're silly. Some of my favorite moments this past year were watching you dance to "Can't Stop the Feeling."

I hope you know how much you will always always be loved. Thanks for picking us!
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